Baro’t Saya: The Philippines’ National Costume

Baro’t Saya: The Philippines’ National Costume

It is evident in most of the works of Amorsolo, a well-known Filipino portraitist and painter of rural landscapes, that Filipinas wear this ensemble of a upper clothe called baro and the skirt called saya to which is called the Baro’t Saya. In many festivals nowadays, the clothing would never be out of place. In prestigious beauty contests it is alive and is even made more beautiful through different renditions of the today’s well-known designers as what Pita mentioned in her online article posted on year 2012, “While historical structures are preserved and restored, traditional Filipiniana, on the other hand, are being modernized. The baro’t saya, recognized as the traditional attire for women, is essentially a matching blouse with full sleeves and skirt, and was usually worn with a tapis or pañuelo (scarf). The fabrics used are often indicative of whether an ensemble is meant for everyday wear or for more formal occasions.” The dress may look ordinary but it tells something about the country to which it belongs to. But despite of the fact that in both different eras, the past and the present, the dress that can be said as to “stunning” is a mere product of the Spaniards, who we know, have brought great sufferings in our country. Still, even though unofficial, Baro’t Saya stands and reigns with the title “The National Costume of the Philippines.”

Gabaton (2015) in her online article entitled Pamantayan ng Kagandahan sa Kamaynilaan mentioned, “Malaki ang pagkakahawig nito sa kasuotan ng mga prayle noon, bilang pagtalima sa kasulatan ng pagiging “temple of the Holy Spirit.” Also according to the article entitled Fashion beyond Times, “the Tagalog women started to modify their traditional dress (Baro’t saya) into a more conservative look with longer length of the skirt. The reason for this change in their dressing was to respect the foreign priests.” From these I thought of the idea that Spaniards really are the ones who have influenced the natives to be “in” with Baro’t Saya.

In an online article entitled Baro’t Saya (2015) it was mentioned: “The Spanish presence was echoed in the patterning of the baro: floriate, trellis-like, lace-like designs soon enough make for the standard “look.”” From that, I have asked myself “Why? Do Filipinas have a “non-standard” looks to be said as to “…soon enough make for the standard “look.”” And so as today people treats Baro’t Saya as to the national costume even though it is obviously seen that it looks like it replaces our own way of covering ourselves.

During early times we know natives have already this own specific way of, not only in clothing, but also in the everyday living. Before they have come in the land there is already a system of dressing called Ma-I. Also, other than Ma-I and Baro’t Saya different indigenous settlers of the country has its own dressing, so why is it that Baro’t Saya is more acknowledged rather than that of the others which to my point of view, I think, shows more nationalism. Also as to me Spaniards have this iconoclastic “motive” in the way our early natives live their life. From the customs to beliefs, and from beliefs to living, oppressors have successfully got in the stream of our early culture.

The T’boli people lived in the province of South Cotabato and according to a researched article they scattered in the Highlands of the country when the settlers (Spaniards) touched the Philippine Island. The way T’boli natives dress (the women) is quite different to what other women use to wear when the Spaniards have come. It is because of the fact that T’boli natives where fortunate enough not to be bound by the culture Spaniards have brought. This just means that some natives were not in favor of others changing their way of living. According to the article Travel Tales & images from the ancestors lived centuries ago.” Up to now there is still a purity of what culture the T’boli natives possesses but it does not mean that are considered to be pure Filipinos because in the first place they are influenced also by the early people they interact with during trading. 

Though it is still unclear to why is it that Baro’t Saya is considered as to our national costume, we can’t deny the fact that it has played a major role in our life with the oppressors. It can remind of the sufferings our early people experienced in the hands of those who are the ones who have influenced us this, but also, it is evident also that it signifies what a Filipino pride is.

Notice on how to every detail of Baro’t Saya was able to lift up a true Filipino is. Capuchino’s online article posted in the year 2014, During the colonial times the attire was made from flimsy materials of piña, jusi or abaca. Due to the flimsiness of the material, women adopted to use a dark colored tapis on their waist and an inner camisa or an alampay (scarf) to cover their bosoms. It is not just the Baro’t Saya’s appearance that does matters, rather to which it was made. According to an article posted on Textile World Asia (2015) “Abaca fiber is prized for its mechanical strength, buoyancy, resistance to saltwater damage and long fiber length” Just like the Abaca fiber that we know is used in making our Baro’t Saya, Filipinos are simple but behind this “simpleness” true beauty is found. Like abaca, we possess the strength and endurance that lifts us up among the others. Also it was mentioned in the same article that “…Philippines exported abaca fiber worth US$140.3 million and pulp worth US$104.4 million, according to FIDA.” So it was evident that not only in terms of quality it does excel, rather also it shows that we do export quality good materials that do help raise our economy.

Baro’t Saya can be very simple if one would just look at its physical feature. But if one is able to see “something” beyond the dress, then it would tell a great story. To whatever the history of Baro’t Saya is, whether it is a product of colonization of the Spaniards, yes, it counts, but what is important is what it reflects to us Filipinos. What matters is how one would value and give meaning to it. It is a no question anymore to ask why Baro’t Saya stands and reigns with the title “The National Costume of the Philippines” because it didn’t fail to prove itself that it really is.