Western Men Wearing a Barong Tagalog

Marrying a Filipina entails becoming part of the Filipino community, especially if you live in a big Western city that has a large Filipino population.

You will pretty often go to Filipino parties, anniversaries and weddings.

Because in the Philippines wearing a jacket and a necktie is extremely unpractical due to the tropical heat and humidity that causes you to sweat even if you are still, Filipinos use a different type of formal attire and that is the Barong Tagalog. I have quite a few barongs that I bought myself in various shopping malls in the Philippines.

The Barong Tagalog is an embroidered shirt that is extremely light, almost unpalpable, and it is worn untucked over an undershirt. A black undershirt looks even better if you are wearing a transparent barong. There are different varieties of barong, some being made out of pineapple I guess that are extremely light and transparent and they require that you wear a decent and well ironed shirt underneath while others are made of cotton or even linen (these ones are extremely difficult to iron).

If you live in the Philippines and have to go to some formal event the barong will certainly make you feel a lot more comfortable. I remember wearing a shirt and a necktie in a car without air con on the way from Bulacan to Quezon City and being stuck in a huge traffic jam. I was supposed to visit the branch office of a non-profit organization and the tropical heat plus the smog really made me regret that I hadn’t worn a barong.

I also wear it here in Italy in summer time whenever I go to some formal Filipino event.

Obviously if you live in a Western country you’d better wear your barong at the venue where the Filipino event takes place as wearing it while riding on a bus or walking down a public street in a Western city will probably elicit some laughter and you might be viewed by your fellow country men as a little strange (this is at least what happens here in Rome where Italians view wearing exotic dress in a public place as somewhat strange).

An Italian friend of mine who was at a Filipino party went back to his car and found out that his car stereo had been stolen and he rushed to the carabinieri station (Italian police) without first taking off his barong and the carabinieri looked at him with all the suspicion that you can imagine.

So, if you are married to a Filipina you’d better embrace her culture and buy yourself some barong, just avoid wearing one in a public place of a Western city or, even worse, in a small village in the countryside.

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