All Rise for Our National Attire

There’s never been a better time to take the barong to the streets.

by Rogue, photo by Jo Ann Bitagcol

We’re not trying to bring the barong back. It never really left. It just got stuck somewhere between being your father’s ninong staple and what your president wears to the SONA. So we decided to air it out and let it loose from the stuffy halls of formality. And in this moment when everything native has acquired a new kind of chic, there’s never been a better time to take it to the streets.



A silkscreen graphic print of the city emblazoned on a black silk organza barong is a cool riff. Rocker Kowboy Santos adds his own edgy spin to Pristine de Guzman’s design by wearing the barong over a tie-dyed tank, with sleeves rolled up to his elbows. He amps up the volume by throwin in a few leather and silver bracelets and repoussé silver necklaces by Wynn Wynn Ong.



Kiddo Casio and his son, Dylan, don’t need much clothing when they’re lounging about the family’s El Union Coffee outlet in San Juan, La Union. But a few basics are on hand when the weather gets a little cooler, such as this ethnic print organic cotton hoodie by Vivien Ramsay which he casually throws over his old Topman denim shorts. A surfer’s washboard abs provide the foil for Wynn Wynn Ong’s silver repoussé “bulol” belt. Dylan’s got his own surfer game going with a favorite vest from Israel that’s a perfect match to his handpainted belly tats.



These guys strut their own brand of street style, easy on the eyes and downright real. To their own basic jeans and tees, rapper Curtismith a.k.a. Mito Fabie (center), music producers King Puentespina (left) and Eric Trono (right) added a few articles for a bit of spunk. Puentespina is wearing a tribal bead necklace from the Mountain Province and a cap, both from Tesoro’s. The Tinalak insect pins on Smith’s zippered Period Correct jacket are by Bea Valdez. Trono’s printed Kimono hoodie is by The Artisan, which he pairs with a printed shirt by The Twelfth House. The tribal bag is from the Mountain Province, available at Tesoro’s.



Businessman and consultant Monchet Olives’ signature day-to-day work attire exemplifies a nonchalant expression of Hi-Lo style. He prefers donning a cool chambray cotton barong from Tesoro’s, worn over casual denim pants from Chris Jasler of Jail Jeans. A pair of Stubbs and Wooton slip-ons, an Hermès silk foulard, a hat by Lock Hatters and a cane from ac+632 complete Olives’ casual get-up. He is shown here with his pets, Bambi and Kumbo who like to go on country trips with their master aboard a Jeep Renegade.



Photographer Jake Verzosa and his partner, Up Dharma Down lead vocalist Armi Millare usually zip around the city in Verzosa’s Vespa. Verzosa is wearing a cotton shirt jacket by Vivien Ramsay, a Pinangga emroidered shirt from Tesoro’s. The antique tribal bag is from El Amanacer Intramuros. Armi is wearing a patchwork kimono and wide-leg black pants by Joey Samson. The Garapata bag is by artist Dex Fernandez. Parked nearby is a Vespa.



Photographer-model Jo Ann Bitagcol stepped in front of the camera in between work for this story to take a self-portrait. She exploits the contrast between old and new with a black wool gabardine jacket and cream tuxedo pants by Joey Samson worn over an ornate Namatta wrap skirt from the mountain province. This gal is fearless: JoAnn adds more to the layers of patterns, colors, and textures with a black fringed raffia belt by Bea Valdes.



Singer Rita Martinez in an avant garde ensemble. She is wearing a hand-embroidered barong by designer Milka Quin and Inabel patchwork pants by Vivien Ramsay.



Architect Buji Libarnes wears Inaul drawstring pants from Tesoro’s, a beaded cuff from Bea Valdes, and leather bracelets from Wynn Wynn Ong. His wife and surfing buddy Nikki dela Paz (also an architect) wears her own stripe shirt over a Panyo maxi skirt from Tesoro’s. The pearl brooches are from Bea Valdes, the sunglasses are by Fin Sunnies.


This story can be found in Rogue’s September 2016 Issue. Available in your nearest bookstore.