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A family belonging to the Principalía or lowland Christian nobility and aristocracy, wearing the Barong Tagalog and Baro't Saya.

The Baro’t saya is the unofficial national dress of the Philippines.


The name is a contraction of the Tagalog phrase "baro at sayà". Baro is a generic term glossed as "outfit", "upper dress", or "clothing" (a cognate of the Malay and Indonesian baju), and is also found in the term Barong tagalog, itself a contraction of "baro ng Tagalog" ("Tagalog clothing"). Saya, meanwhile, is a term for a woman's dress, particularly a skirt.


Pre-Hispanic clothing of Tagalog nobility in the 16th century Boxer Codex, featuring a woman dressed in a prototype to the Baro't saya

This indigenous mode of dressing in the Philippines was heavily influenced by the country's Spanish Era. In the pre-colonial period, the half-naked style for women consisted only of the saya (long, wrap-around skirt) or tapis (knee-length wrap-around skirt) covering the lower half of the body. The upper torso and breasts were left bare, but this was gradually covered with the "baro", which was a collarless blouse.

The early pre-colonial clothing of groups such as the Tagalogs and Visayans included both the baro and saya made from silk in matching colours. This style was exclusively worn by the women from the upper caste, while those of lower castes wore baro made from pounded white bark fibre. Modern groups whose traditional attire still closely resembles these more ancient styles include the Tumandok of Panay—the only Visayan people that were not hispanised; various Moro peoples; and the indigenous Lumad tribes in the interior of Mindanao.[1]


Due to Spanish colonisation, the basic outfit had evolved into a many-layered ensemble. At the height of its complexity towards the end of the 19th century, the dress consisted of the following pieces:

  • kimona, or inner blouse.
  • baro, an often gauzy outer shirt with fine embroidery and wide sleeves.
  • pañuelo or piano shawl, starched to achieve a raised look.
  • naguas or starched petticoat. The name is derived from the Spanish enagua, and is mentioned in the folk song Paru-parong Bukid ("Farmland Butterfly").
  • saya or the skirt proper. This is laid over the naguas and either bunched at the back to mirror the then-fashionable polonaise or given a de cola or finely-embroidered train.
  • tapis, a descendant of the pre-colonial wrap-around skirt, which covers the upper half of the saya. Upper-class women could afford to have intricate tapis made of fine lace, while poorer ladies donned tapis in plainer, opaque fabrics.


Some variations of the baro't saya are the Maria Clara gown, the ensemble having the addition of the alampáy or pañuelo, a large kerchief or shawl wrapped around the shoulders that may be drawn over the head as a makeshift veil.

The ternó (which was often a single piece sometimes disposed of the pañuelo altogether), has butterfly sleeves and streamlined look which mirrored the then-current tastes and aesthetics of the American colonists. This design was especially popularized by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

The Balintawák was a simplified version of the dress popular with the masses, with the saya being knee-length and the pañuelo replaced with a small cloth draped on one shoulder. Women wearing this style would sometimes cover their head in a kerchief of the same fabric as the draped cloth and the saya or tapis.

See also[edit]


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baro't_saya — Please support Wikipedia.
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106 news items

Tue, 03 Feb 2015 08:41:15 -0800

Taking a break from sad, disheartening, infuriating and dismaying news, Sen. Loren Legarda, clad in a Mandaya blouse and ethnic jewelry, guested at yesterday's “Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel” and spoke about much more pleasant matters: the need to protect ...
Philippine Entertainment Portal
Sun, 21 Sep 2014 23:45:00 -0700

Photography: Mark Atienza; Kylie Padilla makes the most out of the intricately layered baro't saya created by June Macasaet. Photography: Mark Atienza; Renee Salud completes the ensemble of the event's fashion designers. Photography: Mark Atienza ...
Thu, 07 Jul 2011 21:03:35 -0700

If it's the Filipino "baro at saya" (traditional blouse and skirt), it's more than just textile sewn to fit a person. For Tessa Maria Guazon, faculty member of the University of the Philippines Art Studies department of the College of Arts and Letters ...

Philippine Entertainment Portal

Philippine Entertainment Portal
Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:52:30 -0800

Photography: Gia Allana Soriano; The baro't saya gets tribal feel. Photography: Gia Allana Soriano; Ethnic designs peeping below the dress. Photography: Gia Allana Soriano; The modern Maria Clara is both elegant yet trendy. Photography: Gia Allana ...
Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:23:35 -0800

Inspired by his grandmother, Jun-Jun Cambe decided to recreate the barong and baro't saya for his collection for EsAc. The barong was paired with black harem pants and accessorized with statement necklaces. The baro, meanwhile, was draped and cut in ...


Sat, 13 Dec 2014 13:45:00 -0800

Philippine fashion has come a long way since the time of the classic terno and baro't saya. Daring to twist the traditional Filipino woman's garb via back-to-back shows, Inquirer Lifestyle asked renowned and upcoming Filipino designers to transform the ...
Wed, 14 Jan 2015 10:00:00 -0800

Two giant frames on the main walls depict two ladies, one in maria clara costume, the other in baro't saya. Two vintage chandeliers hang from the ceiling. By the entrance door is a small table with bottled sauces for sale. Service—The kitchen is ...


Wed, 26 Nov 2014 02:30:00 -0800

Many children look forward to Christmas because, let's face it, of the gifts. For you, dear gift-giver, it may mean having to be extra selective that the present you do choose is a good match for your child recipient. It's easy to choose the toy of the ...

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