The barong tagalog, or simply the barong, is a traditional Filipino men’s outfit made from hand-sewn pineapple fiber. The barong is thin to keep men cool in the hot Filipino climate, and is usually worn for special occasions such as weddings, special masses at church, and parties. As a traditional outfit, many of my ancestors have worn barongs; my father wore one on his wedding day. When he immigrated to America, he brought a barong to wear at Filipino special occasions. Even today, he will wear it on special occasions to show his heritage. I have semi-sweet memories of the barong through my life. Every year, my parish celebrates the Flores de Mayo, a spring celebration of Our Lady of Antipolo, whom Filipinos venerate. My parents made me wear the barong, which I did not enjoy when I was younger. In contrast to the hot and humid Philippines, weather in New York averages 70 degrees in May. The barong’s sheerness makes it a poor insulator, so every time the wind blew I would always shiver just a bit. I was also embarrassed by its translucence; as a child I sometimes envied the girls who got to wear opaque clothes instead of a translucent barong that would show my arms and undershirt. Because it is made from pineapple instead of cotton, the barong has a rougher texture than modern Western dress shirts, which I found uncomfortable. However, now that I’ve grown older, I’ve grown fond of the barong. Like my dad, maybe I’ll wear one on my wedding day!
– Kristian Mosquito