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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines, Part 3: President Jose P. Laurel

Jose Paciano Laurel y Garcia was a Filipino lawyer, judge, politician and statesman. He had quite a long and diverse political career serving in many different government offices. He is the only president of the Philippines to have served in all three branches of government.

Laurel served in the legislative branch when he was elected senator for two separate terms: 1925-1931 and 1951-1957. He served in the judicial branch when he was appointed Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in 1936. And from 1943-1945, Laurel served in the executive branch as the President of the Second Philippine Republic, which was a puppet state of Japan when it occupied the Philippines during World War II. Understandably, this is one of the most controversial presidencies in the history of the country. Outside of politics and public service, Laurel also practiced law and founded the Lyceum of the Philippines University.

After researching many available photos of President Laurel, it can be said that he wore suits and the Barong Tagalog during his political career. For important events and functions and for the majority of the photos, he favored the suit and tie. But later on in his career and life, Laurel wore barongs quite often.

Laurel addresses a crowd in a Barong Tagalog embroidered with Philippine flags. Photo is likely circa mid to late 1950’s
Laurel addresses a crowd in a Barong Tagalog embroidered with Philippine flags. Photo is likely circa mid to late 1950’s.

Laurel speaks to an audience in a barong. Photo is probably circa mid 1950’s.
Laurel speaks to an audience in a barong. Photo is probably circa mid 1950’s.

Laurel is on the left smoking a cigar and reviewing documents in a jusi (silk) barong. Photo is likely circa early 1950’s.
Laurel is on the left smoking a cigar and reviewing documents in a jusi (silk) barong. Photo is likely circa early 1950’s.

During his second term as a senator, Laurel addresses congress in a jusi Barong Tagalog in 1953.

During his second term as a senator, Laurel addresses congress in a jusi Barong Tagalog in 1953.

On October 14, 1943, Laurel stands at his inauguration in suit and tie at the Legislative Building in Manila
On October 14, 1943, Laurel stands at his inauguration in suit and tie outside the Legislative Building in Manila. During this event, he takes the oath as president of the Japanese-sponsored Second Philippine Republic.