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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, 20th Century Philippines Part 31: Joseph Feliciano

In the early 1980’s, Joseph Feliciano was just a teenager working in his mother’s Angeles City dress shop. He first took interest in the Barong Tagalog when his mother’s clients bought them. It was the tapered and fitted Pierre Cardin style that was in at the time, and Feliciano knew he wanted to change that so that more body types could wear barongs and look and feel comfortable.

Feliciano made his first barongs in 1985 when young clients challenged him to make his own version of the barong that was different and original. His barongs were loose cut, lengths were a bit longer than usual, the sleeves were a nice balance between fitted and loose, and he designed his own original leaf embroidery designs. Feliciano sometimes incorporated a bib design whose fabric was layered on top of the barong, and he sometimes used striped fabric reminiscent of 18th and 19th century barongs. Some of his barongs had pleats and side vents, and some did not, but all had shrunken round fold-down collars and shrunken cuffs.

Feliciano’s barongs shared some of the same characteristics as Mancio Suarez’ barongs (from Part 29). Both Feliciano and Suarez are from Angeles City.

Butch and Raoul Henson model Joseph Feliciano barongs that are long and loose-fitting with attached bibs

Butch and Raoul Henson model Joseph Feliciano barongs that are long and loose-fitting with attached bibs with Feliciano’s original leaf embroidery. The fabric is jusi (silk).

The back of the Henson brothers’ barongs designed by Feliciano showing that the attached bibs covered the back of the barong

The back view of the Henson brothers’ barongs designed by Feliciano from the 1st pic showing that the attached bibs covered the back of the barong, as well.

The Henson brothers model Joseph Feliciano barongs without the attached bibs. These barongs are more fitted and shorter.

The Henson brothers model Joseph Feliciano barongs without the attached bibs. These barongs are more fitted and shorter. Raoul (left) wears a plain natural color jusi barong with Feliciano’s leaf embroidery. Butch (right) wears a jusi barong with printed stripes and leaf embroidery.

Joseph Feliciano models his own striped Barong Tagalog.

Joseph Feliciano models his own striped Barong Tagalog.

All pics are likely from 1985 and are from Visitacion R. de la Torre’s 1986 book The Barong Tagalog: The Philippines’ National Wear