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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 10.20: 19th Century French Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Antoine-Alfred Marché (1844-1898) was a French naturalist, explorer and collector of ethnological artifacts. He was employed by the French government from 1879-1885. Marché visited the Philippines twice (1879-1881 and 1882-1884) and devoted many years to conducting naturalist studies there. He spent much of his time caving, exploring burial sites and collecting pre-Spanish artifacts on remote islands.

Based on this work, Marché published his travelogue titled Luçon et Palaouan, Six Années de Voyages aux Philippines [Luzon and Palawan, Six Years of Voyages in the Philippines] in various magazines with illustrations and then as a book in 1887. Included with his travelogue was the illustration featured here titled Fète à Santa Cruz de Nano [Party at Santa Cruz de Nano], 1886.

Marche - Fète à Santa Cruz de Nano - 1886 - A full room with a party - three men clearly wear Barong Tagalog

In the first image, we see the full piece. A large room is filled with people. In the center, a man and woman dance. To the left, musicians play instruments along with some ladies looking on. To the right, a group of men, women and children are seated and watching the dancers. In the background, some men play and watch billiards. There are three men clearly wearing barongs in this room.

 Marche - Fète à Santa Cruz de Nano - 1886 - Left portion - Musician wearing a Barong Tagalog

In the second image, we see a musician playing a mandolin or bandurria and wearing a red Barong Tagalog, light brown pants and a putong (head wrap) on his head. He does not wear shoes.

Marche - Fète à Santa Cruz de Nano - 1886 - Center Portion - dancing man wears a Barong Tagalog

In the third image, the man dancing also wears a red barong and light brown pants without shoes.

Marche - Fète à Santa Cruz de Nano - 1886 - Right portion - A man of the principalia class wears a Barong Tagalog with jacket

In the fourth image, a man seated at the table also wears a red barong and light brown pants. But he wears a jacket on top of his Barong Tagalog, black leather shoes, and he carries a cane in his right hand.

This last man is dressed as an elite man of power of the principalia class. This man is a municipal leader working in conjunction with and on behalf of the Spanish colonial government. Spanish edict specifically gave principales (members of this class) the privilege to wear jackets over their barongs to distinguish themselves and to show their class, status and power.