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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 12.2: 19th Century American Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Wilkes - Native of Luzon - Protrait of man in Barong Tagalog

The illustration here is titled Native of Luzon (1845) drawn by Alfred Thomas Agate and engraved for printing by J. J. Butler. It was included in Charles Wilkes’ Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition, published in 1845. Our description of this publication, Wilkes and the US Exploring Expedition is in our previous installment 12.1.

This portrait is of a man whose birthplace is the northernmost island of Luzon in the Philippines. His ethnicity is ambiguous since he has fair skin and what appears to be blue or perhaps hazel eyes. It is possible he is of Spanish ancestry or a mix of Spanish or European blood with other ethnicities. He wears a plain white work Barong Tagalog likely made of a durable, non-translucent fabric, which suggests he is of the working class.