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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 13.5: 19th Century Spanish Artist Illustrations of Life in the Philippines

Tipos Filipinos. Gobernadorcillo. Chino Cargador de Agua. by Capuz & Ortego. Municipal leader wears barong with jacket & laborer wears camisa de chino

The illustration here is titled Tipos Filipinos. Gobernadorcillo. Chino Cargador de Agua. [Filipino Types. Gobernadorcillo. Chinese Water Carrier.] (1872) by Francisco Ortego y Vereda and Tomás Carlos Capuz. Our descriptions of Ortego, Capuz, and La Ilustración Española y Americana, the magazine that published this piece, are in our previous installment 13.2.

On the left is a local municipal leader, called a gobernadorcillo, that served as the town mayor or judge. This is a member of the principalia, the social elite class of native or mestizo (mixed blood) Filipinos that worked in collaboration with the Spanish colonial government, and in turn, was given power and special privileges from Spain.

According to Spanish edict, members of the principalia class, like gobernadorcillos, were given the unique right to wear a jacket over their untucked Barong Tagalog, like the subject does here. The subject is partially in western morning dress or formal day dress since he wears a morning coat with tails, formal striped or checkered trousers, black leather shoes and top hat. He wears a western bow tie with his barong, and he carries a cane, as principales (principalia class members) often did. Dressing this way was not for practical purposes but rather to signal power and social rank.

On the right is a Chinese man carrying two buckets of water. He wears a camisa de chino, rolled up work pants or knickers, and a putong (native head wrap). This subject’s manner of dress did serve a practical and utilitarian purpose for his line of work.