Damián Domingo’s Un Mestizo Estudiante de Manila [A Mixed Blood Student of Manila] depicts a well-dressed and presumably part Spaniard, part native Filipino university student in the city of Manila.
This piece is from Domingo’s Baboom collection of tipos del pais (types of the country, native dress) paintings, No. 3 from 1833. Our description of Domingo and the Baboom collection is in our previous installment 18.1.
University students in 19th century Philippines are made up virtually entirely of the children of upper class families. According to Nick Joaquin, author of Nineteenth Century Manila: the World of Damián Domingo (1990), these children are very much accustomed to attending private boarding schools away from their families from as young as nine years old.
Joaquin estimates, from the writing of Jose Rizal, that the student depicted here attends the University of Santo Tomas since Rizal wrote the following of Tomasinos:
“Those of the University of Santo Tomas dress with more care and style; they move with ease; and instead of books carry a cane.”
The male student here wears expensive clothing and accessories. He wears what looks like a piña (pineapple leaf fiber) fabric Barong Tagalog with all over lace embroidery that even adorn the collar and cuffs. The translucence and luster of the fabric suggest this is a piña barong. He accessorizes his barong with a tied neckerchief with matching fabric and lace embroidery, red bead necklace and decorative stone button holding the center half opening closed.
The student wears multicolor stripe wide leg pants consistent with the style of the time and great for ventilation. He also wears black slippers with bows on them, and a high silk top hat.
In his hands, there is not a book to be found. In his right hand, he carries a cigarette and leather cigarette holder. Under his left arm, he carries a green rolled up umbrella, which can serve as a substitute for a cane.