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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Addendum Part 2: President Ramon Magsaysay - Idol of the Masses and Idol of the Barong Tagalog

The 7th President of the Philippines, Ramon Magsaysay, was a very much beloved leader. He was considered an honest, true man of the people that often spoke and interacted directly with constituents. Magsaysay and his administration were considered clean, incorruptible, and committed to reform, which ensured his popularity. After his untimely death in a plane crash on March 17, 1957, an estimated 2 to 5 million people attended his burial two weeks later.

Magsaysay is referred to as the “Idol of the Masses”, “Champion of the Masses”, and “Defender of Democracy”. He is also the first president to wear the Barong Tagalog to his inauguration and much of his presidential appearances and functions, establishing the barong as formal wear as we presently know it.

The numerous monuments, tributes, and images in his memory around the Philippines depict Magsaysay wearing a Barong Tagalog.

A man holds a book open to a tribute to President Magsaysay and the famous painting of him in a Barong Tagalog.

A man holds a book open to a tribute to President Magsaysay and the famous painting of him in a Barong Tagalog.

  Taken at Ramon Magsaysay Park in Davao City in front of the Magsaysay Monument. His statue depicts him wearing a barong.

Caption reads “Members of Directorate and Post Commanders, Philippine Veterans Legion, Davao Chapter, Legion Year 1960-61, Atty. Bonifacio Tamayo, Chapter Commander”. Taken at Ramon Magsaysay Park in Davao City in front of the Magsaysay Monument. His statue depicts him wearing a barong.

A group photographed in front of a Magsaysay statue circa 1957. Magsaysay is depicted in a Barong Tagalog.

A group photographed in front of a Magsaysay statue circa 1957. Magsaysay is depicted in a Barong Tagalog.

Bislig Town Officials at the foot of the Magsaysay Monument where Magsaysay is depicted in a barong

Caption reads “Bislig Town Officials at the foot of the Magsaysay Monument unveiled on the second anniversary of his death March 17, 1959.” The statue is of Magsaysay in a Barong Tagalog.

Townspeople gather around a statue of President Magsaysay in a Barong Tagalog.

Townspeople gather around a statue of President Magsaysay in a Barong Tagalog.

 Sculptor works on a statue of President Magsaysay in a Barong Tagalog.

Sculptor works on a statue of President Magsaysay in a Barong Tagalog.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award contains an image of him wearing a Barong Tagalog.

The Ramon Magsaysay Award contains an image of him wearing a Barong Tagalog. This award was established in 1957, and is considered “Asia’s Nobel Prize”. The award recognizes integrity and courage among individuals and organizations in Asia.