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Journey of the Barong Tagalog, Spanish Colonial Philippines Part 8: the 18th Century Ilustrado Class

The Ilustrados, Spanish for the “learned” or “enlightened ones”, were the Filipino educated class in the Spanish colonial Philippines. These were the male members of middle to upper class families that owned land and had some authority in the community. They often received their education in Spain. Ilustrados included native Filipinos, Spaniards born in the Philippines (“Insulares”) and Mestizos - native Filipinos mixed with foreign ancestry.

Around the mid-18th century, Spanish men in the Philippines wore heavy, excessive, and impractical clothing for the tropical climate, including breeches, stockings, waistcoats and long overcoats. Native middle class Tagalog men chose to dress more comfortably for the weather. They wore loose and wide trousers which were fastened with strings around the waist, with more fancy versions made of brocaded silk with embroidered borders. They also wore long, loose-fitting baro or barongs on top with short or long sleeves. These barongs extended down just above the knees, and some were worn with a thin sash high across the waist.

Though they dressed differently from the Spanish, native Tagalog Ilustrado men did adopt some Spanish style. Their barongs had high standing Elizabethan collars trimmed with lace at the ends. Some adorned their colllars with a gem or a large button. Others tied silk handkerchiefs around their necks. Native Tagalog Ilustrado men also wore top hats and shoes or slippers following Spanish men’s lead.

Artist’s rendering of a scene in the Philippines with an Ilustrado class man. His outfit with barong was a typical variation of Ilustrado dress

Artist’s rendering of a scene in the Philippines with an Ilustrado class man. His outfit with barong was a typical variation of Ilustrado dress described above.

 An example of a high standing Elizabethan collar with lace trim worn by Spanish and other European men.

An example of a high standing Elizabethan collar with lace trim worn by Spanish and other European men.