David Bowie Will Make You Change Your Mind About the Barong

More non-Pinoys who celebrate this cool and crisp formalwear.

We all cheered when foreign dignitaries donned the barong Tagalog when they arrived in the country for the APEC summit in 2015. Who didn't like the sight of Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in our Filipino formalwear? "Obama wears a shirt made of PINEAPPLES during Asia Summit" trumpeted the UK tabloid Daily Mail.

That was far from the first time the barong Tagalog made fashion news around the world. In fact, during the fashion-forward decades of the 1960s and 1970s, international politicians and celebrities have worn the national costume.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan

U.S. Presidents Johnson and Nixon showed their appreciation for Philippine formalwear during their state visits in 1966 and 1969 respectively, while President Reagan attended the inauguration of the CCP in 1969, when he was Governor of California.

Lyndon B. Johnson


Richard Nixon (and Bongbong Marcos)

Ronald Reagan and Imelda Marcos

Bobby Fischer and Van Cliburn

Former First Lady Imelda Marcos entertained many cultural icons, including chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer and legendary pianist Van Cliburn. 

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando looks pretty damn good in his barong, which he wore while meeting fans and members of the Philippine Bachelor's Club at the Manila Hotel in 1955.

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Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier

Who could ever forget the Thrilla in Manila? At the reception held at Malacañang Palace, reporter Clay Haswell described Muhammad Ali's barong as "sheer linen over rippling muscles." Here he is taunting Joe Frazier. Marcos is clearly amused.



David Bowie

Lastly, our personal favorite: David Bowie rocking a barong with bell bottoms at a Hunky Dory photo session with Brian Ward. Where he got the barong is a mystery—if you know anything about it, let us know in the comments section.

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Angelica Gutierrez
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