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Illustration of Wikipe-tan wearing the baro't saya, featuring the layered blouse (baro) around the torso and the long skirt (saya) on the lower half of the body.

Baro't saya is the unofficial national dress of the Philippines and is worn by women. The name is a contraction of the Tagalog words baro at saya, meaning "dress (blouse) and skirt".



Pre-Hispanic clothing of Tagalog nobility in the 16th century Boxer Codex, featuring a woman dressed in a prototype to the Baro't saya.

This indigenous mode of dressing of the natives of the Philippines was influenced during the Spanish Colonization of the archipelago. The half-naked style consisting of only the saya (long wrap-around) or tapis (knee-length wrap-around) covering the lower half of the body with bare upper torso, was gradually covered with a short-sleeved, collarless blouse called "baro", the Philippine cognate of the Malay "baju". Early Pre-colonial clothing of groups such as the Tagalog included both baro and saya in matching colors, which was exclusively worn by the women of upper-caste families.[1]

Under the Spanish colonization, the basic outfit had evolved into a many-layered ensemble of the: kimona or inner shirt; the baro outershirt with its usually gauzy materials, fine embroidery and wide sleeves; the pañuelo or piano shawl, starched to achieve a raised look; the naguas or petticoat (in the song "Paruparong Bukid," for example, naguas de ojetes refers to petticoats decorated with eyelet patterns which are visible underneath the saya); the saya proper, laid over the starched petticoat and bunched at the back to mirror the polonaise which was in fashion during that period, sometimes fashionably as de cola or with a finely embroidered train; and the tapis, a wrap covering the upper half of the saya.


Some variations of the baro't saya are the Maria Clara, the ensemble having the addition of the alampay or pañuelo, a large kerchief or shawl wrapped around the shoulders, and the more daring ternó (which sometimes disposed of the pañuelo altogether), having the butterfly sleeves and streamlined look which mirrored the then current tastes and influences of the American colonists. This design was especially popularized by the former First Lady Imelda Marcos.


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