Back in school, we grew up celebrating Buwan ng Wika every August, bringing our parents’ traditional Filipino dishes in plastic Tupperwares to share, and practicing for folk dance performances and declamation contests in dialect, but one of the definitive highlights of the month’s festivities had to be that one day where we all had to come to school in Filipiniana. Some of us would default to baro’t sayas and ternos borrowed from our grandmothers’ closets, some would opt for a malong over a shirt and pants, while some would bring their own baos ready to dance the maglalatik. Even then we had a ton of variety.
These days, we often only encounter Filipiniana garb during special events like weddings and award ceremonies, but who’s to say we can’t incorporate them in our everyday wardobes? With tons of brands and designers integrating casual 'fits and contemporary silhouettes with indigenous hand-woven textiles, we have plenty of comfortable and dressed-down options to wear our Filipino-ness on our (butterfly) sleeve, literally! Let us count the many ways below.
Local Handwoven Textiles
Brands and designers continue to collaborate with indigenous weavers to usher in new waves of consumers who proudly wear facets of our heritage. They take age-old weaving traditions hailing mostly from Mindanao and the Northern Luzon provinces and play with patterns and dyes to integrate them into trendy cuts and silhouettes.
We probably have collective memories of using malongs as dresses, skirts, and even makeshift dressing rooms, but Alegre by Techie Hagedorn takes the playful batik prints of malongs and reimagines them into co-ords. Here, Karen Davila dons their batik-inspired shirt and shorts combo. It feels like wearing a work of art, doesn’t it? She pairs it with lace-up espadrille wedges and a woven handbag for texture that complements the prints’ intricate details.
Sarah Lahbati looks all kinds of hip in this cropped hand-woven off-shoulder top from Piopio, paired with a patched and frayed denim mini.
From one storied Piopio piece to another, these inabel cover-ups are a go-to for resort and beach wear. If you’re looking for some extra warmth on a rainy afternoon or in a frigid air conditioned office, there’s no harm in wearing it like a poncho on a regular day too!
Don this monochrome look from Herman & Co. with this wrap top that can be used a multitude of ways and their striped shorts with a Namarabar weave from the Cordilleran region of Abra.
Marian Rivera’s Instagram feed these days is a treasure trove of local handwoven apparel. Here she sports some inabel co-ords from Niña Corpuz’s very own brand, Nina Inabel. The loose and billowing fit screams all sorts of comfort!
Nina Inabel also carries these versatile inabel cropped tops you can style with some tailored trousers like Juana Yupangco. She contrasts the top’s green base with some fun hot pink flats—just enough pops of color to offset all that pristine white.
Tricia Gosingtian amps up this casual everyday jeans look with a top and sling, both woven, lending her look some interesting textures. The patterns in particular offer some understated elegance.
While most of the items here call for dressing down Filipiniana pieces, this jacket helps dress up a casual look while not looking all too uptight and formal.
We love this denim jacket spliced with some abel weave panels from Ilocos! It pairs so well with solid whites and beiges.
Barong and Terno with a Twist
These are what immediately come to mind with the concept of “modern Filipiniana”—intricate ternos and barongs that retain elements we love (those structured butterfly sleeves, that breezy piña cloth) and reimagine it to accommodate the now.
Who knew half a terno could still look as dainty? This silk cocoon terno bottom from Kultura Filipino paired with a ruffled white top puts a spin on the traditional uniform look. Dress down those terno tops and bottoms by nonchalantly wearing them with more casual pieces.
The barong, originally worn only by men but now eagerly donned by everyone, gets a trendy spin with this high-low cut and some gorgeous, detailed hand embroidery. The whites, blacks, and grays hold this look together but the aqua on the sling bag lends the perfect color accent to the whole ensemble. Not to mention, those are cut-outs of the alibata!
Now what would this rundown be without some good ol' butterfly sleeves? This modern iteration of a terno top, aptly dubbed Dalagang Pilipina Yeah and designed by Tipay Caintic, melds proper and flirty at the same time. Keep it casual with a pair of jeans or dress it up a bit with a pencil skirt.
Songstress Clara Benin throws over an embroidered bolero with butterfly sleeves over a no-fuss black and gray number. Talk about effortless!
If the prints, patterns, and colors might be too bold for you, don't you fret about not being able to join in. Here are smaller and simpler ways to integrate Filipiniana pieces into your everyday wardrobe.
Annie + Lori veers a little away from their usual minimalist leather sandal designs and dips their feet in indigenous textiles—the inabel, in particular—to create these lovely mules. Kryz Uy takes the yellow from the mules’ mustard and purple colorways and gets a skirt to match, alongside a solid off-white blouse.
Annie + Lori also reimagines the wooden clogs of our elders with their modern bakya—just the word itself brings back sounds of wooden heels clacking against floors! The triangle cut-outs and their use of leather while retaining the wood body really brings a twist to an old classic.
What otherwise might have been scraps from the weaving process are ingeniously turned into hair bows we can quickly use to spice up any outfit.
With yet another use of scrap fabrics, Filip + Inna goes an extra mile by turning them into vibrant sneakers. Paired with a simple tee and denim cut-offs? Cool, comfy, and cultured. Chef’s kiss.