Designer Barge Ramos is so done with embroidered and hand-painted barong (at least for now). For this exclusive shoot for Lifestyle with aspiring actor Rafa Siguion-Reyna, he sticks to one silhouette and uses unconventional materials, except for an abaca barong appliquéd with black, fern-like cutouts.
“The uniform silhouette is longer and leaner, which fits Rafa’s height and medium build,” says Ramos. “In lieu of the usual collar, I opted for tuxedo collar, which frames the face well.”
The contemporary twists didn’t end there. Almost each barong’s cuffs comes with distinct and sharp geometric cut. One is done in white-on-black checker reminiscent of Burberry’s trademark prints, while a deep blue number is fused with hand-woven inabel trimming.
Ramos pairs a gray brocade barong with gray inabel pants in maple leaf patterns. Truly, this combination, even in neutral palette, isn’t for the shrinking violet.
Apart from the abaca barong, a piña ecru barong, with velveteen brocade bib, is the closest thing to the traditional Filipino attire. To emphasize and balance off the barong’s lean silhouette, Rafa wears a pair of slim and textured gray pants.
The public might see more variations of this barong as Ramos and several collaborators stage the first-ever Mr. Philippine Republic on May 5 (www.mrphilippinerepublic.com) either in Manila or Palawan.
“We have just concluded the North Luzon search, recently in Malolos, Bulacan,” he says. “On Feb. 19, the South Luzon search will be in Naga. We’re still organizing with local producers of the Visayas, Mindanao and NCR searches.”
Founding members of Mr. Philippine Republic Charities, Inc., including Nilo Agustin, director of sales and marketing of the Manor, hope to make the local pageant a springboard to a bigger one dubbed Mr. Republic of the World. They’re also planning a women’s beauty pageant.
“Would you believe that there are close to 80 countries the world over that call themselves republics?” says Ramos. “We will invite them to participate in this pageant.” Alex Y. Vergara