President Duterte’s rolled-up Sona ‘barong’ sleeves–aye or nay? Designers speak up | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

“MAN of action.” President Duterte eschews sartorial convention and rolls up the sleeves of his formal “barong” at his first State of the Nation Address. INQUIRER PHOTO
“MAN of action.” President Duterte eschews sartorial convention and rolls up the sleeves of his formal “barong” at his first State of the Nation Address. INQUIRER PHOTO
“MAN of action.” President Duterte eschews sartorial convention and rolls up the sleeves of his formal “barong” at his first State of the Nation Address.



There’s a rule on how to wear the barong properly, and from a designer’s point of view, it looked wrong to wear the sleeves rolled-up at the State of the Nation Address (Sona). If he’s comfy, it’s okay.


The problem is, the barong becomes ordinary if you wear it casually like that. It’s a dress that we wear to formal and special occasions.


Same rules apply, whether you’re young or old; there’s no barong with ¾ sleeves. I hope it doesn’t become a precedent for others because it’s a national attire and should be worn a certain way. Even his Cabinet and security wore the barong properly, whether it was jusi or cotton. Some even wore theirs with cufflinks. The collar is subject to comfort, so I won’t argue that.


He can dress relaxed, but properly composed. The President looks smart and doesn’t need fancy detailing. He carries the flag insignia well. In the Sona, almost everybody followed the rule. I hope his stylist explains to him the importance of wearing the national costume properly for such occasions.




It’s fine with me. It just shows he is a man of action and ready to get work done. I think he should keep the rolled-up sleeves as a statement.




The new President is known for his simplicity, especially in what he wears. He looks more comfortable with sleeves rolled up. As we saw in the Sona, he’s magalaw with his hand movements. And his common-law wife already said, his skin is sensitive to certain fabrics.




When I saw President Duterte wearing his barong with sleeves rolled-up during the 69th anniversary of the Air Force, I thought he looked really cool in it, paired with light-colored maong. I like the whole casual, cool vibe.


But during the Sona, that I didn’t like at all. I guess the fabric of the barong looked stiffer and heavier, and matched with the more formal pants, it looked more contrived. I know he was trying to make the Sona a more casual event, but I guess it didn’t work this time. A less formal pair of pants, perhaps a good pair of gray chinos, would also work with rolled-up sleeves.




My take on it is that it takes a brave man to defy rules of dressing, especially in wearing a barong. But nowadays we see beaded sporty jackets, distressed gowns and even unfinished tuxedos worn to formal events.


I guess the way he wore the barong showed the people that the traditional barong Tagalog can be very versatile, and can transcend any given occasion.



I thought it was just so real and reflective of his personality. He represents the typical rugged Pinoy. He’s spontaneous. It also shows a lot about him being a “man of action.”




I didn’t watch the Sona. I’m trying to avoid watching all the killings on TV, it’s all bad news.


Kung ’yun ang style niya, rugged, okay lang. Kung cotton barong naman, puwede na. That’s his personality. As a designer, you only do what they like.


Mas strong ang appeal niya sa tao ’pag ganun, when he dresses as he likes, even during the campaign. Ayaw niya naman ng fashion yata. Basta ba may magagawa siya for the country, his performance is more important, and that people follow him.


Sa akin, dress however you want, as long as you do something for the country.



I find nothing wrong with rolling up the national costume’s sleeves, probably for comfort in a warm environment or for ease of movement when working on something. And obviously, it’s not a fashion statement on his part. But since he’s President of the country, it shouldn’t be practiced, especially during official functions.



I believe it’s part of President Duterte’s imaging, “maginoo pero medyo bastos.” The masses love it. Wearing the Filipino barong doesn’t diminish one’s love for the poor. But can I say this: They like their heroes “isputing” as well.




I like it to be honest. It’s a fresh take, makes the barong look casual. Very ‘working president’ look.”



No. But he’s an old, working man, give the man his comfort.



Formality wise, no. But everyone knows that’s his personality.




He’s humbling himself. He can do whatever he wants to reach out to the masses who are generally informal.



To me, rolling up the sleeves gives him better proportion. In my experience, when you roll up your sleeves, you look slimmer.



I don’t think it matters. If women can tweak the design of the traditional terno, make it short, cropped, with slit, wear it with pants, etc., why can’t men wear the barong in a different way? I’m sure he rolls the sleeves up for comfort, so that’s perfectly fine, but, of course, he would look more dapper if he keeps them down.



It’s not a big deal. Yes, it might be disrespectful of our traditional barong. But it also symbolizes power and change. Very revolutionary!



My stand on clothes: if it’s serving a purpose, e.g. you have to roll it up to make your hands more productive, by all means, yes. The fabric doesn’t look too delicate naman that rolling it up will permanently damage the barong.


Follow Cheche V. Moral on Twitter and Instagram @missyrabul, and Luis Carlo San Juan on Instagram @ketsupluis

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