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LOOK: World Leaders Styled with Laguna-made Barongs


Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | Nov 20, 2015
LOOK: World Leaders Styled with Laguna-made Barongs

The two-day APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting last November 18-19, 2015 wasn't only a conference wherein presidents and prime ministers of member countries talked about economic integration, the global market, and other matters that concern the Asia-Pacifc. It was also an opportunity for the Philippines to showcase our stunning destinations, world-class talent, Filipino ingenuity and creativity, and the beautiful and functional products from our cottage industries. Even our Manila Bay sunset couldn't wait to show off its famous burst of red, orange, blue, and purple at dusk.

(Photo by Erik De Castro, Reuters via

The gala dinner during the first night of the summit was also a display of some of the Philippine's best as award-winning Filipino designer Paul Cabral dressed up the leaders and their spouses in the iconic barong Tagalogs and ternos. To add to that, these were made by hand by Cabral's weavers at the Embroidery Capital of the Philippines—Lumban, Laguna

Lumban is famous for its embroidery.
(Photo from

Lumban is one of Laguna's oldest towns. It even used to comprise other municipalities of the province such as Santa Cruz, Cavinti, and Pagsanjan.

The hand embroidery or burda industry was at its height in the late 60s to the early 70s when members of the national government were recommended to wear the barong and baro at saya during functions. With this recognition, the number of embroidery shops increased and, eventually, the town became the go-to place of fashion designers.

Paul Cabral is President PNoy's couturier and the designer behind some of the the best-dressed celebrities.
(Photo from

The town's involvement in the industry comprised of the whole process of embroidery making—from washing of the raw materials to the final output ready for display at the red carpet. They have the locals who stretch the jusi and piña cloth on a large bamboo they call the bastador, the embroiderers, the artisans who decorate the textile through a process called calado (piercing), the eyelet-makers, and, finally, the shop owners. 

READ MORE: APEC Leaders Wear Barongs Made from Piña Fibers of Western Visayas
Cabral created over 30 unique designs for the APEC summit. Each shirt has embroidery inspired by the culture and country of the leader who will be wearing it.
(Photo from

To ensure that this local art of Lumban will not be lost and to reinforce the present generation's interest to the cottage industry, an embroidery course was included starting from the seventh grade of the K-12 curriculum in public schools of the municipality.   

Now that the hand embroidery of Lumban has gained international attention, it is with high hopes that the local industry will continue to thrive and catch the attention of designers in the whole world. 


WATCH: Philippine Town Goes Hollywood, Aims for World Record


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