Barong makeover for Filipino OlympiansBy Tina Arceo-Dumlao
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) has tapped Rajo Laurel to design and make the clothes that the small Philippine contingent will wear during the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics on July 27.
Laurel, a judge in the reality show “Project Runway Philippines,” on Tuesday said the barong Tagalog was his inspiration for the delegation’s ensemble because he believed in the national costume’s “simplicity and elegance.”
Laurel used black, gold and mocha as primary colors for the stylized barong Tagalog in rayon fabric to give it a more modern feel.
The embroidery, on the other hand, will feature a modern palay-inspired design with dark cobalt and blue thread symbolizing good fortune and luck.
The barong Tagalog will be paired with weight wool flat front trousers.
Laurel said the rayon fabric should keep the athletes warm enough during the opening ceremony of the 30th Summer Olympics.
The main accessory of the “tiny” contingent of nine athletes and 13 officials is a salakot with gold leaf that Laurel hopes will catch the light as the Filipino representatives enter the stadium.
The Philippine Olympic team is composed of boxer Mark Anthony Barriga, BMX rider Daniel Caluag, judoka Tomohiko Hoshina, lifter Hidilyn Diaz, skeet shooter Brian Rosario, long-jumper Marestella Torres, steeplechaser Rene Herrera and swimmers Jasmine Alkhaldi and Jessie Khing Lacuna.
Laurel told the Philippine Daily Inquirer he got involved in the project because one of the members of the POC was his high school volleyball coach.
As his own contribution to the Philippines’ Olympic dreams, Laurel will give the clothes to the Philippine contingent at cost.
“This means that we will not make any profit out of this commission, which is my small contribution to the Olympic dream,” he said in a phone interview.
The ensemble of the contingent will be delivered by Laurel’s corporate uniform company—
Laurel Et Ross Enterprises Inc.—by the middle of July.
“My main thought for this as we send out our Olympians is that they are the gladiators in the movie ‘300’. We may have a small team. However, we are filled with confidence and pride,” he added.
In the 2000 Olympics, the Filipinos set aside their usual barong in favor of gray blazers, blue pants and red neckties to shield them from the unusually biting spring weather in Sydney that gets exceptionally nippy at night.
The Philippine contingent marched in barong Tagalog at the opening of the 2004 Olympics in Athens, except for the three women in the contingent—archer Jasmin Figueroa, swimmer Jaclyn Pangilinan and long jumper Lerma Bulauitan Gabito. They stood out in their pink and gray ternos.
At the opening ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Team Philippines also wore barong, which then Bacolod Representative Monico Puentevella, chief of mission, helped design. With a report from Almi Ilagan, Inquirer Research