Team Philippines dons Francis Libiran’s barong during 31st SEA Games’ opening ceremony

Published May 13, 2022, 12:01 PM

by John Legaspi

Here’s the story behind the ‘Agila’ barong

The 31st Southeast Asian (SEA) Games has officially started as it held its opening ceremony in Hanoi, Vietnam last May 12. Apart from being a sporting event, the SEA Games is also a demonstration of the diverse culture of each participating nation. During the opening ceremony, 30 members of Team Philippines, athletes and officials, paraded at the My Dinh National Stadium with Olympic pole vaulter EJ Obiena as the country’s flag bearer. All of them wore a special barong Tagalog as their uniform, which was created by internationally-acclaimed Filipino fashion designer Francis Libiran.

Francis Libiran’s “Agila” barong (Still from Instagram); Team Philippines at the 31st SEA Games’ opening ceremony (Photo from PSC Facebook, courtesy of Nonilon Reyes and Jerome Ascano)

Dubbed the “Agila” barong Tagalog, the parade uniform is made using Philippine fibers, with red and blue stripes and an eagle embroidery details adorning the barong’s right sleeve.

“This year, I have named this creation ‘Agila.’ I decided to feature the soaring Philippine Eagle as the focal point of the barong,” the designer shared on Instagram. “Of course, with the creation, I still made use of Philippine fibers and materials which beautifully highlight my signature art deco embroidery.”

This is not the first time Francis designed a piece for Team Philippines competing at the SEA Games. During the opening ceremony of the 30th edition of the SEA Games held in the Philippines, the designer created a barong with a collar that has red and blue accents and sun embroidery.

“Having the opportunity to design for Team Philippines for the second time, this time, the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi is beyond exciting,” Francis said. “I’m ecstatic to once again dress our incredible athletes with my design. I have always been passionate about fusing my own design flair with our culture.”

As of writing, the country has garnered one gold, five silver, and seven bronze medals.

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