Chopstick Cinema

Celeste Heiter's Adventures in Asian Food & Film

Deciding What to Wear

The weather has turned quite cool here in the Napa Valley, so my kitchen attire will have to be somewhat more insulating than usual. But given the tropical nature of the meal, I still want to keep it colorful. I have a leotard with long sleeves, and several brightly patterned skirts and sarongs. One of them is bound to strike my fancy on the day of the dinner.

Traditional Filipino garments were strongly influenced by the presence of the Spanish during Colonial times. For women, an ensemble called the Terno was customary. It consisted of four garments: a long-sleeved blouse called camisa; a shawl called alampay or panuelo; a long skirt called saya, overlaid with a shorter skirt called tapis, which was worn mostly by servants and peasants. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, women wore a Chinese-style kimono over the saya skirt.

For men, the traditional garment is called the Barong Tagalog, an embroidered tunic with a round neckline and long sleeves, made of fine, translucent cloth called pina, woven from the fibers of the wild pineapple plant using a treadle-powered loom. The finished Barong Tagalog is embellished with delicate embroidery, and each region has its own distinctive style. The Barong Tagalog is worn over loose fitting trousers.