On our bike trip, we could only bring a small bag for our clothes. It’s called a saddle bag and fits under the bike seat. Here’s my wife’s bike fully packed:

The rest of the bags are for food or gear or other essentials. The saddle bag is about 18” long and 6-8” in diameter. All we were able to bring is
– 3 “kits” (the biking clothes we wear)
– 1 pants
– 1 shorts
– 2 shirts
– underwear
– 3 socks
– 2 jackets (rain and puffy)

Thats it.

We weren’t sure how rough it would be.
But…to be honest, it has been really nice. No choices to make. Everything is simple.
the hardest part is doing laundry so often.

The rest of the world is getting back to work. In the US, that means getting back in a suit and tie.

While many offices in the Philippines have adopted suits as men’s office wear, many still use the “barong tagalog”.

The barong is a lightweight embroidered shirt used by Filipinos the same way we use suits here in the US.

There’s a formal barong, a long-sleeved, intricately embroidered, sheer shirt usually made from pineapple leaf and jusi (pronounced: who-c) fibers from abaca (a banana sub species). It’s what you wear to life events like weddings or funerals.

Wearing a formal barong can also be a status symbol, especially if you get a barong from high-end designers like Pierre Cardin, Rhett Eala or Rajo Laurel.

Formal barongs are worn on red carpet and black tie events. Even heads of state or dignitaries who visit the Philippines would wear the barong. The best example of this was during the APEC summit in the Philippines in 2015.

Image: By Presidencia de la República Mexicana – https://www.flickr.com/photos/presidenciamx/23104738792/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45272604

For the office, you wear a polo barong. It has short sleeves, simple to no embroidery, is made from cotton or linen, and can come in various colors. It’s too informal for weddings but good enough for work or meetings with clients.

There are even feminized versions of the barong. They’re often worn by politicians or corporate executives.

Image: By Littlebeatlebum – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=36507092

It makes sense to use this over a suit and tie when you see the shirt. Nobody likes wearing a thick jacket in a tropical climate. The embroidery work and design also look professional enough that they wouldn’t look out of place in a corporate setting.

But what makes the barong really interesting is that this type of shirt existed way before Spain colonized the Philippines. The kind of barong you wore would indicate your rank in society, what part of the country you are from, and what you did for a living. It can come in a wide variety of colors, styles, and designs. It’s one of those things that’s distinct about Filipino culture that has survived the test of time.

Get my book to learn more about Filipino work culture: The Outsourcing Lever.