La Traje de Mestiza

Early 19th century Pañuelo on exhibit at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The pañuelo is the only Spanish-originated piece in the Maria Clara ensemble. Its assimilation into the local culture signaled society’s conformity to the Catholic Canon. The pañuelo, which was partly worn as a collar to cover the neck, also served as a veil when attending mass, rites, or visiting churches. It was a practice that crossed over to the 20th century until it lost its relevance and appeal. The tradition of wearing the veil, however, was being revived in Ilocos Sur through a resolution that was approved by the Provincial Board in 2014. It gained momentum even among young women.

The pañuelo, which is the accent of the whole ensemble, is a delicate wrap that signified chastity and devotion to the Virgin Mother of Christ.


| American Period |
An Excerpt from November 19, 1935

4-5 p.m. University of the Philippines military review of students; folk dances with sixty-five couple all students; men were in camisas de Chino and the girls in lovely traje de mestiza. This was the first time I had seen these dances. In my day they would all have dressed in European costume and danced the turkey trot. This shows their new self-confidence or pride of nationalism. They are not ashamed of being themselves. All notions of their being Indios have been thrown in the dust-bin. It was very lovely and a big success. The American Vice-President and Speaker Byrnes went after the first dance (most of us are quite exhausted by these festivities). The visitors leave tomorrow, thank God!! Myriads of autograph-seekers.

Cocktail party at Le Jeunes (National City Bank). Big crush with the usual traffic jam and c&c—N.B. when entertaining in Manila, look after the traffic problem first; give far more light on stairway & in house, and less glaring lights in the garden. Confusion existed as the original request for “full dress” at Malacañan tonight. Sam Gaches sent his motor to Baguio to fetch his dress clothes—then flew up there himself—now is marooned there by washouts caused by the typhoon!

(This was the first anniversary of my wedding with Doria. Nov. 19, 1934 at Alexandra, Egypt.)

First Ball at Malacañan given by President and Mrs. Quezon. Big crush, and a really brilliant affair, with sufficient light in the ball-room. Doria danced with Phil Buencamino in the Rigodon de Honorshe was dressed in a green Mestiza costume with silver flowers. Well done. Home early and to bed.

Source: The Philippine Diary Project | Manuel L. Quezon III