The Spanish era brought about Spanish ethics, which influenced Christianized women to wear a skirt called the saya and a blouse called the baro, which was worn throughout the 400 years of colonization.
The baro was of butterfly sleeves made consistently of fine fabrics and was said to have been influenced by the costume of the statues of the Blessed Virgin.
The saya was generally fashioned out of opaque plaid or striped cotton and sinamay varieties, It was to remain unelaborated until the period of intensified global trade.
Since the baro was made of fine material, a square kerchief called alampay, usually made of the same fabric as the saya was worn over the baro to cover the breasts which also doubled as a veil, later called the panuelo.
An overkirt made of darker, thicker material known as the tapis was wrapped around the lower half of the woman’s body and tied at the waist or below the breasts. It was secured in place by the knotted ends or by a length of braided material. In some societies, belt-like pieces were used. The tapis was an assertion of native pride. To this day, the tapis is worn by older women in barrios all over the Philippines.
When the Spaniards ruled over the country, one of their three missions was to spread Christianity. With the advent of religiousity and veneration of the Blessed-Virgin, the Filipino women’s clothing transformed to that of conservatism. Showing off certain parts of the body like one’s foot or leg, was a great taboo.