How Dolphy influenced modern Filipino fashion

IMAGE Dolphy photo c/o; Noel Orsal (Rio, Meg); Penshoppe

Dolphy (far left)—in his iconic John Puruntong costume—may or may not have inspired modern fashion, but he certainly comes to mind when we see these pieces: (L-R) the board shorts on running coach Rio dela Cruz at the Oakley Summer 2012 fashion show, the tank top on Meg Imperial at the Sunday Funday shoot, and the collarless shirt from Penshoppe's Robin Tomas collection.

Twitter became abuzz after news of comedy king Dolphy’s death erupted.

For almost a month, the whole country prayed and monitored his critical condition.

One tweet once referred to the now-iconic shorts of the Comedy king.

Rock Ed Philippines executive director Gang Badoy posted: “And to all ye surfer hipster gals & guys --- you have Dolphy to thank for your uber cool surf shorts. Introduced first as Puruntong shorts.”

While there is no proof that Dolphy did inspire modern fashion with his costume choices, many Filipinos still associate him with the puruntong shorts, which nowadays have taken more stylish forms.

THE NEW PURUNTONG. What exactly is a puruntong?

According to website, a puruntong is “a type of short pants [that] is tailored extending below the knee and has bigger allowance considering the diameter of each leg hole.

“The term came from its originator, John Puruntong, of the well-known TV series John En Marsha.”


It is basically wide-leg Capri pants—or “kapre” pants as the website suggested—that looks similarly close to today’s surf shorts or board shorts.

Designed primarily as a summer or beach wear for men, board shorts come in a variety of bright colors and prints—the most famous being the hibiscus or gumamela flower.

Back in the day, Dolphy’s puruntongs were usually in plaid, fine checker prints or just plain color.

These also reincarnated recently when the “tokong” or Bermuda shorts suddenly became a fad about two years ago.

A lot of young men prefer wearing these as an alternative to denim jeans especially when going on a casual day out.

With the climate getting warmer, there’s no beating the comfort of these wide-leg shorts that allow ease of movement for the wearer.

Perhaps that’s the same reason the happy-go-lucky John Puruntong often wore those shorts?


SANDOS AND CAMISA-CHINO. Dolphy’s John Puruntong didn’t go half naked on the show, of course.

Often he would pair his puruntongs with either a sando or camisa-chino.

And while those two clothing pieces are still worn as is nowadays, they have also gotten chic upgrades through the years.

The sando today also goes by the name “tank top.”

More popular among women, tank tops have become a wardrobe staple and are worn not just as “pambahay” or sleepwear, but even in casual outings.

Some couture brands have incorporated tank tops into their design collections, adding lavish embellishments such as studs or crystals to make them even more stylish and worthy of wearing on the red carpet.

In some episodes of John En Marsha, Dolphy would also be caught wearing a camisa-chino, also known as the collarless shirt or the granddad shirt.

It was considered default attire for local folks back in the day (as in Spanish occupation era), but these days, they’re just as casual—and cool-looking—as the polo shirts that adorn most young men.


A similar reincarnation is Robin Tomas’ design for a clothing brand called the Henley Tee, which uses a soft cotton fabric and a distinct colored piping that sets it apart from the usual camisa-chino.

Dolphy may not be a style icon, but his imprint on our culture certainly cannot be ignored.

CLICK HERE to reminisce Dolphy and his Journey.


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