Baston Ongpin in WW2 Luftwaffe paratrooper jacket, Apa Ongpin in Vietnam-era U.S. Army uniform blouse
Style Style Profile

How my dad’s attachment to military jackets got me into “collecting” them

The military jacket has become a shared fascination for this father and son ever since the older Ongpin brought home a 1981 Landmacht uniform blouse. Here, the author explains their sartorial benefits while his father supplies a bit of history 
Baston Ongpin, with Dad (Rafael A. S. G. Ongpin) | Jun 16 2019

For a while now, I’ve been “collecting” military jackets and uniforms. That’s the usual assumption. The truth is that I just like wearing them. So here is the story and overview of my “collection.”

 

The 1981 Landmacht (Dutch Army) uniform blouse

Around the end of my 6th Grade in 2018, my dad came home with a military jacket. It had the Dutch flag on each of its sleeves. He told me to put it on and so I did. I really enjoyed it. I wore it to school from Monday to Friday before washing it during the weekends. This was the start of my military jacket obsession.

The jacket itself is uniformly colored green. It has two chest pockets on either side and one pocket inside. This makes it great for wearing to family dinners or other events because of how normal it looks compared to most. However I have outgrown it since then so I don’t wear it much anymore. But I have received a replacement for the Dutch “blouse.” 

Dad: I started wearing military surplus jackets when I was around Baston’s age. Military surplus, even from World War Two, was still widely available in the late 1970’s, particularly in Angeles City and Baguio. I was a nerdy kid, and my gang and I were really interested in militaria and WW2 history. I liked the military clothes because they were really well made, of good material, quite comfortable, and it was sort of a hippie fashion statement— this was the tail echo of the hippie era. I’ve had military jackets all my life since. I wear them as raincoats, or when I travel to someplace cold. Right now, I have a Bundeswehr jacket, an Austrian Army jacket, an Army of the Czech Republic uniform blouse, and a Vietnam-era U.S. uniform blouse. I am on the lookout for a U.S. M65; I had one before, but it also ‘disappeared’ from my mom’s house, along with all the Spanish Fascist stuff I used to have. I got the Dutch uniform blouse from a friend of mine in Subic (I think his wife is Dutch). In any case, It was the right size for Baston, at the time. I wasn’t sure he would like it, but he really did. I think my other son, Lucas, 10, likes military stuff, too, but unfortunately, he needs to grow quite a bit more before we can find any that will fit him.

More jackets:

U.S. M65 (with brother, Lucas)

The United States Armed Forces M65

The American M65 was given to me by Nash Tysmans, the daughter of my father’s old friend, photographer Wig Tysmans. I put it on and found it to be quite thick and very short compared to the previous Dutch jacket I had. But I still enjoyed it as my second jacket and found it to be quite nice to use in hot places despite the thickness.

The jacket itself is very recognizable as THE military jacket. The collars are popped out a bit. It has both buttons and a zipper. It has two pockets on the chest and two down on the lower half. It is also painted a uniform green, a bit lighter than the Dutch jacket and this makes it look like it belongs in an action movie. While I don’t wear it as often, since it is in an extra small size (which doesn’t really fit me any more) it’s still something very practical to wear any day.

The young Apa (rightmost), with his cousins, in 1982. He is wearing his now lost M65.

Dad: The M65 (introduced in 1965, as the name suggests), was the standard U.S. military jacket for Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines for almost 30 years. Once upon a time, you could get them for a few hundred pesos in the surplus shops in the Baguio market. The Tysmans are from Baguio, so of course jackets are important. The M65 is so well-made and lasts forever, if you take care of it. It was so nice of Nash to give this to Baston, as it’s quite a rarity in XS size, and this is an older one, with the bronze zippers and buttons (they were later made from plastic). The short length, compared to the European jackets is because the M65 was designed to be comfortable when the wearer is seated, like in a vehicle.

 

The 1997 Bundeswehr (German Army) uniform blouse

After I received the M65, my dad offered me a choice of three military jackets for my birthday last year. I chose one, but when the day arrived, I received two. One of them was a 1997 German Army uniform blouse identical in structure to my Dutch blouse. This made it my replacement for the shrinking Dutch item. The blouse is colored field grey or feldgrau, making it both appear green and grey at the same time. It has the modern German flag on each side and was relatively oversized when I got it at first. But since then, I’ve grown into it, which makes it my main jacket for anything today.

Baston in Bundeswehr uniform blouse

Dad: I got these from a collector I found in OLX.ph. I’ve always liked the European stuff, because it’s more unique here in Asia. My main army jacket is also Bundeswehr. The manufacturer is the same as the one for the Dutch Army.

 

The Swiss Army Autumn Camouflage Jacket from the 1990s

The other jacket I received was the one I chose. It’s a Swiss jacket that I barely wear but is very light and looks funky. It still is one of the most interesting jackets I own today because of how colorful it is. The jacket has the typical camouflage pattern and shapes but the colors are very interesting. It’s orange, red, black, green, and light blue and ends up looking more like camouflage for hiding in a fashion show. Although it is comfy, the bright colors attract too much attention so I don’t wear it very often.

Baston in Swiss Army jacket

Dad: The Swiss Army themselves, and remember that they are almost all conscripts, derisively call this camouflage pattern the “five-fruit pajamas.” When the seller showed them to me, he also showed me pictures of actual Swiss troops on maneuvers, to prove that “they really wear this stuff”.

 

The Custom made hoodie (that’s older than me and is slowly falling apart)

After acquiring those two, my dad found his old hoodie that has its own story. Here is my retelling:

My father used to have a Bundeswehr military jacket when he still lived in his mom’s house. But one day, the jacket was stolen while on the clothesline. He was understandably upset but his mom got one made for him. The jacket itself is very baggy and has a red lining in the hood and zipper area. It’s colored a uniform green on the outside and looks more like a raincoat than a military uniform, but is still very comfortable and surprisingly light despite its oversized fit on me. However, I tore a good portion of the ends of the jacket while sitting on a skateboard and riding downhill. Because of how ragged it is, I can’t wear it to anything dressy, but I do wear it whenever it’s length and size doesn’t weight me down. Overall though it’s still a favorite.

Dad: I have long suspected that my mother actually got rid of my Bundeswehr jacket because she didn’t like it, or any military surplus at all. She thinks it’s louche and counterculture— which is exactly why I like it.

 

Luftwaffe (German Air Force) Fallschirmjaeger Early WW2 jacket (replica)

The most recent jacket I have gotten was a WW2 German paratrooper replica jacket that my ninong, Noel Ermitaño, bought for me from a tabletop gaming café called The War Room in Greenhills. My dad told me that I was allowed to buy one and I picked the FJ jacket out for its interesting look. The jacket itself is ridiculously long and oversized for me, it also has dry sandy brown colors in an odd pattern that really just looks evil. This is why the most common use I have made for this jacket is as a costume in school films or projects, it’s also just a cool item to own. Of course because of its ridiculous length, I don’t wear it often at all. When I do, I cover the swastika logo it has with a bit of black tape.

From left: Albert Labrador, proprietor of The War Room, Lucas Ongpin with WW2 U.S. canteen, Baston Ongpin in WW2 Luftwaffe paratrooper jacket, Apa Ongpin in Vietnam-era U.S. Army uniform blouse.

Dad: This unique and clever garment is actually a mid-length coat, reaching to the knees. The lower tails button together to form trouser legs, so that the parachute harness can be worn over it. Unbuttoned, it looks like a fashionable 1940’s coat.

 

The Armed Forces of the Philippines Ghillie Suit

Although not exactly a military jacket, I thought I’d include this as an interesting possession of mine. I got the Ghillie suit as my graduation gift after Grade 6. It still is a very cool item to own and works as an amazing costume for school films and projects. An issue is that I have no idea how to wash it so it smells like sweaty men, because it was worn by quite a few sweaty men.

Baston in ghillie suit (sniper camouflage)

Hope you enjoyed reading about my military jacket collection. And stay tuned tomorrow for the next episode of My Strange Addiction where we confront a French woman who’s addicted to eating solid paint. Only on TLC.