Palace backs use of 'sablay' over toga

By Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang backed the proposal of an official of the Department of Education (DepEd) to use "sablay" instead of the usual toga for the end-of-school-year rites in elementary and high schools nationwide.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN) Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo made the statement after DepEd Undersecretary for Administration Alain Del Pascua pushed for the use of sablay to “instill patriotism and nationalism among young learners.”

A sablay is an indigenous loose garment draped across the body during formal occasions. The sablay is known as the official academic costume of the University of the Philippines (UP).

In a radio interview, Panelo, a UP graduate, after asking what a sablay was, backed the proposal, saying it may be cheaper than togas.

"Baka naman mas mura yun? Okay lang yun basta anything na hindi naman masama, makakabuti sa mga bata okay lang lahat yun (Maybe they are cheaper. That's fine as long as it is not bad for the students)," he said Sunday.

"Kung makakamenos sa gastos ng mga parents, okay lahat yun (If it would also help the parents financially, then it's fine)," he added.

Panelo likewise said that it was more appropriate for elementary and high school students to wear sablays since togas were more for college students.

In an Aide Memoire dated February 18, Pascua said the use of toga, "with its deep Western roots, has been taken for granted all these years despite its many disadvantages" like not being Filipino.

“It does not inspire loyalty to the nation but selves as a reminder of a colonial past and the toga, which covers the whole body, is impractical and uncomfortable to use in a tropical country like the Philippines,” Pascua noted.

He added that the use of sablay will help “promote core values of Makabansa and Makakalikasan and local culture and national diversity" and "nurture ethnic roots and perpetuate the production of local textiles of indigenous peoples and boost rural development.”