I never really thought much about the UP Sablay until recently, when a Facebook friend posted a photo of someone lamenting the fact that the Sablay is no longer exclusive to UP, as other universities have started using a similar one in their graduation ceremonies.

Is the sablay really exclusive to U.P.? Yes, it is. The UP Sablay is copyrighted.


The UP Sablay is the official academic costume of the University of the Philippines. The official colors of the University, maroon and green, were used in the sablay. Yellow gold, which stands for the high standards of values and excellence, was also used. The colors, based on the Pantone ProSim color chart, are Pantone 195 CVP (maroon), Pantone 349 CVP (green), and Pantone 138 CVP (yellow gold).The indigenous letters ? and ? , originating from the indigenous alphabet called baybayin or katitikan, are equivalent to the Roman letters “U” and “P”, respectively. The curvilinear design called ukkil or ukit, which resembles a sprouting plant, signifies life. The geometric designs (in zigzag and diamond patterns) are common design elements gracing the attires and functional objects of indigenous peoples from Batanes to Tawi-tawi. Arranged continuously and rhythmically, these geometric designs highlight the diverse cultural communities in the Philippines and the University’s pursuit of knowledge, cultural enrichment, and scientific advancement.

Date of Registration: 13 September 2002
Date of Issuance of Certificate of Copyright Registration and Deposit: 23 September 2002

But that doesn’t mean that other universities cannot use a similar sash. The University of Rizal System uses a similar sash, which they call “sakbay.” I do not know what the students of Lyceum University of the Philippines call theirs, but they certainly cannot call it sablay, as UP has copyrighted that.

I myself did not know a lot about the Sablay. My batch from the College of Science graduated in 2003 without using the sablay; and so did H’s batch from the College of Engineering. My sister though graduated from the College of Social Sciences and Philosophy in 2005 and she used the Sablay. That is why there is a Sablay lying somewhere right now in our condo.

Because of the many questions associated with the Sablay, I had to do a little research on the net and my social networks and found out the following:

From the University of the Philippines entry on Wikipedia:

The University uses unique academic regalia. Instead of the traditional academic dress composed of a cap, hood and gown, some constituent units prescribe the Sablay. The Sablay is a sash joined in front by an ornament and embroidered or printed with the University’s initials in Baybayin script and running geometric motifs of indigenous Philippine ethnic groups. It is traditionally worn over a white or ecru dress for females or an ecru barong Tagalog and black pants for males, although there has been instances wherein the Sablay is worn over other indigenous clothing.

Candidates for graduation wear the sablay at the right shoulder, and is then moved to the left shoulder after the President of the University confers their degree, similar to the moving of the tassel of the academic cap.

Not all units [constituent university] have adopted the Sablay; the Manila and Los Baños campuses still prescribe the usual cap and gown.

At present, the University of the Philippines system consists of seven (7) constituent universities located in 12 campuses around the country – and since each constituent university has its own manual, the use of the Sablay is not prescribed in all campuses.

That is why the U.P. Los Banos had the Sablay for Graduation Movement that called for the use of the UP Sablay as Academic Regalia for the yearly Graduation and Commencement Exercises in UPLB.

The Sablay for Graduation movement calls for the use of the UP Sablay as Academic Regalia for the yearly Graduation and Commencement Exercises in UPLB

We are,
Graduating students and non-graduating students of the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

We believe,
That the Sablay, as a loose sash containing geometric motifs of Philippine indigenous tribes and the Baybayin figures for the letters ‘U’ and ‘P’, is uniquely Filipino and the use of which a proper symbol of the academic consummation of an individual.

That the University of the Philippines, as the country’s premier institution of higher learning, true to its mandate of delivering education that is for and by the Filipino, is wholly committed to empowering the ethnic identity of its students and the diverse cultural communities of the Philippines.

We call on the Administration; particularly the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Instruction, to standardize the use of the UP Sablay as the official Academic and Graduation attire of the University of the Philippines Los Baños, beginning this Graduation and Commencement Exercises 2012, and

To allow graduating students who are members of indigenous peoples/ethnic groups the option to wear their respective cultural outfits underneath the Sablay during the Graduation ceremonies.

Don the UP Sablay!
Uphold the UP Spirit!

The movement was able to gather more than 5,800 signatures from students.

Use of Sablay is ‘good to go’
By Maricar Cinco
Inquirer Southern Luzon
9:49 pm | Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

LOS BAÑOS—Students of the University of the Philippines-Los Baños (UPLB) have gathered the number of signatures required for the state campus to adopt the Sablay as official attire on graduation day.

The use of UP Sablay as graduation attire was “good to go,” said Tres Panganiban, of the UPLB Student Council.

Panganiban said the use of Sablay as official graduation attire has been proposed since 2009.

In UP Diliman, students have been wearing the Sablay for graduation rites since the 1990s. Except for those in medical courses, graduates in UP Manila also wear Sablay.

A graduate can own the Sablay as souvenir for P700-P800, which is slightly more expensive than renting a toga for P400-P500, Panganiban said.

Students, however, could also rent Sablay for a lower price, said Panganiban.

The use of the toga has not been banned though so students and faculty have choices: a toga or Filipiniana, or a combination of both, as long as they use UP’s Sablay. (Source: a Pinoy Exchange user in: History of Sablay)


Aside from being Pinoy to the core, the sablay has practical advantages over the toga. Dr. Victor Paz, Director of UP’s Archaeological Studies Program, once mentioned in his Arkiyoloji 1 class that the sablay is more suited for the tropical climate, compared with the toga which was born in colder lands. This might seem like a minor issue, until you get to know that there have been cases of UPians fainting in the middle of academic ceremonies due to the choking heat of the toga. (Source: Sablay, the Filipino Graduation Garb)


Now that we have cleared the origin and the use of the Sablay as a graduation attire, we now come to the question as to whether we can use it at other events or ceremonies outside of UP, and the answer is YES.

For example, my cousin who holds undergraduate and masters degrees from the University of the Philippines Diliman and currently a faculty at the Ateneo de Naga University wore his Sablay during the graduation ceremonies at the AdNU.

Also, if one is to represent UP as an official or a faculty member, you are to wear the Academic Costume, in this case the Sablay, no matter where you are (or in the very own words of my friend and current faculty of the UPD College of Engineering Ms. Liberato, “kahit saang lupalop ka pa mapadpad”.) 😛



Please comment if there are incorrect statements in this blog. Thanks!