April 24, 2024

In just a month, some academic institutions are culminating the school year with the annual celebration of graduation for grade 12 learners and moving up for the grades 6 and 10 learners.
Thrilling as it may sound, the approaching glorious march to the graduation stage is challenged by the “toga” or “sablay” dilemma.
On Feb. 18, the Department of Education released an aide memoire, signed by Usec. Alain del Pascua entitled “Proposal to use sablay instead of toga for end-of-school-year rites in elementary and secondary schools.”
According to the University of the Philippines website, sablay is an indigenous loose garment that, simple yet elegant, is used traditionally for formal occasions. As a verb (isablay), it also means to put a precious object like a piece of cloth or garment upon one’s shoulder, as a way of giving value and respect to this selfsame object. The said garment is favored over the commonly used toga for the reasons stated in the memo as it instills patriotism and nationalism among young learners as sablay reveals the proper way of being proud to be a Filipino; promote core values of makabansa and makakalikasan; promote local culture and national diversity; nurture ethnic roots and perpetuate the production of local textiles of the indigenous peoples; boost rural development; provide jobs and empower women and men weavers; and revive and sustain local and traditional weaving enterprises.
“Having two or more teachers in the family makes the home a faculty room.” Synchronic to the discussions on the said issue is a conversation between me and my husband who happens to be a teacher too. Our usual exchange of ideas over a cup of coffee in the morning revolved around the pros and cons in the implementation of the memo.
In the schools where my husband and I teach, simplicity during end-of-school-year Rites is practiced to help parents avoid spending huge amount of money in funding their children’s education.
Moreover, teachers will have to sacrifice their time in searching for the best design and cheaper cloth to be used. In the Cordillera where every ethnic group has its own design for indigenous garments, it might be best for learners to wear their own designs in acknowledgment of their group’s uniqueness.
Granting the proposal will be approved, it will be a big change on the part of the parents since they will be faced with additional expenses. Nevertheless, the cost is part of change. After all, in every development, there is always a sacrifice.
Whatever the decision may be, I would say that the achievements of the learners are not measured by their attire. What is more important is how prepared they are for their future and how they will use what they have learned to build a brighter future.
Hopeful that change is indeed for the better, let us be futuristic and optimistic in whatever choices we make. — Elvira G. Tubal