DepEd official pushes use of “Sablay” instead of toga in elementary, high school graduations

Robie de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines – An official from the Department of Education (DepEd) is proposing the use of “sablay” instead of the toga which is usually used for end-of-school year rites in elementary and secondary schools.

In a Facebook post, Education Undersecretary Alain Pascua confirmed reports circulating on social media that he is pushing for the use of sablay instead of graduation toga in the basic education level.

Based on an Aide Memoire, which bears Pascua’s name and signature, the use of toga has deep Western roots and not Filipino.

Pascua also said that the use of toga “does not inspire loyalty to the country, but only serves as a reminder of a colonial past.”

He also said that the toga, which covers the whole body, is impractical and uncomfortable to use in a tropical country like the Philippines.

The Education official added that renting and buying of a toga, with gown and cap, is an additional expense and an added burden on parents.

Pascua pointed out that using sablay in end-of-school-year rites will “instill patriotism and nationalism among young learners,” and “promote local culture and national diversity.”

“[It] will nurture ethnic roots and perpetuate the production of local textiles of indigenous peoples,” he added.

An Aide Memoire is “a written summary or outline of important items of a proposed agreement or diplomatic communication,” which Pascua said his office usually issues to the Secretary, the DepEd Execom and Mancom, among others, as a briefer for current issues, position paper, or policy proposals.

Pascua said he does not have any idea how the document leaked online as this has yet to be discussed with DepEd officials.

“The Aide Memoire in question did indeed come from me, which I sent to a DepEd Execom and Mancom Groups for their consideration and feedback, but somehow the aide-memoire leaked through posts on Facebook,” he said.

“To clarify, the Aide-Memoire has yet to be discussed at the Execom-Mancom levels and remains a proposition,” he added.

He, however, pointed out that one positive outcome of the leak was that they were able to glean at the public’s sentiment towards the proposal, “which has generally been favorable and very welcoming, give or take a few concerns that need to be addressed should the proposal be considered.”

“We at the Department of Education (DepEd) value feedback and encourage everyone to voice their concerns and ideas. Lastly, this incident helps reinforce the importance of checking facts and sources,” he said.

He also stressed that DepEd officially releases its issuances through its website,, and its various official social media accounts.

“At all times, OUA issuances are released at DepEd workplace,” he said.

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