Inspiring Pinoys

Baguio Weavers are the Hari ng Sablay


Choose Philippines
Choose Philippines | May 05, 2016
Baguio Weavers are the Hari ng Sablay

Unlike most universities where the attire for graduation ceremonies is the all-black toga, the state university has a unique academic costume that's not only rich in history and culture but also laden with stories of hard work and passion. They call this the 'UP Sablay,' a patented design of the official academic costume of the University of the Philippines. It uses the official colors of the University, maroon and green, and a strip of yellow gold, which stands for the high standards of values and excellence. It also bears the baybayin (not alibata!) letters that are equivalent to the Roman letters "U" and "P."

(Photo from

Baybayin which literally means "spell", is a writing system known to Filipinos before it was even called Philippines back in the pre-Spanish colonialism era. Prof. Paul Versoza wrongly termed the alphabet as Alibata even though he knew it was named Baybayin in the 1920's. And from then on, it was popularized at that term.

"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."

The design was registered with a copyright in 2002 through UP professors: Virginia D. Monje, Rogelio L. Juliano Jr. (deceased), Abraham P. Sakili, Antoinette B. Hernandez, Consuelo J. Paz, and Carmen G. Diaz de Ventanilla.

An amateur video recently made its rounds on the internet wherein the weavers of the sablay are painstakingly embroidering the baybayin (not alibata for the nth time) characters by hand, a fitting tribute to the graduating Iskos and Iskas this coming June (considering the academic shift). Carefully maneuvering the yellow gold thread on the maroon cloth are the hardworking people of Easter Weaving in Baguio City. As of writing, the short clip has reached almost 4,000 views.


Candidates for graduation wear the sablay at the right shoulder and it is then moved to the left by the President of the University after conferment of their degree. It is similar to the moving of the tassel of the academic cap. It is worn over a white dress for females and over a barong Tagalog for males. Iskos and iskas from the regions are also encouraged to wear it over indigenous clothing.

Congratulations to this year’s batch of graduates!


(Cover photo from

Read Related Stories:
1) WATCH: Meet the Baybayin Warrior & Forget About Alibata

2) LOOK: Popular Brands Recreated Using Ancient Baybayin Alphabet


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