History of the U.P. Oblation
No symbol is more closely identified with the University of the Philippines than the statue of the Oblation. The naked figure of a young man in a symbolic gesture of sacrificial offering of service to country and humanity has become a landmark in every campus of the University. For the hundreds of thousands of UP Alumni, the Oblation has become their major symbolic link with Alma Mater. The Oblation is also the major rallying point for all kinds of dissent, protest actions, and social criticism, as well as expressions of public service, nationalism, and patriotism. For the autonomous units and all the campuses of the University of the Philippines, the Oblation is the enduring symbol of their unity in mission, vision and traditions.
The Oblation, a masterpiece of Filipino sculptor Guillermo E. Tolentino, was commissioned in 1935 by President Rafael Palma, first Filipino president of the University. His order was for professor Tolentino to translate the second stanza of Rizal's "Last Farewell" into a monument which would be the identifying landmark of the University.
Rizal's "Last Farewell", Second Stanza
En campos de batalla,
luchando con delirio,
Otros te dan sus vidas,
sin duda, sin pesar,
El sitio nada importa:
cipres, laurel o lirio,
Cadalso o campo abierto,
combate o cruel martirio,
Lo mismo es si lo piden
la patria y el hogar.
- Jose Rizal -
Ang nangasa digmaang dumog sa paglaban
Handog din sa iyo ang kanilang buhay;
Hirap ay di pansin, at si gunamgunan
Ang pagkaparool o pagtatagumpay.
Bibitaya't madlangmabangis na sakit
O pakikibakang lubhang mapanganib;
Pawang titiisin kung ito ang nais
Ng bayang tahanang pinakaiibig.
- Salin ni Pedro Gatmaitan -
In barricades imbattled;
fighting with delirium,
others donate you their lives
without doubts, without gloom,
The site doesn't matter;
cypress, laurel or lily;
gibbet or open field,
combat or cruel martyrdom,
are equal if demanded
by country and home.
- /Translated by Nick Joaquin/ -
The Oblation's Symbolism
The monument, which was fashioned out of concrete but painted to appear like bronze, cost P2,000, representing contributions of students, officials, alumni, and employees of the University raised during a two-month fund campaign.
Here in Professor Tolentino's own words is the symbolism of the Oblation:
"The completely nude* figure of a young man with outstretched arms and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes and parted lips murmuring a prayer, with breast forward in the act of offering himself, is my interpretation of that sublime stanza. It symbolizes all the unknown heroes who fell during the night. The statue stands on a rustic base, a stylized rugged shape of the Philippine archipelago, lined with big and small hard rocks, each and everyone of which represents an island.
The katakataka (wonder plant) whose roots are tightly implanted on Philippine soil, is the link that binds the symbolized figure to the allegorical Philippine Group.
Katakataka is really a wonder plant. It is called siempre vivo (always alive) in Spanish. A leaf or a piece of it thrown anywhere will sprout into a young plant. Hence it symbolizes the deep-rooted patriotism in the heart of our heroes. Such patriotism continually and forever grows anywhere in the Philippines.
The 3.5 meter height of the statue stands for the 350 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The rocks on the base of the relic were taken from Montalban (Rizal) gorge, site of the fierce fighting between Filipino guerillas and the Japanese army during the second World War."
*The fig leaf was added to the nude figure upon suggestion of President Jorge Bacobo.
Evolution of the Statue
In 1939, on National Heroes Day (the last Sunday of August, as originally designated by Act No. 3827), the Oblation was unveiled and dedicated to the national heroes at the UP Padre Faura Campus by Mrs. Gregoria de Jesus de Nakpil, widow of Andres Bonifacio. The cornerstone of this monument was earlier laid by Mrs. Aurora Quezon on November 30, 1931.
The Oblation withstood the ravages of the war and was standing at the quadrangle of UP Padre Faura on V.J. Day.
On February 11, 1949, the original Oblation was transfered to UP Diliman as part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the University. The huge motorcade which accompanied the Oblation from Padre Faura to Diliman was "such as was never before seen of the alumni of the University." For this occasion, a symphonic poem entitled "Oblation" composed by Prof. Eliseo Pajaro was performed for the first time. The original Oblation is now located at the 3rd floor of the UP Main Library in Diliman.
In 1950, as part of the golden anniversary celebration of the University, the UP Board of Regents ordered that the Oblation be cast in bronze. This bronze statue was cast in Italy, under the personal supervision of Professor Tolentino.
On November 29, 1958, on the occasion of the University's golden jubilee and 23 years after the original statue was first unveiled in Padre Faura, the 9-foot tall bronze Oblation was unveiled in UP Diliman where it now stands in front of Quezon Hall, main administration building of the University of the Philippines. At this ceremony, President Vicente Sinco said:
"(The Oblation) has served as a symbol of the spirit of dedication of the University of the Philippines to the ideals of service to our people and of loyalty to the cause of human betterment. It has stood for many years as the visible and tangible embodiment of purity of purpose and unhidden motives. Heretofore, this statue has been molded in sand and portland cement materials of lesser permanence and fragile beauty. Now it is executed in bronze so it will be more enduring and more resistant to the corroding elements of nature. As we celebrate this change, we rededicate this center of education, for which this landmark stands, to a more determined pursuit of truth in whatever shape and form, to the promotion of academic freedom, and to a tireless cultivation of love for all men regardless of race, rank, and religion. May this figure forever stand to move those who come to this University to brighter visions of service and loyalty."
Inscriptions at the Base
The integral relation among the symbolism of the Oblation, the meaning of National Heroes Day, and the mission and vision of the University of the Philippines is best expressed by the words of Andres Bonifacio and Dr. Jose Rizal, which are inscribed at the base of the bronze Oblation.
Here are the inscriptions:
Nasaan ang kabataang mag-aalay
ng kanilang kasibulang buhay,
ng kanilang adhikain at sigasig
sa kabutihan ng bansa?
Nasaan ang siyang puspusang
magbubuhos ng dugo
upang hugasang lariat ang ating kahihiyan,
ang ating mga kalapastanganan,
ang ating kabalintuan?
Tanging yaong dalisay at walang bahid
ang karapatdapat na naging alay upang
matanggap ang kasalantaang ito.
Binigkas ni Padre Florentino sa El Filibusterismo, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, 1891:
Donde esta la juventud que ha de consagrar sus rosadas horas, susilusiones y entusiasmo al bien de su patria? Donde esta la que ha de verter su sangre para lavar tantasverguenzas, tantos crimenes, tanta abominacion? Pura y sin maneha ha de ser la victima parer que elholacausto sea aceptable!
Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours, their illusions and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native land? Where are the youth who will generously pour out their blood to wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and spotless must the victim be that the sacrifice may be acceptable, Where are you, Oh youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life that has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has contaminated in our brains,the fire of enthusiasn that has been quenched in our hearts? We await, Oh youth, come, for we await you!
- Dr. Jose P. Rizal
*HULING PAHIMAKAS* NI DR. JOSE P. RIZAL
Masayang sa iyo'y aking idudulot
ang lanta kong buhay na
Maging maringal man at
sa kagalingan mo ay
Akin ding handog.
sa pakikidigma at pamimiyapis
ang alay ng iba'y
ang buhay na kipkip
maluag sa dibdib
Matamis sa puso at di ikahapis.
- salin ni Andres Bonifacio
*PAG-IBIG SA TINUBUANG BAYAN*
NI ANDRES BONIFACIO
Aling pag-ibig pang hihigit kaya
sa pagkadalisay at pagkakadakila
gaya ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa
Aling pag-ibig pa? Wala na nga, wala.
Pagpupuring lubos ang palaging hangad
sa bayan ng taong may dangal na ingat.
Umawit, tumula, kumathat't sumulat
kalakhan din niya'y isinisiwalat.
Walang mahalagang hindi inihando
ng may pusong mahal sa Bayang nagkupkop
dugo, yaman, dunong, katiisa't pagod,
buhay may abuting magkalagot lagot.
Saan man mautas ay di kailangan,
cipres o laurel, lirio ma'y patungan
pakikipaghamok, at ang bibitayan,
yaon ay gayon din kung hiling ng bayan.
Former source: http://www.up.edu.ph/oblation/history.html (this link is defunct).