Oblation or popularly known as “Oble” is an iconic symbol of the University of the Philippines (UP). The original sculpture is a masterpiece by National Artist Guillermo Tolentino, which depicts a man facing upward with arms outstretched, symbolizing selfless offering of oneself to the country. Every UP Campus across the country has an oblation statue standing in its vicinity.
I’ve witnessed people visiting the campus taking pictures or selfies with the oblation, and that is when I realized this sculpture is truly an icon. At UP Open University (UPOU), students only get to visit the campus during graduation and they take this opportunity to get their pictures taken with the oblation as their background.
In the UPOU main campus/headquarters, there is a unique kind of oblation which has become its major landmark. The oblation statue stands at the center of the Oblation Plaza. The UPOU Oblation was designed and executed by University Artist and Former UPOU Chancellor Grace Javier Alfonso in 2005 with a ribbon-like flag with 3 stars and a sun representing the Philippine flag swirling around the pedestal.
The majestic effect of the flag lifting the Oblation into greater heights truly gives a reverberating feeling of the boundless reach that the education sector can achieve. It is a symbolism of UPOU’s goal of widening access to UP quality education. The Republic Act 10650 (Open Distance Learning Law) has tasked UPOU to assist relevant national agencies, higher education institutions, and technical and vocational institutions in developing their distance education programs through training, technical assistance, research and other academic programs.
Aside from the oblation standing at the center of the oblation plaza, UPOU also has two other oblations inside the headquarters. The UPOU Main Building houses a new and different interpretation of the oblation by Jerusalino Araos. The oblation is entirely made of wood and crafted using various traditional woodworking techniques. From the central support, three structures of different colors (red, blue, yellow) emerge symbolizing the Philippine flag and the three major islands of the country. Andres Bonifacio’s “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Bayan” is inscribed in alibata on the panels hanging from the central support. The other oblation known at UPOU as the Puting Oble is housed inside the UPOU Oblation Hall. The “Puting Oble” is the first mold of the UPOU Oblation cast executed by Dr. Alfonso.
As a UPOU student, I truly believe that the beautifully crafted UPOU oblation serves as a symbol of possibility in accessing quality education via distance learning wherever you are in the country or the world.
For more information about UPOU, you may check out the following:
UPOU Website https://www.upou.edu.ph/public-service/
UPOU Facebook https://www.facebook.com/UPOpenUniversity
Written by Phoebe May D. Apostol and Moireen Espinosa