The Oblation (Filipino: Pahinungod, Oblasyon) is a concrete statue by Philippine National Artist artist Guillermo Tolentino which serves as the iconic symbol of the University of the Philippines. It depicts a man facing upward with arms outstretched, symbolizing selfless offering of oneself to his union.
The idea for the Oblation was first conceived during the presidency of Rafael Palma, who was the one to commission Tolentino to make the sculpture. Palma requested that the statue would be based on the second verse of Rizal's Mi Ultimo Adios:
The concrete sculpture painted to look like bronze, measures 3.5 meters in height, symbolizing the 333 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The sculpture is replete with references of selfless dedication and service to the nation, and as Tolentino himself describes it;
Originally, the statue was completely naked, but for reasons of decency it was modified by U.P. President Jorge Bocobo, 4th President of UP, with the addition of a fig leaf to cover the genitals. The sculpture was funded by the U.P. students of 1935-36, and was presented by Potenciano Illusorio and Jose B. Laurel, Jr., presidents of the student council during the first and second semester respectively and was dedicated on March 1939 at the University's Manila campus, the main campus then, where it stayed until February 1949, when the main administrative offices of the university moved to the new University of the Philippines Diliman campus in Quezon City. The transfer of the Oblation to its new home served as the highlight of the move from Manila, which is historically referred to as the Exodus. The sculpture in front of the Quezon Hall at UP Diliman was installed facing west, purportedly a tribute to the American roots of the University. Today, that sculpture is only a bronze replica (which was recast from the original in Italy in 1950, under the supervision of Tolentino himself) dedicated on U.P.'s Golden Jubilee on November 29, 1958. The original sculpture is being kept at the Main Library (Gonzalez Hall), the former site of the U.P. College of Fine Arts.
Several replicas of the Oblation were made for the various campuses of the University of the Philippines, some by National Artist Napoleon Abueva. The Oblation at the University of the Philippines Visayas campus in Iloilo City was made by Professor Anastacio Caedo. 2005 National Artist-nominee Glenn Bautista, likewise, did his celebrated version of the Oblation in pen and ink as part of his schoolplates at the University of the Philippines College of Fine Arts under Professor Rebillon. The sculpture was registered at the Intellectual Property Office in the year 2004. Being the main symbol of the university, the Oblation is the centerpiece of many U.P.-related logos, like those of the Philippine Collegian and other official student publications, the U.P. Cooperative, and the U.P. Centennial emblem.
The University of the Philippines Open University Oblation sculpture is unique for its ribbon-like flag swirling around the pedestal and the replica of Guillermo Tolentino's U.P. Oblation. This gives an effect of the flag lifting the Oblation into greater heights and rendering it the boundless reach that is symbolic of U.P.O.U.'s prime objective of widening access to U.P. quality education. Completed in 2005, it was designed and executed by University Artist and U.P.O.U. Chancellor Dr. Grace J. Alfonso.
As the primary icon of the University of the Philippines, oblation statues are located on the campuses of its constituent universities, often on plazas named "oblation" after the statue, in front of many U.P.'s extension schools, and at the Abueva Ancestral House.
The identity of the person who served as the model of the sculpture has been long been the subject of speculation.
University literature records the names of two persons who served as a model for the oblation: Tolentino's student assistant Anastacio Caedo, and Caedo's brother-in-law, Virgilio Raymundo. Specifically, Tolentino used Caedo's physique and Raymundo's proportion for reference. Caedo would later become a professor of Fine Arts in the University himself, succeeding the deceased Tolentino. His works now form part of the University Collection, and one of his monuments of Jose Rizal for the German government was installed in an eponymous Park in Wilhelmsfeld, Germany. Caedo was the one who created the U.P. Baguio Oblation.
A persistent urban legend has it, however, that director-actor Fernando Poe, Sr. was the model, as he was a student at the University at the time the Oblation was being made. Other names that have said to pose for the sculpture include a friend of Tolentino, Ferdinand Glenn Gagarin and fireman June Villanueva.
The Oblation Run at University of the Philippines Diliman is an annual tradition inspired by the Oblation done by the members of the Alpha Phi Omega, one of the prominent and influential U.P. fraternities. Members of the fraternity run around the campus naked (a concept known as streaking) to protest their sentiments about a current political or economic situation.
"100 Nudes/100 Years"
Inspired by the U.P. Oblation, the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (U.P.A.A.) launched an art exhibit, "100 Nudes/100 Years" featuring the works of nine U.P. alumni national artists.
- Michael Tan, The Oblation, Pinoy Kasi. Retrieved October 6, 2007.
- Brief History of the Oblation, Oblation.com.ph Retrieved October 6, 2007.
- Exodus Marker, Quezon Hall, University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City. Retrieved October 6, 2007.
- Oblation: The Truth beneath the Leaves. Oble (March 2, 2011).
- Rizal Pen & Ink / Oblation / Female Oblation Run / College Schoolplates.
- University of the Philippines Diliman Office for Initiatives for Culture and Arts. (2004). Pasyal: walking around U.P. Diliman. Quezon City : UP Diliman-OICA.
- UP Class of 2011 is over 6,500-strong. Romulado, A.V.P. (2011, May). Tales from up diliman: fact or fiction. U.P. Newsletter, p. 7.
- Feliciano, Gloria (ed). (1984). The University of the Philippines: a university for Filipinos. Quezon City : UP-Communication Research and Development Foundation.
- 100 UP fratmen, alumni join Oblation Run for centennial celebration.
- newsinfo.inquirer.net, 100 NUDES/100 YEARS, Exhibit showcases UP's best artists in last 100 years Archived 2012-06-09 at the Wayback Machine