Graduation is the most cherished academic achievement in the life of the students. It is a powerful example of perseverance, hard work, dedication, and commitment. This is a celebration of one’s academic success as well as a win for the family. Because of this, honoring this historic day has become a family custom.

Across cultures, graduation ceremonies are rooted in tradition wherein symbols of academic achievement serve as precious memorabilia. In the Philippines, one of the graduation emblems is a Filipino graduation stole. It is a graduation sash worn over the shoulder symbolizing commencement ceremony. However, more than its symbolic significance, it is also holding a deep cultural implication for graduates and their families.

Want to know more about its historical roots and cultural significance? Let’s unravel every historical and cultural fiber of the famous Filipino graduation stole.

Filipino Graduation Stole_1

Sash of Accomplishment

The Filipino graduation stole is commonly known as sash or “sabit”. The name “stola” comes from Latin-Greek word which means garment. It is a cloth, scarf-like garment made from a colorful fabric worn over the shoulder during commencement ceremonies. It indicates accomplishment, membership, or award. In the Philippines, the graduation stole is decorated with traditional Filipino motifs, colors, and symbols. This marks the uniqueness and grandeur of this symbolic sash during graduation events.

The stole helps promote diversity and inclusivity within educational institutions. By allowing students to wear culturally significant stoles during graduation, the institutions acknowledge and celebrate the multicultural backgrounds and contributions of their students.

This stole is not a general practice in all graduation ceremonies, and its usage may vary depending on the educational institution or the Filipino community’s traditions in a particular region. As customs and practices can evolve over time so as the design and production of graduation stoles.

Foreshadowing History and Symbolism

In the 12th century, Anglican and Catholic priests wore stole indicating their position in the church. It represents one’s achievement, excellence, and hard work.

Today, the stole is a personification of Filipino cultural pride and heritage. The stole’s color and patterns are inspired by the traditional Filipino garment woven by the creative hands of Filipino artisans. The examples of these are the T’nalak of the T’boli peole, the malong of the Maranao, and the piña the Visayas. Truly, these indigenous garments manifest a rich cultural significance: this is a testament of pride and patriotism. By using this as graduation stole, it pays homage to the country’s rich cultural tapestry.

The design of the Filipino graduation stole varies on every academic institution.  However, it often uses colors that represent the Philippine flag, such as blue, red, white, and yellow. Some stoles may also feature patterns or embroidery showcasing Filipino motifs, indigenous designs, or relevant cultural elements.

Furthermore, the stole embodies a profound sense of unity and belongingness. It manifests their collective identity promoting camaraderie among peers. Also, it connects them with their Filipino roots and origin. This shared cultural expression instills a sense of pride and solidarity among the graduating class; thus, it creates memories that extend far beyond the commencement ceremony.

Safeguarding Filipino Traditions and Values

In today’s fast paced world, it is a must to preserve the culture, tradition, and values. Hence, even in various occasions, mirroring the Filipino identity stands out in the crowd.  The Filipino graduation stole serves as a powerful emblem in promoting the ideals and values of a real “Tatak Pinoy”. By incorporating traditional patterns and symbols into the stole, graduates are encouraged to embrace their cultural identity and contribute to the continuity of their heritage.

Wearing the graduation stole also allows Filipino graduates to share their cultural richness with fellow students, faculty, and international peers. As ceremonies often host diverse audiences, the stole becomes an educational tool, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation for the Philippines’ unique traditions. Nonetheless, it reinforces cultural traditions and encourages younger generations to take pride in their Filipino heritage and continue celebrating it in their own lives.

Taking Pride. Raising the Community Flag

Not only Filipino families but also the community takes zealous pride in every graduate’s achievement. The stole becomes a symbol of the collective support and encouragement received from their loved ones, friends, and other community stakeholders throughout their academic journey. For the entire community, achieving a higher education can be a significant endeavor, often involving sacrifices and hard work. The stole represents the recognition of these struggles and the acknowledgment of the determination and effort put into completing their education.

The Filipino graduation stole is more than just a decorative accessory; it embodies the essence of Filipino culture, academic achievement, and unity. As graduates proudly wear this colorful piece of fabric during commencement ceremonies, they carry with them a sense of accomplishment, cultural pride, and responsibility to preserve their heritage. Through the Filipino graduation stole, students bridge a connection with their roots, serving as a compass of tradition, unity, and excellence. As we celebrate this cherished symbol, let us embrace the profound values it represents and continue to pass them on to future generations. Thus, it ensures the richness of Filipino culture passed on to the next generation.

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