by Oliver Carlos
Here are some trivia about the UP Oblation, the iconic sculpture that represents my alma mater. Maybe you don’t know a few of them so I guess this piece would be very informational, especially for history buffs like me.
1. The original Oblation is made of concrete, not bronze. It’s just painted to make it appear like it’s made of bronze.
2. The original Oblation is now inside the UP Diliman Main Library. The one near the university’s main entrance is a replica. That one is made of bronze. This set up is made to save the original Oblation from wear and tear.
3. The original Oblation first stood at the UP Manila campus. That was the university’s main campus back then. It was unveiled on National Heroes’ Day of 1935 with Gregoria de Jesus (Andres Bonifacio’s widow) present in the ceremony.
4. In1949, the original Oblation was transferred from UP Manila to UP Diliman. It stood in front of Quezon Hall for around 9 years, before the bronze replica replaced it. That replica was inaugurated on November 29, 1958. That year was the university’s 50th anniversary. (extra trivia: November 29 is my birthday, but I wasn’t born in 1958)
5. The idea of the Oblation was conceived in 1934, during the time of UP President Rafael Palma. He commissioned Guillermo Tolentino, a sculpture professor at the UP School of Fine Arts to create it. Tolentino later became a national artist. Another of his famous works is the Bonifacio monument in Monumento, Caloocan. He is also the designer of the official seal of the Republic of the Philippines.
6. When the Oblation was finished, it was completely naked. In 1939, during the time of UP President Jorge Bocobo the fig leaf was added to cover the genitals, for the purpose of decency.
7. An urban legend spread saying that the model of the Oblation was Fernando Poe, Sr., who was a UP student at the time the statue was constructed. However, for the record, the models of the Oblation were Anastacio Caedo and Virgilio Raymundo. Caedo was Guillermos’ student assistant, while Raymundo was Caedo’s brother-in-law. Guillermo used Caedo’s physique and Raymundo’s proportions as references for the Oblation.
8. The Oblation is a little over 3 meters tall, representing the 333 years of Spanish colonization of the Philippines.
9. The Oblations stands on a pedestal of stones with Katakataka plants (Kalanchoe pinnata). The stones represent the islands of the Philippines, and they were taken from Montalban, Rizal, from Bonifacio’s hideout during the Revolution. Meanwhile, the Katakataka stands for the patriotism of the Filipinos. The said plant is a wonder plant because its leaves, when thrown away, spout into new individual plants. It represents the patriotism that sprouted from all over the islands.
10. The Oblation is a visualization of the selfless offering of the Filipino patriots during the Philippine Revolution. It’s based on a stanza in Jose Rizal’s last poem, popularly known as “Mi Ultimo Adios.” He wrote about freedom fighters who were willing to die in the battlefield.
The dictionary definition of oblation is: the act of making an offering, especially to a deity. That’s why the Oblation statue is posed stretching out itself to the heavens. It’s a gesture of offering oneself all-in-all. I find the meaning and symbolism of the UP Oblation very profound and extremely admirable.
Offerings is an idea as old as time. Every ancient civilization had its version of offerings. But all of them had offerings that are dead or meant to perish at the altar. In Christianity, the concept of offering is different. The Bible talks about a “living offering” in Romans 12:1 (ERV):
“So I beg you, brothers and sisters, because of the great mercy God has shown us, offer your lives as a living sacrifice to him — an offering that is only for God and pleasing to him. Considering what he has done, it is only right that you should worship him in this way.”
God doesn’t want you dead, he wants you alive. Living sacrifice means pleasing God every minute we’re alive. Let’s serve God while we can, while we’re strong and breathing.