It’s almost summer break!

With vacation just a few weeks away, students from across all levels are all giddy with excitement at the prospect of life without classes to go to.

School's out
After all, the sooner you get home, the longer the summer vacation’s gonna last

No more waking up early or being forced to turn it at night before 9 PM; no more pesky homework to finish frantically, no more pressure reviewing for exams, no more having to skip classes to hang out at the mall – it truly is an enticing scenario.

Yet more than the start of summer, March is also known to be the “Graduation” month in the country. It’s that time of year when graduations are held here, there, and everywhere

As a family-centric culture, Filipinos place great value and celebrate milestones in their children’s educational attainments – from pre-school, to grade school, and to high school. The most anticipated though is college graduation.

Hat Throw
If old wives’ tales are to be believed, there going to be lots of business for local eye doctor in the next few minutes.

It’s that point in each student’s career where they finally leave the confines of their educational communities and start to venture out into the real world in order to apply their learning and confront new challenges.

So to celebrate this school year’s batch of college (and non-college) graduates, here are some interesting facts about graduation and the school system in the Philippines:

  • The graduation cap (also known as the mortarboard) together with the academic gown (or toga to most people) are the iconic clothing for graduating students. But this outfit was initially a “hooded robe” in the middle ages which in turn was believed to originate from the Celtic. In their society, Druidic priests would wear capes and hoods to symbolize their intelligence.
  • Ancient Wear
    The outfit of choice for students enrolled at the University of Paris in the 14th century (left) and 16th century (right)
  • A good majority of educational institutions in the country follow this traditional mortarboard and gown during graduation rites. In some school, the color of the gown corresponds to that school’s particular color scheme (Blue for Colegio de San Juan de Letran and Ateneo de Manila University, Green for Far Eastern University, and Red for San Beda College).
  • Philippine Togas
    The green togas of Far Eastern University (top), blue togas of Ateneo de Manila (middle), and the red of San Beda College (bottom). Source: [1] [2] [3]
  • Due to their Spanish heritage, some schools like the University of Santo Tomas, follow the Spanish academic attire such as the academic biretta and mozetta.
  • Spanish influence
    The Spanish-inspired biretta and mozetta of the University of Sto. Tomas, the oldest educational institution on the country. Source: [1]
  • As the most recognizable educational institution in the country, the University of the Philippines uses its own unique piece of clothing for its graduation attire – the Sablay. The Sablay is inspired by the Malong from Muslim Mindanao thus, lending it that unique Filipiniana appearance. In addition, stitched along the breadth of the cloth are the letters “U” and “P” written in the indigenous baybayin letters of the pre Hispanic Philippines. The Sablay is worn as a diagonal sash over traditional Filipino attire – Barong Tagalog for men and Filipiniana dress for women.
  • During the commencement ceremony, graduating students would wear their Sablay over their right shoulder; it is then transferred to the left shoulder after the University President confers their degree (similar to how the tassel of the mortarboard is moved from one side to the other).
  • UP Sablay
    The unique and iconic commencement garb of the University of the Philippine
  • Individuals with bachelor’s degrees manage to secure employment within 12 months on average compared to high school dropouts which tend to take as long as three years to find their first job. In addition, even those who did not graduate but have some college education tend to have an advantage – about 70% of whom have wage-earning jobs
  • The term “college” is from the Latin collegium meaning “community, society, guild” and, literally, “association of collegae”. It was first used to describe an academic institution in the late fourteenth century in relation to Oxford and Cambridge
  • The Philippines is the last country in Asia to have a ten-year pre university cycle. Prior to the implementation of the K to 12 system, our country lagged behind the rest of Asia and third from the last worldwide (Rank one and two are held by Angola and Djibouti)
  • K to 12 system
    The new K to 12 system currently (and finally) implemented in the Philippines.

That being said, we hope you have learned a new thing or two. We would like to congratulate all graduating students, their parents, and especially their teachers for their achievement. We hope you find a job soon (wink wink)!

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