Filipino-American sports writer Pablo Torre is facing criticism online after wearing the sablay, the official academic costume of the University of the Philippines (UP), in the recently held Gold House Gala.
By tradition, sablay is worn by the graduates of UP as a mark of the hard work and determination they poured into studying at the state university. Many online users, however, were not pleased to see the sablay worn at a different event.
The sports writer posted photos on both his Twitter and Instagram accounts showing him wearing the sablay during the event.
On his Instagram post, Torre said that he did not go to UP and that the sablay he was wearing was in fact from his father. “So, I just wanted to answer a couple questions about the sash I’m wearing here, which is called a sablay,” the sports writer explained.
Torre added in the caption of his photos that the sablay belongs to the graduates of UP. Torre shared that he did not go to the prestigious university, but both of his parents and late grandfathers were able to. “So shoutout to my dad for letting me borrow his sablay for one night, so I could pay tribute to all of them,” he added.
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The word “Sablay” became a trending topic on Wednesday, May 10, after many online users called out the sports writer and expressed their sentiments on Twitter about him wearing the sablay for what seemed like aesthetic purposes. Torre’s tweet gained so much attention since he posted the photo.
Many tweets pointed out that sablay must only be used for academic events. The official website of UP stated that the sablay can only be worn on specific occasions, such as recognition programs, commencement exercises, investiture of chancellors and presidents, awarding of honoris causa, official photo taking, and other activities that would require it. It was emphasized that sablay must be given proper respect.
Torres wore the sablay at the Gold House Gala, an event that honored many notable Asian and Pacific Islander personalities recently. Aside from this, the university also provided a specific dress code for wearing sablay. In the photo, Torre was wearing a white suit with a black tuxedo and a bow tie. Sablay is worn with barong tagalog for men.
“Imagine, a UP student went through years of studying just to wear the sablay, tapos makikita mo lang isang fil-am na ginagamit ang sablay for aesthetic purposes,” an online user said. Sablay isn’t just for aesthetic,” another user said.
“I don’t even care whether this is ‘bastos’ to UP bc UP isn’t sacred. But it’s very reductive to put on a sablay for the Filipino repping or whatever just bc it what— looks indigenous? Sablay is academic dress, and ang lawak lawak ng kultura ng pilipinas beyond UP,” a user wrote in a quote retweet of Torre’s photo.
Here are other reactions of online users on Torre’s tweet:
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