7/31/2012

The Toga


In July every year, I don the most ill-fitting and unflattering outfit in the world—the toga. But it somehow feels right. Perfect, in fact.

At the graduation ceremony of the university where I teach, lecturers are required to wear togas with a hood and cap.  Although the black loose gown is the same for every faculty member, the hoods vary from teacher to teacher.

For years I never bothered to find out why I wore what  I wore, because someone in-charge simply gave them to me on d-day.  

This year I got curious so I quickly researched on why college graduates (and all those involved in their education) don the toga. My search revealed the following facts:  

In 13th century Europe, this loose garment called houpland was considered fashionable and therefore worn by men and women.

As universities spread, the fashion of the times became associated with academia.

No longer a fashion statement, today’s robes come with 1) a hood (the drape around the  neck), and 2) the academic hat which comes in two different styles—the tam and the mortarboard.

The tam with a gold tassel is often worn by doctoral graduates and the mortarboard (looks like a flat pizza box!), with a colored tassel that corresponds to one's degree, is  worn by bachelor's and master's degree graduates.

There is a standard list of colors associated with degrees. The tassels in my mortarboard and my hood come in white because it is the color assigned to Arts, Letters, and Humanities.

Next year I will surely forget about the confusing assignment of colors so I had my photo taken with colleagues who come from different disciplines, and therefore, wear different colors. 

Marching in a toga, alongside others in the same outfit, makes one feel the cadence of  academia of which I am a part-time part.

And although I am mostly into creative writing, which is a totally different world, every July I am blessed to witness the new confidence of the graduates, the unbridled joy of their parents, and the profound pride of their teachers who played an integral part in their academic foundation.   

Grace beats strongly in every heart beneath the world's most unfashionable get-up.

6 comments:

Yay Padua-Olmedo said...

"Unfashionable"is putting it lightly. It's outmoded and surely makes the wearer look silly and matronly (as if we'd look younger on another), lol. Anyway, I still find each graduation a treat. Huhu, I should have been there with you.

Grace D. Chong said...

Youmissed a good one, Yay. It was very well organized, seamless.

The Dragon Scribe said...

It's really funny how we find it unfashionable yet nobody ever thought of changing it. In a world where a new thing or concept comes out every minute, I realized nobody has even dared to change the toga into something as dignified but not as outmoded

Grace D. Chong said...

Yeah, you're right. UP simply abandoned it altogether by replacing it with the sablay. Unfortunately, that was after my time.

But between sablay and toga, I think I still prefer the unfashionable one. It connects you with the rest of academia all over the world.

The Dragon Scribe said...

Well, we're fashionable the whole year round. I realized its not bad to wear something unflattering once every year, all the more if it entails dignity and meritorious achievement

Grace D. Chong said...

Yes, I don't mind wearing the toga at all. Proud of it!