In 1935, Rafael Palma, the first Filipino president of the University of the Philippines, commissioned the Filipino sculptor and National Artist, Guillermo E.
Tolentino to translate the second stanza of Rizal's into a monument that would be the identifying landmark of the University. The result
that was to be a masterpiece is the Oblation which was made of concrete and was painted with a bronze finish. The original production cost amounted to
P2,000.00 and this came from the contributions of students, officials, alumni, and employees of the University. Professor Tolentino describes the
symbolisms of the Oblation as follows:
"The completely nude figure of a young man with outstretched arms and open hands, with tilted head, closed eyes and
parted lips murmuring a prayer, with breast forward in the act of offering himself, is my interpretation of that sublime stanza. It symbolizes all the unknown
heroes who fell during the night. The statue stands on a rustic base, a stylized rugged shape of the Philippine archipelago, lined with big and small hard
rocks, each of which represents an island. The “katakataka” (wonder plant) whose roots are tightly implanted on Philippine soil, is the link that binds the
symbolized figure to the allegorical Philippine Group. “Katakataka” is really a wonder plant. It is called siempre vivo (always alive) in Spanish. A leaf or a
piece of it thrown anywhere will sprout into a young plant. Hence, it symbolizes the deep-rooted patriotism in the heart of our heroes. Such patriotism
continually and forever grows anywhere in the Philippines.
The 3.5 meter height of the statue stands for the three hundred fifty (350) years of Spanish rule in the Philippines. The rocks on the base were taken from
Montalban (Rizal) gorge-- the site of the fierce fighting between Filipino guerillas and the Japanese army during the Second World War."
The Transfer of the Oblation from Padre Faura to Diliman
The cornerstone of the Oblation was earlier laid by Mrs. Aurora Quezon on November 30, 1931. In 1939, the Oblation was unveiled and dedicated to the
national heroes at the UP Padre Faura Campus by Mrs. Gregoria de Jesus de Nakpil, widow of Andres Bonifacio. The statue withstood the ravages of war
and remained intact at the UP Padre Faura quadrangle until liberation day. On February 11, 1949, as part of the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the
University, the original Oblation was transferred to the Diliman campus.
In 1950, the UP Board of Regents ordered that the Oblation be cast in bronze. This bronze statue was cast in Italy, under the personal supervision of
Professor Tolentino. On November 29, 1958, on the occasion of the University's golden jubilee, the 9-foot tall bronze Oblation was unveiled in UP Diliman,
in front of Quezon Hall, the main administration building of the U.P. Diliman campus. The original Oblation is now located at the 3rd floor of the UP Main
Library in Diliman.