Last February 25, 2017, students from different colleges of De La Salle University filled the seats of the Philippine International Convention Center as the 178th Commencement Exercises took place. As the ceremony ended, friends from different colleges came together to take their photos together as fresh graduates and took notice of how the colors of their togas differ from each other. People began to ask, what is the story behind the different toga colors?
Dr. Roel Ah, University historian, laid out several sources that documented the history of DLSU and the different toga colors.
“Long ago, students were divided by their differences. St. John Baptist De La Salle saw the division between the students and vowed to bring peace and unity among them, but his efforts alone were not enough. He called his fellow brothers to stand by him as he established the first De La Salle school. There, students were divided according to their fields of interest: business, computer science, economics, education, engineering, liberal arts, the sciences, and those whose expertise is in two fields,” he narrates.
“This division allowed the students to prosper and hone their skills in their respective fields. Given this opportunity to thrive in different subjects, St. John Baptist De La Salle ensured that the values of faith, service, and communion were instilled in them. With this the De La Salle students were united amidst diversity,” Dr. Ah concludes the story.
DLSU History Department Professor Gabriel Medina has an extensive knowledge of the reasoning behind different toga colors. Namely, the College of Business (RVR-COB) is represented by the color brown, the College of Computer Sciences (CCS) by green, the School of Economics (SOE) by light orange, the Br. Andrew Gonzalez College of Education (BAGCED) by blue, the Gokongwei College of Engineering (GCOE) by dark orange, the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) by white, LIA-COM students by white and brown, and lastly, the College of Science (COS) by yellow.
Medina states that these colors represent the fields of interest and the traits that each student must have. Earth brown for RVR-COB students because they need to be stable and humble amidst their success. It demands a special connection with the business world that is achievable with listening, though seemingly doing nothing, and waiting for the right moment to strike. An RVR-COB student’s emphasis is on fortitude and strength. It requires the courage to take on new things, and the strength to pursue them even when things get rough.
Students from CCS are represented by the color green or energy green. Only a few have learned the art of coding and decoding which makes CCS students unique. They are often referred to as energy because without the knowledge of these students, computer systems and applications will be seemingly impossible.
Meanwhile, it is light orange or lava orange for SOE. Like lava, students of economics must have the passion for the field within them. This passion must be strong enough to drive an individual to produce something beneficial for the community.
BAGCED is represented by the color blue, just like the water. The students of BAGCED, similar to the water, are very adaptable and versatile. As future teachers, they are knowledgeable about the different learning styles and techniques fit for each student, which is why they are dubbed as adaptable and versatile.
Dark orange or fire orange represent the GCOE. Just like fire, engineering is an aggressive art. Unlike other colleges, engineering students are inventors and innovators. They are able to make something out of scratch and turn it into something useful and progressive.
CLA is represented by air white. It implies that Liberal Arts students must be open-minded and free. Their judgement must be fair and liberated from all biases. Being perceived as the college with the most freedom, thus liberated, they have the capability to be successful without wavering just like the air. And if their work is to be criticized, they are able to harness their immense desire to succeed.
Students from COS, on the other hand, are represented by lightning which is associated to the color yellow. They are the innovators in the field of medicine. They have the ability to separate what is essential and what is not, and interpret the positive and negative effects of different breakthroughs in science. Their innovations usually take much longer to initiate because it requires extensive research.
Lastly, those who specialize in two fields or LIA-COM are represented by the colors white and brown because they are a mix of business and art. LIA-COM students are often compared to sand because they are like nomads, wandering from two different fields, forcing them to adapt. This is why a LIA-COM student is someone who can adapt to change and is strong at heart.
As students graduate from DLSU, they are reminded of their respective colleges and fields of expertise from the toga colors and the history behind them. Dr. Ah hopes that the students bring with them these small details as food for thought as to how they want to serve society.