The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest

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It started as a prank during the Marcos years when members of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity ran nude in the campus to protest certain issues. For almost 50 years, the Oblation Run morphed into one of the most celebrated UP event which stirred the campus to go haywire. This year’s 100th year celebration of the school’s founding was overshadowed by a group of 100 nude men running for what they called “a fight against the school’s commercialization” and “a protest versus some national issues.”

The attraction of the Oblation Run is mainly the nudity, not much the protest. Pubic hair exposure, wrinkled scrota, dangling balls, and penile exhibition stun onlookers. They are curious to watch an activity which has become traditional—a display of skin and gross body parts which are better wrapped in cloth, hemp, or forest leaves.

Voyeuristic impulse and the desire to have fun override the plan to express grievances. That’s why for much of the Oblation Run, it is eclipsed by laughter, jeers, and giggles. People are visibly entertained more than outraged, especially if women, against the fratmen’s wishes bare their breasts. Spectators don’t generally focus on the issues the event purports to fight for.

This is our fraternity’s way of honoring UP on its centennial,” asserted an APO frat member. Whether the honor is a fitting homage is a subject of debate

“I never thought it would be this exciting,” said an on-looker who found the spectacle entertaining. PDI (06/19/08, Ramos,M)

“The fraternity officials explained that aside from being a form of protest, the Oblation Run is also intended to remind UP students of the symbolism of the Oblation Statue, which is “a selfless offering of one’s self to the country.” Philstar (06/19/08, Andraneda, K.)

Every UP student or teacher knows what the Oblation stands for. They need not be reminded ad nauseum by the hackneyed, vulgar symbol of “selfless offering of one’s self” which they learned to be proud of early on. In fact, people critical of the state university think this “offering” symbol peddled among the students is an insult to the nation—for in spite of the countless graduates who contribute to better the lot of Filipinos, we have only a few UPians to successfully put our country down, deep in the quagmire of poverty and despair.

If we want to protest an issue, is there a need to remove our clothes and show the skin of our butts? Are there laws violated in this kind of public nudity? If we want to make our complaints known, why do we gather nude bodies that double as sources of laughter and entertainment? In solving our grievances, can’t we set our funny bones separate from the serious problems we’re fighting for?

Surely, there is amusement in nudity, but such display is distracting and unwarranted. Young masked students running with no clothes on, giving away roses to onlookers is such a powerful emotion-rouser that we risk forgetting the grievances behind why we do it. It’s generally regarded as a mischievous prank rather than a serious protest. In spite of the fun, there is this troubling question whether such an event brings the most benefit in the long run. It makes us think if merriment and humor are always the best ways to air our problems and solve them. Photo Credits: Dekost; oblationrun )=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Nudity in UP Campus” Posted by mesiamd at 12/18/2008

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