Oblation Run: A tradition vs authoritarian rule

One of the most anticipated activities held by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Fraternity in the University of the Philippines during December is the Oblation Run. A run of naked fraternity men, carrying political statements against burning issues of the day.

Ever wondered how it all started?

Here’s what Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III wrote in his Business World column in 2013:

In previous runs, the issues included human rights, social justice and agrarian reform, clean elections, right to education, and fraternity violence. In one episode, the run called for the ouster of Gloria Arroyo. On another occasion, the message was Erap’s resignation.

Whether the message gets through is another story. UP Diliman nevertheless gets delirious once the naked runners appear. The coeds, open and closet gays, barbarians (those who don’t belong to a fraternity), and other fratmen jockey for position to see, not hear, the message.

Will there come a time that the sight of naked men will no longer attract attention? If that happens, APO would have to think of a jarring novelty like having erect men run. But that thing is hard to sustain. Or perhaps, the fraternity can ask alumnus brod Jejomar Binay to run naked. But a Binayrun is going to be awful.

The tradition is close to 40 years old. It all began in 1977 — an event to publicize the staging of a play sponsored by APO titled Hubad na Bayani (Naked Hero). The play itself was political, exposing the human rights violations committed by the Marcos dictatorship. The regime subsequently banned the play.

However, it remains unknown to the public who founded the Oblation Run.

Nicky Morales headed the APO chapter in UP Diliman when the Oblation Run was born. The Oblation is to Guillermo Tolentino as the Oblation Run is to Nicky Morales.

After the senseless violence arising from fraternity rumbles, claiming the life of his brod Rolly Abad, Nicky nudged the fraternity to undertake productive and politically relevant activities.

oblation run

(Photos from Rouelle Umali/Xinhua Press/Corbis)