Comrades, students, and supporters converged in the AS Parking Lot last November 24 to celebrate the life of student-leader and activist Lean Alejandro through a special “fun” run.

Now on its fourth year, The Great LEAN Run (TGLR) is a 3.7-kilometer “special distance experiential run” comprised of a series of specially-designed obstacles mimicking what it is like to live during Martial Law. Runners are given velcro belts with red ribbons attached to it. The race objective is for runners to emerged from the run with their red ribbons as intact as possible.

Even at the starting point, marshals acting as “Metrocom Police” chased the runners, similar to activists being pursued by the Philippine Constabulary after a violent mob dispersal. The chase will be repeated in-between obstacle courses like crawling under a barbed wire, scaling a wall, and balancing on a beam.

While the runners are finishing the course, a program was underway at the start/finish area. Activist songs and fiery speeches were blaring to as far as Sunken Garden, demanding justice for the victims and survivors of Martial Law. Notable personalities in attendance included former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, former Deputy Speaker Erin Tañada, and social media activist Juana Change (Mae Paner), among others.

Step into Lean’s slippers

Lean was a features writer of the Philippine Collegian on his first year as a BS Chemistry student. After his stint in the publication, Lean was elected vice president and later president of the College of Arts and Sciences Student Council; vice chair and then chair of the University Student Council in 1983. He led a rally to Mendiola in 1981, the first after martial law was lifted.

On 19 September 1987, Lean was shot dead by unknown assailants on his way to his office, after coming from a press conference denouncing the military’s role in government. According to accounts, the single shot has blown off half of his face and neck. He was 27.

“[Lean] continues to be a prime example of how the youth can effect change through critical thought and social involvement,” according to the TGLR website.

TGLR was a joint project organized by the UP Sandigan para sa Mag-aaral at Sambayanan Alumni and the UP Diliman Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs.

(Words by Hannah Maria Imson; Photos by Nikki Teng)

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