An event watched by many, the Oblation Run continues to stride with a purpose.

Every year, the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) International Collegiate Service Fraternity in the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman conducts the Oblation Run, a protest action where members of the fraternity run naked around Palma Hall, carrying protest messages.

This year, the Oblation Run brings to the fore the call to defend press freedom. APO alumnus Wilnor Papa said, “This Oblation Run is a call for everyone to defend the freedom of expression and to defend press freedom. (Because) once media is silenced, who do you think is next?”

Change of schedule

Traditionally, the Oblation Run is held every December, coinciding with APO’s founding anniversary. This academic year, however, the event was moved to February 8. According to APO Alumni Association President John Lesaca, the group decided to move the Oblation Run from December to February to commemorate the founding anniversary of the Diliman Chapter. “With what happened last December (referring to fraternity-related violence), we wanted to take the Run as a protest against these violent acts. But, in consensus, we decided to move it to February because it’s the anniversary of APO in Diliman. So, it was more relevant (to us) to move it today than the previous date.”

The Oblation Run traces its history way back in 1976 during Martial Law, a time when press censorship was the policy of the day. While there are contending accounts on how the Oblation Run exactly began, the story common to all sources is that an APO member ran naked in campus to promote Hubad na Bayani (Naked Hero), a play critical to the Marcos regime and its various human rights violations.

The Oblation Run comes at a time when Greek-lettered organizations are under close scrutiny, following the rumble between the Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity and the Upsilon Sigma Phi in December 2018, and the leakage of alleged conversations among some members of Upsilon Sigma Phi, dubbed as “LonsiLeaks.”

Papa said, “APO welcomes the scrutiny on fraternities as it allows all fraternities to reflect and change for the better.” Lesaca added, “APO has evolved in such a way that we do not embrace and condone violence.”

While some will call out the Oblation Run as “scandalous nudity,” the public must remember its main purpose: raising the public’s consciousness on social issues.

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