Oblation Run: Nationalistic Protest or Exhibitionist Act?

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APO members from Bulacan State University doing the annual Oblation Run. Photo taken on December 9, 2015.

A protest about national issues expressed through a march of masked nude men. 

The Oblation Run is an annual tradition by members of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity from UP campuses and state universities in the Philippines. With the aim to raise awareness about socio-political issues prevalent in the country, naked men with placards and roses run through hallways, corridors, and streets inside the campus. 

It reportedly began in 1977 when the satire play Hubad na Bayani, which criticizes Marcos’ human rights violations, was banned from playing. APO members made a prank in which they ran around the campus naked in response to the banning. 

Since then, it has become a yearly tradition in which 24 men run around the designated path in the university which differs for every campus. It usually occurs on December 16 in line of Alpha Phi Omega’s international founding.

Each year, APO memebers banner a different theme in correspondence to the most significant problems Filipinos face during that year. In the recent UP-Diliman Oblation Run 2015 held on December 14, they criticized the Aquino administration for its alleged anomalies with the theme “Hubadna Daan o Huwad na Daan.” 

While participants of the annual march claim that they do it the country, critics of the event generally describe it as an act of indecency with zero results in making the public aware of such issues. 

Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. criticized the Oblation Run on March 2009, saying it’s a “blatant display of male genitals” and a “wanton disregard of the rules of decent society.” He called for an investigation for he claims it violates the Revised Penal Code of Philippines which prohibits exhibitionist acts. Prominent Catholic leaders such as Bishop Leonardo Medroso and Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz likewise condemned the act and labeled it immoral. 

Despite criticisms, the Oblation Run still continues to be practiced up to this day.

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