Sunday, December 18, 2005

UP OBLATION RUN


2 women in birthday suits upstage 'Oblation runners'

First posted 03:05am (Mla time) Dec 16, 2005
By DJ Yap
Inquirer


TWO YOUNG WOMEN WEARING NOTHING BUT masks and wigs yesterday stole the show from 20 male streakers in their "Ritual Dance of the Brave" during the "Oblation Run" at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City.


For the first time in its 28-year history, the event featured naked women, who gamely posed for photographers in front of the Oblation Statue at Quezon Hall. They carried posters with the message: "Equal Rights for Women."


The organizer, the UP Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity, quickly denied that it had a hand in the women's surprise appearance. "We have no idea who they are," said the fraternity's media liaison officer, Joselito Narciso Caparino.


"That was not part of [the] Oblation Run. We never allow that," Caparino said.


The women surfaced just moments after the male streakers left the hall at about 11:45 a.m. They were cheered on by a big crowd, including high school and college students, teachers, office workers and reporters.


The women emerged from a car in the parking lot and ran toward the Oblation Statue, as cameras snapped away


Some spectators said the pair did not look like Filipinos but had Oriental features. They wore masks and wigs of long, curly reddish brown hair.


The women did not say anything, but stayed just long enough to pose for photographers--even taking instructions about their movements--before fleeing toward a waiting car, which sped away.


'We felt insulted'
The APO said an investigation was in order. "We felt insulted because only APO members are supposed to join the Oblation Run," Caparino said in a text message to the Inquirer.


At nearby Palma Hall, where fraternity runners were to make a second appearance and a much bigger audience waited, the crowd was abuzz about the women streakers.


"You should have been at Quezon Hall. There were women [who ran naked] there," a spectator told his companions. Some people expected the women to reappear but left disappointed.


Roses for the women
Even so, hundreds of students--many from other schools--who filled the lobby could not hide their excitement when about 20 young men wearing only masks and clutching roses streamed into the hall at noon.


Screams erupted and cameras flashed as the men, escorted by marshals, ran around the building. Each runner stopped every now and then to hand over a rose to a thrilled young woman.


The Oblation Run is a yearly UP tradition organized by the APO. Naked fraternity members run around Palma Hall, carrying streamers or placards, bannering particular issues of the day.


'Merry X-Mass???'
This year, the fraternity's rallying cry was: "Merry X-Mass???"


Big question marks put doubt on a merry Christmas this year, especially for members of the UP community who face the threat of a P65-million budget cut, said UP APO auxiliary chancellor Allan Espinelli.


"This budget cut is a direct attack on our universal right to education. It will only result in fee increases and impositions, lower salaries of faculty and staff, problems on construction and maintenance of buildings, which in turn will lead to low quality and high paying education," the fraternity said in a statement.


Espinelli said the APO was fighting for a bigger state subsidy for the education sector and the payment of back cost-of-living allowances for UP employees and faculty members.


Started as prank
This year's run deviated from tradition when the streakers also graced Quezon Hall, upon the request of UP president Emerlinda Roman, according to APO members.


It started as a prank in 1977 when five members ran on campus with only masks to promote the fraternity-sponsored play "Hubad na Bayani" (Naked Hero), a political satire on Ferdinand Marcos' dictatorial rule.


Avenue of protest
Since then, the run has become a highly anticipated event, attracting hundreds of students and visitors every year.


In 2000, the naked runners called for the resignation of then President Joseph Estrada.


The Oblation Run has also become an avenue of protest for such issues as fraternity violence, illegal drugs and acquired immuno-deficiency syndrome (AIDS).




 

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