Now on it's eighteenth year, the Oblation Run has gained such popularity that last year's edition even attracted a couple of TV crews and made it's way to the front page of a leading daily broad sheet. It's come a long way from that very first run done in 1977, when an APO member first ran naked in the A.S. lobby to promote a play the fraternity was sponsoring called "Hubad na Bayani," a project dedicated to an APO member, Rolly Abad, who was killed in a rumble a few months before. The gimmick was such a success that APO decided to stage it every year on its anniversary, December 16. "We do this in memory of our brother, Rolly Abad" said Raymond Linsangan. "But we also do it because we want UP students to remember the principle of the Oblation, which is the youth offering itself to the nation."
Lately, the run has also served as a vehicle to address current issues. Last year the runners carried placards condemning the death of Sigma Rhoan Dennis Venturina and calling for a stop to fraternity violence. Not exactly an original message, but at least the effort was there.
How does the runner feel before the run? "Sa una excited ka," says Jason Lopez, who quickly points out that all of this is according to his brods who have merely told him. " pero immediately before, bigla kang papasukan ng kaba. You just want to get it over with." But once they're there, the runners become oblivious to the crowd, the noise, and enter a zone where they just don't give a damn about what exactly they're doing, although they are still conscious enough not to mash any girls, a sacred frat rule.
The important thing, though, is not to get an erection. "Yan ang worst fear mo," says Jason, although no APO member has reportedly been seen running in such predicament. Besides, anxiety quickly quelches any impure thoughts which might lead to an unexpected arousal. Some resort to a quick shot of rum or gin, anything to calm their manhood.
The runners themselves are all volunteers. They signify their intention the night before the run, sometimes on the day itself. Not all volunteers are chosen though. There must be a balance between the runners and the marshals who will form the gauntlet and control the crowd that has been growing year in and year out. This year there is reportedly one APO member who plans to volunteer and run for the fifth year in a row, an all time record.
Contrary to popular notion, neophytes are not allowed to run. "All those who run are full pledged members who have volunteered, explains Ojie Santillan, the fraternity's Auxiliary Chancellor. There is a misconception that the Oblation Run is something our neophytes have to undergo as part of their initiation. That’s not true. We never allow our applicants to join."
Runners must also observe a code of conduct. As mentioned earlier, deliberately touching a spectator is not allowed, nor is cursing out loud. Each runner has a rose in his hand, which he must pass on to any female spectator. As in, pass on, and not drop or throw it at her feet. She's got to willingly accept the rose. A runner can remove his mask if he so wishes, but nobody's been brave enough to do that.
Since December 16 falls on a Saturday, this year's Oblation Run will be on the 15th which is also the day U.P. annual Lantern Parade will be held. So if you're not doing anything on that day, you might want to drop by the A.S. lobby in U.P. Diliman and find out why this is the second most-awaited event on campus. "For U.P. students in particular", one APO member says, "Your stay in the university isn't complete if you don't watch even just one Oblation Run."