The 'Naked' Truth

Posted at 12/14/2012 10:36 AM | Updated as of 12/14/2012 10:37 AM

I received an invitation this morning to watch some naked young men run.

It amused me no end. It’s the first time I recall seeing such an invitation extended to foreign news correspondents.

The invite said:

"Hi all,

You are invited to witness and cover the UP Alpha Phi Omega Oblation Run tomorrow, Dec. 14, 11:30 am at the College of Arts and Sciences, Palma Hall, UP Diliman, Quezon City."

The fraternity obviously believes that the idea of seeing some men cavort inside a state university without any clothes on is something newsworthy for the foreign wires.

Oblation-Run-up-close

It is – if it’s a slow news day and probably because Philippine society continues to frown on nudity and to sell Penthouse magazines surreptitiously.

The Oblation Run in UP started as a fraternity prank over 40 years ago at a time when streaking – or the act of disrobing while running – became a fad in the United States.

The thinking was – if UP could have the statue of a naked young man as an icon, then surely male students could follow suit (or without a suit).

I saw for myself an Oblation Run when I was a student in UP. All I could remember was a blur of naked butts zooming past me. I remember some of my male classmates were highly embarrassed by it.

The Oblation Run has been called “obscene” by at least one former Philippine senator. Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., who never went to UP, branded it a “blatant display of male genitals” and a “wanton disregard of the rules of decent society” that discriminated against women.

Probably in response to Pimentel’s criticisms, a handful of women have joined the run.

No one has yet gone to court to stop an Oblation Run.

I suggest that if anyone wants to do this, the easier route would be to approach Vice President Jejomar Binay who is now regarded as the Grand Panjandrum of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity.

I highly doubt, though, that Binay can do anything about it nor would he want to do something about it.

You see, the Oblation Run is held inside UP’s Diliman Campus and UP is governed by its own charter and now has a long tradition of upholding free expression. The naked display of family jewels is one of the highest forms of free expression in the country today. Those who don’t agree with the Oblation Run don’t have to look. Period.

UP was not always this tolerant of free expression.

Sometime in the 1920s, UP kicked out a young man who had dared to publish an erotic poem. It was about coconuts. At least, this was what my fiction writing professor Francisco Arcellana said.

Judge for yourself if that student deserved to be forced out of the campus for writing this long before the UP Oblation was sculpted by Guillermo Tolentino:

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.