The University of the Philippines, aside from academic excellence, is quite famous for two December events, the Oblation Run and the Lantern Parade.

The Oblation Run is also known as the ritual dance of the brave.  That is so because the participants, neophytes actually of the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, run the Arts and Sciences corridors in total nudity.  The origin of the rites, someone told me, started as a way of protestation to the martial rule of the 70’s.  One student was impelled to run naked to portray hubad na bayani or naked hero, implying that there must be no obstacle to human rights and governance must be transparent to the naked eye.  Through the decades, the same sentiments had been sent to the president  in power and the placards the runners carry spell the grievances of the common tao. The issues depend upon the story of the times, like VFA ibasura which literally translates Visiting Forces Agreement put in the garbage. And the tradition, I was told, also became some sort of initiation for aspiring frat applicants. One must be brave enough to carry on with whatever task there is to do, even if one has to expose bushy curlicue strands that are better off shielded underneath the pants.  The runners also carry red roses and are free to hand the flowers to the girls they like.  As it is, with the coverage of the local media, the homosexuals had come in throngs and  obscured the path to the giggling shy girls.  Shy girls means freshmen indoctrinated to the harsh realities of university life.  The upperclass girls had had their view and would rather attend to more pressing reviews for impending long tests. What’s with the run, one prim coed quipped, those things look disgusting!  True, my dear,  beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, ha ha!  Just click the shutter!

The Lantern Parade is the culmination of all university activities for the year.  It brings the entire student body right at the two kilometer  university oval for a procession of their respective college lanterns.  The artworks are mostly illuminated symbols of Christmas like a star, or a belen.  But through the years, characters and issues had dominated  the creative presentations of the idealistic youth.  Gigantic replicas of boxing legend Manny Pacquiao and his adoring mom Aling Dionisia elicited the most joyful comments in last night’s pomp and circumstance.  The alumni, grey-haired but still dashing, enjoyed the White Mammoth and the Blue Dragon.  The traffic enclosed the peripheral jurisdiction of the academe and the parking lots had been filled to the brim.  But not one sighed a complaint.  Families graced the occasion even if the babies were too young to appreciate the show.  The glittering lights  and extra-ordinarily loud music  was enough preoccupation.  The concessionaires were busy, too, with a  hamburger priced at a hundred and fifty pesos and a small piece of native bibingka at forty-five pesos.  And a bottled water costed thirty.  Nay a murmur, everyone was just happy to eat and walk and watch.  If one ain’t got money for chocolate crepe, the banana cue and fishball peddlers were unbelievably ever present.  An incredible display of  fireworks closed the merriment.  As it is, the students felt obliged to assemble again next year, and the next after that, and the next, till that age when one comes back to reminish only the days of being once a student of this campus called UP.

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