‘No to Cha Cha’ in UP Fair and Oblation Run

By: ATTY. DENNIS GORECHO - Columnist/CDN Digital | February 21,2024 - 06:15 AM

“No to Charter Change (Cha Cha)” reverberated  during  the recent two main events in the Diliman campus of the University of the Philippines : the Oblation Run and the UP Fair.

The  House of Representatives  is attempting   to amend the 1987 Constitution  primarily on  the “prohibitive” economic provisions that limit foreign ownership.

Faculty members of the UP Department of Political Science stressed  in a position paper that  “reforms can be accomplished through an appropriate mix of legislation and policy interventions, and not simply through constitutional amendments or even institutional overhaul.”

They added: “Infrastructure development is more important in improving the economy than changing the ownership rules. Constitutional amendments on economic provisions are insufficient to ‘attract’ more investors.”

Some of the placards by the masked Oblation runners stated “Ingatan ang demokrasya, Cha-cha ibasura”, “Lupa para sa mamamayan, hindi sa dayuhan”, “Pinas para sa Pinoy”.

The Oblation  Run  is one of the popular traditional activities within  the UP campuses which begun in 1977, as an annual event of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) that calls to attention and highlights specific hot issues for the year.

During the Martial Law era, APO sponsored the screening of  the film “Hubad na Bayani” directed by Robert Ylagan that portrayed a peasant revolt and the possibility of government overthrow. It was later censored by the Marcos’ media.

The first oblation run was a promotional gimmick for a film Marcos deemed politically dangerous.

In September 1977, two APO brothers streaked in front of Palma Hall as naked heroes of a defiant university under Martial Law.

Since then UP denizens eagerly await the Oblation run every second week of December, which was moved to February during the recent years.

Originally held in September, the UP Fair at the Sunken Garden started in the early 1980s as an avenue or dissent against the Martial Law era of then dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

The event was more of a series of cultural performances with political undertones organized by the University Student Council (USC) after it was re-established in 1981.

Lean Alejandro became the USC chairman in 1983 and later a key figure in the national anti-dictatorship movement who is known for his statement “The struggle for freedom is the next best thing to actually being free.”

It was in 1984, or forty years ago, when the UP Fair was institutionalized as a fund-raising activity by student organizations led for the USC and considered the biggest student-initiated activity in UP Diliman.

What started as a simple “perya-like” event, the UP Fair was moved to February and has evolved into a full-blown celebration of Philippine art, music, and culture.

The UP Fair is more than just a showcase of talent. It became a platform for change – a venue to campaign for issues that UP students have been fighting for over the years.

Musically-talented students see the campus as a large performing hall full of opportunities and like-minded individuals.

The UP Fair has promoted several bands and talents, homegrown and non-UP alike, which include The Jerks, The Dawn, Buklod, Yano, Sinaglahi, Patatag and the Eraserheads being the most famous among them.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s when I was still studying in UP Diliman, the themes evolved around the US bases and the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP).

This year’s UP Fair was held from February 12 to 17, 2024 with the theme “Paalabin ang Tinig “ that aims to give awareness on specific social issues each day: human rights and national sovereignty (Monday: Hiwaga); education  (Tuesday: Pop Rising) ; urban poor (Wednesday: Kalye Tunes);  women and gender (Thursday: Quests); peasants (Friday: Elements); national minorities (Saturday: Rev).

Performers include Sandwich, Morisette, Yeng Constantino,  The Itchyworms, Lola Amour,  Moira Dela Torre,  Gloc-9,  Imago, Neocolours,  Brownman Revival, Sponge Cola, and Juan Karlos.

The vocalist of Sandwich is  Raymund Marasigan of Eraserheads.

The Eraserheads made their first performance at the UP Fair on February 1991 which came two years after Ely Buendia, Buddy Zabala, Marcus Adoro and Marasigan formed the band in 1989.

Buddy and Raymund were my roommates for two years (1989 to 1991) at the Molave dorm during my last  years in college.

Political expressions always had their place in  university events like the Oblation Run and UP Fair  as students  often use their creative talents to send message on social issues.

The campus molded us to fight for the causes we believe in; trained us for the skills we need to communicate ideas and rally others to effect changes in society.

(Peyups is the moniker of the University of the Philippines. Atty. Dennis R. Gorecho heads the Seafarers’ Division of the Sapalo Velez Bundang Bulilan Law Offices. For comments, e-

mail [email protected], or call 09175025808 or 09088665786.)


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TAGS: No to Charter Change (Cha Cha), Oblation Run

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