Archive for the ‘University’ Category

Opposing Barack Obama as Notre Dame University graduation speaker

March 27, 2009

The campus of Notre Dame University, a Catholic school in Indiana with a tradition of inviting US presidents as graduation speakers is stirred with controversy as the community struggles whether to allow Pres. Barack Obama to address students and receive an honorary degree in a commencement exercise on May 17.

“A public act of disobedience and grave mistake,” says Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Phoenix Diocese of Obama’s invitation.

Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese refused to attend in protest against the president’s policies.

“Seventy percent of the alumni letters opposed having Obama giving the speech, while 73 percent of student letters supported his appearance.”—–AP (03/27/09, Coyne, T)

Judie Brown, president of the American Life League, one of the largest pro-life organizations in the United States committed to protect humans from conception to death issued a statement which read in part:

“American Life League joins the Cardinal Newman Society and all Catholics of goodwill in condemning Notre Dame University’s defamation of Our Lady through its unconscionable invitation of the leading symbol, hero, and darling of the culture of death.”

Objection against Obama has been sharp because of his staunch support for abortion and stem cell research which the Catholic Church condemns. The chief executive has recently lifted the ban for embryonic stem cell research and offered federal funding for its scientific investigation. He has extended tax-payer money in support to international groups which practice abortion as a way to control population. Angered Catholics feel having Obama and his liberal views contradict Christian moral values.

Those who favor Obama’s graduation appearance say that having the president in the university is an honor—a way of engaging him in a dialogue even when his opinions are diametrically opposed to the core beliefs of Catholics. (Photo Credits: BKWDayton; Hogan 27 world)

RELATED BLOG: “Obama’s stem cell research policy: the use of embryonic cells from helpless unborn sparks religious debate” Posted by mesiamd at 3/10/2009


UP’s bizarre nude runs spill over university belt

March 4, 2009

What was once a prank of running nude in the UP Diliman had morphed into a spectacle of genital display among other students in the University belt in Manila. Elevated from a raunchy tradition by the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity to dramatize “protests” against school issues like tuition fee increases or government corruption, members of the same fraternity staged another nude run in public streets.

The event has the usual draw of crowds— giggling watchers and cajoling voyeurs as male students excitedly bare their skin, interrupting commerce and vehicular traffic. The disruptive display of private body parts has caught the ire of Senator Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel who sees zero value in the immature behavior.

Airing his disapproval to the Senate Education Committee and demanding for an investigation, Sen. Pimentel asserted, “Sanction the parties responsible, including the university authorities for their failure to exercise their duty to see to it that the laws and the rules of this country may prevail… What redeeming social value does displaying the male genitals to prurient or innocent audience, young and old, pose to justify it?” GMANewsTV (03/04/09; 03/05/99 Balagtas-See, A)

For the overwhelming majority, Pimentel can rightly remind individuals and school authorities of laws against lascivious public exhibitions. There are boundaries of decency that Filipinos must uphold even if students and their teachers imagine they are the naked patriots, “mga hubad na bayani“— the emblematic reincarnations of the statue guarding the entrance of UP.

Organized shedding off of clothes is hardly an affair that one can be proud of. The “Oblation Run” has become embarrassingly vulgar. Many innocent children have been exposed to body parts better wrapped in garments. Yet even UP, the cream of the country’s universities, finds nudity exhilarating. For its frequency, the bizarre exhibitions come like a recurrent lewd joke devoid of meaningful significance.

At the end of the 100th year of the state university, close to a hundred Upians in Diliman bare themselves as an “offering” to their alma mater. Similar controversial naked runs have been staged in different UP campuses and in schools where the APO fraternity has its members. (Photo Credit: Justin Jovellanos) =0=

RELATED BLOGS: “The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest” Posted by mesiamd at 6/20/2008; “Nudity in UP Campus” Posted by mesiamd at 12/18/2008


Nudity in UP Campus & Rizal’s Ultimo Adios

December 17, 2008

Craftiness must have clothes, but truth loves to go naked.”—English Proverb

A tradition of public nudity has developed in the University of the Philippines (UP). On its 100 years of glorious existence, the school has a rash of flesh-baring events— inspired by the iconic metal image of a man in an act of “oblation” right at the campus gate.

The thought of giving oneself naked has turned to be an irresistible wild dream in the academe. It’s a heart-rousing idea that seems to rub the minds of people who subscribe to the sane and the absurd.

Perhaps they take themselves too seriously. They can be deluded by their self-importance, believing that they are smarter than others and thus deserving of occasional tantrums. There is covert hubris in many UPians. They may be enamored by the grand words of the second verse of Jose P. Rizal’s Ultimo Adios etched on the base of Guillermo Tolentino’s oblation sculpture standing in the school grounds:

“In the fields of battle,
deliriously fighting,
Others give you their lives,
without doubt, without regret;
Where there’s cypress, laurel or lily,
On a plank or open field,
in combat or cruel martyrdom,
If the home or country asks,
it’s all the same–it matters not.”

—Jose P. Rizal, National Hero

The connection of nudity today in UP and Rizal’s heroism is at best tenuous. Yet, for 50 years, the oblation run has been a yearly project of the Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity. It started as a prank and had since then become one of the most celebrated in the university.

Nudes, wearing only masks and bonnets parade themselves around the campus. The justification of the bizarre display of the mons veneris and the penile appendage is usually a protest for an “issue” that bothers the community. Although not all are convinced of the “alibi,” the event brings eager crowds nonetheless to watch the warm flesh pass by. Amidst heckles and laughter, the men give away roses to merry spectators, but many are oblivious and dismissive of the rationale behind the run.

The oblation run held on December 16, 2008 had only 10 nude men streaking their way around the campus. But I thought they had one in June where a hundred participated. For the latest run, APO chose to protest the boiling charter change (Cha-cha) controversy which is occupying the mind of the nation. They also fussed about President Gloria M. Arroyo, the environment and climate change.

The fewer turn-out of those wanting to show their flesh might have been the consequence of an early morning photo shoot of about 100 nude UPians to celebrate the school’s service to the country a week before. Capping the school’s centennial year celebration, on December 13, 2008, the dawn picture session had almost a hundred UPians exposing their skins. What was once considered a joke had turned out to be a controversial collective legitimate expression of selfless offering: “UP Para sa Bayan” (UP for the Nation.)

The nude mania also caught the fancy of the fine arts luminaries of the university. Earlier in June this year, works of National Artists Fernando Amorsolo, Guillermo Tolentino, Napoleon Abueva, Jose Joya, Cesar Legaspi, Benedicto “Bencab” Cabrera, Carlos “Botong” Francisco, Abdulmari Imao and Vicente Manansala, among others were displayed in a public mall in Quezon city, in an exhibit titled, “100 Nudes/100 years.” It was supposed to be a self-congratulating reunion of UP artists to show the whole world of the school’s “big reservoir of talents.”

I don’t know if the Pavlovian concept on operant conditioning works on the psychology behind this nudity hullabaloo. If I have my psychiatry straight, humans like animals, are governed by rewards and punishments. When forbidden behavior such as shedding one’s clothes is reinforced by approving attention, many will do it again. There’s no negative backlash, no punishment and no incentive to prevent UP from doing the oblation run. Nudity which can be pleasurable, is tolerated, and even approved of by university authorities. En masse in front of satisfied onlookers, the event becomes a rousing surreal occasion akin to Bacchanalia.

Liberals, anarchists, and free thinkers can look at public nudity differently even if there are laws against indecent exposure. They usually laud anything contrary to the norm. They want unbridled freedom without much responsibility. Their perspective can be summed up with what iconoclastic John Lennon said when he was still alive.

“The main hang-up in the world today is hypocrisy and insecurity. If people can’t face up to the fact of other people being naked, or whatever they want to do, then we’re never going to get anywhere. People have got to become aware that it’s none of their business and that being nude is not obscene. Being ourselves is what’s important. If everyone practised being themselves instead of pretending to be what they aren’t, there would be peace.”—John Lennon, Beatles singer

Lennon’s opinion is just one side of the coin. He can’t be taken seriously all the way for there are conservative moral and cultural issues that must not be ignored by Filipinos. As a counterpoint, I can only refer at the photos of the oblation run shown in the blog. I suspect they have become raunchier and debased than the years past. With some clues of what goes on during the run, I need to repeat my two-cent worth of opinion about this school-sanctioned nude exhibitions in a supposedly sane university:

Surely, there is amusement in nudity, but such display is distracting and unwarranted. Young masked students running with no clothes on, giving away roses to onlookers is such a powerful emotion-rouser that we risk forgetting the grievances behind why we do it. It’s generally regarded as a mischievous prank rather than a serious protest. In spite of the fun, there is this troubling question whether such an event brings the most benefit in the long run. It makes us think if merriment and humor are always the best ways to air our problems and solve them.

After stating my closing thought, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read a smart quip about being nude—“Don’t arrest me. I was born this way.” It seemed the inane controversy on nudity in campus would stay. But with the rate ethical behavior and righteousness is expended these days, I would not be surprised if UP and many of her children might go astray. Photo Credits: in dekost; in.dekost; indekost; pmt007; in.dekost; in.dekost)=0=

RELATED BLOGS: “The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest”
Posted by mesiamd at 6/20/2008; “UP Para Sa Bayan” Posted by mesiamd at 12/13/2008


UP Para Sa Bayan

December 13, 2008

The 2008 celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the University of the Philippines (UP) is about to close. There is much to thank for as many unnamed students and graduates have worked hard to fulfill their personal dreams and realize the school’s mission. On the other hand, there is much to be ashamed of (or regretful about) if some of UP’s graduates have fallen short of their potential.

UP Para Sa Bayan, a huge display of public service will be held in campus this Saturday, December 13, 2008. The slogan and happy occasion will showcase the relevance the school plays for the country. It will surely make many people feel good and proud.

A hundred “oblation men” will have a photo shoot at the amphitheatre. Free medical, veterinary, legal, and dental services will be offered to the public. A blood drive, a school-sponsored mass wedding and public entertainment are slated— all in one day.

This is the right time for every UP graduate to mull on what leadership, excellence, and service mean. There are those who say the university is now focused on service. And leadership and educational excellence have long been century-old indelible school trademarks.

But are they true? One can’t help but wonder if truth is what most people really see in the government-funded top learning center. The mirage which blurs the university’s actual accomplishments and failures still remains. Photo Credits: BotchokoyD, KuManahan; Ulan25; ButchokoyD) =0=


The Oblation Run: a risque prank becomes a raunchy protest

June 20, 2008

It started as a prank during the Marcos years when members of Alpha Phi Omega (APO) fraternity ran nude in the campus to protest certain issues. For almost 50 years, the Oblation Run morphed into one of the most celebrated UP event which stirred the campus to go haywire. This year’s 100th year celebration of the school’s founding was overshadowed by a group of 100 nude men running for what they called “a fight against the school’s commercialization” and “a protest versus some national issues.”

The attraction of the Oblation Run is mainly the nudity, not much the protest. Pubic hair exposure, wrinkled scrota, dangling balls, and penile exhibition stun onlookers. They are curious to watch an activity which has become traditional—a display of skin and gross body parts which are better wrapped in cloth, hemp, or forest leaves.

Voyeuristic impulse and the desire to have fun override the plan to express grievances. That’s why for much of the Oblation Run, it is eclipsed by laughter, jeers, and giggles. People are visibly entertained more than outraged, especially if women, against the fratmen’s wishes bare their breasts. Spectators don’t generally focus on the issues the event purports to fight for.

This is our fraternity’s way of honoring UP on its centennial,” asserted an APO frat member. Whether the honor is a fitting homage is a subject of debate

“I never thought it would be this exciting,” said an on-looker who found the spectacle entertaining. PDI (06/19/08, Ramos,M)

“The fraternity officials explained that aside from being a form of protest, the Oblation Run is also intended to remind UP students of the symbolism of the Oblation Statue, which is “a selfless offering of one’s self to the country.” Philstar (06/19/08, Andraneda, K.)

Every UP student or teacher knows what the Oblation stands for. They need not be reminded ad nauseum by the hackneyed, vulgar symbol of “selfless offering of one’s self” which they learned to be proud of early on. In fact, people critical of the state university think this “offering” symbol peddled among the students is an insult to the nation—for in spite of the countless graduates who contribute to better the lot of Filipinos, we have only a few UPians to successfully put our country down, deep in the quagmire of poverty and despair.

If we want to protest an issue, is there a need to remove our clothes and show the skin of our butts? Are there laws violated in this kind of public nudity? If we want to make our complaints known, why do we gather nude bodies that double as sources of laughter and entertainment? In solving our grievances, can’t we set our funny bones separate from the serious problems we’re fighting for?

Surely, there is amusement in nudity, but such display is distracting and unwarranted. Young masked students running with no clothes on, giving away roses to onlookers is such a powerful emotion-rouser that we risk forgetting the grievances behind why we do it. It’s generally regarded as a mischievous prank rather than a serious protest. In spite of the fun, there is this troubling question whether such an event brings the most benefit in the long run. It makes us think if merriment and humor are always the best ways to air our problems and solve them. Photo Credits: Dekost; oblationrun )=0=

RELATED BLOG: “Nudity in UP Campus” Posted by mesiamd at 12/18/2008