MANILA, Philippines — This year's Great Lean Run took on a more serious tone under the shadow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos' impending burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Past and present students of the University of the Philippines showed up to support the run and attend the pre-program that was marked by protest songs and speeches from personalities that fought during the dark days of Martial Law. This is the second edition of the run after a successful inaugural last year.
The run is held in honor of Lean Alejandro, a student activist during Marcos regime and the chair of the UP Student Council in 1983 at the height of the struggle against military rule.
Alejandro was killed on September 19, 1987 in an ambush, a year after Marcos was swept out of power through the EDSA People Power revolt. He was 27 and was an influential leader of the progressive bloc before forces believed to be vestiges of the military clique under Marcos ended his life.
The run consisted of obstacles representing the hurdles that people went through during Martial Law.
The runners were chased by the Metrocoms or the metropolitan police force under Marcos, blocked by bolo-wielding vigilante groups, crawled under barb wires and climbed over fences, before finally reaching the finish line by breaking the gates and passing though the Malacanang Palace.
Among those present at the pre-program were Senator Francis Pangilinan, singer Noel Cabangon and former Civil Service Commission chair Karina David.
David and Cabangon sang protest songs they used to perform during protest rallies against Marcos.
Pangilinan, a former student activist and UP Student Council chairman during the 1986 revolution, addressed the crowd of past and present activists who wore black as a symbol of protest against the Supreme Court decision allowing the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"Parang isang masamang panaginip 'to, na yung taong isinuka na ng bayan ay tatanghaling bayani. Pero hindi pa to tapos, lalaban tayo. Di bayani ang isang diktador," Pangilinan said to the crowd.
(This is like a bad dream, that the man rejected by this country will be called a hero. But it's not over yet. We will fight. A dictator is not a hero.)
"Burying Marcos in the LNMB is teaching our children to honor murderers and plunderers — at hindi yan tama. [That isn't right.] Di pwedeng lumaki ang ating mga anak na yung mali ay tama, at yung tami ay mali. [Our children cannot grow up in a world where what is wrong is right and what is right is wrong]."