While building up our directory of organizations promoting freedom around the world, I came across this video for the 2013 Freedom Run organised by the Philippine office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation. I was completely taken away by the sheer numbers of people that participated in the event, as well as the professionalism of the whole thing, so I had to learn more about it——because as cool as it seems, how is it really promoting liberty? To find this out, I interviewed Pauline Sanchez, who is the Project Head of the Freedom Run events, by email and here is the back story of these impressive events:
Kenli Schoolland: How did you come up with the idea for the Freedom Run?
Pauline Sanchez: The Freedom Run is part of Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Philippines’ campaign “It’s All About Freedom” that aims to translate the complex concept of Freedom into everyday language. FNF explored programs and activities wherein principles of Freedom, which we advocate for, can be popularized and embedded across sectors of Philippine society.
In the last five years, running has become a trendy sport in the Philippines.. Young and old, professionals and amateurs join races almost every week. But more than being simply a craze and a reason for health and fitness, people sign up to running races to advance a cause.
FNF Philippines took advantage of this interest to generate awareness on freedom and to push for anti-corruption advocacy. Thus the theme, “i am free from corruption” that is boldly printed on the running shirts.
KS: What exactly is involved in the event aside from the running itself? In other words, how is it intended to promote Freedom?
PS: The Freedom Run intends to be a kick-off to greater anti-corruption initiatives that can offer solutions to perennial and deep issue of corruption in the country.
The Freedom Run is a platform to forge partnerships with the public– civil society, government agencies, local government offices, academe, private organization and other important stakeholders whom the Foundation can work with to create more effective and innovative good governance programs.
The Freedom Run itself is a venue where people can enjoy and freely discuss topics that are relevant to Philippine society. There are short speeches that inspire Filipinos to join and promote the anti-corruption advocacy, a short concert wherein songs about freedom and good citizenship are played and booths with creative activities where runners can participate.
After the run, we sustain the partnership by giving opportunities to different groups to take part in the free activities and training on freedom and liberalism that we regularly hold.
KS: Are these sort of athletic events popular in the Philippines?
PS: Yes, running has become one of the much loved sport of Filipinos. Almost every weekend, a race is held in different points of the city and even in provinces.
KS: What are some of the responses you’ve gotten from the event, or changes you’ve seen as a result?
PS: We are pleased to get positive responses form the public. Aside from getting requests to hold Freedom Run in more areas, organizations and some individuals come up to us and seek for more opportunities by which they can take part and promote “freedom form corruption” advocacy. Group runners from different government agencies, which are perceived to have corrupt practices, are given the venue to redeem themselves by showing to the public that they are willing to work hard to purify their bad reputation.
KS: How many people have participated in your Freedom Runs?
PS: Since 2011, with 3 Freedom Runs held in Manila, and 3 Regional Freedom Runs, approximately 13,000 Freedom Runners have already participated.
2000- Freedom Run 2011
3000- Freedom run by the Lake (2012)
3500- Freedom Run 2013
4500- Regional Freedom Runs (Luzon, Visayas, Mindanao)
KS: Will you be holding another run this year?
PS: Yes, though we have yet to schedule a date for this year’s Freedom Run.
KS: What is your next big project or event coming up?
PS: We are looking forward to our programs under “It’s All About Freedom” Campaign
1. The Freedom Run
2. Freedom Project- A search for projects/programs all over the Philippines that promote Freedom and democracy. Last year, the search was focused on anti-corruption activities.
3. Freedom Speech- an annual event wherein an individual who has notably contributed to promoting freedom in the Philippines is invited to speak before the public.