Grassroots wisdom | Inquirer Opinion

Grassroots wisdom

05:03 AM May 28, 2019

The vote was a gut response. The decades-old neglect of inclusive governance and the common good translated to a resounding rejection of what identifies as The Establishment. Not that inclusivity would finally be in the horizon. On the contrary, more of the same in compounded magnitudes and on a larger scale could be the consequence.

The point of the vote is simple: The people want to belong, find an identity. Ang Probinsyano or Probinsyano Ako— these are two party list groups getting big votes, for instance. It is not integrity and competence, honesty or righteousness that matter. Real or virtual or perhaps illusory, what counts is identification. We are against the establishment; we, the people. Du30 represents that identity, the probinsyano president, the bossman.

And here lies the challenge: The psyche of the Filipino today is counterculture. The norm used to be that society wants the cream to rise to the top, wants everyone to excel and be set apart. But the majority cannot be that. They want not exclusivity but inclusivity, or, at the very least, a semblance of it. Elitism is passé.


This makes the majority highly vulnerable. And they decided. Old political dynasties crumbled; new ones are taking over. Old politicos finally experienced loss; young faces with great ambitions are riding high. But by and large, politics as usual will come rolling once again when the campaign dust settles.


Today is a time for discernment. What is the cry from the grassroots? There seems to be a great disconnect. A chasm must be bridged. It is no time for recrimination or name-calling. Authentic leadership transformed to serve is what the grassroots say they do not see in the choices offered to them. They opt for those who give them no cause to expect any. They’d rather not be disappointed by leaders with promise.

They had high hopes in 1986, with the Edsa People Power Revolution. Those hopes have been shattered. A new hope is therefore called upon. That is the wisdom from the grassroots choice today, a trigger to collectively seek the light amid the darkness.

Hope springs from ideals. But how do we get to know the ideals at the most vulnerable levels of Philippine society? How do we get to experience firsthand what the aspirations are at the margins, for us to be able to say we belong with them there, too, and that they who are there belong with us? True aspiring leaders need to go through authentic immersion that will make them experience the reality where the challenges to servant-leadership would be confronted. There are no shortcuts.

Multifaceted poverty is the age-old enemy of governance of all types: government and nongovernment. The dimensions and realities of this scourge need to be visited together by the leaders and their constituents: the many households under subsistence income and subhuman living conditions, poor access to quality education and health care, rampant drug and other addictions, crime and violence, endemic corruption in all sectors and levels of society.

Some victors in the last elections must already be in a state of oneness with their constituents. Their experiences will have to be shared as both good news and teaching moments; the time for positivity is now, and it can be a big boost in the war against poverty.

Hope is forever. Every human being is created to abundance, to sharing. The institutions that are tasked to spread this message, unfortunately, have grossly failed in their mission. Educational and religious organizations have a lot of catching up to do. It is time that they, too, go through their own authentic transformation to be able to respond effectively to the challenges. It must be realized and recognized, however, that real change happens only one person at a time, leading toward a critical mass for social transformation.


In three years, on May 9, 2022, to be exact, a presidential election is scheduled to take place, unless a constitutional change alters the political calendar. Way before that date, there will be many aspirants positioning and politicking, nurturing their ambitions as though getting elected and holding on to power were the only game in town.

But at the grassroots, life is generally lived a day at a time. In the next three years, hope demands that many work toward empowering servant-leaders from and for the grassroots. The impetus for hope must be felt every day in life at the grassroots. This is the only way light will find its way into our current social milieu. This is the wisdom of the grassroots vote in the last elections.

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Danilo S. Venida (danilosvenida@gmail. com) is a former president of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and now a business consultant.

TAGS: grassroots politics, Inquirer Commentary

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