Doors slammed shut on ‘nobodies’ who want to serve
I was deeply touched by the letter, “A call for young, patriotic Filipinos to consider public service” (5/20/20), and immediately connected with the idealism of the authors. Let me present to you, though, the political reality here in the Philippines. Allow me to share my story.
I was once in government service. I think public service is my calling. However, I took a step back a couple of years ago and left government. I am now 40 years old — not that young. But I still intend to go back as I believe I still have a mission to finish.
As early as high school, I dreamt of becoming Philippine president one day. So I studied hard, got rewarded with scholarships, and was fortunate to graduate from our top schools. I was also fortunate to pass the CPA licensure and the bar exams. I also finished my master’s degree in an Ivy League school. I did not pursue employment abroad, and simply opted to go back to the Philippines, so I could continue my work as a government lawyer. I also opted to return to the country to continue teaching law in the state university.
In my years in government service, I realized that to make the biggest and most meaningful impact, one really needs to go to the very top and somehow get elected. However, the harsh reality is, the Philippine electorate seems to be not yet that mature. We still choose our leaders based on popularity and not on competence. We still at times blindly vote the relatives of the politikos and thus perpetuate political dynasties. We choose what would be most convenient for ourselves, and not for the country, and encourage the bata-bata system.
I am not in government service now as I do not want to be associated with this current administration. But I still want to return and serve our people. However, I do not have the popularity or the political pedigree to make it happen. I have prepared all these years, I want to make a difference, but I simply will not get elected as I am a “nobody.” And that is the truth.
This is the real face of Philippine politics. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get in. Sila-sila na lang, kahit gustuhin mo pa. I do not know how to beat this system, but I truly want to effect change. There are people who want to serve, but the door is just slammed shut. But we need the idealism and efforts of all like-minded Filipinos, especially during elections, to make this happen. Please allow me, and many others like me, to make a positive impact on the country. We have our hearts in the right place. Like you, I do not want the collective aspirations of Filipinos to simply fade away.
RAFAEL VICENTE R. CALINISAN
UP College of Business Administration
Diliman, Quezon City