I refuse to be your pawn
I once dreamed of working in the government. My goal has always been to work for the Department of Tourism or the Tourism Promotions Board. But right after graduation, it didn’t really go the way I imagined it to be. I didn’t get a callback for the different positions I applied for. I think one of the reasons was that I still did not have civil service eligibility at the time.
I became depressed when I failed the exam on my third attempt. When I finally resigned from my first job and started applying again, new opportunities came. I unexpectedly got hired by a local government as a writer. It was one of the applications that I got accepted to. I was also offered a job by the oldest running local newspaper outlet in the country to be a freelance correspondent.
I was excited and very motivated. Aside from working in government, I also aspired to be a journalist. It felt like I would be able to hit two birds with one stone. Not only would I be working in the government, but I would also work as a journalist. I was happy. I covered events and government programs held by the local government. I got the opportunity to travel around the province and meet people, know their stories, and write about them.
I still remember the happiness I felt when my article got published for the first time in a local newspaper. I was in a good place, and more importantly, I loved what I did.
What I didn’t know was that when I took this job in April 2018, it was to gear me up for the local elections in May 2019.
Suddenly, I was no longer writing about the programs of the local government and people’s stories. Everything became politicized—in fact, I realized it was politicized from the very beginning. I was writing to make a good name for this politician. My skills and talents were not being used in the right way anymore. I was disappointed to realize that I was not functioning as a journalist. I had become a PR writer.
It was that realization that changed my enthusiasm and motivation. I was once proud to see my articles getting published with my byline. But not anymore.
I have been in service as a writer for three years now, and I have already seen and been exposed to so much darkness in local politics. Sometimes, I’d rather not tell people what I really do for a living because I fear being labeled and judged.
Just because I am working in government doesn’t mean I agree with everything it does or say. I have my own stand, and I will always stand with the people and with what is right. I just need to keep in mind that I am working for the people and not for this politician. I am doing public service.
Or is this just me downplaying the situation and comforting myself?
Still, I cannot afford losing my job for speaking up, since we are still in a pandemic. I am a contractual
employee earning just enough to pay the bills and support myself and my family, with little benefits.
Now that we are gearing up for the 2022 elections, it has become more difficult to express who I truly support or even share my political stand. As a writer, I am fully aware of the weight of responsibility of my work—that what I write can influence others. I would want to use my writing skills to voice out my stand and what I believe in, because more and more I feel I can no longer stay silent about the things happening around me.
While I may be deprived of self-expression because of my job, I am silently fighting for those I truly support.
This 2022, I hope that we will vote wisely. Every vote counts. Use your right of suffrage and vote for a leader who is not just capable, but who has the heart for true public service—someone who would rather serve than be served.
I wish I could have left this job sooner, because I do not know how much longer I can endure. I am not like the politician I work for. I will never be that person, because I refuse to be one of the pawns in their system or a piece in their games.
Choi In Ha (*a pseudonym), 25, is a writer working for a local government. She loves K-drama, reading books, and writing stories during her free time.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.