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A time for self-reflection

As I am writing this, I am on the 10th day of my mandatory quarantine here in Hong Kong. Or is it the 11th or 12th? Isolation has been making me lose track of days and time. But unlike others who are also quarantined, this seclusion has so far not been that difficult on my end.

That’s probably because, during this pandemic, I have been accustomed to staying in my own room almost the entire day, only going out to eat, drink, bathe, and occasionally tease my niece or play with my tireless dogs. This is not to discount the anguish that people in quarantine are enduring. It has only been a few days since I left home, and I am already missing the dishes prepared by my mom. The recent reopening of some music bars has also left me jealous of their guests. While I am glad that my favorite bands and fellow indie musicians can now resume doing what they love amid these challenging times, I rue not having the opportunity to watch their live performances.

The quarantine period has also been allowing me to focus on my duties and responsibilities as an educator, some of which I admit were put in disarray given the preparations I undertook for my travel. I usually begin the classes by asking my students their insights on recent events, and to say that the last few weeks have been turbulent would be an understatement. The dis- and misinformation campaigns are seemingly worsening as the election period comes closer. Social media platforms are being weaponized to distort history, manufacture imagined narratives, and further the interests of the few. Aspirants have either been dabbling in doublespeak or changing tune on crucial matters. Some are repeating the same empty and unfulfilled promises made back in previous elections, or trying their best to emulate the words and populist tactics of the current leader. Others are busy forging alliances with plunderers and bolstering their Legion of Doom-like coalition.

As I am about to leave, albeit temporarily, the teaching profession to embark on further studies, I believe that it is an obligation to underscore to my students and fellow Filipino citizens that some values are non-negotiable. It is a must to reiterate that their preferences for the upcoming elections are consequential and will shape, in more ways than one, how we build or (further) dismantle our flawed political institutions.

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Amid this period of uncertainties, having an informed citizenry who can and will elect deserving, responsible, and no-nonsense public officials is all the more important. The unnecessary and noxious division between the yellows versus the reds, the anti- versus pro-Marcos, or the Liberals versus the DDS should be a thing of the past. We have a much taller task to accomplish, especially in view not only of the vitriolic politics brought about by such political divisiveness but also by the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic and the misplaced priorities of irresponsible leaders.

It is thus unfortunate that some citizens do not have sufficient time to monitor the sociopolitical developments that are transpiring. Worse, there are people, some of whom flaunt their titles or degrees in social media, who are deliberately dismissing the lies, crimes, and abuses of power of their preferred candidates. They blindly revere them despite their abhorrent track records.

Never should these public office aspirants be treated and venerated as idols. Instead, they should be deemed as public servants at all times, elected to serve the public and not their vested interests. We are currently in a situation in which the priority should be on facts, development projects, clear policy proposals, and other concerns that can save and uplift the lives and livelihood of our fellow citizens.

In 2017, comedian David Letterman said, “The great struggle in life is to be better each and every day.” While I have only been halfway in my compulsory 21-day quarantine, these past few days have provided me ample time for self-reflection. I hope my fellow Filipino citizens can also have the time to reflect on issues that matter, and strive, each and every day, to be better citizens who can make the best possible decisions not only for him or herself but for the benefit of the wider society.

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Kevin Nielsen Magat Agojo, 27, is a part-time university lecturer from Las Piñas and an incoming Ph.D. student in Hong Kong.

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TAGS: Kevin Nielsen Magat Agojo, reflection, Young Blood

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