The elections are just around the corner. In fact, the trapo (traditional politicians), bagong pulitiko (new breed), and bimpo (batang isinubo ng magulang sa pulitika) alike are winding down on their campaign sorties, leaving our sidewalks festooned with the sleaze posters of epal brandishing their messiah complex. Radio and television are airing too-good-to-be-true political ads and candidates are strutting in the streets in an effort to win the masa vote. Some have engaged in public debates, and not without the old mudslinging. There is just too much politicking.
With the political economy we are beset with, it shouldn’t surprise us if all we see in the next few years is a continuous trend of lousy leadership. The culture of elections in the Philippines isn’t going to change that easily. Sadly, those who desire change have to dance to the same tune. In order for change to occur, a number of advocates for progressive change must be there first. But some are stuck in the same rotten bureaucracy, and others tend to fit well in it. Risky, isn’t it? Still we have to risk the new breed of leaders and trust that they will be steadfast in their original vision and ideals.
Politicians! Who are they? What is their kind? They are only varying degrees of one kind. Can we fully stop them when only their names appear on the list of options? No. In fact, our fate in the next few years has already been sealed because a number of them are bound to win. This we have already seen.
And educating the electorate may not even suffice to solve this political quandary. All we need are tangible alternatives. They need not win at first, but they must be able and willing should they win. This movement must always be present to shake up the institution and keep it on its toes. In time, with this movement, the voting public will come to a 180-degree paradigm shift.
While left without much options, we can only be optimistic that somehow we’d be able to choose the lesser evil. But such hope leads me to ask: Who must we vote for on May 13? The use of “must” implies the responsibility to thoroughly assess the qualifications of the candidates. After all, suffrage is not just a right being upheld in the Constitution; it’s a responsibility we must carefully exercise to ensure that we get the right leadership we truly deserve.
The electorate must be vigilant and keen in choosing real leaders. And to answer the question, I took inspiration from the work of Henry Givrav, president and CEO of Smith Bucklin.
We must choose a candidate who has striven hard to earn our trust and who is more than willing to return the trust to us. Unfortunately, some of our so-called leaders today are chosen because of either strong recall of their family names or their being in show business. We must choose those we see in their network of relationships, including colleagues and constituents, as principled and well-intentioned.
Also, we must choose candidates who have the courage and self-confidence to do the right thing versus what’s convenient, popular, expedient and personally beneficial. Most of us know what the right thing to do is, but not all of us have the courage to do it. And they should not run out of courage when personal intentions have already been satisfied.
Candidates like these are a rarity; they must be perpetuated for the common good. Nonetheless, we need not elect just those who embody the characteristics mentioned but also those who have the capability to fulfill their sweet promises. The younger, promising generation of leaders must be integrated to carry on, as well as those who talk the least but deliver.
Finally, let’s be wise. Let’s remember that the leadership we get may not be the leadership we deserve, but is the leadership of our choosing.
Ariem Venezuela Cinco, 27, is a communication specialist and quality lead at Tata Consultancy Services (Philippines).