You’ve been a formidable cultivator of political opinion these past few months.
You’ve trumpeted the achievements of your chosen candidates, reposted essay-like Facebook rants that you considered sound analyses, and engaged in internet fights against supporters of opposing candidates. You’ve even let go of some friendships over differences in opinion (who needs foolish friends, anyway, right?). You’re convinced your candidate is The One, the savior, the best chance this country has to move on up.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but whoever you so faithfully vote for on Monday is going to disappoint you over the next six years.
That’s bound to happen to a population as zealous as ours. Try as we might to remind ourselves that promises from politicians are nothing but empty words, we can’t help but hope and latch that hope to one of the aspirants. Most of the time, we are propelled by the crowd that chants the loudest. Remember the two Edsa revolutions, or that time six years ago when the nation was painted yellow? Those were times of strong opinions and fervent hope, ushering in leaders that—let’s face it—ended up failing us on one way or another.
Presidents and governors and mayors are no miracle workers. They are not blameless heroes. It’s a given that they won’t be able to grant everyone’s wishes during their term. They won’t be able to fix all the issues you
see around you, and they certainly won’t be able to fix you.
You’re it. You’re the one who should not disappoint yourself—and the rest of us. After you win your Facebook battles, after you put your whole heart into your ballot, after you so ardently type about change and responsibility and love of country, let’s see you walk the talk.
Let’s start with the basics. It’s often been said that the Philippines will never see progress unless every Filipino learns to fall in line. Can you live up to such a simple expectation?
We hope to see you properly standing in a queue—instead of cutting the line—at the ticket booth, at the train station, at the jeepney stop. We hope to see you using the pedestrian lanes, getting on at proper loading areas, parking correctly, giving way. We hope to see less of your litter on the floor, less of your spit on the sidewalk, less of your filth in public toilets.
Unless your beloved president is going to clean up after you (I would pay to see that day!), you’re the one who should mind what you leave behind.
Because no matter what efforts the government makes to keep our communities clean and disease-free, it’s your waste that can foul up the place. No matter how efficient the traffic system is, you’re the one who can cause bedlam if you insist on getting off that jeepney in the middle of the road.
Your obligation to the nation does not end there; much is also expected of you in matters of larger scale.
If you crusade for a politician who promises to end corruption, we expect that you yourself are not corrupt, especially in your workplace. If you’re charging us excessive fees for your services, sleeping on the job, or are being deceptive in your dealings, you are failing us. If you claim to care for the environment but are mindless in your energy consumption, or if you say you’re for the empowerment of women but are verbally abusive to your partner, you are failing us.
And you failing your real-life responsibilities as a citizen would be the biggest disappointment in the history of armchair activism. It’s a bigger disappointment than, say, a respectable candidate turning out to be yet another “trapo,” or a strong-willed leader who could not deliver on his promises.
Because while we can reasonably expect our politicians to flop, we cannot bear for you—the bold idealist, the staunch messenger of hope—to fail your own ideals. Being unable to translate your Facebook essays into actual, responsible action would not only be unsatisfactory, it would also be outright hypocritical.
So when the elections are over, when the bickering of supporters die down and the elected are getting cozy in their new seats, we hope to see all that noise become action as well. Sure, we’ll be keeping an eye on our new leaders, but we’ll also remember you—you who have been filling our news feeds with rhetoric all these months, you who have been vocal about what you think is right. We’ll see you and we’ll see how you measure up to your own words.
You’re it. You’ve been the opinion machine that tried to rouse us almost to the point of being maddening, and while it is commendable that you’ve kept some important conversations going, you need to show us what you’re made of, too. You’ve been the persistent herald of change and responsibility and love of country. We’re looking at you now. Do not disappoint.
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