Few hours from now, we will start putting our future in the hands of the selected few. After we experienced the campaign circus in forms of:
- dancing candidates in tune of novelty songs and their campaign jingles
- singing, serenading candidates to woo moms and grandmoms
- joking candidates-turned standup comedians to gain public attention
- acting candidates while filming their TV campaign ads
and a lot more…
I could go on to my list, but that would probably exhaust you to read. Instead, I want to be direct and go to my point. My fellow Filipinos, we are now in the time to make a change. Let’s take this chance seriously by thinking carefully whose names we are going to shade for tomorrow’s election. Let us be guided with these thoughts that I could gather from my jumbled mind at the moment:
1. Not all old candidates are worthy to be re-elected. Some may have gained more experience in serving others, but the keyword there is some. The number of years in service is not a guarantee of being an exemplary public servant. I could give you many examples.
2. Popularity does not equate to good service. Candidates may be actors, models, singers, and even contortionists, but we must ask ourselves: What can they do to serve us? Do they know a thing in public service?
3. The father is different from the son. Or daughter. Or whatever. When the father, a mayor, finished his third term, he would run as a congressman and ask his son to take the mayorship from him. This son, who is a councilor, would then ask his son, a barangay chairman, to replace him. The cycle goes on for years. Political dynasties are common in the Philippines and don’t we wonder why they exist? Are we assured that the mayor’s work, provided that it is honorable, will be followed through by the son?
4. Signages are not everything. In our country, it is very common to see basketball courts, waiting sheds, and even lampposts, with the lines “a project of mayor bla bla bla”. In my city, there are gigantic billboards detailing what the mayor is currently doing in his jurisdiction, with his huge smiling face plastered beside the photos of his work. Transparency and visibility are okay, but why do I feel that citizens must feel grateful and indebted as if we owe those projects to him? To add to the injury, few months ago a footbridge near my village was repainted with the line, “a project of councilor bla bla”. Interestingly, this councilor is the son of the current mayor and is running to replace his father for this election.
5. The number of times a political candidate appeared in TV is not a guarantee that he is worthy for the position. Media has greatly affected people’s way of thinking, but sometimes we have to stop and think: Perhaps he has enough resources to have a huge amount of air time? My favorite independent candidate did not even have his face visible, but I know he has excellent credentials. Shall I vote him?
6. Posters reflect the candidates’ priorities. Visibility is important to let people know that the politicians are there, but they must be put in proper places. Fellow Filipinos, do you see your public walls and lampposts full of political hopefuls’ diplomatic faces? Have you experienced taking public transpo with political stickers pasted on them? Do you know what will happen to those stickers and paper ads after the election? Few days before the big day, it rained in my city and to my surprise, a lot of areas immediately got flooded. It did not take a genius to realize that those posters are blocking the sewage. Is this how those candidates want to serve the public?
I hope this short list made you think. Do you think you already know these candidates? Think again. Why don’t you watch replays of political debates and read their profiles to know more about their backgrounds, credentials, and stands on both domestic and international matters? Do you even care? I hope you are not one of those who don’t even vote. Then later, these same people will complain and blame the government for their misfortunes. I really hate those people and I love you, so please don’t even copy them.
Dear fellowmen, it is high time for us to rise up and assert our rights. Suffrage is a gift given to us to carefully choose rightful candidates to be our voice in the government and protector of our interests. We have the power to decide who among these politicians can serve us unconditionally and not use the post for self-interests. They are public servants and we are the bosses, so why do we allow those already seated to rule over us? Let us stop this insane game of role playing. Tomorrow, exercise our right to vote and place eligible, sincere, and honest candidate to serve us the way we must be served.
P.S. I wanted to post some photos showing those structures with the lines “project of mayor bla bla bla”, but to my surprise, all I could see when I googled some sample pictures were those from my city. Qué horror!