Sunday, April 11, 2010

Day 100: My Election Journey

To jumpstart the 30-day countdown to the May 10 elections, I'm publishing this as a repost from the original Facebook Note I posted on my profile...

Lessons from the Campaign Trail: MY ELECTION JOURNEY

My Business with Villar

This has been long overdue. I’ve been mentioning several times on my Facebook profile that I will share my journey in choosing the future leaders of this country. In exactly one month from today, we will have our first automated elections and we will be deciding the fate of the Philippines once more.

Prior to this coming elections, the only time I exercised my right to vote was in the 1992 elections. As a first time voter, I had so much hope and vigor. It was during the Ramos administration that we achieved being a tiger economy. We were about to take off when it was again time to choose a new leader. I didn’t bother voting during the 1998 elections, of which Joseph Estrada was a strong candidate. Suffice to say, I lost confidence and hope then.

The Philippines went downhill from then…Fast forward to around late 2008 when certain personalities began to send feelers regarding possible candidacy as President for 2010. One of those whose name was beginning to make noise then was Senator Manny Villar. I thought to myself, “Wow, entrepreneur…self-made, rags-to-riches…pwede, parang may liwanag ang bukas ah.” And so by early to mid-2009, I had my eyes on Villar for the presidency. It was also during this time when I started researching about his background. Was he really that poor Tondo boy portrayed in that very first ad he came out with with Boy Abunda then interviewing him? I began to take off my rose-colored spectacles to finally see who and what my very first choice was. The C-5 controversy was also one of biggest issues that didn’t sit well with me. It wreaked so much of him being a shrewd and strategic businessman. It dawned on me then that “My gosh! He’s a businessman, he will treat the presidency and the country just like a business.” That can’t be good. In one of the most recent interviews that featured his wife, Rep. Cynthia Villar, her responses confirmed my fears. More than once, she said that they are businesspeople kaya di sila basta basta gumagastos or nag iinvest lalo na sa usaping pang kampanya. And when asked about their love story and relationship, her reply was so businesslike too – “We, Manny and I are a match, pareho kaming may interes sa negosyo, we think alike.” I didn’t feel nor see anything that would indicate of love or emotion then. The image of Barrack and Michelle Obama then came to mind…I thought, what endeared them most to people aside from Pres. Obama’s qualifications was the true emotional chemistry they had as a couple. You could see that they loved each other genuinely. I didn’t see that with Manny and Cynthia. I thought, theirs might have been a business marriage to begin with. And so, I was left with doubts…

Noynoy and his bombshell of an announcement

It was 3rd quarter of 2009…I have to admit, I was one of thousands of Filipinos who mourned the death of the late President, Cory Aquino. During her funeral, a sense of nationalism started to burn in my heart once more. It had the makings of what I felt during the 1986 People Power Revolution. And wow! That feeling was awesome! I thought, something big is going to happen…people are starting to question…starting to get impatient and frustrated with the current state of the country.

And bang! Weeks after, Sen. Noynoy Aquino came out of nowhere to announce his bid for the presidency. I thought…”There you go! Finally, a hero out of the ashes…” My doubts then started to turn into hope once more. That yearning and pride of being a Filipino began to once more burn in my heart after decades of slumber. He began saying that Filipinos can now dream again…those who want to serve the country need not be pedigreed nor rich…”Kahit sino, basta gusto at handang maglingkod sa bayan, ay maari nang sumubok at mangarap.” This was the battlecry he said of his party then. As a congressman and senator, Noynoy Aquino wasn’t much a personality I knew about… I thought maybe he was just shy or softspoken. I was hoping his true statesmanship would come out shortly after his announcement to run. After all, he is Ninoy’s son, right? I waited, and waited, and waited…forum after forum, interview after interview, debate after debate…I was hearing the same things over and over and him clutching a paper that looked so much like a “kodigo” every single time didn’t sit very well with me. His answers were always motherhood statements, “de-numero” and “praktisado”…I was looking for the “how”, his exact plans for the government and all he could muster was “Hindi ako magnanakaw…” Ok…corruption is a big problem of this country but it definitely is NOT the only problem and it can’t be solved by saying you wouldn’t be corrupt.

The final nail to the coffin was something personal. People close to me were planning to run for local posts in a province and at the time, Noynoy and his Liberal Party were the ones who showed hope for virtual unknowns and green apples. Di ba nga, sabi niya, “kahit sino ka pa, pwede ka nang mangarap”…And so they applied for party nomination. When the deadline for filing of candidacy was already nearing, news broke left and right about personalities jumping ship from the administration party to LP and likewise for celebrities gunning for local positions. Left and right too, Noynoy and Mar began to raise the hands of these people…old political faces changing ships, celebrities with ties to Noynoy’s uber popular sister, Kris. LP was approving nominations left and right…of these people – ones with pedigree and popularity. And so, what happened to my family members who were unknowns? With no nomination in sight and the deadline finally came, they instead chose to run as independent candidates. The hope and light that Noynoy and LP initially rallied about turned out to be an empty blackhole. Clearly, it wasn’t about ability and willingness to serve the people that was important…it was who you know, how many know you and how much you had.

Just in time…The Transformers: GORDON-BAYANI

I had always been an admirer of Sen. Richard Gordon. Likewise, I had high respect and regard for MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando. Even though their names would crop up every now and then about possible run for the presidency, it wasn’t sure then that they actually would. And so while I was dealing with the Villar and Aquino chapters of my election journey, their names remained on park bay with me.

On December 1, 2009, Sen. Richard Gordon and Chairman Bayani Fernando, filed their certificates of candidacy for President and Vice-President, respectively and aptly named their team, The Transformers. They finally sealed their fate. And from park bay, their names captured top spot in my mind and heart. From the start, I noticed theirs wasn’t the traditional campaign. They simply did away with the strategy of numbers by not having a senatorial line-up. It was simply a tandem of Gordon-Bayani. Every opportunity to talk, they grabbed…every forum, every interview, every debate…they were there…oh and yeah, even those that didn’t push through because the top candidates backed out. What the other candidates had in terms of money, pedigree, popularity and machinery, they made up for by walking, talking and being with the people. Following their campaign sortie schedule, you’d be surprised if these two were still getting enough rest as they would fly in or drive to one city/town and in several hours they’d be in another place. No posters, stickers, fans and t-shirts were being given away…if you wanted one, you were free to download their templates online and had them done yourself.

At the onset, I admired their “no-nonesense”, straightforward plans regarding the country’s pressing problems. With every issue, they had a specific and measurable plan of action. Definitely, no motherhood statements whatsoever. In my journey, the only thing I wanted most was for my candidate to answer the question “HOW?”…Give me specific ways to counter the main problems of this country. And please, enough of the “Labanan ang korupsyon” and “Tapusin ang kahirapan” slogans…PAANO NGA?

Listen to both Sen. Gordon and Chairman Fernando every time they have an opportunity to speak out to people…they both go to the specifics…even if some of those measures will mean hard work, discipline and sacrifice for the Filipino. Never did I hear them promise that that like superheroes, they would eradicate corruption and poverty…their battlecry has always been VOLUNTEERISM and A CHANGE IN MEN. What they’re offering the country and Filipinos is the opportunity to change philosophies and beliefs – “pagbabagong magmumula sa puso at diwa ng bawat Pilipino”.

Many people get swayed and attracted with promises of other candidates that would seem that “magiging sitting pretty na lang ako…si _________ at si __________ naman pala ang tatapos sa problema ng bansa.” How is that possible? No one man can do that. It takes each one of us under a clear and competent leadership of one to begin a change that will be lasting and complete. Most of those I know who do not favor the Gordon-Bayani tandem say that “mahirap na…magiging iron hand sila”…Wait a minute…don’t you think that is exactly what this country needs? We’ve become a country who has totally forgotten what true discipline is. We’ve gotten used to the short cuts, under the table management. Is this the kind of mentality and state we want to pass on to our children and grandchildren? What’s so bad about discipline? Is it because discipline will mean we have to get up on our feet to work and exert effort? If that’s your answer, then tama nga na tawaging TAMAD ang Pinoy. Have we lost all sense of decency and integrity now that we are satisfied to just sit pretty in one corner and watch some “hero” miraculously save us from hell?

I would gladly go with that person who says, “I need you to partner with me in changing this country, I cannot do it alone.” That is the right choice - he who needs every Filipino man, woman and child to become a partner in nation-building and the reinstatement of discipline and law. We have a stake in this country so we need to take up our role in making sure it gets a bright future. We have the moral obligation to bequeath a country that our children and grandchildren will be proud of. With an open heart and a sound mind, I am proud to be a partner of GORDON-BAYANI in their quest to achieve a Bagumbayan.


  1. very well stated...remembering the popularized statement of Pres. Kennedy...."ask not what ur country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country" the TRANSFORMERS, that's what they're calling us to do....ANG BOTO MO, para sa BAYAN MO

  2. True in fact, we all need discipline and Gordon has always been well-meaning in making his messages come accross, except maybe for a little improvement in tactful speaking. I have seen one of his interviews and I noticed he would intermittently say some ill comments about other people which makes me think that for his part, he can start taking on discipline on this. We need a president who is focused into his agenda without putting his personal feelings against other people who can make mistakes just like himself. I will vote for him if I will notice him veering away from the stinging remarks. For now, what he did to Olongopo City doesn't strike me past beyond how Villar's too-good-to-be-true-but-we-see-as-true from-rags-to-riches story he wants applied to the empoverished majority caused my awe-inspiration for our national renewal.