By Karla Angelica Pastores Contributor BIRDS of a feather flock together, or so they say. In psychology, we learned that you are drawn to friends who are similar to you in terms of traits and characteristics. As the friendship deepens, you become more and more similar to each other. And…? When it comes to our friends and family, we tend to trust each other’s judgments and opinions. We turn to our friends for advice and information, and, depending on the level of closeness we have with them, usually believe what they say. During elections, first time voters typically look to their friends and family as credible sources of information as to which candidate to vote for. For our thesis last year, my friends and I studied the factors that affect how young Filipinos choose a presidential candidate. Among the significant factors that came up was “Opinion of family and friends,” that is, young people in the Philippines turn to the people around them for advice on whom to vote for. It would be typical of a first time voter to ask his or her parents or friends what they think, then go for whomever candidate they say. Just as the youth rely on their friends for fashion and love advice, so they rely on the people around them for candidate recommendations. Lazy as it may sound it’s more convenient than doing an extensive research on all candidates just to get an idea on who is right for the job. But we can turn this situation to our advantage. Just because you’re young doesn’t mean you don’t have influence. If you believe strongly in either a cause or a person, don’t underestimate the power you have to make an impact on your family and friends. You’re friends with these people because you trust each other and value one another’s opinion. I don’t believe that the youth are apathetic when it comes to political matters. They just don’t feel like they can do anything because they are still young and inexperienced. We might be inexperienced in some areas, but we have the upper hand when it comes to technology and inspiring fellow young people. We know how our brains work, how long our attention span is, and what language will get the message through loud and clear. Indeed, the youth have so much power in so many different ways; it’s about time we let them know it. The youth will get more from casual conversations with friends over coffee than from a prominent politician on the evening news. Perhaps one person may not make a dent, but millions of people influencing two or three others will certainly leave a significant mark. Even the young ones have the power to change the world.
January 2009 Archives
By Harvey Keh For the past 2 weeks, one of the major news items that came out was the call of Chief Justice Reynato Puno for a Moral Force to come out and become more active in shaping our country's future especially in the upcoming 2010 National Elections. This has led to calls for him to spearhead this force and at the same time make himself available as a Presidential Candidate in 2010. Among those that have issued statements of support include Senator Panfilo Lacson and the Ang Kapatiran Party. This call for Puno to run for President only goes to show that many Filipinos are now looking more and more at leaders with moral ascendancy, credibility and untarnished integrity. This is understandable given the fact that our present government led by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been branded as one of the most corrupt governments not only in Asia but in the whole world. We have also seen numerous political scandals which have consistently plagued her government more recently the imposition of a ban by the World Bank on 3 contractors that have implemented infrastructure projects with the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). A sad reality is despite these numerous scandals and Senate investigations that have been conducted, there has not been one person who has been held accountable or been convicted for these practices of graft and corruption. Yet, when an ordinary Filipino out of desperation and hunger steals a kilo of rice, s/he is automatically put into jail while a government official who continues to steal millions of pesos from the Filipino people continues to enjoy a lavish lifestyle here and abroad. Aside from Puno, another reform candidate that has often come up is Pampanga Governor and former Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) Filipino of the Year awardee, Gov. Eddie "Among Ed" Panlilio. Many groups have started to talk and convince Among Ed to consider throwing his hat into the Presidential race in the hope of being able to lead a moral revolution for our country. Among Ed's story is remarkable given the fact that despite meager resources and the little amount of time he had to prepare for the elections, he was able to topple two well-entrenched political dynasties in Pampanga. Just a few weeks ago, news broke out that Pampanga won the prestigious Gawad Galing Pook Award for its effective and efficient collection of Quarry taxes which can be attributed to Among Ed's continuous efforts to promote good governance and ethical leadership in our country. Finally, many non-profit organizations and peasant groups have recently said that another reform candidate that will make a good President is former Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo. In his 16 years of being city mayor of Naga, Robredo was able to transform Naga from a 3rd class municipality to a 1st class city that is now the center of commerce and business in the Bicol Region. Aside from this, Naga has already achieved almost all the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations way ahead of the 2015 deadline. One can see in Naga City that by electing the right leaders, the people's quality of life can eventually be improved. Just by looking at these 3 individuals, we can see that we are not lacking in possible reform candidates for our country but I think we should also consider not only their ethical fiber but also whether or not they have shown their ability to lead and govern. One should also look at their track record when it comes to public service and the delivery of basic services especially to the poor and powerless of our society. We should also look at whether or not they make stands or statements in support of key pro-poor issues such as the extension and reform of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). In a country that is so hungry for change and hope, the worst thing that could happen is we all join the bandwagon and elect a so-called reform candidate only to be disappointed because it may be too late for us to realize that being a man with a good heart and good intentions isn't enough to help millions of Filipinos move out of poverty. The challenge for all of us is to be patient and more discerning about the candidates that we would like to support because genuine and lasting change doesn't usually happen overnight. Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government. Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
By Karla Angelica Pastores THE first time I met Jesse Robredo, Grace Padaca, and Among Ed Panlilio, I wasn’t star struck. They did not have an air of superiority around them, and they certainly did not walk around waving to everyone and shaking hands with people whose arms are not even extended. To me, they did not look like politicians, let alone award-winning ones. No, I wasn’t star struck when I met them. I was awestruck. Over dinner at Club Filipino one June evening last year, I was listening to these three government officials talk about their problems in their provinces and offer solutions and support to each other. They were seated across from each other, engaging themselves in a lively conversation. As I sat there, a young, somewhat inexperienced fresh graduate, I felt very privileged to have met these leaders and be privy to their thoughts and ideas. Several months and two more exceptional public servants later, my respect and admiration for Mayor Jesse of Naga City, Gov. Grace of Isabela, Among Ed of Pampanga, Gov. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao and Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija have only grown. In my work for Kaya Natin!, I interact with these five people on a regular basis, and like that evening in Club Filipino when they first met, I have the chance to know them as people, not as politicians. As people, these leaders are as real as they get. They have more right to say that they’re just regular people than television and movie stars have --just regular people who have problems and issues albeit scrutinized by the public eye. At least with celebrities, they’re compensated with more than enough; with government officials like Mayor Jesse and Gov. Grace, it’s only their heart for the people and the country that keeps them in public service despite the difficulties. In today’s political arena where corruption seems to be the norm, government officials like the Kaya Natin! champions are a refreshing twist to the story. Here we have leaders who, while far from being perfect, have put it upon themselves to serve the public with integrity. Not only are they challenging the rules of the game of traditional politics, going against big names, but they do so with a genuine commitment to changing how politics works in the Philippines. They are the faces of effective and ethical leadership in government. The reality is that these champions of good governance are not that much different from the rest of us. Before taking on the challenge of public service, they were ordinary citizens who only wanted to do something and be someone for others. It was a sacrifice they were ready and willing to make, and it was a sacrifice that was worth every pain and disappointment if only to see their fellow Filipinos leading better lives. They are still ordinary citizens; only now they hold jobs aimed at serving the public. Ordinary people? Quite probably. Extraordinary characters? Most definitely. The best part is, they’re all real people.
By Marjorie Gorospe THE 2010 Philippine presidential elections are drawing near. Some aspirants have started subtle campaigning, hoping to catch people's attention this early. History would tell, however, that Philippine elections have been marred with fraud, casting doubt on people who are placed in power. This is one reason why some voters forego their right to suffrage. Jaime Garchitorena of Youth Vote Philippines says one cannot blame some people for choosing not to vote. Garchiterona says the Filipinos' growing distrust with elections will only lead to more unwanted public servants. “If you don’t trust the system, which you do not try to fix, then it still stays the same as distrustful as you thought it was,” Garchiturena adds. Garchitorena says breaking this cycle of distrust is difficult. But people should not give up. He says “trying” means that people have accepted the possibility of change. Youth Vote Philippines hopes to encourage the youth to find time to vote. He points out that people should not complain if they chose not to vote. “Kung hindi ka boboto, huwag kang magreklamo [Don’t complain if you will not vote],” he adds. He admits that it remains a challenge to encourage more young people to vote. However, he and his colleagues in Movement for Good Governance are not losing hope.
LAST week, one of the major news stories that erupted prior to the end of 2008 was an incident involving the abuse of power by a city mayor whose father is also the incumbent Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) Secretary. According to an e-mail which has been circulating for days now, Masiu City Mayor Nasser Pangandaman, Jr. together with his friends and bodyguards ganged up and beat up a 56-year-old man and his 14-year-old son over an altercation at the Valley Golf and Country Club in Antipolo City. As if this wasn't enough, Mayor Pangandaman, Jr. and his cohorts continued to beat the two of them up while the 14-year-son pleaded with them to stop. This happened as DAR Secretary Nasser Pangandaman just watched and didn't even bother to lift a finger to stop the incident. Since then many people have condemned this act and have voiced out their utmost disappointment with the kind of government officials that we have in this country. If Sec. Pangandaman and Mayor Pangandaman, Jr. have some decency and delicadeza left in them, I believe they should not only offer a sincere apology to the Dela Paz family but also resign from their posts immediately. Government officials like Mayor Pangandaman, Jr. is the reason why many Filipinos have begun to lose hope with our present administration and our current crop of government leaders. Yet on the bright side of things, it's a new year and it's always good to start the year right with a story of hope especially in the field of politics and governance in our country. While there are abusive government leaders such as Mayor Pangandaman, Jr., we also have local government leaders who have quietly worked towards promoting genuine service and good governance for their constituents. Last year, the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government (ASOG) convened the Kaya Natin! Movement wherein the initial leaders who met were Gov. Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga together with Ramon Magsaysay Awardees (Asia's Nobel Prize) Mayor Jesse Robredo and Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela. Many people already know the stories of Panlilio, Padaca and Robredo given that these three local government leaders have shown that against all odds they can continue to deliver effective basic services in a moral and ethical manner. Another Kaya Natin! leader is Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija whose leadership in her municipality has transformed San Isidro from a sleepy 4th class municipality to developing 2nd class municipality in less than 10 years. Since Lorenzo was elected in 1998, she has provided health insurance to almost every family in San Isidro despite having a very limited budget. In the field of education, San Isidro has consistently been one of the top performers in the province in terms of the yearly achievement and aptitude tests given by the Department of Education (DepEd). More importantly, under her leadership, she was able to convince many top-level academic institutions and foundations to work with her in improving the lives of her constituents. These include the Ateneo de Manila University and Synergeia Foundation which works with her in the field of improving public education, the College of the Immaculate Conception (CIC) which works with her in promoting good governance and Gawad Kalinga (GK) wherein she serves as one of its main champions in the province. By working with these private organizations, Lorenzo has been able to maximize the use of her resources while being able to uplift the quality of life of the people of San Isidro. As a proof that good governance can mean good politics, Lorenzo ran for re-election last 2007 without buying votes and didn't even bother to put up any posters, streamers or banners. When her allies told her that she might lose the elections, she told them that they will go house to house and campaign based on what they have achieved thus, the elections will serve as a gauge on whether or not the people have felt the benefits of the programs that they have delivered. When the last ballot was counted, Lorenzo won with the largest winning margin in the history of San Isidro showing everyone that one need not spend millions if s/he would only do his or her job well. Finally, Lorenzo's efforts have not gone unnoticed as she was also awarded as one of the six inaugural fellows at the Asian Institute of Management's (AIM) Team Energy (formerly Mirant) Center for Bridging Societal Divides. Her dedication to public service and her being an ethical leader is a testament that not all government leaders are like Mayor Pangandaman, Jr., the province of Nueva Ecija should be proud that it has someone like Mayor Sonia Lorenzo who embodies what it truly means to be a true public servant. Listen to Mayor Sonia Lorenzo and the other Kaya Natin! leaders speak at the Kaya Natin! Caravan of Good Governance on January 10, 2009 (Saturday) at Araullo University in Cabanatuan City and at the University of the Assumption in San Fernando, Pampanga. For more information, you can send an email to email@example.com or call (02) 426-5657. Harvey S. Keh is Director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government (ASOG).