The bamboo bends

The election frenzy is over, the dust is settling down. We are all sad, angry, disappointed and frustrated. We don’t deserve these people in the Senate. But they are the chosen ones, so let them be.
“What’s meant to happen, will happen,” as I’ve always said. We must move on, buckle down to work and strengthen our commitment to help our country despite our government and leaders.
Like the resilient bamboo that bends with the wind, we, who believe in the opposition slate Otso Diretso, must learn to bend down now. But we must stay strong to continue weathering new, stronger storms that will come our way because of the choices the majority made.
Otso Diretso candidates have promised to fulfill their promises the best they can. Even if they lost, they told their supporters, “They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.”
Like the rest of our angry and frustrated friends, we hope the seeds will indeed germinate, thrive and count for something, in the next three years specially.
Winners and losers
There are winners and losers in last week’s elections.
The biggest winner to me, is neophyte Doc Willie Ong. He proved that a candidate has a fighting chance without having to spend a fortune.
Ong spent less than P2 million, according to his uncle, and got 7.4 million votes that made him No. 18 in the senatorial race. This feat should give hope to many deserving people who don’t have money to mount a candidacy.
Ong had never run for political office. He had few television and radio ads, hardly any on tarpaulin, and he did not solicit campaign contributions. He turned down a friend’s offer to donate 1,000 T-shirts. If he had accepted the offer and given the shirts to just 1,000 supporters, he would have ended up antagonizing a million others who didn’t get any T-shirt.
Ong’s “capital” instead was his 20 years of public service –free medical consultations, free medicine, referrals for surgery, support for dialysis, for example – done without fanfare, without publicity. Word of mouth of grateful patients helped boost his candidacy.
As he said, “Ang puhunan ko, FB at puso lang (My capital are FB and heart).”
By FB, he meant his Facebook page, which had the most number of page likes (9.95 million), interactions (20.88 million) and views on videos he owned (36.61 million) among the Facebook pages of all senatorial candidates during the 90-day campaign period.
The lesson here: You just have to invest in serving the masses even if you are not campaigning. My driver and house help know Ong well because they learned much from his wise advice over TV and radio.
I campaigned for Ong because I was witness to his public service, his care and concern for community health. I defended him when he was linked to Public Attorney’s Office chief Persida Acosta who had used the Dengvaxia scare to demonize former president Benigno Aquino and his Cabinet.
He didn’t support the activities of Acosta who capitalized on Dengvaxia patients, but he made it clear that he was against the mass vaccination from the beginning and had formally protested against it in a letter to the Department of Health.
Another victory the country scored in the midterm elections is the end of the reign of some political dynasties.
The loss of the house of Ejercito-Estrada in Manila and San Juan cities is the best example. The Estradas’ five-decade rule in San Juan finally came to an abrupt, although they have been replaced by another political clan, the Zamoras.
In Manila, residents have long despaired over the absence of governance in the capital. In former president Joseph Estrada’s two terms as mayor, the city’s problems of uncollected garbage, illegal settlers, street dwellers, chaotic traffic (especially pedicabs, e-trikes and motorcycles weaving in and out even on major thoroughfares), hefty increase in real estate taxes and many others have worsened considerably. Some friends point out, “Just look at the dingy, dark, unsightly and dirty City Hall where the mayor and his men hold office and see the same thing magnified all over Manila.”
Will mayor-elect Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso do a better job? We sure hope so. For starters, he has told media shortly after his win that he will clean up “filthy” Manila, starting with more regular garbage collection.
Many people feel Manila has hit rock bottom; it means there is no more room to go lower.
The biggest losers are those who did not go out and vote. Sadly, in this election, many people belonging to the ABC socioeconomic strata apparently did not cast their votes. Based on the numbers provided by a social media post, most voters came from socioeconomic classes D (78 percent) and E (16 percent) while classes ABC comprised a miniscule 6 percent.
Tillers of the human spirit
The day after elections, May 14, the TOWNS (The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service) committee called TILLERS (TOWNS Integrated Lifelong Learning Skills) met to iron out the concept of a women empowerment and enabling project it will be undertaking.
The committee head, Dr. June Lopez, said that in spite of the fact that we went to the meeting all feeling despondent and depressed, “it was therapeutic.”
She reminded us, “It’s nice to know and feel that this country’s salvation is not through an election. It is through efforts like our Lifelong Learning project designed to enlighten and empower women and their communities. My work makes me a deep believer in the micro approach – touching people’s lives, making them realize there is so much to being a good and peaceful person. Only then will they see themselves caring for others, caring for the environment. Let’s not despair, sisters. Let’s be TILLERS of the human spirit.”
Let me add to that: Let us not forget the youth as we prepare the groundwork for a robust democracy, a better future.
This brings to mind a post from Vida Misa, a young student who was airing her frustration: “It is incredibly frustrating to be a minor in times like these. I can only watch as my relatives who ARE qualified and registered to vote, DON’T vote. I can only watch as my fellow countrymen who DO vote, give the senatorial seats to known plunderers and pets of the current administration. When we, the youth, express our political opinions, we are shushed because ano nga ba alam namin (what do we know)? ‘Di naman kami botante ‘di ba (we are not voters, right)? Bata lang naman kami ‘di ba (We are still young, right)?”
I’m glad she ended her rant on a positive note: “The words of Jose Rizal serve as a beacon of hope to me and my fellow kids today. ‘Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan (The youth is the hope of the nation).’ We will have our time, and we will make this right. Mahal ka namin, Pilipinas (We love you, Philippines).”
It is definitely a positive sign also that Otso Diretso bets won in almost all the mock polls in universities. This clearly shows that our youth are discerning; they know what is right and what is wrong.
With a mindset like that among our next generation, we can indeed triumph somehow, even without the leadership we are hoping for. Let us each find our niche in which and make a difference.