HE one and only time I ran for a government post was in the ‘70s when the then dictator Ferdinand Marcos launched the youth organization Kabataang Barangay (KB) obviously to counter the influence of militant youth groups like the Kabataang Makabayan and to accommodate the political inclinations of his daughter Imee, who eventually became the KB national chairperson. The composition of our slate was masterminded by then Sambag 2 barangay chief Jesse Aznar.
My cousin Noel, who would later become Cebu City councilor, was our standard bearer. I ran for KB councilor together with five others, including a former Miss High School of Southwestern University. I was poised to become high school valedictorian then, so apparently that gave us the right to label our slate the “beauty and brains” team. (I could not help but smile when I wrote the last sentence.)
Those were simpler times and the political stakes weren’t that big. Like, KB leaders didn’t end up becoming ex-officio members of city or municipal councils. So nobody felt the need to ensure that a favored bet in the KB polls would win by buying votes. While Noy Jesse was the one who formed our slate, there was nothing much he did after that.
I remember us wearing t-shirts with our names printed on them and doing the rounds of the barangays sans fanfare. I could not even remember now if ballots were printed for the voters. Meaning that the political exercise was very basic. Of course, we won, with me garnering the largest number of votes among the bets for KB councilor.
I didn’t get to experience the act of governance because I drifted away from barangay youth affairs and was instead sucked into student activism. Noel did that and when he was already too old for the KB plunged into barangay politics, first winning a barangay council seat before becoming barangay captain notably during those times when Noy Jesse left the barangay and became Cebu City councilor (he even had a short stint as vice mayor). Noel himself ended up in the City Council himself.
I am writing about politics because wannabes have started trooping to Commission on Elections (Comelec) offices yesterday to file their certificates of candidacy for the national and local elections in May next year. Wannabes include first timers, reelectionists and returnee politicians. They also include the ambitious and overly ambitious, and the ”dunay K” and “walay K.”
Had I not become an activist, I may have ended up becoming a politician like Noel. Of all my siblings, I was the only one who inherited my father’s passion for politics. My father once ran for barangay captain against Noy Jesse, his candidacy propped up by my activist friends. He lost. His last run was for barangay councilor a few months before he died. He lost again.
I would say with certainty now that I am not really cut to be a politician. I don’t have the temperament for it. My preference has always been to lead a private life. But there are those who are either fit to lead and who love to serve the government or are not fit to lead but love to run for an elective post. They are the ones who are trickling into Comelec offices.