Necessary evil, necessary good
By Virginia Jasmin Pasalo
THE election is over. The winners had been proclaimed. For some it is a time to celebrate, for others to regain strength. Most of my friends are experiencing an extended hangover.
“My candidate won! Who did you vote for? Aha, I know, you do not like dynasties, even good ones, so I am sure you did not vote for my candidate.”
“As a guiding principle yes. I did not vote for your candidate because I am not comfortable with the highest positions of the land being occupied by brothers and sisters, mothers and sons. It reduces the fate of this nation to a family affair, its resources operated by a few powerful clans loyal to them, negating the potential of truly becoming a democratic nation. I do not like the idea of kings and queens, no matter how benevolent, because the common man will never approximate the resources, the connections and the chance to fight in a levelled playing field. Especially, the digital divide, from the social media, mind priming, up to the counting of votes. Digital technology has its own master.”
“If a candidate is not able to safeguard her own votes, how can she pretend to safeguard the West Philippine Sea? A candidate cannot be too goody-goody two-shoes. She must know how the system works, how to get around it, with grit, wit and cunning, if necessary.”
She was trying hard not to gloat, but she could not help it. She was getting ready for the kill. The bile was rushing on its way, threatening to spill, so I literally shoved her favorite food in her open mouth and changed the subject. But the words came out anyway, after one determined swallow.
For many, it was not a fight for systemic change. That could never happen, they say. The bureaucracy is too huge a machine to even roll an inch. Remember Sisyphus, the legendary king of Corinth punished by Zeus for cheating death twice, condemning him eternally to repeatedly “roll a heavy rock up a hill in Hades only to have it roll down again as it nears the top.” Such is the punishment for those who try.
Some try by applying the change in one’s own work. There are many in the bureaucracy who try and get recognized for doing what is required from a true public servant. But most of those who attempted never fully realized their intention for many reasons. The current system can easily roll over a lone crusader. It evolved to be so. It is so. Some crusaders get killed on the street for refusing to sign a logging permit. Others get isolated for being obstructionists. Corruption has become the rule of the day.
That is why, to see the youth rally towards a systemic change makes me cry. Just as when young techies have become trolls and made me regret that youth is wasted in the young. Here is another mold of “youth” that inspires. It was no longer about the candidate they were supporting, it was their singular battle cry for meaningful change. The change from within, happening before my eyes. The bayanihan spirit resurrecting on a national scale, more than 15 million strong, willing to work together, helping each other achieve a better life for all, not through the promises of politicians, but by their own toil. It was moving.
This spontaneous bayanihan spirit did not start with a political candidate, it was apparent before the elections, borne out of the helplessness of government to stem the impact of the pandemic, when young volunteers started the pantry to mitigate the hunger in a neighborhood, spinning into similar endeavors in the provinces. It was borne out of a realization that we cannot rely on government to work as efficiently as we desire, delivering the most basic of services.
There was a change in the air, and the youth made it happen. However, it was Leni Robredo who galvanized this energy into a force of good, and that she has become the face of good governance, prudent, responsible and accountable to the people.
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