Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Homo Politicus



The student council election was just days away, and two Grade Six pupils were wrapping up their campaign to become the next council president. 

One was a classmate. She was the president of our section. While the other, also a class president, was from a rival section, a room next to ours. Both had track record of being class presidents since Grade Two. There's no doubt, teachers saw their leadership qualities.

And so they made them run.

I remember during our Homeroom class, our adviser made a personal plea. 

"Tomorrow will be your student council elections." She said. "And as a show of support, I urge you to vote for LJ." LJ was our class president. 

Most said "opo" while others merely nodded their heads.

The next day, a special time period was set aside for the pupils to cast their vote. The teachers were there to guide the "electorate" but since my adviser had already showed her bias, I'm certain her guidance had vested interest. As I look back at our class president, I did my best to recall how she was to me:

She was a aloof - a little difficult to approach. I once caught her smirking while a group of boys bullied me in class. She made me feel that I don't exist and I'm not worthy of her time.

And these indifference weighted heavily while casting my vote.

Meanwhile, the other candidate was a class president when I was in Grade Three. Though I can't remember her legacy, (was she the one who broke my wooden ruler when she used it to hit the blackboard to order everyone to keep quiet?) but at least she remembered that I used to be her classmate. She even smiled at me, at times, when we saw each other at the corridor. And even though she had no idea yet that she's being groomed for the council leadership, I felt her sincerity.

Two decades later, I'd still remember her name.

Cristina Buendia.

And so without anyone looking, I checked the box next to her name, folded the piece of paper and then dropped it inside the ballot box. Heaven knows I voted out of conscience.

When everyone had cast their votes, the ballots were taken out to be counted by none other than our teacher. Of the 40 pupils who belonged to our section, two kids ignored the teacher's plea and voted for Miss Buendia.

It was a big slap in our teacher's face - who was there tallying the votes. But she managed to give a nervous smile. You know, the charade you put up when you feel a tinge of embarrassment but tries to hide it.

Fingers began pointing almost immediately and the usual suspects were the pain-in-the-ass classmates of ours. They denied the accusation of course, fearing for their grades I guess. But the damage has been done and the rival candidate won by a huge margin. She too turned aloof after becoming the council president.

LJ's failure to win the presidency wouldn't be her lost in the long run. Half a year later, she would sashay on the stage to receive a medal for being the batch's valedictorian.

As for me, nobody found out I was one of the two who voted for the rival candidate. I guess the other classmate also had gripes with the president. Maybe he's one of the outcast too, like me. But the seeds of my defiance would grow roots and branches and would bear fruits when I started playing politics later in life.

I would become a student political party member, a class president during my junior and senior year, and even the secretary general of the same political party I served throughout college. To top it off, I would always keep abreast of current events, even spewing my opinions especially on matters of governance. Simply because my major required us to think - critically and with an open mind.

And it shows on my Twitter account from time to time.

The snippet of memory came across while reading the Philippine Daily Inquirer one weekend afternoon. Lying flat on my stomach, I turned a page of the newspaper, and set my eyes on Randy David's column. Finishing the sociologist's last paragraph - his arguments as to why the impeachment trial is actually good for our Democracy - I remembered that elections in Grade Six, my decision to think for myself, and realized that it was the first of the many stirrings that would shape me to become.

A political man in my time.


11 comments:

ıǝɹɯɐı said...

A very intelligent post.

Nate said...

what's good about you, kuya, is your wide range of topics to write about.. :)

you exude this certain aura of a know-it-all whenever you write about political stuff.. the more opinionated the material, the better..

kaw na!! :)

Kiks said...

i dont know you fully, 'Nak, but i am pretty sure we will be in for long periods of debates should we see each other and sit and discuss about the life in the country over dinner or even green tea latte.

but this is a very honest post, telling me how passionate you are with your beliefs. i like that about you, that makes me respect you more.

red the mod said...

The social construct precludes that everything, every decision and weighing in that affects us socially is inherently political. Because the kinematics of social order; and society in general, such as social constructs, ethics and etiquette, are all political in nature.

Leomer Apolonio said...

Remember what Aristotle said, "Man is by nature, a political animal..."

But we should always remember, politics is not just about making a stand, forming an opinion, or just to lead. It's more than that. Albeit those are all ingredients for a political persona to evolve, one must must understand that politics should somewhat be synonymous to public service, example of which is Cristina Buendia's sincerity and the excellent use of power to break a ruler she doesn't even own, just to pacify the crowd. Stern as it may seem, but we should all have gotten the early learnings like that.

I can sense you're in the makings of an excellent public servant, Mugs. Keep it up. :)

Blakrabit said...

oh politics, I never did want to understand you. hehehe

Mugen said...

Blackrabit:

Those who don't delve in politics lead less complicated lives. Hehe.

Leomer:

To be honest, I really don't know what makes a good politician.

Thanks for your impression. I too, am still imperfect in that craft.

RedtheMod:

Politics is a prerequisite of civilization.

Mugen said...

Kiks:

Thank you Mama. But I'm sure, in your presence, I might be speaking of shallow things, when you live it your whole life.

:)

Nung nagmeet kasi tayo nun, medyo mahiyain pa ako eh. Haha. And that was what, three years ago?

Nate:

I can talk about many things - save for science and mathematics. Haha. Sinumpa ko talaga na magiging knowledgeable sa iba to hide my disability.

Rei:

Maraming salamat. :)

daniel the jagged little egg said...

I'm proud of u sis'.

Sino kaya yung isa pang hindi bumoto sa kanya hihi : )

Louie said...

Back in the days when I was involved in campus politics, we have this habit of electing leaders for the sake of political patronage. Haha. Buti ka pa, you had convictions on voting for a candidate.

Damn, nainspire tuloy ako sa entry mo. Sana maisulat ko din ung student council elections experiences ko noong araw. Lol.

Mugen said...

Louie:

When I was in college, I did my best to set aside politics when I'm inside the classroom. Journalism students kasi kami, nagkataon pa na representative nila ako. To uphold our values, wala talaga akong inimpluwensyahan to side with my party.

Daniel:

Alam ko may nag-claim na kaibigan ko. Outcast rin. Pero hindi ko sure kung talagang siya.