Monday, January 17, 2005

Of Council Sessions.

A few Sunday nights ago, I had the opportunity to celebrate a post-Christmas and post-New Year get-together with my friends from the Sangguniang Kabataan. Just a simple pot-luck dinner with beers after. It was great seeing them and I found myself thinking how much we've changed and how much we haven't. Politics and money can really change people, even young minds as we had then. We were talking about how the new SK Federation was doing and the projects that were being implemented. Nostalgia.

1996. My dad and my kuya were joking that they wanted me to run as SK Chairman and then they'll get me the SK Federation presidency daw. I was like just smiling and joking na ayaw ko kasi baka makasira sa nightlife ko. You see, I was just in my sophomore year in college, having the time of my life. I wasn't really the political type, or so I thought. But I was always an achiever, a leader, a calculative risk-taker.

You have to understand my family has a political lineage. We were related to anyone who was tubong-Mandaluyong. 3 of my grandfathers were City Councilors during their time, another grandfather was an Ambassador to Japan and Australia, several cousins were also part of the SK, and so on and so forth. My dad was a familiar figure in Mandaluyong politics, knew everybody and was consultant and friend to several mayors and congressmen locally and in other localities. My brother is a Barangay Captain (he was 23 when he was elected). An uncle was a trusted right-hand man of the incumbent local administration.

In the end, I found out they, dad and kuya, weren't joking. I was really hesitant at first. Scared and terrified as well. They assured me that wala akong kailangan gawin. They'll campaign for me and stuff and all I had to do was to just be myself. In the end I agreed to run, not because I wanted it but because of the sheer love and trust I had for/in my dad and my kuya.

And so it began. A line-up was created for me. Campaign strategies were devised. Sorties were organized.


I think the campaign period lasted for like 2 weeks. I found myself enjoying the attention and I, genuinely, was beginning to be optimistic and idealistic about the whole political affair. Thankfully, I won. Barely 2 weeks after the election, I was prepped with what was to happen in the next few weeks. I would campaign for the SK Federation Presidency. If I won, I would be part of the City Council. There are 27 barangays. I had to get 14 votes to win. Oh God. What did I get myself into?! I still remember lying in my bed with a list of the 27 SK Chairmen. I memorized their names and from what Barangay they were from. I was christened as the local administration's bet in the SK Fed'n election. After 2 months of campaigning, courting the Barangay Captain and then the SK Chairman, their parents, their friends, I won. I got 15 votes. Not bad. I was also the first woman city councilor.

And so that started my career as a politician. I had my own staff, my own office, and the best part, a salary and allowances! :lol: Oh yes! There were a lot of perks. I was privy to going-ons behind the 'red curtain.' Was pampered by the City Councilors since I was the only female, I always had the privileged seat, the nicest polo barong, the best position for photo ops. Hahahaha! From that point on, I didn't have to ask money from my parents because I was earning enough. I also paid for my own expenses like gas and car maintenance, clothes, some groceries, food for my pets, even my tuition. They would still leave me my weekly allowance on top of the Marantz (where our allowances since grade school would always be left in the morning) but I'd always not take it.

But it wasn't all fun. I had my share of tears, problems, and talks of discontentment from my peers. Rivals would always loom over my head like a dark cloud, looking for a mistake or a mishap to happen. I was juggling a 24-hour workload with school and my cheerleading and dancing. Of course, my priority was always the SK. There were hearings to attend in the morning, meetings to head every other day at 10am, Council sessions to attend to at 3pm, speeches to be delivered, events that I had to grace in the evening. I had to drop a few subjects here and there, and so I had to accept the fact that I wasn't going to graduate on time. But, hell, I wasn't going to let my work get in the way of my passion for dancing. Hell, no. I was captain of the pep then, and I was damn keen on performing my duties as always. But, that's another entry. Hehehehe!

I had the opportunity to work, mingle and talk with several great minds and politicians. Bongbong and Imee Marcos, Richard Gordon, Mar Roxas, Robert Pagdanganan, Raul Roco. Of course, Sen. Neptali Gonzales was always a favorite of mine. On Monday Morning Breakfast after the Flag Ceremony, he would regale me with stories about other pulitikos and his experiences, his poems and anecdotes from people he has worked with. Never did he snub my questions about current events and would always give me an insight on what he feels went wrong or what law has to be passed. Always was a pleasure to be seated beside him and he would always single me out in an assembly and would never forget to ask about my mom after my dad died. His family was one of the first to be at our side when my dad passed away, and for that I am forever thankful.

I realized that the Philippines is a truly beautiful country in spite of the political scenario. Seminars and projects have found me in Occidental Mindoro, Iloilo, Ilocos Norte/Sur and Pagudpud, Boracay, Cebu, Guimaras, Banawe, numerous times. I would really love to go back to these places and more.

In ending, being part of the SK gave me an opportunity to help other people in need. It was such a lovely feeling when people come up to you to thank you for helping them get somewhere, for giving them a hand to finish something, or for giving them an opportunity that they truly deserve, that no one would give them. All the hardships, pain and tears I went through are thrown out of the window when I recall the numerous heart-warming messages I have received when I had to leave the SK behind after 6 long years.

I just wish that I could have done more.


mell ditangco (this is my pseudonym) said...

oh wow! now i am really impressed with you!

looking forward to more articles regarding politics.

ardeelee said...

hey rose, i'm going back to mandaluyong to visit the first 2 weeks of feb! we should meet up!

... beachfreak said...

ardelee> hey! that's great, just in time for the reunion teena valdes is planning...will post in your blog when :D

mell> will do...just need enough time to think and ponder on what to post next about my life as a politician, and politics in general. ;)