Last Monday, I received an invitation to a dinner to be hosted by the current members of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Mandaluyong City. It's Councilors Week today and they were hosting this annual dinner for current and former city councilors on Friday. It was surreal to see the salutation Former Councilor before my name. Heehee. I almost laughed out loud.
I was going for a simple 'Ms.'
People have been asking me why I didn't go for a second term. I was already inside the circle, why not push my chances and run under the administration? Hmm... a simple answer: I've had enough.
I've kept my hands clean from politics for the past 3 or 4 years. Occasionally, I'd oblige to attend an event or a party/dinner hosted by the few friends I garnered during my 6-year term. I'd make my presence known by greeting the people who need to see me there, mingle for an hour or 2, have my picture taken for posterity, and then quietly make my exit.
During my first year in the political arena, someone gave me this unsolicited advice: Loyalty and friendship are unheard of in politics. Oftentimes.
I never took the advice to heart and forgot about it. Little did I know that this concept would materialize after 5 years right before my eyes. I had a few staunch supporters (bless them!) during my last year. It was a battle well-fought I reckon now. I fought for what was right, they fought for the position and the money it would bring them. It sounds pompous, I know, but during that time I was determined to protect what little dignity the position I held had. They knew I wasn't in it for the money or the title.
I was in it because of my father's dream.
For a while after my 6-year term, the unpleasant memories hindered me from sharing what really went wrong during that last year. The betrayals, the threats, the rumors left a bitter taste in my mouth. And no matter how often I gargled it away, it would re-surface and haunt me for a time.
I was barely 20 when I was shoved into the arena. I was forced to grow up; to think beyond my 20 years. The burden of making decisions for the 270 members of the SK and more than 3,000 15-21 voters in the City pushed me to go beyond my limits. I was prohibited from making the wrong decisions. I was never one to uphold rules but for the first time in my life, I was asked to conform. Society called for a prim and proper me, and for my daddy, that was what they were gonna get. There was too much at stake. Even my heart took the heat. I fell in love with someone who came from a rival political family. We fought high and hard, to no avail.
When I got out of it I felt way older than my 25 years. I was never quite the same again. But I also felt liberated and free. Fortunately, my father's dream did not die with me, my brother is continuing on with his dream. And my kuya, if I say so myself, is doing a better job.
And so, on Friday, I'd make my presence known by greeting the people who need to see me there, mingle for an hour or 2, and have my picture taken for posterity...
And then quietly make my exit.