It took me seven (7) hours of waiting before I could cast my vote during the 2010 Presidential election. This was largely due to the delays caused by the general confusion and glitches involving the voting machines. Years have past and yet I am still amazed at my fortitude in enduring the frustrations that long wait entailed. But what struck me most in that experience was my willingness to go through the hardships despite knowing that I was waiting for my turn to vote for a candidate who will never win. It was obvious at that time that the odds were in favor for the current president. He had the support of millions of Filipinos who were banking on his family name and his untainted image when it comes to the issue of corruption.
Voting for someone who I knew had little chance of winning seemed like an exercise in futility. But I never regretted that decision. In a weird way, knowing that I did not vote for someone who turned out to be like what his critics said he would be as a leader made it easier for me to accept things as they are. I give myself hope with the thought that surely there are many others out there who will make their own choices count instead of being swept in the current decided by the majority.
I do not think that there is someone who would be perfect for the role of president from among our current pool of politicians. It would probably boil down to choosing one who has the most qualifications, integrity, sense of accountability, and other positive virtues needed to run and inspire a country and its people.
If I would come up with a list of things I want from the next leader, the following would be in it:
Someone who is not associated with graft, plunder, or corruption cases. Questionable transactions involving millions or billions of pesos are big red flags.
Someone who can own up to mistakes regardless of how unpopular it would make him or her.
Someone who does not act as if he or she is above the law or not subject to the same rules that apply to the rest of us.
Someone who exhibits genuine compassion for the people, especially the poor.
Someone who is passionate about public education, social justice, rural development, decentralization of power from the national agencies to the field where timely and meaningful actions are needed most.
Someone who is decisive and would put the interest of the country and its people first before personal interests.
Someone who is not quick to point a finger or put the blame on others.
Someone who can make tough decisions and take responsibility for it regardless of results.
Someone who can inspire us to develop national pride – a sense of nationalism and love of country the like of which Filipino heroes of old exhibited.
I would like to think that there is still hope that someday we will find a leader that can get us out of the cycle of corruption and despair. I truly wish that someday would come earlier – in next year’s presidential election.