Elections, me and MTV
POSTED: Tuesday, October 12th, 2010
Long before MTV became a music channel, you already owned it. You were widely known in Mindoro as Judge Marciano T. Virola (a.k.a. MTV). I see you clearly with my mind’s eye to this day, wearing your famous wrinkled wry smile and that all-knowing look. Your greatest frustration being that none of your children followed your footsteps as a law practitioner. I would have gladly done that for you, my favorite lolo but alas, my heart and mind tell me otherwise.
But I will give you this… I will do my darned best to continue your legacy.
In the past nine months leading to the May 2010 elections, I have taken concrete steps to do this, trying a lot of things for the first time, always keeping you in mind. Because, while integrity and palabra de honor have become lacking traits in most public servants—so much so that some Filipinos have even accepted corruption as part of the culture—I still have this tiny burning flame of hope that it IS possible to have sincere and honest public servant-leaders. YOU were my first example.
Many people had dismissed this as naïve idealism on my part, but what they didn’t know—when I was young, I already had a series of confrontations with disillusionment. And one of these instances was
when you ran for public office in 1995. I was eleven years old then. While spending my summer at your place in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, I had a front-row seat to this pompous spectacle called the elections,
where you took center stage for the very first time.
The “allies” that pushed you to run were the very same people that dropped you as soon as you made it clear that you were not interested in playing their dirty games. Doing that would mean throwing away your untarnished reputation as retired Regional Trial Court Judge who believed in giving people a fair trial and never allowed himself to be bought nor be intimidated by death threats. While your contemporaries owned luxury cars and strings of beach resorts, you would always exclaim in amusement, “How could they even afford such things with a meager government employee’s salary like mine?!” Meanwhile, you were content with your humble home and a second hand owner-type jeep (that was way older than me!).
Needless to say, although a lot of people believed in you and supported your campaign, since you refused to join in on the mud-slinging, character assassinations and never even considered vote-buying (it helped a lot that you didn’t have that kind of money, too!), you lost to the traditional politicians who did exactly that on a wide scale.
That short political stint stirred fury within me. I became so allergic to politics that I never bothered to actively participate in anything having the slightest connection with it. That also showed how shallow my understanding of politics was at that time. It was limited to electing officials and expecting them to do all the work while I sit and blame everything that goes wrong on them, and just happily retreating into my own little world.
In my past few years of development work experience, I started to gradually overcome this personal frustration in politics, when I got to know champions of good governance such as Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City, Governor Grace Padaca of Isabela, Among Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, some local officials and government workers.
However, the process only snowballed in the past ten months. It started when I met a relatively unknown independent presidential candidate, environmentalist Nicanor Perlas, whom I consider to be as dignified and uncompromising as you. Not to mention, he had the credentials and accomplishments although indirectly working from inside government. My tiny flame of hope burned brightly and was ready to grow. I got more and more inspired with all the people I met along the way who were also actively participating for the first time.
Individuals, who, have grown tired of the prevailing tyranny and traditional politics, and have decided to ACT. Add to these encounters with like-minded people the efforts by media outfits such as GMA7 and ABS-CBN, and other non-government organizations and networks such as the EHEM! Anti-corruption network.
These initiatives drew out a more involved citizenry and turned the focus back to platform-based issues, and candidates’ track records. And although most Filipinos were still going along with personality-based politics, more people were looking for alternatives. The time was ripe for positive changes to start taking place.
I crawled out of my comfort zone, campaigned for the candidate I believed in—one I consider not as the lesser evil but actually as THE best choice. For the country’s first automated elections, I helped conduct political and voters’ education sessions and finally, cast my vote. I took it a step further by serving as PPCRV volunteer on Election Day itself, helping organize voters and finding their precincts in the morning; then helping watch the ballots and the transmission process as a poll-watcher in the afternoon up until 2:30 AM the following day.
But, just like you, my candidate lost. But unlike before, I know better now than to give it up is a lost cause. This is only the beginning, and our movement that was born out of the need for a new kind of politics is now working on ways to bring the group’s platform to reality, aside from preparing to consolidate and strengthen a viable green party for the next elections.
I am doing these because of your example and the initiatives of consonant individuals far outweigh all the disillusionment I’ve ever encountered in the past and in the present. It runs in my blood and is rooted in the core of my being.
And although you have long been gone, through these things your spirit lives on.
(By: Mariel Andrea “Ayyi” Virola-Gardiola. She wrote this article after the elections. She will turn 25 on Oct. 2 while it’s her lolo’s birthday on Oct. 25. She calls herself a student of life pursuing paths on peace?building, youth and women empowerment; and the promotion of indigenous culture. Both as a full-time worker and as a volunteer, she has organized and facilitated fora, conferences and workshops as part of her NGO work, including her work in Basic Education Assistance for Mindanao, Young Advocates for Peace, and Mindanao Commission on Women. A 2006 graduate of the Ateneo de Davao University with a degree on AB Psychology and minor in Philosophy, she is halfway through her Master’s degree in Applied Social Research. As founding member of Peoples’ Assembly for Genuine Alternatives to Social Apathy (PAG ASA) Youth http://www.pagasa.net.ph/PAGASA/PAGASA.html Mindanao Chapter; and MISSION http://www.imaginalmission.net/newjoomla/, she considers volunteering for different civil society and government initiatives as a crucial contribution every Filipino can give for the nation.”)