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May 7, 2016
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Wouldn't it be so much easier if voting can be done on a whim?

1. I don't like your political jingle – X
2. I don't like your face and you look like the crook everyone knows you to be – X
3. Your pronouncements are just irksome – X
4. You are my id and, therefore, I relate to you – check!

However, that's highly irresponsible and I had seen enough bad leadership in my life—from Marcos to Aquino—that I know I cannot leave the future with this much incompetence and, with a pat on our children's backs, wish them well. That's it, kids, I'm out of here... Good luck dealing with that shit we're leaving you with. 

Because I'd like to think my voice matters and I'm not just a body count in a mass gathering somewhere, I have my own criteria for picking the leaders I'm putting in place. Yes, this close to elections I'm still thinking—which is sad, but probably common. Here's what I've been considering for how many months now. Because on Monday, we seal our fate.


No rock stars here

Much of this election campaign has been fought on social media. Memes, video clips, opinionated posts, rants—name it, you have it. It's so different from elections past in that, these days, anyone can say anything—make up anything even—and there will always be a good number of people who will believe it as long as they've seen it on Facebook or it trends on Twitter. Never has our news feeds been such a battleground and a test of will—whether to respond or not; to "friend" or "unfriend."

I do, however, put in mind one thing: These people running for public posts, especially the highest office in the land, are all applying for a job; and they need to sell themselves to me. I don't care about your vocal following online or on the streets; you are not a rock star—I do not idolize you or think you the Messiah. Every time I look at my pay slip, raging against how much I am giving up of my hard-earned money, I expect you to work as much or even more. For me. And by me, I mean the law-abiding, tax-paying citizens that keep this country running. Hopefully this service extends to the most marginalized people in the country as well.

True north, i.e. moral compass

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It's highly subjective, I know. The argument is, so he said or did a questionable thing or two—does that make him or her a bad person? Or, there's always the age-old teaching that goes something like: Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. In other words, we're all on the same boat; none of us are saints.

Still, moral compass is a big thing. In simplest terms, it's what you do when no one is looking that defines you. Say, you put bread on a table in an empty room and leave it. Someone walks in and sees. Does he leave it be? Does he take the bread and eat it? Or take it and give it to someone starving outside? Our actions are always relative; but to someone with a sound moral compass, more often than not, his actions are done with integrity and a desire to do what is right. And believe me, you can tell especially if you look hard enough. Heaven help us if we elect a leader without moral integrity.


Promises, promises

The campaign period is the ligawan stage, albeit much nastier and super expensive. But they all want our hand so everyone puts their best foot forward. They smile their nicest; they make us giddy and tell us everything we want to hear; they promise us "mayroong forever." It's that super attentive guy that texts you "Good morning, beautiful" at the start of the day, calls you twice, and comes around to pick you up at night. But in the political arena, the honeymoon stage is over fast like a big letdown after that first night.

Once in power, all bets are off. You've seen that before—don't be naïve. For younger readers, maybe not, but trust me when I say you best recall the things these politicians promise and, in your head, really think about whether or not they make sense.

In short, develop a sixth sense about all this. You really think things will be good if they keep doing what's already being done—even if we already know that way isn't effective at all? Or, do you really think a drastic change can be done in a nation of 100 million people in six months when it cannot be done in six years?


Track record

When you apply for a job, you beef up your resumé. Now, millennials have their own idea of the kinds of jobs they are entitled to, but if you are looking to hire, you need to be smart enough to gloss over those big words and those big-school pedigrees they have on their snazzy resumes. You are looking for substance. Or, sometimes, you can spot real talent. So why not subject these politicians to the same scrutiny?

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Consider the campaign period the job interview. However, unlike entry-level jobs (that, believe me, millennials don't care for) where you give the new hire six months probationary period, the presidency isn't as flexible. And the last thing we want is another impeachment trial or, worse, a coup d'état. The track records of these candidates are there to see—news clips, videos, reports, senate hearings and more. Our job is to go over them and see who’s done what. But listen to—or read—all sides of the argument and not just what you want to hear. Selective filtering will not do you, or the country, any good.


Intentions/actions

You can't always rely on good intentions—you need to be able to get results, or do what is needed or, at the very least, know what to do. For instance, you can't hire a guy to be a paramedic just because he's nice and honest; he needs to have proper training for the job, otherwise he'd be a danger to all. This is especially true for the leader of the land.

Platform is a word used and abused. What are the platforms? Do they reflect what the country really needs? Or, so you say they have the right platforms, but are they the right person or people for the job? You have words like reform (I've heard this in the late '70s and early to mid-'80s and it pains me that we are still trying to get reformed after all these years), corruption, crime, poverty, and so on. They are always there and, being a third world country, would most likely not be eradicated. But who has the vision and the plans to tackle the most pressing needs of the majority? And do they have the balls to do it?

And, ultimately, keep in mind the following:

What's on social media is white noise. There are good discussions, and a lot of points raised. Ultimately, you pick who you believe in and not pick a fight.

Sense of humor is good; Sensibility in choosing is even better.

Change comes from YOU, not your rock star president.

So go vote and heaven help us all.


A freelance writer with over 20 years experience in publishing, Ayla Ramos is a "Martial Law baby," who was born the year it was declared. She may have been too young to witness things first hand then, but she had experienced gradual enlightening to the goings-on in the country, just as the masses had, in the '70s all the way to the Edsa Revolution in 1986—a time seared in her memory having lived near Camp Crame, and touched the tanks at ESDA on the day the dictator fled. She's been writing lifestyle and pop culture stories for the last two decades, some under different names, and contributing articles to and editing stories for newspapers and magazines.

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