Sunday, February 8, 2009

New Faces... Hopefully New Politics

New Faces... Hopefully New Politics

As the 2010 national elections become nearer and nearer, many young Filipinos are beginning to start looking at possible candidates whom they can elect to leadership positions in our government.

We have recently seen many presidentiables and their respective parties declare their intentions to run in 2010. Almost every month the two top survey groups, SWS and Pulse Asia release their latest tallies on who Filipinos would prefer to vote for in 2010.

This coming 2010, we will not only be electing our new President and Vice President but we will also be electing senators, congressmen and local government leaders.

More importantly, it will be the first time in many years that the Youth Vote (18 to 40 years old) will comprise more than 60 percent of the voting population thus, if a candidate is able to get even just half of this sector then s/he can be assured of having a strong chance of winning the election.


However, many of these young Filipinos have not yet registered and some of them have chosen not to do so because they tend to believe that it is the same old faces whom they will be choosing from.

According to one of my students in Ateneo de Manila University, there seems to be no one who represents a new breed of politics in our country, a kind of politics that will always put premium on genuine public service over the interests of a few.

Looking at the last US elections, we saw how Barack Obama’s candidacy was able to energize young people so much so that they not only registered to be able to vote for him but they also went out of their way to campaign for him.

This is the reason why I think there is a need for new faces in our political arena who will bring in idealism and advocate for a more effective and ethical brand of leadership in our government. We have seen in the experiences of Gov. Eddie Panlilio of Pampanga and Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela that Filipinos are slowly but surely becoming more discerning and mature in choosing their leaders. Both Panlilio and Padaca campaigned without much resources and political clout and yet they were able to win because of the support of ordinary Filipinos in their communities who wanted to see change happen.

Right now, I believe that our country has many good young leaders whom I hope will consider to run for key government positions in 2010 or in the future elections.


One of them is Atty. Alex Lacson, the well-known author of the book, "12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do To Help Our Country".

For those who haven’t read the book, the Harvard University educated Lacson shows us how simple things such as following the traffic rules and being a good parent to our children can help us build a better Philippine society.

Since his book was launched in 2005, he has been invited by schools, companies and socio-civic organizations to speak and share with them his thoughts and insights.

Another young Filipino that I’d like to see become a Congressman or Senator soon is former National Youth Commission (NYC) Chairperson and Microventures president Bam Aquino. I have worked with Aquino several times already even during our college days at Ateneo de Manila University and I have always known him to become a leader with a clear vision for our country. During his stint at the NYC, he founded the Ten Accomplished Youth Orgnizations (TAYO) Awards which honors youth-led organizations that are doing projects which help solve social problems in their communities.

Right now, he is helping alleviate poverty in our country through Hapinoy, a social enterprise which helps sari-sari store owners earn more through a more systemic and efficient way of procuring the products that they sell.

Three young women whom I also find very inspiring due to the work that they have done in the fields of education and youth development are Sol Delantar-Gonzalvo of Cebu, Team RP’s Atty. Eirene Aguila who hails from Batangas, and Ching Jorge of Bato Balani Foundation. Delantar-Gonzalvo used to spearhead the Ayala Foundation’s youth leadership program which trains college-level student leaders all over the Philippines to become better servant leaders for our country.

Aguila’s Team RP is currently with several groups in encouraging young Filipinos to register and vote in the coming elections. While Jorge’s work at the Bato Balani Foundation has seen her provide training programs to public school teachers all over the country while at the same time providing educational materials to public school students.

These young leaders have shown that age is not a deterrent for them to bring about genuine and lasting development to our country. Hopefully, we will have more young people like them bring a fresh perspective to how politics is run in our country. The challenge is for these young, effective and ethical leaders to find the courage to throw their hats into our electoral process and to finally give our people a good set of candidates that we can all choose from.

Harvey S. Keh is director for Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship at the Ateneo de Manila University-School of Government. Comments are welcome at

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