In my senior year in high school, I ran for president of our student government. I knew I was qualified for the post and had all the best intentions. My mind brimming with ideas for programs and projects for my schoolmates, I really tried to campaign hard so I could win. I made very creative and informative flyers, did a room-to-room campaign, and smiled wider and more often than I usually would.
I lost by one vote.
The frustratingly close margin notwithstanding, I was a graceful loser. I conceded defeat, congratulated Henry Barroga—my opponent, winner by a single vote—and pledged him my support.
In high school, Henry smoked, drank frequently, had mediocre grades, and was more passionate as a lover than a leader. But his father, the highly respected Nol Datoc, who served as Laoag City Sangguniang Panlungsod secretary for a long time, talked to me, with his right arm on my teenaged shoulder. “My son is really a good boy deep inside, Herdy. Please help him become a good leader, too.”
I remained active in student organizations and collaborated with Henry on some projects. I still tried to make a difference in my own sphere of influence. I did not need to prove anything; I really just wanted to serve. At the end of the school year, I ended up being chosen over Henry for the prestigious Gerry Roxas Leadership Award.
I would see Henry again after many years. He is now successful in his career and has a happy family life. We had fun reminiscing the past. I was deeply moved by our mutual respect for each other.
Indeed, it is commendable to accept defeat in elections, especially in the Philippine context where most politicians proclaim only two things: either they won or they were cheated. Bowing to the electoral judgment of the majority is one important democratic principle we should thus seriously teach our children.
But what, dear karikna, if the elections were not clean, honest, and orderly? What if this democratic exercise itself casts doubt on the sovereign will?
These questions come to fore as there have been news reports circulating on the tempestuous student elections held last February 8 at the Holy Spirit Academy of Laoag. Continue reading