A public servant is born
2010 was the beginning of my political career; I had won as the Sangguniang Kabataan (Juvenile Conference) Chairperson in Barangay Bata (Bata Village) with a slim lead of only three votes. Being in a country riddled with corruption and tainted with dirty politics, I almost gave in to the culture of doling out cash to voters like the competition. It nearly cost me the election but a clean conscience had me sleeping soundly while in office.
Even before the crazy strategizing during campaign period, I had the problem of choosing a party between my uncle’s and my grandfather’s. The former ran against an incumbent Barangay Captain (Village Chief), while the latter is my grandmother’s brother. My uncle could not give me much needed support, while my grandfather’s resources and network of allies seemed endless, yet I chose neither.
Having learned that I was running as a party-independent candidate, my grandfather picked someone equally young and determined, to run against me for the same post. After a long and tough campaigning, I came out the victor. My running as a party-independent candidate proved that merits alone can still win a Philippine election.
In an unfortunate turn of events, my grandfather could not finish his term when he drew his last breath in February of 2012. It caused one from his staff to lead in his stead.
The higher calling
About a year later, I decided to run as a Barangay Kagawad (Village Staff) when I hit the age limit for holding office in Sangguniang Kabataan. Being 600 votes short, I lost in the elections. This kept me distracted and depressed for a while. Reports of some of my staunch supporters having received hefty amounts of cash in exchange for scheming against me on election day came to my family’s attention. This confirmed the political manoeuvrings, altering the results of pre-election surveys that unanimously pointed to my victory. To be robbed of something you made huge sacrifices and spent so much energy for is an experience only a few understand.
Coming across some cause-oriented groups, I took the chance to show how Sangguniang Kabataan can be reformed amid calls of abolishing it. Republic Act 10742 marked the successful reformation of the juvenile conference. Being one of the reformists, I had a part in the creation of its Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), ensuring a smooth transition and efficient execution of the new bill.
Opening doors and taking chances
The following years saw me conducting programs that center on democracy and human rights; running educational campaigns alongside on-site voter registrations in my university; aiding student senates of colleges and universities during legislation; signing up for Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s Academy of Political Management where I joined other progressive youth leaders across the country; training to initiate impactful and sustainable changes in my community; and holding constituent consultations in Bacolod City, sponsored by Ateneo School of Government’s government watch program.
My admission as an Academic Fellow to the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative under the United States Department of State of then President Barrack Obama, with University of Nebraska at Omaha as my host university, was a great opportunity to share insights and discuss moral standards with other ASEAN delegates.
My previous loss at the elections did not stop me from helping my community. In fact, it opened many doors for me, to grow and expand my network. But whenever I come home, I couldn’t help but grow impatient about the lost potential of my community — heavy traffic, a chaotic market, and poorly thought of programs. It has been painful to bear 5 years of governance sans socio-economic considerations. There has never been an attempt to address the issues of employment, education, and access to basic public services. Programs for the youth focused on sports and pageants.
Burning passion for real change
Knowing that I may fall victim to the competition’s Machiavellian manoeuvrings, I choose to present myself again as a sincere Barangay Kagawad candidate who wants big changes for his community. With many of my constituents and their families on my side, I again put at stake my youth for the future of a promising community.
As a 25-year-old adult, I strongly believe that starting young in public service is being a valuable asset to one’s community. To be worthy of holding public office, one must have a clear vision, and an unending passion to make that vision into a reality. The time of the youth is upon us, the time of the youth is now. Barangay Bata, you deserve true and great public service. Vote wisely.
Rainner Von Maungca
- Chairperson of AKBAYAN Youth
- Studied Civic Engagement in University of Nebraska at Omaha
- Public servant