Basil Valdez Fans and Public Office

Atty. Adel Tamano

This may seem totally unrelated to our governance topic but let me share it with you anyway – My wife and I got such a thrill yesterday while we were in Shang Mall with our kids. We were waiting for our car at the Mall’s entrance, near Starbucks, when Basil Valdez called out to me, introduced himself (as if we didn’t recognize him; my wife and I are big fans) and he said, to my great surprise, that he had been wanting to meet me for a long time. Yes, I was very surprised, not only at how gracious he was, but more at his genuineness and his honesty. I don’t consider myself that well-known and for this music icon to introduce himself was, well, a kick, a real ego booster. We chatted for a while, which basically consisted of my wife and I saying how much we admired his music. Well, for a Pinoy Music fan like myself who grew up on “Let the Pain Remain,” it was a real treat. Mabuhay ka Basil!

Actually, there is a relation, tangentially at least. Instances like this, when people tell me or the other young turks that they know us or like us is, naturally, a boost to one’s ego but choosing to serve the country should not be motivated primarily by the need for personal affirmation. In fact, the sad history of our country is that those who are best suited for public office do not run because they believe they lack popularity and those who are ill-suited run, especially for national office, because they get a sense that they are popular and “winnable”.

Perhaps young people who aspire for public office should not use the question of whether or not they can win as the prime decision-basis but rather whether or not they can serve the people well. I, unfortunately, see so many aspiring politicians who instead of spending time improving themselves – by studying, learning leadership skills, doing research, fieldwork, etc – and getting ready for the demands of public service, focus on getting the most amount of media exposure so they can improve their chances of winning.

I want to see this young generation to stop using media and surveys as their sole basis for deciding to run for office – so we can replace the trapos – and make the decision based primarily on their assessment of whether they will make good public servants. Certainly, issues of “winnability” are important but that should not be the primary or only basis. Is this too naive or idealistic? Hoping for some comments…