“Run for office!”

In the small village, any bit of detail that’s vital to the concerns of the villagers could not be kept secret for long. Keeping tabs on every individual, old and new, is part of their daily fare. Negatively, they become the ingredients of speculations that would eventually lead to false information, or in layman’s terms: gossip.

I heard the suggestion before, that I was considered a candidate for a barangay (locally, the smallest unit of government entity) post. In jest, I usually tell everyone that I was up to the challenge and said, why not. Serving the community was a laudable idea.

However, it’s always the catch that soured my interest. Except for the low pay, which I didn’t mind, and the duties and responsibilities, which I could perform well, the issue of patronage politics got into my nerves. Any official, who is running for office, should spend a great sum in his campaign that included doling out cash and other goods. In essence, this is good. It’s the abuse of both the giver and the receiver that makes the exercise dirty. That was what turned me off.

I didn’t mind helping people because I was not waiting for payback. But if they asked for a loan, they should pay me back. If I run for office, both the free giving and lending would merge into one. If I won the post, most of those who loaned from me would most certainly think that their loans would be condoned. Indirectly, their loans would be considered a dole out that should not be repaid.

So, how could I get my money back? If you think of THAT word, you’re correct.  Most politicians would never admit it openly but that’s how the cycle of corruption begins. Because of that clear-as-day notion, I always back out when the suggestion of running for public office is offered me.

“I can help you even if I am not elected,” I told a neighbor, who visited me asking for a loan. “We help each other when we can.”

“You will be a good leader,” he insisted, thanking me for the small sum he got to fix his house.

“Did you get something from those you elected?” I asked, baiting him to reveal what’s on his mind.

“Nothing!” he exclaimed. “They’re a bunch of liars. They gave us promises they have no intention to fulfill.”

“Yet, you vote for them before and you will vote for them in the future.”

He kept his silence. It was the truth.

Come election time, the same politicians would sing the same tune and the electorates would fall for it. After elections, they would gripe. It’s a comical scene of an utter waste of intelligence.

“You should run for office,” he repeated, sincerity in his eyes.

“No, thanks,” I laughed. “I just want to stay out of the circus.”



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