MANILA, Philippines — It’s time to refresh that active idealism in us again – to harness everything for the common good of the people and the country. For nation building.
On our 35th anniversary, The Philippine STAR takes a look at how the country can rebuild and reform people’s lives and livelihood greatly affected by the pandemic.
As next year’s national and local elections are coming close to the doorstep, The STAR ventures to illustrate #TheLeaderWeNeed in the thought-provoking special “Untemplated: Our Future, Now,” with stories written by 37 writers from 35 sectors. The writers are 39 years old and below to encourage the 40 million millennials and Gen Zers, according to advocacy groups pushing for youth registration, to register up to September for the May 2022 elections.
“Untemplated: Our Future, Now” explores power and the future of power – the power of the electorate and the power of the elected. Because power is a shared cause, it concomitantly becomes a shared destiny. Destiny is the untemplated future we ought to know now if only to safeguard the projected gains of the country over the recent pains. After all, nation building is all about the decency of life afforded by #TheLeaderWeNeed.
“The Filipino people’s choice for president in 2022 will be an extremely crucial decision for the future of our country. Coming from the devastating effects of the pandemic on our economy and practically every aspect of our lives, we cannot afford to pick the wrong leader during this time of recovery. What we need is a leader who will unite, rather than divide, the country. Someone who will be President for all Filipinos, no matter what stature in life, what political leaning, what religion and no matter who they voted for in the election,” said STAR president and CEO Miguel Belmonte.
“We need a leader who has a sincere heart for the poor and the political will to help them improve their plight in life. Yet someone who recognizes the value for businesses, big, medium and small, to succeed. Precisely because that is the easiest and most affordable way for our people to live a decent life, by providing employment. Win-win. Now, if we elect someone who fits that description, and he or she is an honest person, then we would have found the right President,” Belmonte added.
The anniversary special presents hopes and dreams, even nightmares, faced by some writers and their kith and kin. Ardently worded are their wishes, wants and whims for the next leader, if only to reclaim the best of their future and the rest of the nation.
These pieces – engaging and edifying, inciting and inspiring, painfully angry in some and subtly consoling in others – are conveyed in a multi-channel presentation – in print, online and on video. These stories are also interpreted through intuitive artworks, including the illustrations of a battery of talented young artists.
Like in a plebiscite, the 37 young writers – all registered Filipino voters – cast their “Yes” or “No” votes in their pieces. And from there, they describe #TheLeaderWeNeed.
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Actress and activist Janine Gutierrez wrote a provocative piece, succinctly titled: “No to a misogynist.” She wrote: “That leader should be supportive of women’s health and not perpetrate or allow rape culture in the offices and communities.”
Justin Pe, a hardworking heir apparent to the Gokongwei conglomerate, voted “Yes to a visionary and a builder.” He said, “It would be good to have a leader who is both able and determined to build on the gains of the previous administrations and open up new avenues of growth on which the succeeding generations can build.”
There are images of a leader that portray them as savvy technocrat and downright common man. Like in a double-bylined article by Ragene Andrea Palma and Ronaldo S. Feliciano, they wrote: “Yes to a leader with masterplan, including sharing an MRT ride or bike lane with the people.”
Artist-of-the-hour Tarantadong Kalbo, whose #Tumindig political campaign is impacting traction online, participated in the issue and voted “Yes to transparency” through a comic strip.
AP Non, the lady who sparked the Maginhawa community pantry that earned the ire of and red-tagging from some people in power, wrote: “No to caricatures.” She said, “The leaders we need should be leaders who see our collective aspirations and frustrations as they burden to deliver and resolve.”
Popular singers Ben&Ben and P-Pop group SB19 wrote their “No to false promises.” Ben&Ben said, “We do not stand for a leader who is all talk and all about self-interest.” SB19, on the other hand, wrote, “We need a leader who understands and respects the position given to him or her – someone who honors his or her promises.”
Ashyanna Alexine Adia Amira-Labi A. Bangcola, a young Muslim woman lawyer, is adamant in saying, “No to patronage politics.”
In the art scene, respected poet Alfonso Manalastas says, “Yes to a more livable life.” “The leader we need,” he wrote, “is someone who can genuinely improve the material conditions of the masses from which many artists emerge.”
There’s a cry in the article of overseas Filipino worker Xyza Cruz Bacani titled, “Yes to a future where children grow up without the trauma caused by migration.”
Restaurateur Jordy Navarra voted “No to well-trained canned responses.” He asked, “Assuming we conquer the pandemic and move forward, where do we go from here?”
From the military, TOYM awardee Capt. Ron JR Villarosa said “Yes to a patriot.” He wrote: “If we can buy peace, we buy peace – because we cannot buy lives. Life that has been taken can never be given back. The leader that we need should be a patriot.”
From the LGBTQ community, Janlee Dungca clamored for “Yes to inclusive leadership.” She said, “Leaders can come from simple backgrounds and can be women, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or anywhere in the spectrum.”
The church is represented, too, through the contribution of Bro. Ed Colmenares – “Yes to genuine healing with accountability.”
There is also a tale that tugs at the heart strings, that of IP member Ria Esteves’ plea, “Oo sa lider na kumakalinga sa mga katutubo.” She wrote about her tribe’s rightful claim to ancestral land and education that will keep her and the Agta youth armed.
The Chinese-Filipino community is represented by Hubert Henry Chua, president of Anvil Business Club, who wrote “Yes to relentless and future-focused leaders.” He said, “2022 must not be about vindictiveness or pettiness, but about moving forward as one nation.”
“No to divisiveness,” said Viena Flor del Prado, a young doctor from The Medical City. “The leadership I wish to also see in the coming year is from each individual Filipino – that they realize and strengthen their identity as a nation and at the same time respect individuality, to not be a source of divisiveness and instead share the same vision and purpose that our government seeks.”
All these and more in #TheLeaderWeNeed in Sections H to S.