15 qualities of the perfect candidate

DLS Pineda - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It’s easy to set a criterion of whom to vote for this coming election. In fact, it’s so easy that one can come up with this list right off the bat:

• Candidate shouldn’t be corrupt (something the President and media can’t emphasize enough, which is why it’s starting to sound like they’re convincing no one but themselves).

• Candidate shouldn’t be a rehash of their father/mother/uncle/auntie/lolo/lola.

• Candidate should have voted for/against this or that bill, and finally:

• Candidate should have some sort of certificate of good moral character (which in this bovine public translates to media/SWS endorsement).

After considering these traits, attributes, and deeds, we usually look for the “x-deals.” Where does the candidate live? Was he a good student in school? Does the candidate make his presence felt?

But after factoring in these supposedly definitive characteristics and decisions, it’s funny that we still end up with the same names, the same crooked behaviors and scandals, and the same pea-brained politicians. If we follow John Locke’s idea of the social contract, then perhaps we’re the ones asking the wrong questions. In the words of Commissioner Gordon: (Batman)’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. Or is it just our tough luck?

What I really find mind-blowing is the idea that we set out every three or six years to put somebody in a position of near-limitless power. It’s crazy that we give so much power — enough power to ruin a country and the lives of its 98 million citizens — to individuals we only vaguely know. I find this idea strange or difficult to digest when I can’t even immediately trust people I sit beside while commuting.

That said, here’s my personal list of traits that a candidate must possess in order for me to vote for him/her:

• Candidate must be able to cook. Master cooks must be good leaders, too. I mean, if you cook well and feed so many stomachs, you must know how difficult it is to keep thinking, preparing, and serving dishes; a daily program that you yourself don’t really benefit from.

• Candidate must know how to climb a tree. I just can’t trust a candidate who, as a child, never had ambitions high enough to do something about it.

• Candidate must have a sport aside from the usual cardio exercises. It’s a pain in the ass seeing bloated politicians when a lot of the people they serve can barely eat.

• Candidate must be able to write great essays or engrossing fiction. Nobody hates good writers, no matter how creepy or eccentric they may be. It might come in handy for them, too.

• Candidate must have regular drinking sessions with his colleagues and constituents. In vino veritas. (Public consultations should be made this way, too.)

• Candidate must take public transportation every working day. They’re both respectively called “public transportation” and “public servants” for a reason.

Aside from Filipino, candidates must be fluent in Bisaya. We compose two-thirds of the population.

• Candidate must have experience in failing at something big. We’ve had too many egotistic candidates. Failure is one of life’s greatest teachers.

• Candidate must be able to take an unpopular stance and back it up, stick to it until they wither in their graves.

• Candidate must have a regular habit of reading The Little Prince, so they’d know what it’s like to live in Asteroid B-612 and manage their own volcanoes and their rose.

• Candidate must have sufficient knowledge of blogs, FB and Twitter accounts, and know the difference between cyber-bullying and real-life bullying.

• Candidate must have a good sense of humor. If possible, they should also know how to insert ironies in a story or make a good satire. Save for a few, we have such boring, one-dimensional politicians.

         • Male candidates should have an idea on how hard it is to give birth. At the same time, they should also have an idea how much of a joy it is for mothers to raise each and every one of their children.

• Candidates should have the habit of washing the dishes right after a meal. It’s a domesticated, modern form of religious meditation and self-reflection.

• Finally, candidate must know how to fly (as in, like Superman). Just for the heck of it. It would be pretty cool.

Failure to comply with this list would automatically forfeit my vote.

I guess what I’m actually looking for is a very real and very human leader (except for the power to fly). And as far as the elections are concerned, I haven’t seen one who’s truly human. Perhaps, the election is an embodiment of an idea that’s larger than life: that all we think about are big words like “development,” “poverty,” “progress” or “corruption.” But we’re not voting for the better idea. We’re voting for the best leaders.

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Tweet the author @sarhentosilly.


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