Making a difference
With the 2013 local elections fast approaching, people are beginning to ask whether I would run for any elective position. Unfortunately, I do not have a definite answer for all them. This is simply because I do not have a definite answer to the same question for myself either.
But I am certain that the desire to serve and make a substantial difference in the lives of my countrymen has and will always be with me, public servant or not.
Perhaps, this desire is innate. A hereditary trait I got from my parents.
As far as I can remember, I have been involved in fighting not only for my rights but for the rights of others as well when I was in high school in the University of the Philippines, Cebu. I was the chairman of UP High School Student Council and I was heavily involved in opposing the closure of UP Cebu High School.
At the University of San Carlos, I joined the Student Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy (STAND) and soon became president of the USC Student Council.
When I was in law school in the University of the Philippines, Diliman, I joined an exclusive UP fraternity, Alpha Sigma, which means Alay sa Sambayanan. In those days, Alpha Sigma was synonymous to UP activism. It was during these years that I continued the advocacy of fighting for people’s basic rights in a democratic world such as the freedom of expression and the freedom to lead good lives.
I guess I can’t take away the habit of taking on the fight of the oppressed—both economically and politically—because after I graduated law school in UP Diliman and was gradually on my way to a stable and lucrative career in the US, I opted to go back to my country and be a true-blooded Filipino.
After law school in UP Diliman, I proceeded to study in Harvard Law School with the purpose of building my career and staying in the US for good. Although I was really uneasy from the beginning and I have always felt that I will not stay long there.
I was already successfully practicing as a visiting foreign attorney when things changed in 1995. It was a turning point in my life. It was the year when the Philippines was experiencing a water crisis. It was featured in CNN almost every day—people lining up just to be able to get a gallon or two of water.
The thought just came one day. I said to myself, what am I doing here? Why am I here, experiencing the perks of a first world country when I belong to a third world country? I should be in my country and be with my countrymen. I may not be able to do so much but at least, I get to contribute.
So that was the turning point. I decided to leave my career in the US and return to the Philippines to continue my advocacy.