COMMENT: Amid dark times, a woman becomes the light

·Contributor
·5 min read
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 7:  Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo announces her bid for presidency during a press conference inside the Office of the Vice President compound on October 7, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. Robredo, the lone opposition in President Rodrigo Duterte's cabinet, expressed determination to run for president and to
MANILA, PHILIPPINES - OCTOBER 7: Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo announces her bid for the presidency during a press conference inside the Office of the Vice President compound on October 7, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo by Jes Aznar/Getty Images)

Since 2016, I have felt an extreme sense of pride and hope twice.

The first time was when Hidilyn Diaz won the Philippines’s first Olympic gold medal just last July in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. I was in my room that time when my notifications from news organizations had exploded. I immediately went to Twitter and, true enough, everybody was rejoicing. I kept playing the video clips of her winning moment and, each time, I would feel some extreme level of euphoria. I am not a weightlifter nor into the sport — heck, I am not even into any sport at all. But undoubtedly, the Hidilyn Diaz moment was a time of national pride not just for me but for every Filipino across the world.

The second time was just yesterday when Vice President Leni Robredo had formally (and finally!) declared her presidential bid for the 2022 Philippine elections. I was in a virtual meeting when my Twitter feed was starting to make noise about it. I took quick visits to Twitter, and when she finally said the words “Lalaban ako. Lalaban tayo (I will fight. We will fight)” during the livestream I was watching on my feed, that is when I felt, Wow, hope is actually real! It is here! Just like with the Diaz moment, video clips of Robredo’s speech gave me ultimate euphoria.

This, when the world only hears about the Philippines when President Rodrigo Duterte is driving an anti-narcotic war through his macho ways, or when he blurts out insensitive rape jokes or misogynistic remarks, or when the Philippines is ranked as “Worst Place to Be in COVID”.

So, seriously, when does the world hear about the Philippines in a positive light?

Lately, it is when Filipinas are stepping up.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido
Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Weightlifting - Women's 55kg - Medal Ceremony - Tokyo International Forum, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. Gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz of the Philippines reacts. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Sure, yesterday's Robredo moment put me in an echo chamber – a place in which a person sees and hears only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own and alternative ideas are not considered – but, damn, it was a pretty deafening one. I have not been using social media as much anymore, but yesterday I felt like I doubled my energy in all of my social media accounts, triggered by all the pink everywhere.

Yesterday just felt really good. Perhaps because feeling hopeful always feels good.

I would like to believe that there is something to ponder on the fact that it is two very strong women who gave us a sense of pride and hope this year (if not the past five years), despite living in a very heterocentric and patriarchal society that continues to enable misogyny and homophobia, among others.

Living in the digital age, we are being more exposed to discussions about how women are actually equally competent and qualified, too, regardless of platform. The boundary between a man’s and a woman’s strengths are starting to become even more irrelevant. The Diaz and Robredo moments are such great representations of the diversity and inclusivity that the world has been celebrating.

So, I become proud and hopeful to be in a country that is lifted by brave and courageous women. Imagine if we did not have these Filipina moments in this administration, what can we be really proud of?

October 8th is the last day of filing of Certificate of Candidacy for aspiring candidates for the 2022 national and local elections. As usual, there are the usual nuisance candidates (officially defined by the Commission on Elections as any candidate for any elective office who filed their COC to put the election process in mockery or to cause confusion among the voters by the similarity of the names of the registered candidates; or who, by other acts or circumstances, is clearly demonstrated to have no bona fide intention to run for office, thus preventing a faithful determination of the true will of the electorate) who filed their respective COC.

As of this writing, there are 57 aspirants already who filed their COC for president, while 16 have done so for vice president.

But beyond the Comelec definitions, who, really, is a nuisance candidate?

A nuisance candidate is someone who just woke up one day and decided, 'Oh, maybe I can be a lawmaker!'... It is very hard to qualify their intent because, surely, wanting to serve the nation does not happen in just a few years’ time, right?... If they are quick to change hats, then they are nothing but a nuisance.

A nuisance candidate is someone who is not beyond 100% committed to serving the nation. This can be attributed to, among many ways, their presence in lawmaking. If they are incumbent lawmakers but have more absences in attendance, then it is highly likely that they are nothing but a nuisance.

A nuisance candidate is someone who just woke up one day and decided, Oh, maybe I can be a lawmaker! This can be seen among aspirants who dabbled previously in totally different industries outside of politics and governance – whether in sports or entertainment, among others. It is very hard to qualify their intent because, surely, wanting to serve the nation does not happen in just a few years’ time, right? Presidency, for one, is such a huge responsibility – it is the country’s toughest job. If they are quick to change hats, then they are nothing but a nuisance.

A nuisance candidate is one who sees another person and not the nation as their boss. They spend their lives in the shadows of their saint, so how can we expect them to stand on their own and lead their countrymen? They will end up as nothing but the country's nuisance.

Lastly, a nuisance candidate is insecure. They are the ones who cannot accept defeat graciously. They often brag about and bank on their familiar surname and nothing else, because there is nothing more to them than that. They have near-empty credentials during their time in their previous lower seats and yet they have the guts to apply for a higher seat.

A nuisance, right?

Juju Z. Baluyot is a Manila-based writer who has written in-depth special reports, news features, and opinion-editorial pieces for a wide range of publications in the Philippines. He covers cultures, media, and gender. The views expressed are his own.

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