In the last few days I was finalizing my entry to this edition of The Blog Rounds (Unsung Heroes, hosted by Doc Gigi of Beyond Borders: The Lei Si Chronicles), I had a hard time choosing which one of my “unsung heroes” will grace this blog post. Not that I ran out of people to write about. In fact there are too many of them this blog couldn’t possibly feature them all. After finally deciding who shall I brag about, I Google-d for pictures to “carry” my post. Suddenly, a loud call hit my ears.
I smiled while “shelving” the post I previously wrote. I found my unsung hero right in our own dinner table.
Disliking politics for a good laugh
I woke up in this world hating the kind of politics our politicians is brandishing. So the whole time that I grew up and went to school, I stayed away from politics as far as I possibly can. I became one of those passive silent lurkers that hated politicians trampling at anybody to forward their own interests. Ironically, within my family, there exists a sphere of politics that made me gasps in complacency. My mom and sis are both staunch (read: right hand) allies of politicians belonging to two opposing fences. Like having a republican and a democrat one same party, only this time they both live interdependently within a family. Whatever circumstances that brought them into two opposing fences, be it values or principles, it is not my cut to remake. The fact that two seem to be the strongest allies in any major decision- making in the family made me think their political affiliations is just one for the good, educated laugh. I tersely smile in the kind of annoying democracy our family lives in. We only laugh about it during family dinners and night outs whenever talk hit politics!
The early years of helping others
My unsung hero’s story goes as far as my high school years. It all started with her aspiration of helping her fellow kabaranggays in what seems to be a common community bayanihan endeavor- leveling dirt roads and canal dredging. Her exhilarating feeling of “sarap pala ng makatulong sa kapwa no?” brought out a longing to help others help themselves. Catching up with the volunteer fever, she was so contagious and pervasive she never stopped since then. That “dirt road shoveling” started a barrage of so many other volunteer work she could get her hands into. She immersed herself into so many community work and training. Despite not having a college degree herself, she learned community health work, cooperative concepts and community organizing.
Community work and voluntarism continues, politics or no politics
There isn’t enough space to count her good deeds for the volunteer community work she gave in. While my Isko political education and sensitization probably has thought me about politics and service to humanity, this person is living service, on a daily basis, to her community. When I asked her what she knows about politics. She answered me this, in the bisaya vernacular.
“What is politics? I do not even know what it means. I just know I wanted to help others. When our people will show any signs they don’t like me as a public servant, then I’ll stop with what you call politics but I will not stop helping others. Yan na siguro ang bokasyon ko sa buhay.”
The day her name propped up in one meeting as a nominee for purok president, our family gathered to talk about the upcoming political litmus test. I was first to oppose aggressively about her running any public office at all. Politics, no matter how “small time”, is such an annoying field. In fact we had reservations because we knew politics is so darn dirty she might just get frustrated and that desire to help others will die a monumental death. We were wrong. She said she wanted to serve our community in any way she can, politics or no politics. Winning or losing this race will not hinder her to continue community work. So our family decided to let her have her way just this time. That was two and a half decades ago.
The uterine CA survivor and diabetic patient, is a baranggay health worker first class, an on call baranggay tanod, charismatic women’s federation president, a tricycle driver and operator’s president, multipurpose coop board of director, a kapunungan president, a citizen’s watch officer and so many other things voluntary I couldn’t imagine she all could possibly take. Her track record will speak for itself. You can find her in any community information drive, health consciousness missions, women’s concerns, coop education drive or just in any shoveling on road widening projects, lipat bahay, injecting immunizations to dogs, etc . She graduated 4 community high school scholars, while sending 2 others now with her own personal savings.
The politics of service
She won a landslide that first time she “walked into” politics. Her opponents courteously bowing out of the race after her name would up as a nominee. That night was so memorable because it marked the day when she officially started as a public servant. The same person elected to office two and a half decades ago can be found in her “office” from 7Am till 5PM six days a week, on call at night and on Sundays and holidays for anything unimaginable for sane human beings. Her honorarium couldn’t even pay for her electricity bill. Four presidents, 4 top notch professionals and 8 grandchildren after, she is still is a public servant losing not any political race she joined.
And those retirement signals seem to be nowhere in sight. In the last election, despite living in a community where we don’t have any single relative to boast of, not a political clan to rely, nor fame to put forth, and not even the money to run a well oiled campaign, she won a whooping third consecutive term, in second place, the highest and her biggest margin in all her run for public office.
A mom, after all.
I can only sigh in disbelief. Here was I, who can put a thousand words to malign “politics”. She was busy living one with public service unbesmirched for two and a half decade, My family is praying she retires next election. Her glucose swings is getting nastier. Her back, hips and knees showing signs of too much shoveling and cooking for the community. My unsung hero is human after all.
“To, kain na!!!!” Shouted our hero.
Nga pala, kakain na kami. Nagluto si mamang ng tinolang manok. I was smiling going to our dinner table. I need not look outside for my unsung hero. She is actually amidst us cooking tinola and dining every night with us when she wasn’t on call. Politics or no politics.