i have a vote. i have choices. i don’t have a choice.

filipino_child_watching.jpgILOILO CITY – After 9 years of Martial Law, Ferdinand Marcos decided to hold a presidential election. The 1981 presidential elections is largely forgotten because it was a presidential election in name only with the outcome a foregone conclusion. Most of the mainstream opposition parties, stripped by Martial Law of its leaders (either in exile or in jail) boycotted the elections which they had no chance of winning anyway. The “main” challenger to Marcos was Alejo Santos of the Nacionalista Party (NP). By this time, the NP had split, with Santos put up by the NP-Roy wing as a candidate. Another candidate, Bartolome Cabangbang, ran under the Federalist Party. Cabangbang campaigned on the singular goal of making the Philippines, the 51st state of the United States of America.

The final tally – Marcos: 88%, Santos: 8%, Cabangbang:3% and Others: 1%.

I daresay Mr. Cabangbang was a visionary ahead of his time. A dated but still relevant article in the Atlantic by James Fallows entitled, A Damaged Culture: A New Philippines includes this quote, “This is a country where the national ambition is to change your nationality.” Mr. Cabangbang’s campaign for statehood might actually garner more than 3% in the 1981 elections if he were to run today.

I remember Mr. Cabangbang well not because of his being a presidential candidate. I remember Mr. Cabangbang because one of my titas said she was voting for him because faced with no decent choice, a vote for Mr. Cabangbang represented a conscience vote – a vote of protest.

The run-up to the 2016 elections has been quite messy. Filing pa lang ng candidacy, magulo na. Instead of focusing on the candidates and figuring who the best possible president of this country could be, we are instead left with the legal nuances of whether this or that candidate can actually run for President. The same goes for the candidates, instead of selling themselves to the voters, they are instead distracted by the fight to go on the ballot in the first place.

My two-cents worth. Sen. Llamanzares should just sit this one out. I have no sympathy for the plight that she currently finds herself in. It is easy to get lost and get confused by the natural-born and residency issues against her. These are separate issues. I stand with her in her being a natural-born citizen. I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that her “staff” erred in filing her Certificate of Candidacy for Senator which led to the “questioned” entry regarding her residency. I also agree that her “alleged” use of her US passport in September, 2011 does not invalidate her claim to fulfilling the residency requirement of a President. The real question is – is she capable of fulfilling what I, as a Filipino, would like to see my President do? IMHO, the answer is No.

I know she desperately wants to help. Yet – she is not ready. Her litany of a platform of government as unveiled in her declaration speech lacks substance (with no substance provided since then). She cites these as her priorities but having too many priorities means that none of them are priorities. I have not seen a realistic and logical pathway that she has enunciated for her to attain these priorities. At best, I see this as a wishlist of idealistic goals from a well-meaning lady but with no reasonable road map to realization.

Sen. Llamanzares is not ready. A significant part of being a President is being an administrator. The administrator of the largest entity of this country. She may pooh pooh those who bash her for her lack of experience. On the other hand, I see this absence of administrative experience as a severe and significant handicap to achieving what she has herself set out to do. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines is not the MTRCB. No one can really prepare for being President. Yet  I fear that her limited understanding and experience in managing an entity leaves her susceptible to being taken advantage of.

Mayor Duterte cannot run in 2016. That is my own conclusion but I am not the Supreme Court. He cannot run because of defects in Mr. Dino’s COC. I am willing to grant that Mr. Dino was not a nuisance candidate but I cannot accept that writing in Mayor of Pasay City in your COC was a mere “clerical error”. It is a material error and this should not allow Mr. Doterte to then run as President. I cannot vote for someone for President who seeks to run under these questionable circumstances. If one takes advantage or seeks by legal niceties to ignore the law, I cannot imagine what this person will do when the stakes are higher. Just follow the rules.

Sen. Santiago’s time has passed.

I do not trust Vice President Binay.

Which leaves us with Sec. Roxas. I remember Sec. Roxas for the sacrifice that he made in giving way to President Aquino in the 2012 elections. It was a tear-inducing moment that somehow made you feel that things were changing. Maybe it was a pragmatic move on his part but still it was something that was awe-inspiring. It also made you thing that he would become the next President with what seemed like a clear path to the Vice Presidency leading to a seamless transition to the President. Then, Binay happened.

Even then, all was not lost. Yet, there is the feeling that despite the many opportunities to distinguish himself as DOTC then DILG Secretary, he has not. There is the feeling that he not only has wasted these opportunities but also diminished the immeasurable goodwill that he had at the moment when he gave way to the President. In many ways, Sec. Roxas has not fulfilled expectations.

This brings into question his ability to lead this country. He has no compelling vision of his own having wrapped himself under the mantle of Daang Matuwid that is so 2012. Daang Matuwid has done a lot of good yet has not been perfect, as is to be expected. President Aquino’s presidency can be seen as a transitional one that brings the Philippines forward but not yet where it should be. In this light, I do not want more of Daang Matuwid, I want more, period. I want more than what Daang Matuwid has brought us. These are the high expectations that Sec. Roxas has so far failed to provide a compelling vision for. He has to show that he is his own man.

Which brings us back to Bartolome Cabangbang. We have choices but yet I do not have I choice. Do I not have to vote for a President? Is there a Bartolome Cabangbang to cast my conscience vote?

I have a vote but I have not made a choice.

This country will not go anywhere near being the country that we want it to be with our current political system. The political parties that we have are mere groupings which bring to life the phrase – “no permanent friends only permanent interests.”

The change that many of us seek which seeks to uplift the lives of many Filipinos will not happen because the choices that we are given are not strong enough nor courageous enough to acknowledge that the inequality (in many forms) that grips our country can only be addressed by radical solutions and not by sloganeering. Our political system along with its manifestations have conspired to perpetuate a nation which keeps the majority of its population in perpetual bondage.

It will take a movement outside our current political system to break these chains of centuries-old inequalities that have been ignored. A grassroots movement not funded by the elite who only serve to protect their interests. A movement bereft of the traditional politicians who have for so long robbed the Filipino of not only his money but more so, his dignity. A movement not wedded to traditional ideologies but one whose only ideology is to help Juan de la Cruz regain the dignity that has been trampled on for centuries. A movement that we have never seen before nor tried. A movement that will gain momentum by convincing people of the need to find a different way.

The path to a more equitable nation is clear. Academics and well-meaning multilateral institutions have given us prescription upon prescription of what needs to be done. There has, however, been no one courageous enough to do what needs to be done because it will hurt this constituency or that constituency. Worse, many of our politicians are actually clueless.

It will not be easy. The Philippines that many of us  dream and long for is just not possible under the current political system. The challenge is to find enough people to do the necessary sacrifice and work towards this – one barangay, one town, one province and one region at a time.

 

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when saying a lot still leaves you groping for words

imageIt’s very difficult to accept whatever motivations there are behind the attacks in Paris. It is hard to find words to describe the attacks. The people who have directly and indirectly participated in this mass slaughter will always find reasons to justify this event. If you say this is murder, they will say it is justice. If you say this was unwarranted and unprovoked, they will go back and raise the almost century-old hardship and suffering of people in the Middle East. The roots of what led to these attacks in Paris are complicated and many are borne of decisions made before most of us were even conceived. So what does the world do now? Extremism does not lend easily to diplomatic solutions. Diplomacy relies a lot on coming to an agreement that benefits conflicting parties or if such is not achievable – on the conflicting parties agreeing to a compromise that calls for some sacrifice by each side. But now – when you have IS, whose only goal is to establish a regional, if not global, Muslim caliphate at whatever cost, options for a negotiated resolution appear dim. Has humanity come to this? A zero-sum game where the only solution is the total annihilation of one side. Have we come to the clash of civilizations that was predicted by Samuel Huntington and does this presage the remaking of world order as he put it? France will hunker down. It will be closing its borders, limiting travel and curtailing some of the freedoms that its citizens enjoy. French citizens will say this is an attack on their way of life. France will fight back and lash out at those they feel is responsible for this attack. A precise and surgical response is probably not what’s on their mind right now. Which Western country will come next? Which will be the next target of this assault on “Western” civilization? Extremism breeds intolerance. Intolerance will make our world a world which will be less safe to live in. I have said a lot in this post yet at the same time I feel that I am at a loss for words…


do it for your grand kids…

Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. – Buddha

It is hard not to believe the essence of what Vice President Binay is being accused of. In the eyes of many, he is guilty. It is not necessarily because of the allegations made at the Senate that makes one feel that he is guilty rather it is the manner in which he has acted in the face of these allegations.

photo credit: thesnitchnetwork.weebly.com/

photo credit: thesnitchnetwork.weebly.com

Many were probably skeptical at first. The elements for skepticism were there – the jilted protege acting as the chief accuser, the bullying Senators with their presumed hidden agenda and the timing of the investigation at the height of the leading presidential contender’s popularity.

Maybe the Binays did not take this seriously. Maybe they thought this would go away. Deny, deny, deny.

But it did not go away. Despite the distasteful way that the hearings were being conducted at times, the Senate Committee did build a solid and plausible case of corruption against the Binays. In the absence of a similarly solid and plausible defense, the allegations became the truth for many.

Yes – this is a political demolition job. Early on, I was one of the skeptics. Skeptical in the sense that I also believed that this would go away. At a time when it was difficult to fathom that things would reach this point, someone told me that Binay would be crushed by the time his enemies were through with him. Politically motivated or not, the Binays failure to answer these allegations, if indeed these are lies, may turn out to be the greatest political miscalculation of his life.

The truth is the greatest enemy of lies. As I said in a previous post – “…[T]he next step for the Vice President and his team would really be to take pains to walk people through a definitive explanation of how he amassed his wealth. Of course, they could choose to ignore this but then they would continue to lose the moral high ground. If nothing wrong has been done, the logical truth should easily explain everything“. Well they never did. Was it because of hubris or was it because they couldn’t?

I feel for the Binay children. Yes, we browbeat them to death because of what we perceive as their arrogance. Yet, when you think about where they are, what choice do they have? They are at an age when they should know. They either (1) know that these are all lies; or (2) know that these allegations are true; or (3) have no first-hand knowledge of the truth and would rather not know. With the way Nancy, Abby and Jun-Jun have acted, it is difficult to conclude that it is the first.

With that, they are placed in an untenable situation where they have to perpetuate a myth. We cannot expect them to betray their parents. Nor can we expect them to implicate themselves. There have been insinuations that the Binay children have been so warped by the environment that they grew up in that they rationalize the acts of their father and their family to death. They feel entitled to all the wealth that they have amassed for whatever reason they can conjure.

For many the truth has already revealed itself. The magnitude of the alleged corruption is too hard to stomach even for a corrupt system that we find in the Philippines. And if indeed the truth is that they have stolen, the lives of the Binay children would have been destroyed. How can one live through the shame that will go with your name? How can you explain all these to your own children who through no fault of their own will be burdened with a name steeped in shame?

Maybe people will forget. Filipinos, after all, are known to have short memories. But what if they don’t.

If you were Jojo Binay, what would you think about all this? Would you really want your progeny to go through all this? It is wishful thinking but if you had a little shred of decency left, maybe you should own up to your sins. If not for you, do it for your grand kids. They certainly don’t deserve to go through life defending your sins in perpetuity.


they cannot teach what they do not know (part 2)

ILOILO CITY – The primer of the Department of Education (DepEd) on the K-12 Basic Education Program states the following:

Enhancing the quality of basic education in the Philippines is urgent and critical. Education outcomes in terms of participation, completion and achievement rates attest to this urgent need. The poor quality of basic education is reflected in the low achievement scores of Filipino students in the National Achievement Test and international tests like TIMSS.

For something that the DepEd considers “urgent and critical”, as it well should, it offers the following as the framework for a solution:

One reason behind this is that students do not get adequate instructional time or time on task. This is partly due to the congested curriculum. The current 10-year basic education curriculum is designed to be taught in 12 years…Thus, the Department of Education in collaboration with various government and non-government stakeholders has developed the K to 12 Program which aims to improve basic education in the Philippines.  

If this is the entirety of the solution to an “urgent and critical” issue then I daresay, we are screwed. It doesn’t give you much confidence in the technocrats, bureaucrats and other crats in the DepEd when you cite one reason for this crisis, re-build the entire basic education framework around this and fail to cite the other reasons. Moreover, this one reason is not even given the courtesy of being tagged as the primary or main reason, if it is that. Finally, how serious does the DepEd and its crats really think of this when all they say is that this exercise is meant only to “enhance the quality of basic education in the Philippines.” To enhance is a wimpy way of doing something for the sake of doing something.

There is no quality to the basic education system of the Philippines. The products of this system cannot read with comprehension, write with any form of coherence, do math without a calculator nor understand basic scientific principles. Instead this system provides false hope to many who see this as a way to escape the grinding poverty that they find themselves in.

Reading, math and science are the core competencies that an educational system must provide in as comprehensive a manner as possible to produce competitive citizens. The system must not only do so comprehensively but also make sure that the students that it serves MASTER these competencies. It is not enough that students go through these subjects as matter of course, again, the students MUST MASTER these competencies.

It is under this context that I firmly believe that adding two years to the Basic Education Program is not enough. And no, I do not mean adding more years. In math – 10 x 0 equals 0, 12 x 0 is still zero. To translate, if we do not improve the rigor and substance of the system, its products will still gain zero no matter how many years you add to it.

Rigor and substance.

The basic education system must be made rigorous i.e. difficult. In other words, hindi puwede yung pasang awa. Education is not just about the learning per se, it is preparing kids for life. Life is not an easy thing. So why should make the way to prepare for it, easy. Secondly, by cheapening and lowering standards, you also demean children by in effect saying that hanggang diyan ka na lang when what we should be doing is challenging them, driving them to do more. For if we do not, we will grow another generation of citizens who will continue to adhere to the lower standard of puwede na ‘yan.

I mean substance in education to be a deepening of comprehension of core subjects as opposed to providing a breadth of subjects taught superficially. Again, basic education should force students to MASTER core subjects and not just know them. If they fail to do so then they must be forced back to do it again and again. For what is life without its failures. What is more important is what we do after we fail. Our kids must be taught that there are no shortcuts in life. It is through hard work, perseverance and the overcoming of obstacles that we become successful.

Rigor and substance.

It is unfortunate but the reality is that we cannot do this now. See when DepEd settled on that one reason for the failure of our educational system, that kids do not have “enough instructional time or time on task”, they missed out on an even more important reason – the inadequacy of our teachers.

This is not meant to insult nor demean the thousands of schoolteachers out there who day in and day out heroically try their best under the most trying of circumstances to teach. It is not their fault. It is instead the fault of the system and indeed our own that we as a society have over time diminished the stature of our teachers. Yes, they remain respected but in a sort of nakakaawa naman sila way.

As the common saying goes, teaching is a noble profession. When we think that, however, there is a slight hint of condescension and the impression (or maybe the reality) that teaching as a profession is a sacrifice.

The task of teaching the young is the most important obligation of society. Yet we do not accord the required level of importance and appreciation for the teaching profession. In one measure, teaching indeed becomes a sacrifice for when have we heard of a teacher becoming rich. Maybe under our current reality, the economic value we place on the teaching profession is laughable. In a sense,it is so because becoming a teacher relative to becoming an accountant, a lawyer, a doctor or an engineer is indeed easier. More economic value is placed om professions which are perceived to be harder to get into. Yet, it doesn’t have to be this way.

We already know that the Philippine educational system is messed up. One only has to look at the quality of products that it produces. Products that are not competitive.

We need a revolutionary change to our basic education system. The first step should not have been K-12. That is the “doing something for the sake of doing something” way. Yes, we will need it at some point but it could have come later. Sadly, the question as to whether we are prepared for K-12 is now up in the air (see http://opinion.inquirer.net/83234/ready-for-k-to-12). The first priority is teaching the teachers for how can they teach (and I mean teach in the true sense of the word) what they do not know. How can our teachers provide rigor and substance when they themselves were products of a system that was easy and superficial?

This revolutionary change should upend the way we think about things. Teachers should be among, if not, the highest compensated professionals for they do more for our society than all the other professions combined. By changing this dynamic, the best and the brightest among our youth will gravitate towards the teaching profession and from them we can pick and choose who we entrust our future to. Having said that, becoming a teacher should become a difficult academic and intellectual path. Enough of puwede na ‘yan.

Yup – I know what you’re thinking. It’s a nice and noble aim for who can argue with the thesis of this article. But unrealistic? Difficult perhaps but not impossible. As with many things that our country faces, we will need to make hard choices. What do we do about the several million badly equipped teachers which we now have in the system? Under a new and more rigorous teacher training program, most would undoubtedly fail and I say this without being condescending. Yet, if we are to remain true about saving our children from the shackles of poverty and deprivation, the unqualified will indeed have to go. Of course, we have to provide them with the opportunity to elevate themselves to the level that will now have to be demanded. Yet I fear that so many will still fail.

In the meantime, we have to toughen up the teacher training institutions that we have. We also need to weed out the unworthy diploma mills that contributed to the diminution of the teacher. To those that survive, admissions and the training within these institutions will have to be demanding.

Hard choices. That is really what we have left ourselves with after allowing our society to acquiesce to our decline as a nation. What was once an educational system to be proud of is now nothing but a system that awards (to paraphrase what Joe Pinsker of the Washington Post said) …”a diploma (that) starts to look a lot like a receipt printed on fine cardstock. It is proof not that one has learned something in college, but that one has paid for it.”


they cannot teach what they do not know

The State shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels, and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all.

Article XIV, Section 1, Philippine Constitution

The State shall assign the highest budgetary priority to education and ensure that teaching will attract and retain its rightful share of the best available talents through adequate remuneration and other means of job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Article XIV, Section 5, Paragraph 5, Philippine Constitution

ILOILO CITY – The Department of Budget of Management posts the annual appropriations of the government under the National Expenditure Program on its website – dbm.gov.ph. For 2015, the budget appropriation for the Department of Education (DepEd) totals P317.1 billion. On page 371 of the 398-page tome detailing the DepEd budget, you will find that P209.7 billion of the DepEd budget is spent on Personal Services which is essentially the amount allocated for the salaries and other benefits of our teachers and other DepEd personnel. This is allocated among 643,452 DepEd employees. This translates to an average of P25,070 per month per employee. Note that the number of projected employees is the same as that in 2014 – freeze hiring ang DepEd.

peertutors_philippinesOn the same page (page 371 if you’ve already forgotten), you will find under Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses (MOOE) an amount of P5.3 billion allocated for training and scholarship expenses. This makes it the third-largest item under MOOE after Financial Assistance/Subsidy and Supplies and Materials Expenses.

The third major component of the DepEd budget (together with Personal Services and MOOE) are Capital Outlays for which P66.8 billion is appropriated.

In summary, the DepEd budget includes P209.7 billion to pay people, P66.8 billion to build school buildings and P40.6 billion to keep the current bureaucracy running. Tucked within the P40.6 billion “keeping the bureaucracy running” allocation is P5.3 billion to train our teachers to be better. Okay…

One of the biggest challenges facing businesses in the Philippines today is finding good people. The Philippines produces about 500,000 college graduates a year. Finding someone from among these 500,000 who can write a proper paragraph in English is like finding a needle in a haystack. Sa review pa lang ng CV you will probably have a 1 in 100 (if not less) chance of finding someone who got the spelling and grammar right much less someone who can write an original thought. I say this not out of arrogance, it is just the way things are. For the jingoistic out there, we just have to bear with the fact that English is still the lingua franca in the business world. It becomes worse when you assess math skills. It is downright depressing when you go looking for people with higher-order thinking skills – it’s like striking gold when you find them.

You find out quickly that things that should have been taught in 2nd grade (like multiplication) are taught in 2nd grade but never understood. So when you hear or read job ads which specify “needs minimal supervision” well, good luck with that because kids coming out of Filipino diploma mills not only need supervision, they need baby-sitting or worse (like you having to do what they’re supposed to do). Again, I may sound like it but I’m not being arrogant.

For the better part of most of my life, the Philippines marketed itself as an investment destination because of our lower costs and educated (i.e. English-speaking work force). Being a low-cost provider of cheap labor (oops did I over-emphasize?) is never a lasting advantage. There will always be someone who is willing to go even cheaper. And now, we may speak English – but what kind of English?

By brandishing the cheap labor card, we consign ourselves to being order takers, always at the beck and call of someone else. This is not the way to a better life or a better nation. Do we not think we are better than this?

In the IMD World Competitiveness Report of 2014, we were ranked number 42 out of 60 countries. This was down from 38th place the year before. In another similar survey, the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report of 2013-2014, the Philippines ranked 59th out of 148 countries. The question is – can we do better?

[To be continued]


dear senator binay

21 November 2014

Dear Sen. Binay,

Earlier this week, you released a statement to the press containing your thoughts, speculations, theories and guesses on things surrounding the construction of the Iloilo Convention Center. This comes after you participated in the Senate hearing on the same subject – a hearing which to many was an utter waste of time due to the abject lack of basis for the accusations of malfeasance that were made.

It is sad to note that you again make the same accusations without proof of any kind. Further, the conclusions (if they can be called that) that you make in your statement are simply devoid of logic much less solid reasoning. Conclusions which a 7-year old (okay, I exaggerate) can tear apart like the wrapper on their Christmas gifts.

While we do not begrudge your duty to investigate anomalies, we, the taxpayers who pay your salary, surely should not be begrudged our right to expect more from a Senator of the Republic. The conduct of any investigation, as you know, should begin with a solid appreciation of the facts before one should even come to a suspicion of misconduct. An even higher standard is expected before a conclusion can be made. Surely you must know that a convention center will be a boon to the hotel industry of any locale. Oh wait – actually you don’t. Your statement exposes your ignorance and only serves to highlight the misgivings of many at having you as a Senator of the Republic.

You ask how Megaworld can dictate to government the use of donated land. How do you think Makati was built? Did the government then dictate to the private sector how things should be done? Yes, government is supposed to regulate the private sector to curb their excesses. But how excessive is it to ask that the ICC design be in conformity with the over-all design of the Megaworld which after all will be based on a theme re-creating Old Iloilo? How can a design based on the Paraw (a truly Ilonggo icon) be disadvantageous to the city of Iloilo? Do you even know that the land upon which the Rizal Memorial Stadium stands will revert back to the estate of its private benefactor if it is used for any other purpose other than for a sports facility?

It is really simple – you cannot impose upon a benefactor as long as what the benefactor asks for is within the bounds of law. Anyone who does is an ingrate.

I sincerely hope that you exercise restraint when making accusations. We understand you are young and have a lot to learn. But please think before you do or say things for in this case you have not only cast aspersions on those you accuse of impropriety, you have also insulted private Filipino citizens who conceptualized and are working on this project. If it’s not too much to ask, having a seasoned mentor would be helpful in guiding you as you mature into the dignified Senator that the office that you hold demands. On the other hand, if you strongly believe that such maturation is not required, then God help us all.

Respectfully,

Me


explaining binay

I am 72 years old. I will be 73 when I take office. I will be 79 when I leave office. You have always had a chip on your shoulder. You tragically lost your parents early. Yet you soldiered on. You may or may not have realized it but you were always going up a mountain fighting the next battle. Wrongly, people looked down upon you because of your physical stature and the color of your skin. You outgrew the challenges of being an orphan. You did well enough in school to graduate from the best law school in the country. But even then, you identified with those who were oppressed and for fighting for them you suffered through incarceration. Then the fates intervened. A lady so impressed with and admiring of your standing with the downtrodden, appointed you the Mayor of the richest city in the country. It was probably something you did not aspire for nor even dreamt of. But here was your chance to uplift the lives of even a few of those whom you had valiantly fought for in the halls of justice. But then, you find yourself in the company of the richest of the rich

photo credit: philstar.com

photo credit: philstar.com

in the country. The very people whom you may have begrudged not for their wealth but for their apathy during the struggle against the dictator. They ignore you – bringing back those dark memories of the lonely feeling that you did not belong. So you ignore them in turn. You turn your energies towards doing good for your people – the poor, the downtrodden, those who need help the most. But it soon becomes old. You desperately crave to be accepted by those who have ignored you. Those rich people in their gated enclaves within your city. It starts with a little grease money here and a little over there. You rationalize it as being like Robin Hood. I will take from those who have and give it back to those who don’t. Then you start keeping a little for yourself. It’s only a small part. No harm can come out of it. You begin to acquire the trappings of wealth. You soon notice that those whom you have despised begin to notice you more. You think it’s the money. Inevitably it becomes an addiction – the wealth and the seeming power and influence that it gives you. You correctly associate your position as the source of all that power. You fear losing it so you decide to keep it in the family. Your dominion over this city is total. You have cemented your hold on it. Soon the possibility of higher office becomes realistic. You never dreamt nor planned it to be this way. Again, you start out as the underdog and are not taken seriously. But you’ve been at this long enough to know what it takes to win. You are scrappy. You don’t take things for granted. You work hard. You have that chip on your shoulder that drives you forward. You will prove them wrong and shock the entire nation. And that – you do. You now hold the second-highest office in the land. In your giddiness, you announce your intention to seek the highest office in the nation. In your mind, that will put you in a position to help even more of those who you identify with – the poor, the oppressed, the downtrodden. Maybe you think that you will now be able to rationalize all the shortcuts that you took. To make amends for those morally and ethically-challenged choices that you may made. For in the end, I will be able to make it all good. Indeed, the end justifies the means. You are two years away from the ultimate prize. You are sailing along nicely. The people seem to like you. The surveys show they trust you. It seems so easy. Then out of the woodwork comes ghosts from your past. You believe it’s going to be okay. You ignore these because you’ve handled these in the past. These will go away. But then, it doesn’t go away. It becomes bigger. You begin to think – how dare these people take away my destiny. The little voice in your head begins to worry that these may take away your way out. Your way out of those questionable choices that you may have made in your past. You want to confront them. Your people say no. You insist. Without your telling them, you offer a public challenge to the bane of your current existence. Then you realize that there is no escaping your past. You begin to look for a way out but there seems none. Your minions go through the motions of acting on the challenge that you made. Then, out of the blue, you are offered a way out and you take it. Actually you begin to tire of it all. This whole thing is spinning out of control. You begin to get real tired. You are 72. This whole thing begins to grind on you. Your children are being ridiculed. Things are becoming very difficult. You feel very lonely. Yet – the ultimate prize is still within sight. Then I start thinking – is it worth all this? I am 72 years old. I will be 73 when I take office. I will be 79 when I leave office.