An In-depth Look into the Quality of Our Community Leaders

Elections have a lot to answer for in view of the quality of leadership comprising our supposed peak body that we Filipino migrants in Australia have had to live with within the confines of our immediate ethnic Filipino community.
Generally speaking, voters who put them where they are (usually made up of heads/representatives of paying affiliate members) exhibit a gamut of differing attitudinal or behavioural tendencies. More often than not they start feeling blasé and exasperated by democratic shortcomings (ganyan talaga anong magagawa mo), so they either endure, grin and bear it, and let it go (hayaaan mo na lang, sige na lang, pabayaan mo na sila diyan)). Most often than not, many end up becoming lackadaisical, couldn’t care less, or just pliably take things as they are. Some are altogether left in a quandary with nary a query answered so they stay put merely coasting along with long-established mates (nakikipagbarkadahan).
Woe it is to those who give it an honest, good try, with high hopes and the best of intentions only to get invariably burnt out after being awakened by the realities of the operating “barkadahan mentality” (gang system). The big ask at the initial salvo is the classic “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me). No sooner than expected, some end up swearing acrimoniously “Never Again!”
On the other side of the fence, are the die-hards. The luckier ones have used their past PCC presidential posts as a stepping stone into the bigger political arena. There are many however—and I hazard to call them “jaded leaders” who have been worn out or wearied by overwork or overexposure, some dulled and satiated by overindulgence in power play yet remains constantly overzealous and thus overstay as officers whilst priding themselves as movers and shakers of the Filipino community.
The reasons for tarrying too long are one too many. Understandably, they have an axe to grind, personal agendas to fulfil (such as the sweet-talking networkers) or simply have nothing else better to do. Rarely do I like to believe that there are also those who serve with firm resolve to social relevance and purpose.

In all fairness and gratuity to our community leaders past, present and future -- the whole process of running, consequently serving your term, then staying on for perpetuity in community organizations is truly a selfless, thankless, ruthless act of commitment and servitude. Each and every leader has been heard to declare that he/she is doing it for the love of the community.
AMEN....
“It’s for the community” It’s for the love of our own people.” “We dedicate ourselves to the service of our constituents.”
Hallelujah...Praise the Lord!
Elected leaders are wedded to the popular vote as the incontrovertible template – regardless of how unrepresentative the results and unloved the elected leader-politician – the constituent/voting member is captive.
It's a form of electoral fundamentalism, whereby the vote remains the singular most cherished, inalienable right and yet voters tend to barter their votes for long time favours.
Trouble is, people don’t want to introduce change anymore as change tends to disrupt the status quo that to most is better upheld as is, where is.
To me personally, one of the most worrying, annoying even is the seemingly imbued almost systematic practice of “Barkadahan system (“gang mentality”) that is operating in PCC. I’ve been here for nearly two decades and all I see is a panoply of old, familiar faces or old guards (sila at sila rin.)
There is an urgent need for PCC to recognise the breadth and complexity of this issue, noting the serious harms it may cause, because it is crippling, counterproductive. and kills the very principles of equal opportunity and tapping potentially new leaders.

PCC should approach this visible and widely perceived problem of “barkadahan” primarily as a social and public health issue. With this in mind, I recommend they should strive to improve the quality and reach of preventative and early intervention measures, including education initiatives to reduce the incidence of “barkadahan” among officers by redefining Constitutional provisions
already in place. Additionally, appropriately investigate serious complaints and coordinate their investigations across jurisdictions where appropriate (e.g. concrete action/investigation on the letter of Bicolana Demi Robinson).

The general membership must have a clear awareness and understanding of how direct and indirect offences can and make the process clear for victims of “Barkadahan” whose unseen hands manage to menace, harass, intrigue out or cause untold or undefined but deeply felt offences which, in various degrees of disappointment, can actually make or unmake anybody.

Fact is we do not dispute that the PCC officials are clearly mandated by election results. Fine. We will not argue anymore how directly or indirectly, the “barkadahan system” effectively promoted the re-election of overstaying people whose staying power negates possibilities for discovering other gems of potential leaders.

Despite their initial appeal however, officers elected by popular vote create a serious dilemma because they cannot keep on fawning: obsequiousness as they are expected to deliver at all times.

Who was it who said that politics by principle is that which modern politics is not. What we normally observe is politics by interest and since friends of the same feather flock together, they will always share and protect their interests and would rather work comfortably with each other.

In this regard it may do well for PCC to consider applying the concepts of both the Cultural fit and functional fit, two criteria that most human resource departments adapt when evaluating candidates for employment that may verily augur well in the proper selection of future leaders/officers of PCC.
Functional fit is about the candidate’s hard skills -- the candidate’s education, certifications, core competencies and experience.  This type of information, which is usually supplied in the candidate’s resume or curriculum vitae, can be confirmed fairly as soon as aspiring officers make their declarations to run as per Constitutional procedure giving voters time to assess and know their candidates way in advance. 
Cultural fit, on the other hand cover the soft skills and personal goals, is usually assessed during the actual election phase when the candidate “sells” himself/herself. Ideally it would be best for PCC to follow the Presidential campaign style in the Philippines where all the presidentiables are lined-up in a debate and answers open-ended questions from the body like “Can you describe yourself to us and what new reforms or revolutionary changes can you offer for me as a voter and for the organization on the whole? Questions like this help the voters decide whether or not the candidate will thrive within the company's culture fit. 
Merging both their subjective assessment may be augmented with data gathered from the CV plus the old dictum that first impressions count much. If PCC only allows for these things to happen, by all means they would be able to distill the best of the best.
On top of that, if only the so-called overstaying officers would have the noblesse oblige to step back and give others a chance, then all’s well that ends well.
One final word: Politics should always, always, be guided by principle, never by populism or popular vote. The mantra of every leader-politician ought to be TO LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE NOT TO THE DICTATES OF THEIR INTERESTS.
Evelyn Zaragoza’s challenge for PCC officials to be more dynamic and visionary is a tall order indeed. But the idea is fast gaining ground among PCC officers politicians who should know better.
Whilst we keep a watchful eye on their moves, we still offer them our best wishes and heartfelt endorsements. (Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

Pahabol! Just as we are about to go to the press, the most awaited response from a certain Violy Escultura (who is she anyway?), the newly elected President of APCO sent a very curt and laconic  reply to our questionnaire for a supposed interview write up on her visions as a leader to which she originally said yes. Whatever changed her mind, is none of our business but she both snubbed the publisher and the Editor none the least the Filipino community with her final answer “I will not dignify your questions with a reply” What a a way to begin ones term. So be it. No further questions asked?
(Mars Cavestany/All Rights Reserved)

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  • The Continuing APCO SAGA  

    The Continuing APCO SAGA
     
    Since the time the Unification Movement began and ended with a paper reconciliation between PCC and APCO and problems reignited once again with the latter’s controversy-laden election of new office bearers, everything seems to have been polarised, literally dividing the APCO alliance into two sharply opposing factions.
     
    Metaphorically speaking, what befell APCO is akin to the whiskered bamboo fairy tale splitting into two-halves, a two-ness not in the persons of Malakas or Maganda but in the characters of Madame Escultura and Madame Paras, two lady Presidents fighting for APCO Presidency thus splitting the organization into pro- this and anti—that, like two   souls with two thoughts and two conflicting ideals in the once wholesome but now split “dark” body.
     
    “It is not the act itself that is salvific, the disposition alone is what saves.”
     
    Despite this rather bleak scenario some beautiful people emerged and so I dedicate the self-concocted quotable quote above to these special people. It is a giant effort to pay tribute to the following dramatic personae who have bravely worn the “masks of the drama” that has been swiftly unfolding before our very eyes, namely:
     
    ---to Evelyn Zaragoza, my publisher for inspiring me to join hands with her redemptive efforts towards unification/reconciliation at a time when almost everyone has written it off their minds;   
    --- to Jhun Salazar for dedicatedly “Fathering” the APCO Inc. that in context, he is best and more suitably befitting to be called one of the true selfless founders and not just allow someone to lay claim to the title as Founding President;
    --- to Cora Paras for “for taking up the cudgels of “Mothering a suddenly motherless association usurped by power-hungry false prophets who present themselves in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
    ----to Benjie de Ubago who has consistently and inexhaustibly conducted investigative reporting in our community  unmindful of the fact that the very truth she espouses exposes and hurts some people most often than not;
    ... to Mesdames Serna Ladia and Elsa Collado, whose womanly virtues,  singularity of purpose,  and plurality of good deeds spell infinite value to our community at large and provide equanimity against the  over-zealous chauvinism in PCC as the one and only  peak body in our immediate environs in NSW;
    --- to Jimmy Lopez for his ever-readiness to extend a helping hand even if he is always questioned as to the real measure of his vision and mission;
    --- and last but not least, to the indefatigable partnership of husband and wife Ruben and Cen Amores for cultivating a culture of impunity and redefining to the community at large, what true leaders are not.
      
    FALLEN OFF THE RADAR
     
    The once seemingly encompassing encroachment of the old powers that be in the realm of APCO Inc. might have totally fallen off the radar but it does not mean that high-intensity conflict between the two divided groups in APCO has stopped raging on.
     
    No longer just a purely internal conflict, pundits and armchair philosophers opine that if this deep-seated social and spiritual  malady persists it is likely to blow up into  civil conflict considered to be one of the most devastating social phenomena in this whole new world. Suffice it to say, in extreme cases, they often have staggeringly unimaginable tolls and toils we do not even wish to think of.
     
    Trouble is, the ego beckons, and ambition pushes people to forge ahead. No they will not just bow out and give the floor to the other party.
     
    Just witness the spate of things like the especially unpleasant stuff which has become the order of the day – a large number of them happening or appearing one after the other in a blink of an eye.
     
    An example is the continuing series of damning testimonies emanating from the Escultura-Amores camp condemning the Paras-Salazar group. Initially the latter refused to dignify the former’s  pronouncements and just fanning off the flames and venom in such broadly indiscriminate and wholesale exaggerated public announcements they have reduced to  empty boasts and threats.
     
    However, the atmosphere has been so tense and emotionally charged so much so that the state of affairs has been placed in agitation or turmoil with resentments seething and simmering between rivals.
     
    ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT
    For a while, it was all quiet on the Western front, an old colloquial expression that comes to mind to suggest the stagnation, or lack of visible change or definitive action in APCO affairs.
     
    It took all of six months. Whereas in the beginning, the Paras-Salazar position was wont to take things gently, morally, and constitutionally. They lingered on the side of safety and chose to ignore what the other camp was doing in favor of something more important to them which is the over-all pooling of resources, strategies, and means. They believe that Escultura-Amores grouping will pass with flying colours or that methodically they were giving the other party enough rope to hang themselves with. Sooner or later they may fall into obscurity or simply disappear from public view
     
    The wise men of the Escultura-Amores camp outwitted them. Moving so fast, they consolidated forces, elected new officers and totally revoked the memberships of Paras, Salazar, Hayward and Price whilst radically suspending suspended the others (Trinidad, Ford et al)  
     
    Worse, the penny wise, pound foolish Paras-Salazar group awoke to discover one day that the Escultura-Amores group has done it again -- virtually withdrawing much of the hard-earned/saved APCO funds and reopened a new bank account to safety the money they just want to expedite for themselves never to be touched by the Paras-Salazar group.  
     
    For its part the aggrieved Paras Salazar group has simultaneously written a letter of demand to Jimmy Lopez to fully liquidate the initial withdrawal of APCO funds to the tune of 13 thous and something. Consequently, they also lodged an official complaint to the bank seeking possible recovery of another 12 thousand that was withdrawn effortlessly by Jimmy Lopez acting as new Treasurer of the new signatories the bank seemed to have approved with complicity not even questioning why the sudden change of signatories when there has been an earlier modus operandi that has caused the bank to freeze the account. A simple phone call to the former set of Paras-Salazar signatories could have been done unless there is some complicity somewhere.  
     
    As of this writing we gathered that the Paras-Salazar group is making representations with Fair Trading to set the records straight. Fair dinkum!
     
    THE ‘ACTION’ OF TUMBALONG X_MAS PROJECT SPEAKS LOUDER THAN THE ‘WORDS’ of  UNIFICATION in that FAMOUS JOINT STATEMENT that was ALL SOUND and FURY SIGNIFYING NOTHING
     
    Meantime, Christmas is fast approaching.
     At the press conference last 10th October at the Philippine Consulate re. the Pasko sa Tumbalong Park we discovered that this  annual project is now apparently singularly being pursued by PCC minus their past partner in the initial 3-years of operation, the Department of Trade.
     
    The good news, however, is that PCC is not in principle, entirely going it alone. In more ways than one, there is an exciting bonus featuring the direct participation of newly-elected APCO Inc President Cora Paras as well as Board Director LindaTrinidad as Members of the Committee in-charge of the Choral festival at the same time acting as panel members of the jury substantially stepping up the artistic handling of this new project over and beyond the other standard fares and programs.
       
    At the open forum, I took the liberty to call attention once again to that which I wrote in my September issue editorial specifically owing to what I called a “poignant metaphor” to the act itself of re-electionist Serna Ladia (wearing two hats as PCC President and as a radio broadcaster herself)   along with Elsa Collado and Ethel Singson in honouring the invite to the historic press conference held last 4th Sep. by the Paras-Salazar entourage.
     
    This gesture on the part of PCC was being reciprocated by APCO’s full force attendance at the Pasko press conference which to me, vivified a more genuine testament to unification and reconciliation more than the slap bang “perfunctory show” staged at the Consulate with no less than the formerly long- estranged leaders (Amoreses representing APCO) and (PCC past and present leaders) forging a joint statement that was all noise but signified nothing.
        
    Action always speaks louder than words which in this case became meaningless in that it turned out to be a mere show of force engineered by the Consulate to put a dot, ergo, a fitting closure to the PCHN-induced Unification Movement.
     
     ADDITIONAL BOW IN THE ARROW & END OF AUTHORITARIAN RULE
     
    The point I’m driving at that I refer to as a more poignant metaphor of unified relationship is indubitably happening now more than ever between the Cora Paras-Jun Salazar APCO group and the PCC much like an additional bow in the arrow.
     
    More seriously it marks the end of the old authoritarian, dictatorial rule that once characterised APCOS leadership that would not lift a finger nor extend a hand to PCC ever in their lifetime.
     
    That is now a thing of the past. Full stop.  .  
     
    Along this vein, I suddenly recall the scintillating statement of Jun Salazar when he said that “APCO was not founded by a single individual, and for anyone to claim that she is the founder is a gross misstatement and great insult to many men and women who helped establish APCO from day one. The act of promoting oneself as a founder is a selfish manifestation by someone who needed to bolster an image at the expense of the silent majority in order to gain authority and exert influence over others.”
     
    AMEN. HALLELUIAH, PRAISE THE LORD!
     

    The “priestly” Salazar said it all. But then again, these are mere words. It remains to be seen how the new APCO board can unfetter itself from the clutches and influences of the former regime. 
    FERVENT PRAYERS
    One highly respected community leader has put it succinctly wwhen he opines : " Precisely, the reason why the Amoreses go to great lengths in choosing and anointing the President-cum- loyal surrogate or subordinate is beause they want to hold on to power and control. . Remember that’s exactly what happened to the poor past pawn of a past president, Pet Storey. Good on her she has awakened and found her wits again as to join up with the Paras-Salazar group. “

    It is our fervent prayer that this whole brouhaha will end in the best possible way. We repeat the personal question Cora Paras personally emailed to Escultura. “How sure are you that the Amoreses shall be with you all the way?"

    True indeed, when push comes to shove,  and reality bites, then we experience and chant along with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles.”
     
    Again, we await what’s going to happen with tense expectations. (All Rights Reserved)  

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