Candidates are the building blocks of elections. During campaign week, candidates must scour through the walls and the classrooms of the University, interacting with students whose eyes try to pry the truth and the intention behind why they are running for a position in the University Student Government (USG). For Seanne Esguerra, Ervina Robles, and Rastine Pinlac, various reasons shaped them into the student leaders that they grew to be.
In prioritizing and managing
Before being presented to the public, each candidate, regardless of batch, course, or party, must be trained. Being a part of the USG is a big responsibility, and all party members must contribute to the candidate’s training. It doesn’t come as a surprise, then, that these intensive training methods may change a candidate’s attitude when dealing with people they interact with.
For Esguerra, EXCEL2017 batch president, her training team did not force her to adopt a new persona as she was advised to stay true to herself. However, she found her late night trainings and her early morning call times difficult. It was a challenge to manage her time well between academics and being a servant leader. Time management is what she puts the most effort into, she says. “That’s the most that you have to give talaga, it’s a sacrifice you have to make, it’s about knowing which to prioritize.”
One and the same
FOCUS2016 Batch Vice President Robles’ first taste of the election was during the first term of this academic year. Training hours were from 6 pm until 10 pm, and within those four hours, she and her fellow candidates were taught how to speak and relate to those they soon hope to serve. For a once shy and soft-spoken individual, this kind of training pushed her to enhance her social skills. With regard to the changes she had to endure, she answers, “My public and private persona are one and the same, I tried to be genuine to the people I was campaigning to.”
Preparing for the campaign is hard, but preparing for the position was harder. However, Robles found consolation in the fact that her batchmates trusted her enough to comfortably relay to her their batch’s problems with the school’s system.
“I just talk to them casually, asking them, ‘Hey do you have any problems, do you need help with anything?’” she shares.
This transparency helped her build platforms and projects that not only boosts her career as a student leader but also strengthens her batch’s faith in her ability to make things happen.
Mentality is key
Upon starting his journey as a candidate, CATCH2019 Batch President Pinlac’s mindset had always been “do it for the people”. Despite the stereotypes of self-service against politicians, he believed that his main responsibility was to be a leader for others. “People will judge, people will bash, but you just have to believe in yourself. That’s what keeps me going whenever I try to do [campaigns].”
“I really want to be in this kind of position, this position is not an easy job. In fact, it’s a thankless job,” Pinlac explains, when asked how he prepared himself for the responsibility of being a candidate. Still staying true to the adage of doing it for the people, he cites other people’s growth as his inspiration to also grow in leadership and service. “If you’re helping a person grow, it helps you grow as well.”
Leading to serve
As these distinct individuals continue to serve until their offices are due, each one has undergone a path filled with trials and tribulations. As an elected officer, Robles reveales that she struggled with the idea of knowing that there were students who would not participate in the elections. “We had to really push them to vote, and to vote for the right people,” she states.
On the other hand, Esguerra explains that the experience of preparing during the campaign and election period was the most challenging part. “[It’s the] physical, mental, and emotional toll that it takes on you.” It was through these that she realized that nothing worth having is easy. However, Pinlac reveals that it is most pressuring during campaign period as it is when people would think, “Ang plastic naman nila.”
Despite all the challenges that came their way, unanimously, all three student leaders feel no regret towards their journey as candidates and elected leaders. For Pinlac, it was a matter of taking action. He exclaims, “I don’t really want to stop now. Ito na, we’re here, we’re here to help the students, to show them na we’re always here.” Robles claims she has no regrets for where she is in her life today helped her achieve the goal. “I wanted to be someone better than who I was.” Esguerra says she understands the beauty in being able to grow personally whilst helping everyone around her grow as well.
She explains, “You will be placed in situations where it is not your comfort zone, but that’s the thing, it makes you grow.”