Beyond the jitters of first timers and the pressures of those trained by the wheel, a candidate’s greatest challenge comes not from the superficial expectations of the electorate, but by the confrontational weight from within. Amid toss up allegations and false hearsays, a candidate’s campaign reveals the inevitable: a hodgepodge of lies packaged as truths.
Sometimes, the game of politics creates molds of the worst versions of those aspiring to be our next leaders. A rumor thrown here and a made-up anecdote there can mean dire consequences for not only the officer drawn up to be, but more so the individual behind the mask. Before either tasting victory or accepting defeat, every candidate has their fair share of exposure to the smear campaign, some worse than others, but altogether plain callous. In moments like these, their strengths can only lie from within—a power drawn from the realization that their greatest enemies aren’t what they hear, but what they believe themselves to be.
An old bag of dirty tricks
For Ellysha Felizarta (II, BS-APC), her political journey was anything but chewing the fat. Constantly throughout her campaign, the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business (RVR-COB) batch governor candidate had to surmount and overcome a myriad of rumors highlighted by one involving incompetency.
“From comments of ‘You’re not even part of the batch government before’ to ‘Hanggang COBunity ka lang’, the question of my competency was raised,” she recalls.
Felizarta confirms that she was not really part of the batch government during her frosh year, but she believed that in and of itself, the allegations were not enough to gauge her competency and capabilities as a person and as a leader.
Similarly, even when it came to alleged truths based on nothing but the grapevine, Lia Manalo (I, BSA) was subject to the spark of decency, or the lack thereof, regarding her perceived status in the college.
“I think the one that hit me the most was when apparently it spread that ‘No one liked Lia in CSA’, my former high school,” Manalo shares.
Although she believed that she could not speak on behalf of her batchmates, she felt that she and her batch had nothing but pure love for each other.
“I remember thinking during the first few days of college that Augustinians here in DLSU made it feel a little more like home,” she explains.
The silver lining
Albeit how inevitable, immense, and personal these attacks can be at times, these are problems meant to be solved, not by actions done overnight but by the reassurance of a support system meant to last. Concoct it with passion, calmness and a positive perspective and one has recipe for tenacity.
For Manalo, her family and friends helped her in overcoming her struggles. “At first syempre, masakit, but also these rumors taught me that life isn’t all smooth sailing. Sometimes we encounter obstacles, but what matters is how we overcome and grow from them.” She eventually realized that different people have different ideas, and she should just keep being herself.
“Campaigning was never a regret, because one month of sacrifice could not be compared to two terms of serving her batchmates,” Manalo emphasizes.
On the other hand, while Felizarta did not end up with the result she would have hoped for, she still managed to attain victory by receiving “a bunch of great friends and a boost of self-confidence.”
Given that she suffered from rumors, she was able to become a better person by overcoming her struggle rather than dwelling in negativity.
“Rumors will inevitably create damage but what you make out of these damages is what will make you stronger. In life, you can’t please everybody so what you should do your best and prove them wrong.” shares Felizarta.
Through the fire
As gutwrenching the smear campaign can be at times, it has become an inevitable challenge that leaders aspiring for office eventually go through. As Felizarta says, “It’s not necessary, but it’s part of it,” because it ultimately will serve as a stepping stone to making them stronger.
At the end of the day, those who overcome these strenuous trials end up being the best type of leaders–leaders that were born and forged by the fire.