Every candidate vying for the highest position in the University Student Government (USG) has a narrative. The incumbent. The angry. The experienced. The hopeful. Maybe a hodgepodge of all. We take a look back on the past five USG presidents and see what made them stand out during campaign week and throughout their term.
2011: Cabe Aquino
Reeling from Alyansang Tapat sa Lasallista’s (Tapat’s) failure to file for candidacy on time during the 2010 GE, Cabe Aquino, along with other Tapat candidates, had the task of filling the void and instilling their party’s vision into the 2011 USG. Standard-bearer Aquino, the emblem of a resurrected Tapat, assumed a jovial and cheery disposition, but in her speech during that year’s Miting De Avance, her voice broke to make way for a tougher, more serious pronouncement: “Kami ay nagbabalik!” as her party cheers her on. She led the USG with the Advocacy Calendar, focusing on monthly activities patterned after the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. In the beginning of her term, she brought her entire EXECOM to an overnight mission-vision setting team building to debate about issues inside and outside the University that should matter to the student body and would form their vision as USG. Her term set the ball rolling for an advocacy-driven leadership, but Cabe’s grit in bearing the brunt to mend a party’s wounded narrative seemed to be what captured the student body the most.
2012: Jana Cabuhat
Jana Cabuhat, who wasn’t all smiles and light-hearted engagement during her campaign, in one piece of footage in the 2012 Miting de Avance shouted her brand of leadership: “Hindi lang para sa unibersidad, kundi para sa bansa.” Closely affiliated with the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, she delivered her speech with gravitas as the student body watched on. There was a depth of seriousness in the way she looked at you during RTRs, a tough urgency when she said, “We must learn how to ask the right questions.” Coming from a public high school, she knew that the real battle against poverty and corruption was being fought outside of the school premises, and that became her frame of orientation when she won the highest seat in the USG. She represented the student body in various sectors inside and outside the University, veering away from so-called “projects” by bringing in various socioeconomic advocacies.
2013: Migi Moreno
In the midst of familiar bright yellows and oranges was a candidate that, although donning a neutral gray polo shirt in his campaigns, captured the interest of the student body. During his time, Migi Moreno broke away from usual campaign strategies in order to visit classrooms alone, create a sense of groundedness and humility in the way he picked up a chalk and discussed his platform with drawings in front of as many students as he could. His brand of leadership aimed to be impartial and unbiased, to refocus the USG by pushing for constitutional amendments, by putting the spotlight on student initiatives, and by bridging everyone together. In one of his speeches, he said the words that many others have since quoted: “When there is too much politics, it leaves no room for leadership.” Despite struggling to bring about internal changes in office, especially in a deeply rooted bipartisan kind of leadership, he still managed to bring about his REFOCUS program by crafting amendments with his elected constituents, the Constitutional Commission and officers from the Judiciary Branch.
2014: Carlo Inocencio
In one of his speeches, Carlo Inocencio’s voice cracked as he turns to the people in yellow behind him, and if you watch the video today you might think he’s trying to hold back tears. That’s just the way Carlo is. Being active in the political party since his first year, he grew up with the big names and the bright lights of being a Santugon member. As an incumbent officer, he knew his way around campaigning. Friendly and warm, eloquent and unquivering in the way he spoke about the party’s vision of a leadership that puts the students first, he was well-loved by those who worked with him during his term. A father-figure who was concerned with not only work, but his constituents’ well-being, he was hands-on and transparent in bringing about his project-based platform, notably by creating partnerships with students from various La Salle schools through the establishment of the Lasallian Student Council Federation.
2015: Pram Menghrajani
An incumbent independent candidate serving as Carlo Inocencio’s Vice President for Internal Affairs, Pram knew how it felt to be president ahead of the game. During her campaign, her outspoken supporters held pink banners and wore pink polo shirts, a complete antithesis to the composed neutral gray brand of independent candidates that came before her. Much like her predecessor, she tore through the veil of yellow and orange and proposed her vision, Our USG, a more transparent and inclusive student government. Although the failure of elections greatly impacted the mobilization of her platform with less elected officers, she remedied this by being more hands-on and firm in her vision of a better type of governance, and in services rendered. During her term, she focused more on specific initiatives, such as focus group discussions, surveys, and polls regarding University issues, a more efficient approach as opposed to concentrating on comprehensive, sweeping projects.
In this year’s General Elections, we are again met with the usual political rivalry. The situation begs the question, what kind of person will our next USG President be? What narrative will we find most compelling? Will our next USG president be a loud activist? A subtle, down-to-earth presence? Or a mix of both? Apart from hearing the different candidates’ platforms and witnessing the regular theatrics of the Miting de Avance, we, as a student body, must decide which candidate crafted a first impression that will last.