2007 Speicla Edition

CIM Class 1972 web site publication.

"The truth of the matter is that you always know the right thing to do. The hard part is doing it." Ė Ė General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

Fairness and Change

Cle S. Estrera, Jr.

    There are certain sensitive subjects like the election in our association that when I dare decide to touch, for I know itís the right thing to do, I would expect comments of all kinds. Itís an attitude that took me years to develop in order to change my ways and reactions - expect the worst and hope for the best. It works all the time like a charm. As I wrote many times before, itís our expectations that give us disappointments, if not heartburns, when such expectations are not met. Thus I often expect nothing and simply hope for something.

    With no background in writing and never tried it in college or in the medical school except making up stories to write to my parents and older brothers to persuade them to send me more pocket money to be able to take some girl to a movie and perhaps an ice cream or halo-halo later on, which was rarely if ever effective, Iíve decided that if I wanted to learn something like writing, Iíve got to try to do my best and program my mind that even if my best is not good enough for others, I just have to go on. And go on, I did, and I have become better than I was, more than I used to be.

    Itís always tough to catch every oneís attention, let alone for them to acknowledge and make some positive comments on what you write. But there is nothing much you can do about it except to learn to accept the idea that your best may only be good enough for the few or may not be good at all for anyone, and then remind yourself that the pursuit of excellence is nothing more than to push yourself to the next level and try as hard as you can to be better than you are, rather than to compare yourself with others and be better than they are.

    †Thus Iíve always been able to take any comment with gratitude because for one thing, negative or positive, itís a good sign of acknowledgement that the one who is sending the comment must have read what I wrote. Believe me. Itís harder to take silence or apathy because it gives you no way of knowing whether anyone ever reads what you write, let alone what they think about it. For another, negative comment teaches you the virtue of humility and compassion, and reminds you of the reality that perception differs in every one, a testament to the uniqueness of man. And so I often feel obligated to respond particularly if I believe that there is something I said that was not clear enough, and more so if I inadvertently made a mistake. A reader who disagrees with you needs at least an acknowledgement of his or her different point of view.

    Iíd like to thank those alumni who had pointed out to me what I said that our associationís election has been unfair, saying that the way I wrote it appears that the past elections were rigged. Itís my fault that I did not elaborate my explanation to avoid misunderstanding.

    By the way, I believe there is a big difference between a rigged election and unfair one. To me, rigged election means that its result is cooked or already arranged so that the voting process is just a formality. Itís dishonest. Itís cheating. Itís like counting votes from dead people. God forbids. I have never implied that. Certainly, the last election we had was something, and thatís the way it should be although the number of the alumni who participated remained too low to consider a good voting representation of the majority of the association. Many who attended the reunion did not attend the election and some said that they did not know there was an election.

    Election is a process that culminates on the day we vote or choose what candidate we want to lead us. Thus if we only see the election as the voting process or the day we vote and the vote counting as to who the winner is, then obviously there is nothing unfair there. Every vote has been counted properly. But election is more than that, more than just the voting and the counting of votes.

    Election has two basic stages Ė the campaign stage for the candidates which is also the knowing or familiarizing stage for the members with the candidates and issues; and the voting-and-counting-of-the-votes stage or what is called also as the moment of truth. In order to choose wisely who to vote for, members have got to know who the candidates are long before the day they vote, not during, so they can consult each other who the best candidate is; and what issues members want the candidates to consider. The President especially, should declare his intention to run again if he wants to long before the day the members vote so that interested alumni can make firm decision whether or not to challenge the President and thus have enough time for preparation. Otherwise how are members going to exercise their choice properly if they donít even know or have not been reminded that there is an election, let alone know who the candidates are? The importance of this stage of election has always been taken for granted in our association since the beginning, a habit that no one has done anything about it and thus has been accepted as the way it should be. It has always been assumed that the majority of the members donít care and thus based on assumption, decision is made year after year by the leadership not to do anything about it, and so nothing has been done.

    It is the responsibility of the leadership to remind members about the election as often as it can, and to encourage them to vote, and also to encourage them to get interested in serving as officers. But when it comes to the election in our association, there is always a kind of hush that seems to pervade all over the associationís leadership club. Why? Does this kind of hush serve any purpose? Has anyone ever considered that this hush could be intimidating to members who maybe interested in running for the leadership position? For, it could easily mean Ė ďKeep your ass out. I can take care of everything,Ē or ďNobody can run this association better than me.Ē Maybe so that the leadership can take care of everything, but is it fair to those who maybe interested in running for the leadership position? Is it fair to those concerned members who are interested in another choice of candidates and want change? Intimidation of whatever kind is never fair. Itís not a form of cheating, by the way. But it is utilized as a sort of warning or threat to gain advantage, and thus it doesnít provide an equal level of playing field.

     Again, why the hush? Wouldnít it be better if you, for example, as the leader, are being challenged by a formidable candidate, and members are excited to make a choice? Wouldnít it be sweet when you win with enough members voting in the election that would appropriately represent the majority of the association? You then can say with confidence that the best man won. If you agree, then youíd at least try to encourage members to vote and even run against you. Certainly, itís hard to accept loss in a contest like an election, but if you cannot accept loss gracefully be it an election or a game, then donít participate, for when you participate, there is always a risk of losing.

    I know many of you would probably say: ďLook what happened to other alumni association like the APPA most of all with regards to their election that at one time became so chaotic that candidates literally punched each other, all because they follow the traditional campaign stage of the election.Ē Is that what weíre concerned or afraid of? Are we not setting and maintaining a low standard all because we think poorly of ourselves? Is that the reason why we havenít even tried raising our standard, for fear that the alumni might behave destructively during the election?

    Believe me. We are far better than other alumni in any other alumni association especially the APPA. Are we not? Of course, we are. Some of us maybe too passionate and emotional with issues that we believe are important to our association, but we keep the decency to observe restraint. No matter how heated the argument is, we would rather shy away than throw a punch. Wouldnít we?

    I regretted the day I campaigned and voted against the term limits for the President when it was proposed about five or six years ago. I was a new officer then and I was so naÔve to even think of its future implications. When I knew that there are interested alumni who honestly think they can do a better job, I realized the mistake I made. It bothers me since then, because I had come to believe that it was a great idea for the association.

    I would not have brought up these issues of fairness and change if not for the Vision and Mission statement of our association that consists of Ė Integrity, Fairness and Transparency. I just donít see whatís fair and transparent in the kind of hush that pervades the association when it comes to an election. If an association puts up a statement with nice-sounding words, but has no intention or doesnít even try to live up to its statement, then what kind of example does it give to the young alumni who, one day, would inherit the association and its leadership? - That itís okay to close their eyes to the irony and contradiction, if not pretension? That itís perfectly acceptable to use words and donít mean it? That itís okay to keep the hush, for after all the alumni are asleep, anyway? That itís a good idea to utilize fear to justify the status quo, and support the decision with an assumption? In other words, donít rock the boat because you donít know how deep the water is. You donít know how to swim and you donít want to learn. Is this the kind of legacy we want to leave, or we just donít care, for after all, when weíre gone, weíre gone? Well, our association might as well change the statement to something like this Ė Friendship, Camaraderie and Ballroom Dancing.

    No, I donít agree to being called a troublemaker in the association. But Iíd prefer to be considered as one of those called movers and shakers. There is a big difference. A troublemaker looks for the negative so he can use it as a weapon to blame or accuse the association; giving no light, only heat. When he has an idea and the association doesnít follow it and something goes wrong, he is the first to say ďI told you so!Ē and derive pleasure from that. He doesnít even stop there. He would blame and accuse the association of incompetence and anything to put it down.

    †On the other hand, a mover and shaker is interested only in providing light with the minimum amount of heat if any as possible, because his only intention is to move and shake the association to see what it hasnít seen or hasnít been able to see so that changes can be made for the good of all. Heíd want to push the association to the next level of excellence in order to achieve the highest standard possible, because he wants to be a part of that excellence.

    May you all enjoy the reunion in Vegas.

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