#FEATURE: S.Y. 2021–2022 Elections: The Elected Officials of the Student Council
by Karl Ducusin and Mikko Salvador
The second school year of online classes has presented new problems for the student body as a whole, especially with the reintroduction of clubs, required synchronous classes, and deductions for late requirements. With all of these challenges, some people had to take the task of leading the PSHS community through another year of difficulty.
The filing of candidacy began on September 17. Once it closed on September 22, eight students ran for seven different positions in the student council (SC). One major party emerged during the start of the campaign period: Kalachuchi.
When the Student Electoral Commission (SEC) released the timeline for the elections, Iya Ilagan was approached by Harvi Gonzales, who asked if Ilagan could be her vice president in the upcoming election. At that time, Ilagan was still unsure if she would run for this year’s elections: “When Harvi approached me and asked if I could be her vice president, I said that I’ll be thinking about it, and then eventually I said yes.”
They then started reaching out to other people to fill in the remaining members for their slate. Ilagan personally reached out to Celver Ortiz and Nissi Palada, and they joined the growing Kalachuchi party. To fill out the remaining members, Ortiz recommended Danni Santos, Karl Bueser and Bea Panopio. “I am the communicator between Ate Iya and Karl, then I gave Karl and Bea’s names,” he said.
The independent candidate
Along with Kalachuchi, independent candidate Rafa Escareal also ran for president.
When Escareal was in Grade 10, he planned on running for the student council in Grade 12. But when the pandemic happened, Escareal, who was then in Grade 11, decided to run inlast year’s Student Council election: “When the elections opened, I was given the opportunity to run, and I felt that I needed to take the opportunity. [Having] been in online learning enough at the time, I experienced a lot of difficulties. This is something that I shared with my colleagues and fellow schoolmates, and I wanted to take concrete actions into solving these problems.”
After serving in the student council for a few months, Escareal decided to continue that service. “So, I felt that I wanted…I needed to continue my service in that part so I decided to run, just so I [could] continue what we need to do in order to help resolve all the relevant problems with the student body,” said Escareal.
Tackling the new school year
Once the election results were revealed on October 18, the new student council took their oaths of office two days later. By assuming their new positions as Student Council officers, they face a plethora of new challenges while also having to manage their current responsibilities as students.
Ortiz emphasizes that they are “students before leaders,” which the entire council echoed. “I’m already facing challenges with the clubs with academics and requirements. We are students with requirements to pass, which is my main struggle. The solution to that is good time management and giving head-ups to meetings,” Ortiz said.
Escareal said that the student council’s actions are necessary in relieving the other problems that students face. “Improving academic workload requires … coordination with the DSA and Instruction officers in order to coordinate and solve academic problems that are not just of our own,” Escareal said.
On the other hand, Ilagan and Santos cited the difficulty in communicating with everyone in an online setup. “Communication with different sectors of the community has to be strengthened to improve the understanding of what the students are going through,” Ilagan said.
Despite these challenges, all members of the student council are motivated to serve the community.
Part of that motivation is their passion in serving and helping their fellow students. “Ever since Grade 7, it has been my passion to help people, and being a student leader is one of the more direct methods to help more people,” Panopio said. Meanwhile, Santos’s passion for service was discovered more recently due to more free time as a result of the pandemic.
It’s also a big deal for Ilagan when she gets to help students, especially with her advocacy, mental health. “It motivates me when I learn that some students look up to me,” Ilagan stated.
On the other hand, what drives Palada to serve is that she can give a voice to every Pisay student. “I noticed that every student has a concern, but they don’t know how to make it heard to the higher-ups …. When I was in Grade 8, I had difficulty coordinating with teachers due to the lack of communication,” Palada said.
On collaborating with officers from different parties, Ortiz said that he knows Escareal’s work ethic and that he’s open to suggestions: he’s open and they’re open, and he doesn’t think that there would be any problem with that. Santos agrees with Ortiz, and added that the plans that they want to pursue are the same.
The student council’s plan
Ortiz cited communication and good planning as keys in implementing the SC’s campaign promises while Escareal noted that it is also important to get help from the student body as their projects are not limited to the SC.
Ortiz then talked about continuing the club fair that will engage students in joining clubs, especially Grade 7 and Grade 8 students who haven’t experienced face-to-face classes. “Clubs are good channels to express passion and hobbies and help release stress from studies,” he further added.
Regarding a possible transition to face-to-face classes, Ortiz stresses the need to coordinate with the parents and admins and know what will be needed to have a safe balik eskwela. Escareal further notes that if the SC’s assistance is needed, they will definitely help so that the necessary steps and protocols will be easier for the students.
On the other hand, Bueser plans to release meetings, minutes, and recordings to inform of the SC’s activity through the Batch Councils. “If ever a student is offline and doesn’t have social media, the information could be sent through the parents,” he added. Escareal and Palada also said that the SC plans to utilize existing and upcoming social media platforms to inform the community of the financial status of the projects.
Panopio then shared that funds can be obtained from parents and fundraisers, but also said that funds will not be needed as of now. Ilagan then added that as long as the projects benefit the student body, the DSA will be also willing to help finance the projects.
The importance of their roles
As SC President, Escareal believes that he has a big responsibility in representing the PSHS community: “As president, there is a big responsibility to lead the effort in representing the student body in anything, and it is my prime role in being the Student Council president.”
Ilagan then shared that the constitution states that the vice president acts as a replacement for the president when they’re not available and also helps with the EAPWM (Environment Awareness and Protection and Waste Management). “What I can contribute to the council is to help in spearleading the projects related to my advocacies on mental health, working with groups like Kandili and the Guidance Council,” she added.
Bueser stated that the importance of his position is promoting transparency among the student body by making sure that projects and meetings will be properly documented. Meanwhile, Panopio shared that as treasurer, her main role is to hold money and to make sure it goes where it’s supposed to go.
Although Palada and Santos expressed how unclear their tasks are, they still shared some of the importances of their roles.
“I think that the importance of my role is the holding of funds, proper documentation of the financial status of the council so that we can make the end-year reports properly,” Palada stated.
“The business manager’s role is also ambiguous, but I’m supposed to coordinate SC events and make sure that they are implemented properly. I’m also supposed to coordinate with external coordinators outside of Pisay,” Santos then said.
Finally, Ortiz stated the importance of his role is to help clubs in what they want to achieve by communicating with them. “Clubs are channels that relieve students. I want to encourage people to join clubs and introduce Grade 7 and Grade 8 students to clubs,” he reiterated.
The student council is here for you
As the PSHS community is going through another quarter, the student council shared motivational messages for everyone.
Ilagan and Palada acknowledged the difficulties every student faces while reminding that the student council is here for the students. “I can empathize with what you’re going through, and I will do my best to help with any concerns that the student body may have,” Ilagan stated.
Escareal also said that they are free to be contacted whenever the students need something and will always do their best to help. “If you need anything, just message one of us, and we’ll definitely do our best to [help],”Escareal offered. Ortiz shares the same sentiment: “We will try our best to communicate with those concerned, and hopefully we can solve it with you.”
“If you’re tired, that’s valid. We can recharge, and we can get back up again,” Bueser then said. “You are always more important than your grades. Please take care of yourselves, and we will always be here to help you out,” Panopio added.
“We’ve finished one school year, and hopefully, we will finish another half-school year online. We are here for you, to serve,” said Santos.
With that said, the new student council is ready to serve and to help the student body.