The Election Interviews: Diakonia

As Pisay scholars, making informed decisions regarding the candidates we elect is essential not only to ensure a better school year for everyone, but also to guide us in making better decisions for our Philippine political candidates in the future. That’s why this week, we’ll be interviewing your candidates for this year’s elections.

First up is Diakonia, a party running for this year’s Student Council. See their General Plan of Action here.

In one sentence, state your party’s General Plan of Action.

The best way to lead, is to serve.

What are the guiding principles of your party?

Our party has 6 objectives. As servant leaders, we want to serve others and how we plan to do this is first, of course, to listen to them. The opinion of the student body matters, and we will make sure that all their ideas, opinions, and thoughts get to the administration and that we’re able to put these together in a constructive way in order to help improve the school.

Second, we will support the students. We want the students to know that despite what some of them may feel, academics isn’t the only thing that’s important. Their non-academic endeavors are important in helping them develop holistically. We’ll support their academic and non-academic endeavors.

Third, we want to empower the students. We want to encourage students to take action and take part in school issues. After all, it concerns all of us. You don’t need to be in the Student Council to have an opinion or have a say to do anything for the school.

Fourth, we want to unite the students. We want to encourage school spirit and a sense of belonging. Everyone in Pisay — we’re just like one big family. We want to work together, so everyone in Pisay — the admin, the students — we should all be working together; we should all be united in achieving Pisay’s goals.

Fifth, we want to lead by example. Students will look up to us and see us as role models, so, of course, we should exhibit the values that Pisay upholds.

Lastly, we want to create synergy with the admin. We believe that students and admin should be working together instead of conflicting. This is so that the admin hears the students’ point of view and vice versa, so that we can work together towards a common goal.

Why did you name your party Diakonia?

We named our party Diakonia because it captures what we want to do, if ever we get elected. This is to serve people selflessly. It’s literally ‘selfless service’ in Greek.

We want our term to be focused on helping the students develop their potential. As leaders, we should be the ones to help them grow as well.

Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader too.

If you could say anything to the student body, what would it be?

When you say something about a certain issue or topic — it’s alright to voice out your opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it is your responsibility as a student and scholar to be informed and to be sure that your basis for saying these things are true. As a scholar, what you say now, what you do now, will be carried on towards your far future. Whatever small thing you do may affect your future very largely. Basically, think before you act. Be informed.

There’s a respectful way to say everything. No matter how much you don’t agree with the rule, just remember to be respectful. We’re still under the admin, so we still have to comply. There’s a proper way of doing things. Instead of just ranting, you can tell the right people and do the right steps to make yourself heard.

Please bear with us. Change happens through progress. It doesn’t come easy — it’s not like you snap and then it’s there already. You have to bear with us because we have to work together — as the student body, as the student council, as the admin — for change towards any progress we want for any ideals that we want to incorporate into work.

Just because you’re a student doesn’t mean you can’t be a leader too.

President: Nina Garcia (2018)

Why did you select the position you are running for?

I’ve been in the student alliance for three years. I’ve gone from the lowest position up until Vice President. I’ve been under three presidents and I like to think that I’ve learned a lot from them. Each of them did things differently, and that helped me realize which way works best and what strategies we can use to get things done better and work with the admin. After three years, I believe that I’ve had enough experience and learned enough from working with so many kinds of people. I think I’ve built a good relationship with the SA advisers. With my desire to serve, I believe that I could be a good president.

Given your party’s General Plan of Action, how will you be able to work with candidates of the opposing party?

If ever I had to work with someone else from the other party, it wouldn’t be too difficult, because both parties have their own ideas. If the Student Council were to be composed of officers from different parties, then that would just mean more ideas. We’ll be able to consider more options in the way that we can get things done and serve the people as best we can. What’s really important — regardless of party — I think that everyone, if they’re willing to put in the work and cooperate with each other, then we can get things done.

What are your weaknesses?

One thing I’ve discovered about myself is that — especially in SA — when there are so many things to do and things get hectic, I tend to shoulder all the weight. I trust myself and I know I can get things done, so I tend to do everything and rely on myself. But, as a leader, that isn’t exactly a good thing. I should be encouraging the people I work with to step up and to take initiative as well. While it’s good that I myself have initiative, I should be helping other people to grow also as leaders. I think I have to work more on empowering people. While I know that they can do it, I just tend to let myself do it because I know that I can get things done a certain way, but part of being a good leader is trusting others and letting them reach their potential and letting them discover that they can also be leaders and that they can do these things.

Another one would be that I’m quite emotion-driven. If I’m feeling happy, I’m very passionate and I can do things very well. It’s very obvious when I’m happy because the things I do are really well done. I guess the downside can be when I’m going through difficulties, it takes some time for me to calm down and not let what I’m feeling burden me too much so that I’m able to function. Other people are dependent on me and I’m in the position to initiate change and do things. That position should not be taken lightly. I give myself time to get over what I’m feeling and get back to work.

Don’t go against the rules just because you’re not okay with it. If you’re not okay with the rules, do something to change it.

How will you help students fulfill their roles as ‘Iskolar ng Bayan’?

First and foremost, I think it’s really important that as a student leader, you set a good example for the student body. They look up to you and you’re put in the position to influence others. For example, the PISAY values of patriotism, integrity, service, academic excellence, and youth leadership — I should display all these things. I should show students that I put a premium on these values and that I exercise them. Second, I’ll encourage them to also be involved in school matters. Even though they’re not in student council, everything that goes on here concerns them. They’re still part of the community so issues like waste segregation or observance of school rules — those things should not be take lightly. Even if they may have some issues with the rules, being a good student is about following the rules. Don’t go against the rules just because you’re not okay with it. If you’re not okay with the rules, do something to change it. I want to encourage them to be model students also, and hopefully, to lead them by example.

What sets you apart as a student leader?

When I first joined student council in Grade 8, I didn’t think that it would be something that I would go on to be part of for the next years. I thought that it would just be something cool to try out. While I was there, I realized that I had fun with what I was doing. No matter how difficult everything was, I enjoyed being in SA and planning all those events and working with all those people. I enjoyed the feeling of making people happy whenever an event was successful. I enjoyed being part of something like that. I think that has gone on to define who I am as a leader. This is really something I love to do. This is my passion. I love to serve. I’m here for the people, I’m not here for myself because my friends would know that sometimes SA just really kills me. No matter how hard everything is, I sometimes put it above my academics. I find that it’s an escape from the stress and everyday life. I just love working to serve the Pisay community. SA has become like a family to me in Pisay. I have so many more ideas and goals for SA. It would just be a really great opportunity if I were able to serve the student body for one more school year.

Vice President: Yobel Bautista (2019)

Why did you select the position you are running for?

Originally, I wanted to run as the Club Coordinating Council head, but during the time that we were forming the parties, the position available in Nina’s party was vice president. I still had to think about it and I decided that working with people I would want to work with was more important than being in a position I want to be in.

Given your party’s General Plan of Action, how will you be able to work with candidates from the opposing party if necessary?

One of the highlights of our GPOA is service. I believe that it’s important as a leader to be able to serve even if conditions are not favorable to you. Even if they’re not what you expect, you still have to deliver as is expected of you.

Youth leadership doesn’t necessarily mean being that one leader in front of the big crowd; it can mean knowing yourself and knowing where exactly you can help other people.

If you were to choose one, which PISAY value would you highlight in your position? Why?

For me, it’s really youth leadership. As scholars, we’re known as the cream of the crop. We’re expected to do more, basically. Even if sometimes we feel like we’re not capable of delivering that kind of responsibility to so many other people, I think it’s important to develop the skills. Youth leadership doesn’t necessarily mean being that one leader in front of the big crowd; it can mean knowing yourself and knowing where exactly you can help other people. In that way, I want to help others develop themselves so that they can use what they have for other people.

Share a unique vision of what Pisay could be.

Connecting it to what I just said: I know that not everyone can be a leader. Not everyone can at least fulfill my expectations of what a leader is. For me, I believe that Pisay can be a place where we grow so that we can become good examples for the people outside Pisay. When we’re in Pisay, it’s like — this is our home, this is our world. But some people don’t realize that there’s a bigger picture out there, that there are so many things we need to think about. That’s what I want to happen in Pisay — not only do we become student leaders, but we become student leaders who are aware of what’s happening outside and that we know what we can do to help.

What sets you apart as a student leader?

One thing that makes me different is that I try to become friends with the people I work with, not just at the corporate level and within the Student Alliance. I want to know the student body too. I’m not just the type of leader who is distant from you — okay, you do this, you do that — but instead understand. Even away from all that business and stuff, I’d still be interested to be your friends and to spend time with you because for me, having a good personal relationship with someone is important so that you can have a good working relationship with them as well. So that’s what I try to incorporate as well.

Secretary: Florence Agcaoili (2020)

Why did you select the position you are running for?

Last year, I was batch representative. I felt like I wasn’t that included in the decision-making process of projects and things happening in the school, so I decided to run for a higher position. I don’t think that I’m ready to run for president or vice president, though.

Given your party’s General Plan of Action, how will you be able to work with candidates from the opposing party if necessary?

I think that the running parties this year have more or less the same GPOA, but coming from Diakonia, I assert the idea that as student leaders, we should be serving while leading and not just doing things the way we want to. We should think about what other people want to happen, so we are able to serve them and be able to lead them in the sense that we can tell them what’s right or wrong.

What, to you, is the importance of your position?

As secretary, I’m responsible for taking down notes in meetings and these notes are going to be important when we start planning projects and events. I think that what most Pisay people want to happen is for the admin and for the student council to be more transparent, so as secretary I’d be able to share with them what’s going on so that they will be informed.

I want to pass on a legacy to the next generation of student leaders that we should be servant leaders.

If you could accomplish only one thing in your term, what would it be?

I want to pass on a legacy to the next generation of student leaders that we should be servant leaders. We want to have partnerships with fellow students and with the admin so that it would be easier to communicate with one another so that we have more synergy as a community.

What sets you apart as a student leader?

What sets me apart is that I can balance my personal, academic, and co-curricular activities so that I don’t have to sacrifice one of them just to be able to handle the others. Aside from that, I’m also approachable and I’m willing to be friends with everyone.

Treasurer: Magnum Deola (2019)

Why did you select the position that you are running for?

In Grades 7 and 8, I was the treasurer of the class, and in Grade 9 I became president. The only reason I didn’t run for SC until Grade 10 was because I wanted to test myself first to make sure that I could handle the pressure of being part of the council. But, since elementary, I’ve been part of the council and it’s in me to have order, and to create synergy with everyone. I like order. Being part of this council, you’re actively making sure that you can create that order that you want. And [I chose] treasurer because that’s the experience that I have, that’s what I’m good at.

Given your party’s General Plan of Action, how will you be able to work with candidates from the opposing party if necessary?

Most of the stuff in our GPOA are already being implemented now. It’s not really new. There’s no drastic change, just improvement. If the last runners were able to incorporate that into their GPOA as next candidates lang rin, why can’t we? And it’s stuff naman na very basic. Ang improvements lang for us is admin-student connection. I think as long as you have the same objective in mind, you’ll be able to work together and if these people actually are running to be able to improve the system, then kaya namin ‘yan.

Give your position, how will you be able to address the concerns of your fellow students?

I think in my position, it’s all about funds. I actually asked our past SC treasurer, Empoy, what the concerns are as treasurer. He said that it’s commonly miscalculation of funds and all that. If ever I get nominated, I guess the best way to solve any calculation problems is if I work well with the auditors, which is going to be either Eryn or Christine, and work dynamically kasi, the problem was they just didn’t list down properly and they didn’t have organization. I’m gonna be more hands-on while I talk to the auditor. Another concern is where the funds go. In our plan of action, we’ve talked about where the most funds should go and we’ve decided that it’s supposed to be for holistic development of the students, so it’ll go to funds for each club because not everyone gets the same stuff. Another thing is SagiPisay — it’s supposed to bring a sense of ‘isko ng bayan’ for the students. Those two are priorities.

What past experience(s) has made you believe that you will be effective in your position?

Since Grade 4, I’ve been a representative in my old school. It’s actually more political there. The campaign there, you need to dance and act. It’s like Philippine politics. So if you want to make a change, you need to impact the people more and open their minds. Since grade school, I’ve been like that; I’ve been wanting to help out. Here nga, I started out as treasurer as Grades 7 and 8. I asked naman my classmates, ‘Am I doing well, or am I messing up everything?’ and they would say I’m doing well. Then Grade 9 came and for some reason they voted me for president so at the end of the school year I was like, ‘Oh, did I do a good job?’ and then they said ‘You did a great job,’ and then Grade 10 came and the position opened up. I thought long and hard about it — if I am going to be able to handle the position well. With the past experience that I’ve had, and the passion that I have rin naman, I think I’ll do fine along with these people.

If you have the drive, you’re not just going to think about yourself or the credit that you’ll get — you’ll think about the people who are going to be involved rin.

What sets you apart as a student leader?

It’s the drive, because I know a lot of student leaders who just do it for the credit and it’s not good. If you have the drive, you’re not just going to think about yourself or the credit that you’ll get — you’ll think about the people who are going to be involved rin. So if I have the drive, I won’t be selfish because I just want the credit. I’ll think about everyone involved. I think that it’s not what sets you apart, it’s what makes your group dynamic. You need to have synergy as a group.

Auditor: Eryn Kiunisala (2019)

Why did you select the position of SC auditor?

Through the years, I’ve seen a lot of things go wrong with the process like the things we forgot to do like keep receipts and taking things down. During Grade 9, my mom was PTA treasurer and I was president so all of the receipts passed through me before it got to my classmates and all of the payments passed through me before it got to my mom. So I wanted to become more involved with financial things and I didn’t want to run away from it and be more involved with financial responsibilities.

Given your party’s General Plan of Action, how will you be able to work with candidates of the opposing party?

Our GPOA is about listening, serving, empowering and I think that the people from the other party have the will and the passion to serve as well so I think that will unite us as a council.

What problems do you foresee your position handling and how will you overcome this?

As I said, we had financial reports in the past and every year something went wrong. In Grade 7, our teacher forgot to tell us that we had a financial report until the day of clearance itself so we had to cram it agad and so I didn’t get cleared agad. We had find all of our previous receipts and go to Ate Roxy and all find all of those. Grade 8 and Grade 9, we had missing receipts too. So I think those are a few of the problems that I’d have to face, but since I’ve already learned from past experiences, I think I’ll be able to overcome them more easily.

Give an example of what of done in the past and past councils that you would’ve done differently.

I don’t think I would’ve done it differently but I think that the ManComm (Management Committee) would’ve been more considerate if we’d been able to explain things better. I’m not saying that the previous councils didn’t do enough effort, but they could’ve said differently to the ManComm.

What sets you apart as a student?

I know that the other leaders in school have the will, the passion to serve, but I don’t think a leader can go with just that. I think a leader should also learn to listen and they should have a good relationship with the people they’re serving. As class president for the past three years, I think my experience is something that can help me become an auditor.

Business Manager: Aaron dela Cruz (2018)

Why did you choose the position you are running for?

Honestly, I think the position is just a label for me, kasi, it’s all the same. Once you win, you all do something for the council and the student body, so it’s a label for me.

Given your party’s General Plan of Action, how will you be able to work with candidates from the opposing party if necessary?

Well, that’s what government is. We need different ideas from different people. If ever I win and someone from the other party wins, we talk about what we want to do together as a council.

If you were to choose one, which PISAY value (Patriotism, integrity, service, academic excellence, youth leadership) would you highlight in your position? Why?

I think it’s very obvious na youth leadership dapat, pero, integrity ako. Especially sa SA, we handle lots of stuff and nowadays, you can see examples from government na corruption, etc. I believe that you reap what you sow. If I plant a seed of integrity this young an age, I will grow into a leader with integrity in the future for the Philippines. Pero, youth leadership pa rin.

If you could accomplish only one thing in your term, what would it be?

What I want to push through the most, is yung feedback from the student body and meetings with the admin. In all my years in SA, bihira kami magkafeedback from the student body, then biglang things come up na magrereklamo sila na ‘hindi maramdam’ or ‘why didn’t you do this?’. So I want transparency between us and them. Also, sa admin kasi, ever since, parang seenzone kami ng admin. Hopefully, this year, they will respond or we will be more makulit in getting answers from them. Medyo, we are in the dark, as Ma’am Raquitico would say.

I’m just one of you guys, it’s just that I’m in a different position — I’m in a position to influence more decisions.

What sets you apart as a student leader?

What sets me apart as a student leader is that I don’t want to be set apart. I want to be known as a student — as one of you guys. I’m just one of you guys, it’s just that I’m in a different position — I’m in a position to influence more decisions. I think what sets me apart is my desire not to be distinguished from the student body.

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