|photo by Ping Zerrudo|
Ronan Eugene Colina Garcia might appear to you as another aspiring political candidate who happens to be the son of the incumbent Mayor of Kalamansig. But as you get to know him, you would say that this man has something. It is not just about his eloquent speech and sincere approach. But it is more on his potential to create radical change in the municipality of Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat.
“Some consider me as too ideal. But I don’t want to give up that idealism. I would like to believe that what I have learned from studying Political Science can be applied in real life.”
“Some consider me as too ideal. But I don’t want to give up that idealism. I would like to believe that what I have learned from studying Political Science can be applied in real life,” says Ronan. He loved the idea of applying what he learned from studying Political Science at the University of the East. For Ronan, the Political theories are worthy if it could be used in practical matters.
He studied Law at San Beda College to expound his knowledge on Political Science. He also became active in the political scene in Manila. For example, he was part of Meriam Defensor Santiago’s Presidential campaign during the early 90s. It became a turning point of his life when Santiago lost in the Presidential election. He felt discourage of the political system he love to study. He did not finish his Law school and pursued other career outside the chaotic world of politics. He studied Nursing; he became a Medical Representative of a big Pharmaceutical Company; and became a Tourism consultant of his father in Kalamansig. He acquired skills that he never expected to be useful in his status today.
Being the Tourism consultant of the municipality made him realized so many things. He appreciates more of what is in Kalamansig - its potentials and problems. He wanted a major change that is inclusive and sustainable. He wanted Kalamansig to be in the next level. The idea of entering in politics started to appear in his mind.
“The political situation in the Philippines is not perfect. If we stop trying, nobody would try; nothing happened. I am not saying that I am the Messiah. I hope in a way that I am the agent of change.”
“The political situation in the Philippines is not perfect. If we stop trying, nobody would try; nothing happened. I am not saying that I am the Messiah. I hope in a way that I am the agent of change,” Ronan declares.
His move became talk of the town. Some labeled it as game changer while some branded it as a new form of political dynasty. His critics tagged him as a neophyte and do not have the experience to run a municipality. “I am continuing the legacy of my father,” says Ronan. “It is not dynasty but more on continuity.”
“I don’t consider politics as a career. Politics is a means to reach my dreams. Even if you are not in politics you can still do advocacy work."
He is not afraid of losing. For Ronan it is a great opportunity to share his advocacies to many. Ronan can still able to continue his advocacies whether he wins or not. “I don’t consider politics as a career. Politics is a means to reach my dreams. Even if you are not in politics you can still do advocacy work. But of course, it is more advantageous to push your advocacy if you are in the position,” Ronan admits.
“Lapis at Papel” is a project which distributes school supplies to the eager students of Kalamansig. This project is quiet successful without the support of major institutions. It is just an initiative of compassionate individuals who have the same vision as Ronan. If he wins, he can institutionalize this project to reach many deserving students.
“I listen to ordinary people because I believe that listening is the best experience."
The first quarter of 2016 would be busy for Ronan because of the campaign. As Ronan relates, he does not have big funds to support his campaign. It is based on the support of the people. His non-traditional way of campaigning made him a political maverick in his own sense. He solely depends on the “door to door” campaign approach and the power of social media. In this way he would communicate directly to the people of Kalamansig. “I listen to ordinary people because I believe that listening is the best experience,” says Ronan. Through listening to the people he drawn his three platforms. These are Education, Poverty Alleviation and Health.
Education is in top of his list. “Education covers everything,” says Ronan. “It addresses peace and order, people empowerment and the like.” Ronan supports all forms of education – whether be a regular, the Madrasa or the IP curriculum, he will promote and institutionalize programs that could uplift the condition of his people. He knows the importance of education in his municipality. If he wins, he would prioritize the poorest and far flung barangays.
Next is Poverty Alleviation in which it has three components – 1) Agriculture 2) Fishery and 3) Tourism. These three components are sustainable sources of livelihood compare to the “one time big time” industry of mining. “Mining is the anti-thesis of agriculture, fishery and tourism. For me mining is exclusive economy. The Capitalists only benefit it and not the people. My strategies for progress are towards these three components,” says Ronan. If he wins, he would improve the Agriculture and Fishery sector through introducing new technologies that could enhance its productivity. He wants Kalamansig to be not only the producer of such goods but also the processing mecca. Furthermore, he would also promote eco-tourism to the people of Kalamansig in order for them to appreciate and care for their natural resources. In this way the people would realize the importance of protecting their environment and make a sustainable living out of it.
Health is the third on the list. He wants to have a public hospital and decent ambulance in Kalamansig. He saw the need of such facilities because the people have difficulty in accessing health services. He believes in the power of networking in materializing this dream.
Aside from his strong stands against the bad effects of mining, he is also fighting the bad effects of illegal drugs in his community. “I have a strong stand against illegal drugs. If I win, I made a promise that in my first 100 days I would make a significant move against it.”
“The direction of Kalamansig should be driven by the needs of the people."
“The direction of Kalamansig should be driven by the needs of the people,” Ronan declares. “If I win, I wanted a bottom up policy not the other way around. The needs of the disadvantage barangays should be prioritized.”
Under his Team Pag-Ibig (Nationalist People’s Coalition), he tapped the best and experts on their fields. He makes a point that his Kagawads (Municipal Councilors) are suitable for their positions. For example, his Kagawad for the Committee on Health is the Federation President of Barangay Health Workers and Market Vendors Association. In this way, his councilor would do his/her job because she/he knows the problems. This would make their jobs productive and efficient. Furthermore, he wants to apply good strategies like Benchmarking, Strategic Planning, SWOT Analysis, and Post Event Evaluation in Kalamansig.
The people cannot help but compare Ronan to his father – Mayor Rolando P. Garcia. “I am product of a new generation. We have also differences of my father. I would say that I am more result-oriented. I have also new ways to solve problems.”
“I am not enjoying the benefits of being the son of the Mayor.”
Ronan grew up as a son of a public school teacher. He was an adult when his father entered politics. As he grew up, he was more attuned to the values of a public school teacher. “I am not enjoying the benefits of being the son of the Mayor,” Ronan admits. “I have my own business and I am not allowed to transact in government agencies in Kalamansig.”
"There is a danger of not continuing the good programs of my father."
Ronan is concern about the discontinuity of his father’s program. “There is a danger of not continuing the good programs of my father. The previous companions of my father have gone to different path. My primary motivation in entering local politics is to continue what my father started. If the Mayor is not good you have to prove that you have a better alternative. It is much better if we continue the programs of my father than to start all over again,” says Ronan.
“This is the question of character. Are they capable of stopping illegal drugs? Are they really concerned of the people and the future of our community? That should be the real issue in politics. Do they have something to offer? As a father and concerned citizen of Kalamansig, I have something to hold on.”
“If all people would not participate in politics then we deserve what we have right now. We will be led by somebody lesser than us. We will be led by less knowledgeable because we refuse to participate. I am looking at it on a smaller picture. We cannot change our country as a whole if we cannot start here.”
Ronan wants to educate people not to depend so much in government. Moreover, he wants to educate voters. He wants them to be intelligent. “I hope people would notice there is something wrong,” says Ronan. “If all people would not participate in politics then we deserve what we have right now. We will be led by somebody lesser than us. We will be led by less knowledgeable because we refuse to participate. I am looking at it on a smaller picture. We cannot change our country as a whole if we cannot start here.” For Ronan, smaller things matter. These smaller things have ripple effect that would result to meaningful and lasting impact.
“It is a challenge. If I would not win, it’s ok. I cannot blame the people if they are not ready for the kind of mind set that I would like to practice,” Ronan admits.
“There is always a pressure. But more on physical pressure not mental or emotional one.”
“I feared that I would be consumed by the system. But I am determined because I am driven by the needs of the people.”
He is one of the few political candidates who admit to have fear of the political system. “I feared that I would be consumed by the system,” Ronan admits. “But I am determined because I am driven by the needs of the people.”
There is one advice of his father that he cannot forget. “Despite the good things you contribute, some people still look at you as ‘Trapo’ (traditional politician) and you might get disappointed,” Ronan recounts. “The ‘Lapis at Papel’ project is not exempted on this matter. Some people look at it as bad. But I don’t mind them because if I stop my advocacy they are right. So I am continuing it with the help of kindhearted groups to prove that they are wrong.”
Ronan is no ordinary man. He uses his gift to make the people better. Whether he is in politics or not, we can expect more of his genuine kindness and philanthropic mission in his beloved municipality. If he wins in this coming May 2016 election, it would be great if his vision of a new Kalamansig will put into reality. It takes time to materialize it all but nothing is impossible to this rare visionary.
Leave a comment below and let me know what you think.