The candidacy of Vico Sotto for Mayor in Pasig City caught many of us by surprise. He is soft spoken to the point of being shy. He sat at the back of my class and looked detached. I thought that he took very little interest on public finance, until our discussion on the TRAIN when he expressed his strong views. I began to know him more when he started participating in our meetings on charter change and federalism. His views were different from his uncle, the Senator, and I could not help asking myself, “Is he for real?” He must be — he introduced an ordinance to promote transparency on how decisions and transactions should be made in the city government. Although he was resigned to the fact that the measure would not be passed, he was hopeful that at the very least, it would generate create awareness on the importance of openness. He graciously accepted my request to co-manage the first day of Synergeia’s National Education Summit. He acted like a pro and thoroughly enjoyed the task.
Rovin Feliciano is another millennial making a mark in Valenzuela City. His pudgy face makes him look like a boy. His baby face can be deceiving though. He is entrusted with managerial responsibilities like privatization of markets and management of the children’s sports program. Rovin is also one of Synergeia’s respected mentors. His workshops are well structured and he leads them with clarity and humor. It is a joy to ask him for help because he volunteers his services without any reservations.
Vico and Rovin are two of the country’s millennial leaders who can change our political landscape. Time magazine describes the millennials in the US government as “sleeping giants of politics who could shape the nation in ways not yet imaginable.” They are less interested in running for national office because they believe that change can happen in local communities . They are less partisan, more inclusive, and less motivated by money. They are motivated to work in areas that interest them and where they can find meaning. They are more welcoming of diversity and consider debates as non- threatening.
Millennials are said to be impatient, and mobile. But they could turn these traits into their advantage. They are wired to to do things in the shortest time possible and are undaunted in giving bureaucratic processes a major shake -up. For example, anyone who explains a decision with “That’s how it has always been done “ is asked to contribute to the city’s coffer by the 28-year old Mayor from Lebanon, Indiana. (C. Alter, 2017)
Their lack of experience can make them less jaded and more daring to innovate. And since they are technologically savvy, what is to prevent them from searching for better and newer ways of doing things?
Another important thing that is going for them is their obsession for accountability. They believe that government officials should be held responsible for the decisions they make. This is only possible if there is transparency. This can explain why they have little trust in government and greater belief in the capacity of the business community and civil society .
Personally, I have found it difficult to work with millennials. I found them too abrupt, critical, and independent. But perhaps, they are the antidote to our politics. They have the courage to question the perpetuation of political patronage. They have the fire in their belly to reform a system of paternalistic rule. They believe in inclusivity and team work which are vital components of participatory governance. They are unafraid to challenge those who are in power. They are less concerned with wealth and are motivated by the will to change the world. They are the free in spirit to test hallowed grounds and explore horizons that we dare not think of.
Welcome Vico, Rovin, and the millennials who are your kindred spirits.
The world of new politics beckons. Please take us there.