And many believe that my dad is responsible for me taking up law, running for USC chairman, running for provincial board member and eventually running for congress in 2010 to take over after he reaches the mandatory 3-term limit.
Fair assumptions, but not true.
First, the law degree. My dad never told me to become a lawyer. Proof is that of the 9 brothers and sisters, ako lang ang nag-tapos nang pagka-abogasya. Dad didn't force any of us to study law.
I chose to study law. It was my decision. Sure, I was influenced by the fact that my grandfather and father were both lawyers. But the truth is, I never saw either of them practice law. What really made me take the UP Law Aptitude Examination (LAE) was the hunger to know and understand the law. While taking up some Philosophy subjects in Ateneo, I realized that our lives are greatly governed by laws. In every aspect of society, be it family life, business, environment, health, there are rules and regulations. If a person did not know the law, he would either be left behind or taken advantaged of. The only way to survive, is to learn the law. I wanted to study law so that I could teach others about it--so that I could empower them.
The movie "My Cousin Vinny" also influenced me. Others would have been inspired by "A Few Good Men" or "The Firm." Not me. It was "My Cousin Vinny" starring Joe Pesci as Vinny Gambini. Sobrang babaw ng rason ko. If Vinny could be a lawyer, I could to. Unknown to many, but that movie made me survive law school. : )
Second, the USC Chairmanship. Dad never talked to me about it. In fact, when I told him I was interested in running, he didn't support me at first. Ayaw niya ako tumakbo. Only after his fraternity brods talked to him that he gave me some money for posters.
Third, running for bokal. After taking the bar, I knew I wanted to be a public servant. 'Di kami nag-usap ni Dad pero alam ko gusto kong pagsilbihan ang bayan. I didn't want to practice corporate or tax law. And I didn't want to litigate. But just to be sure that public service was my calling, I tried them both first.
I worked as a corporate attorney in Makati. The pay was okay, my boss was nice and my officemates were friendly. But after a year I felt like throwing up every time I went to work. Literally, nasusuka ako sa ginagawa ako, hindi ko alam kung bakit. It wasn't for me.
Then I tried litigation by working for the Office of the Solicitor General. I was serving the public by representing the government in its court cases. My boss was kind and my officemates were helpful. So dapat okay. Pero hindi. I was miserable. It took me such a long time to draft my pleadings. Sabi ng iba sanayan lang yan, pero hindi eh. Whenever I was in my cubicle I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I'd always have to go out for fresh air. I couldn't wait to get out. Buti na lang during that time, I was assigned by my boss to the OSG Bill Task Force. Since my dad's a congressman, SolGen (now Justice) Nachura tapped me to help lobby for the passage of the OSG law. This assignment allowed me to visit my old officemates in Congress and friends in the Senate. Kilala ko mga committee secretaries and legislative officers dun that we were able to calendar the bill and prioritize it in the floor and have it passed in a matter of months. Nag-enjoy ako sa ginawa ko. Nabuhayan ako.
This was a turning point in my life. It was through this time period that I realized I was really not cut out for the regular practice of law or litigation. And I also realized that I enjoyed lobbying and legislating.
Only then did I approach my dad about running for public office. Prior to this Dad never talked to me about politics.
And the only time my dad had anything to do with my decision to run was when we discussed what position I would be gunning for in 2007. The options were City Councilor, City Vice-Mayor or Provincial Board Member. I chose the latter. And I'm glad Dad supported me in my decision.
The rest, my friends, as you know, is history. : )
Lastly, my run for congress. Yes, my dad is a third-term congressman. Yes, that means he's graduating. Yes, I am the perfect and expected replacement. And it's safe to assume that I am running because of those reasons. But I'm not running for those reasons.
I run because I want to.
I run because I believe that local government units, particularly the provinces, must be given more powers to govern themselves. And the only way to make sure that the Local Government Code is amended to achieve such goal is for me to run for congressman.
I run because I believe that the constitution must be reviewed and overhauled after 23 years of being untouched. I have so many proposed changes and improvements for our constitution and the only way to get them there is for me to propose them myself in Congress.
I run because I want to review and possibly revise the Sangguniang Kabataan Law to make it more relevant to the youth. I run because I want to decentralize the Department of Education by giving more power and autonomy to the Local School Boards. I run because I want Congress to grow some balls and pass a comprehensive reproductive health care program. I run because I want to lower income taxes. I run because I want to create small claims courts and special traffic courts around the country.
I run because I want to shape national policies and be a part of a new administration that would do whatever it takes for the country to get out of this rut and shrug off the image of being the basket case of Asia.
So, I hope that's clear. : )
I am running for Representative of the 1st District of the Province of Ilocos Norte, not for anything else, but to serve my country and make a difference.