Tip your hat

Siegfred Bueno Mison, Esq.

Two weeks after the elections, many are probably still feeling a tinge of sadness over the defeat of their candidates, while some are animated with the triumph of their chosen contenders. After all, never have we seen such an enormous amount of people participation, both digital and physical, in a hyped-up electoral campaign. Obviously, every aspirant’s conquest was a product of more hands and minds than most. As we pick up the campaign litter and debris, physically and emotionally, and fix our eyes on a new administration, we should tip our hats, however forced for some. I especially tip my hat to salute the ordinary Filipinos from every color of our political diaspora who volunteered to help candidates.

President-elect Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. expressed his gratitude during the partial and unofficial counting of votes, stating in Filipino that “Hindi makapag-antay ang aking pasasalamat” (My thanks could not wait). He acknowledged that such a large endeavor as the presidential race “involved many people working in very many different ways.” On the other hand, Vice President and presidential contender Leni Robredo issued a live-streamed video statement on Facebook early morning of May 10 thanking everyone who joined her People’s Campaign, and addressing them with a heartfelt note that “Hindi kayang sukatin ng numero ang lalim ng pagmamahal ninyo” (no number can measure the depth of your love).

The significant number of those who voted is a huge victory by itself, compounded by a large number of ordinary people who pitched in time and effort to support their candidates, outside of the usual political machinery. To the millions who voted, a “thank you” might be an understatement, and to the millions more who offered a voice, a hand and a pair of feet, a “thank you” might not suffice. Everybody, both from the winning and losing side, deserves recognition and salutation. As we have witnessed, money is just a portion of a far bigger structure plowing the fields to success. Those who gathered at the rallies, printed tarpaulins, spoke with neighbors and strangers, lent their voice in echoing one’s advocacies, shared an announcement on social media, watched the debates, and wore their candidates’ color—all of them likely and collectively influenced the voting public. In a mocking way, I also tip my hat, sarcastically, to individuals who spread fake news, and the trolls who berated other aspirants and supporters. Their shameless unabated conduct contributed to the rise (and fall) of quite a number of electoral contestants. They, too, carried out a mission, viciously effective in total disregard of ethical standards.

Putting myself in the candidates’ shoes, had I won, my heart will certainly be overjoyed that it has no other recourse but to swell naturally with gratitude. Far beyond winning, nothing can compare with the satisfaction of having those who pushed me up, rejoicing with me in my success. Parenthetically, had I lost, I will take the earliest opportunity to convey my message of gratefulness even in the midst of defeat. Yes, the latter might be quite a daunting duty, especially since we have seen losing candidates disappearing like a bubble with nary a word of thanks to their supporters, only to appear again in the next elections. Volunteers, supporters, followers and benefactors, even onlookers are similarly expected to be thankful, whether in victory or defeat, for we are called to be thankful “in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 of the Bible).

One thing should be constant in every contest—the attitude of gratitude. Giving thanks during pleasant moments is easy; but on occasions of loss or helplessness, offering a word of thanksgiving could be difficult. Fortunately, the Bible offers many inspiring stories of gratitude with fortitude. The biblical Daniel could have buckled under pressure in light of the irrevocable royal decree to pray only to the king (Darius) or else suffer the lion’s den. But as was his habit, Daniel bent to pray and give thanks to God three times a day (Daniel 6:10). Daniel chose gratitude despite the risk. The biblical Jonah was in dire straits when he disobeyed God’s command. In defiance, he ran away, boarded a ship that almost capsized, was thrown overboard, and was swallowed by a large whale. Filled with despair, shame and guilt, Jonah repented and gave thanks while entombed in the belly of a fish (Jonah 2:2-6). Jonah chose gratitude in the midst of hardship. And need we look farther? Jesus Christ Himself fed the 5,000 who followed and listened to him preach. “Taking the five loaves and two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them” (Luke 9:16). The apostles distributed the food, the crowd was subsequently satiated, and 12 baskets of leftovers were gathered. Facing insufficiency, Jesus gave thanks! Jesus chose gratitude despite uncertainty.

Post elections, a large number of my colleagues and friends still find it hard to express a heart of gratitude. Beyond the lines of speculation, sentiments of anxiety, of hatred, and of despondency hound their hearts in view of the dubious character of some of the elected. The skepticism attributed to how the votes were counted makes them more vengeful than thankful. Seeing as it is that the better future envisioned for the Filipino could rest in the fabric of uncertainty, it is almost a reflex to be unappreciative. Nevertheless, following the examples demonstrated by Daniel, Jonah and Jesus Christ himself, all of us should be inclined towards gratitude when faced with risk, hardship, and uncertainty. Grateful people, who think and act positively, have been proven by empirical data to be better citizens. A research on gratitude involved participants who wrote a few sentences each week on particular topics. Conducted by two psychologists from the University of California (Dr. Robert A. Emmons) and University of Miami (Dr. Michael E. McCullough), the study disclosed that after 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives! Gratitude is the best antidote for dissatisfaction.

Being thankful multiplied 112 million times (Philippine population) ought to result to a buoyant nation far more than any leader could promise. These days, the principal challenge is predicated on lending a grateful hand to those whose preferences are at odds with ours, like those who voted and supported a different candidate. They too toiled in the hope that our nation will be great again and provided their resources in the belief, no matter how eccentric, that certain people deserve to lead. Conceivably, it is about time we tip our hats to them as an expression of respect. For believers, when things on earth appear to be tumultuous and seem out of control, their faith never waver knowing that God’s sovereign will can never be shaken. Giving thanks, openly or privately, in words or in deed, especially to those who participated valiantly but failed in these 2022 elections as a voter or as a supporter, is one sure way of being a good follower of the Law of the Lord and the law of the land.

No sooner will we realize that this gentle gesture of thanksgiving could be more potent than any bureaucratic machinery in giving hope to our Filipino nation!

A former infantry and intelligence officer in the Army, Siegfred Mison showcased his servant leadership philosophy in organizations such as the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Malcolm Law Offices, Infogix Inc., University of the East, Bureau of Immigration, and Philippine Airlines. He is a graduate of West Point in New York, Ateneo Law School, and University of Southern California. A corporate lawyer by profession, he is an inspirational teacher and a Spirit-filled writer with a mission.

For questions and comments, please e-mail me at sbmison@gmail.com.

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