Dear Alma

LoveliNess for Senator

Hi Ness!

I heard you intend to run for the Senate. As someone who had done that and shall be forever done with it, allow me to share some unsolicited advice —

1. Be afraid. Be very afraid of sycophants and so-called image-stylists who asks you to say “fuchsia” instead of “pink” to turn you into what you aren’t. To thine self, always be true. If you meet these know-it-alls, just nod politely and move on.

2. Seminars and degrees matter little if you can’t speak your mind and make sense while doing so. Ask yourself this – if you were one of the senator-judges in the recent impeachment trial, how would you have voted and why? Tougher questions will be thrown at you. When you don’t know the answer, please revert back to advice # 1.

3. Money matters. If you don’t have it now, you won’t have it ever unless you are in the top five of all senatorial surveys. I learned that the hard way. Good intentions and a sound advocacy will and can get you only so far. You’d still need to hire campaign staff, print out volumes of leaflets, fling baller IDs without flinching, and buy astronomically-priced airtime for TV ads that are but two-winks quick. So yes, if you don’t know enough rich people known to finance candidates, don’t run. And even if you do, don’t expect them to open the vault upon your say so.

4. Be the element of surprise. Intellectual snobs and pundits will pillory you for even daring to dream of becoming a senator. I’m sure you’re getting all sorts of feedback this early. Don’t take this personally. Pinoys make fun of everyone. It’s our thing. But given such low expectations, you could be the element of surprise. Search inwardly for experiences that you can share with women, moms, daughters, and sisters. Politics is a wicked world. Unless you have a cause much bigger than yourself to fight for, be prepared to wilt in the presence of those who do. Why do you want to run? If you can’t explain it to yourself, then there is little chance you could convince others.

5. Enjoy the journey! As a celebrity, you will likely get pinched, touched in indiscriminate places, visually devoured and be the candidate most tweeted about. Suck it up and enjoy the journey. No one pushed you to run. It was a conscious decision. The upside is that you have the packaging that draws crowds and media attention. That is also your downside. No one can ever lay claim to being the candidate with a celestial face and such un-Blackberry curves. Live it! Embrace it! Enjoy being on the road, meeting big and little people, and commanding the stage not as a performer but as a national figure (no pun intended). Grow with the dream and come out of it a better person.

The thing is you do have a right to run. That’s what democracy is about: free will and more choices. But because of who you are and what you’ve done in the past (sexy roles and very public relationships), you’d have a bigger battle getting people to take you seriously.A practical tip – try to spend a week in Twitterland just to have a taste of what you’re in for.

Alma, Vilma & Guy

It is inevitable that your showbiz colleagues will be asked about you. Any hidden skeletons? Everyone has one, or two, and probably more. It helps to have good friends to vouch for your character and competence. Get them to rally behind you. Or maybe even in front of you.

Final piece of advice — women will expect more from you because you represent our sector. If you don’t even know what the debate over the RH bill is all about, or understand why “kasambahays” need their own law – then maybe you should start reading up, and talking to exceptional women leaders. Your party may be using you to re-energize its base. The earlier you realize that, the quicker you dispense with those rose-colored glasses. In showbiz, when people use you, it’s often for profit. In politics, when people use you, it’s to crumple your soul. So beware of gods bearing gifts – like a lonely slot in a token slate.

Good luck. Stay true. Be brave. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Susan “Toots” Ople

Author: Susan Ople

Susan "Toots" Ople is the President of the Blas F. Ople Policy and Training Institute. She's an OFW and labor advocate based in the Philippines.

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  • Cvitae101

    …sorry ma’am i’m just sharing but it had nothing to do with Ms. Alma’s….
    Title: Could he be the Abraham Lincoln of the Philippines?
    constitution of Christendom states “give honor to whom honor is due.”  I do hereby honor the most honorable SENIOR
    citizen in body (88 yo) but with an intelligence as sharp as a 21 yo genius
    from UP Senate PRESIDENT Juan Ponce Enrile presided the impeachment
    Solomonically! THANK YOU Mr. President. Sulit na sulit po ang aking mga boto sa
    inyo simula pa noong bawat takbo ninyo sa national elections. You made me happy
    the first time when I heard your name when I was in elementary grade that it
    was you who successfully landed a commercial plane saving a lot of lives. You
    made me happy the second time when you said to your commander in chief “enough
    is enough Mr. President” defying the order to bulldoze the people in Edsa even
    to the point of endangering your life. Because of you, the fate of your boss
    was sealed so he borded the helicopter.  No
    doubt you can do it because you were able to close all the beerhouses in Edsa
    and Quezon City in just one night before. You were obedient to your chief
    commander “obey first before you complain este never complain” especially when
    he commanded you to stage an ambush so that he could declare martial law. You
    see your conscience (discernment) tells you, you were born for the people. It
    doesn’t matter if he’s your boss, your fraternity brother, or you inaanak sa
    kasal as long as what is at stake is the majority of the people you are willing
    to sacrifice even with your own life. In fairness I did not agree when you vote
    for the US base to get out because my belief was as long as there is super
    power in the world whether the USA or other nation they are bound to “control” other
    nation whether we like it or not. I rather have USA than China. If we let
    Americans go other more powerful than us will “control” our nation. However, I
    did not waiver in voting for you because what I know is that you’re voting for
    the Filipinos exercise of their sovereign right. The third time you made me
    happy was  when you presided and later
    convicted the Chief Justice because you know that the simple “Lito Lapid”
    analysis of the common tao believe that CJ lied by declaring in his SALN like
    3M pesos only but the truth came when CJ himself admitted he has 80M pesos. A
    liar (a simple human) in the Bible has punishment of eternity in hell… how much
    more for a Chief Justice who should be the epitome of “good moral and right

    Impeachment court is a very tough job to preside wherein every
    future Chief Justice should emulate one case in 22 days (kasi half day lang) at
    en banc yan ha kaya wala nang flip flopping. JPE gave a precedent on how a
    supreme justice must decide, behave, and preside. IT IS ALL FOR THE LOVE OF THE
    PEOPLE which is one of the pillar of the constitutions right which is ….FOR, BY,
    OF the people not technicalities, not emotions. A chief justice must have
    wisdom which is; sa aking palagay is a combination of INTELLECT and DISCERNMENT
    all the time- nakita ko ito kay
    president JPE. If you only have intellect (“technicalities”)
    it will bring us to apathy (that’s why lawyer’s lame excuse is… “I’d rather
    free 99 hoodlums than to imprison 1 innocent man”…. eh kaya nga may bista diba?
    para mapagusapan ang kaso nung mama… mga PALUSOT… kaya may nabuntisan na nung
    rapist ….dahil sa kulang sa witness nakapiyansa kawawang babae na siya lamang
    ang nakakita sa mamang yun) if it’s all discernment (“conscience”) it will lead
    us to be judgmental (panay emotion, feelings, o awa). IT SHOULD BE BOTH
    (intellect and discernment) ALL THE TIME ALL FOR THE SAKE OF THE PEOPLE WHO ARE
    guiding principle then the executive, legislative, the military, the LGUs down
    to barangay captain. On the other side, a prosecutor had also learn their lesson
    na bago maghain ng kaso dapat siguradong, sigurado at specific ang mga wordings
    sa hatol at maging ang ebidensya at magaling sa psywar, at out of the box
    intelligence sa pag cross-examine (like the movie “code red”).

    Ngayon, ang politiko na pera pera lang at
    negosyo ang motivation para tumakbo at papatay ng kapwa upang  “magsilbi sa bayan” ay mawala na dahil
    mabibigyan na ng importansya ang SALN. Malugod na SALAMAT sa senado at kongreso
    na nagsikap upang maibigay sa bayan ang katotohanan. I wish above all things
    that somebody would write a biographical book of how JPE became like he is
    today for the good of all lawyers, upcoming lawyers and our future generations
    to emulate on how WISDOM and on the very least NATIONALISM should be. Somebody
    told that he was orphaned at a young age and he was adopted. He used to study
    with just a candle or a dim light. But in his college years he was one topnotch
    in the bar exam.

    Now we could give importance to our senior citizens who are source
    of wisdom because they are graduates of the University of Experience, University
    of hard Knox. Other Asian nations give them free rides on subways, movies,
    buses and then great discounts on groceries, restaurants, medicines etc just present
    their IDs. In Japan, South Korea and in the province of the Philippine
    archipelago when a senior citizen speaks, the non senior citizen gives way. Not
    like what happened at the airport na binugbog ang isang senior. Tatanda at
    malalaos ka din pano na ang iyong legacy?