Written by Vincent Carlo Cuzon


As a former Secretary General of the General Assembly of Class Presidents (GACP), I’ve seen transitions in SAMAHAN Presidency from PIGLASAPAT’s Aldwin Dumago, BUKLAT’s Mau Villamor, to BAHAGHARI’s John Chin. In all honesty, Mau Villamor led the most advocacy-driven administration I have seen so far. She’s a National Democrat who ran under the then newly resuscitated Buklurang Atenista (BUKLAT). Yes, she had her frailties in governance but nobody stood at par with the advocacies she pushed for SAMAHAN. She empowered the various marginalized groups in the university by creating committees that lobby their concerns. I haven’t seen candidates who can leave a legacy in as much as Villamor did. She was the last woman SAMAHAN President. Now, finally, we’re presented with some great choices of leaders. I am looking both for an advocacy-driven and a competent SAMAHAN President.

I am looking for a president who knows what a political ideology is – someone who is not afraid in pushing a “mubarog” and “muduso” SAMAHAN Central Board. I am looking for a SAMAHAN President who will be there at the forefront to lead the SAMAHAN in its advocacy-driven and student-centered meetings and activities. I am looking for a SAMAHAN President who is aware and who is engaged in the social issues of the Filipino youth. These are but standards that we should have set long ago. After all, we are students in one of the political centers of Mindanao – Ateneo de Davao University – which has produced many leaders both for Mindanao and the country.

Now, it boils down to ‘The Last Woman Standing’ – Pinzon or Monteverde.

These women are already engaged in external advocacies. Monteverde is active in the Save Our Schools Network, which fights for the human rights of the Lumads in militarized communities. Monteverede is a National Democrat by political ideology. Pinzon is the incumbent National Chairperson of the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines, which pushes for student rights in the national level. Pinzon is a Social Democrat by political ideology.

I don’t want to isolate John Espino as a candidate for the SAMAHAN Presidency. He has his commendable strengths. He has led the SAMAHAN Creative Team well. But the strengths and consciousness of the aforementioned women are just overwhelming. These women already embody the “Women for Others” that we enthusiastically promote in Ateneo. Finally with these women, we can possibly have a SAMAHAN President who is not only knowledgeable about social issues but who is directly engaged in solving such issues.

After all, what we need is a President of Action – not of rhetoric.

Macropolitics-wise, we were able to elect an action-oriented Philippine President whose rhetoric seems to stretch the acceptable standards of the society. We learned to look at his actions and not his rhetoric. We studied how his action-oriented and grassroots experiences in Davao City were able to catapult him into the presidency. And now, we are seeing change.

As a microcosm of Philippine Politics, shouldn’t we start looking for SAMAHAN leaders who are action-oriented and who have grassroots engagement with the problems that we have, not only in Ateneo but in the society itself?

Shouldn’t we start to look at the legacies that the SAMAHAN Presidentiables have left in the past organizations they have served, in as much as how we looked at President Duterte’s work in Davao City?

People improve over time. And so by looking at the past legacies of these SAMAHAN Presidentiables, we can see how they performed and stood for the betterment of their constituents. Perhaps, by seeing those legacies, we can also project how that presidentiable will transcend SAMAHAN. Now, we have a National Democrat who fights for the human rights of the Lumads, and a Social Democrat who fights for student rights in the national level. Now, more than ever, we should look at grassroots experience and action-oriented leadership.

Now, it’s ‘The Last Woman Standing’ – Pinzon or Monteverde.