Recently, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge became a mainstream in the social media. Many celebrities and famous personalities worldwide gamely participated and took the challenge for a good cause. In the Philippines, our local celebrities, including politicians, also took the challenge. The challenge was for a good cause so it was nice to see them participating. However, there are still other important challenges our politicians should dare to take aside from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. What if we challenge them to take any or some of the following challenges? Would they accept the challenge? I believe these challenges will help them become a better leader.
1. The MRT Rush-Hour Ride Challenge
The challenge: Every politician should ride the MRT during rush hour without any special treatment starting at the EDSA station. Just like an ordinary citizen, he or she should patiently queue for hours to get into the ride. Alternatively, he can also take the PNR train rush-hour ride challenge.
The lesson: This challenge is to let our dear public officials experience and realize the real problems our citizens are facing in regard to MRT commuting and the entire transportation system in the country.
2. The Snail-pace Internet Challenge
The challenge: Every politician will be given a whole-day task to make a research, download images, and watch documentary videos related to good public service using the average Internet speed in the provinces.
The lesson: This challenge is to let our public officials taste the slow, expensive, annoying and stressful Internet speed in the Philippines. They must realize how it’s giving headache to millions of Filipinos and making them unproductive.
3. The Live-in-tent with Haiyan Survivors Challenge
The challenge: A public official should spend 7 days with Haiyan (Yolanda) survivors who are still living in tents. He or she should stay with the family for one week, eat with them, and sleep with them.
The lesson: Many of our public officials and leaders don’t have any idea of what Haiyan survivors have been through since the Super Typhoon struck Visayas. The purpose of this challenge is for them to develop compassion, which is an important quality of an effective leader.
4. The Public Hospital Confinement Challenge
The challenge: Instead of going to private hospitals, politicians and their direct family members should choose our public hospitals for medical checkups and treatments. The challenge is to do this for one year.
The lesson: Many of our politicians are rich and can afford to pay the bills in a private hospital. They usually ignore our public hospitals, where modern medical equipment and high-quality services are lacking. With this challenge, they can have the opportunity to walk in the shoes of many poor Filipinos who don’t have access to the medical services provided by private hospitals.
5. The Enroll Your Children in a Public School Challenge
The challenge: Our public officials should also send their children in public schools rather than in private schools for a whole school year.
The lesson: Again, most of our politicians can easily pay the expensive tuition fees in private schools, thus, ignoring the real situation and problems in our public schools, such as the lack of classrooms, chairs, books and teachers. This challenge aims to make politicians realize the responsibility of the government to provide high-quality education to all Filipinos, whether they are rich or poor.
6. The OFW Challenge
The challenge: Politicians will work abroad, endure the attitude of foreign employers, deal with OWWA without special treatment, live in a small room or apartment, save their earnings abroad to remit them in the Philippines, and experience other things that an OFW normally experiences.
The lesson: OFWs are making a great contribution to our country. They remit billions of dollars to the Philippines annually and they’re saving our country during global economic crisis. But despite of those contributions, they are not fully protected by our government against the risks and hazards of working abroad. This challenge would let politicians understand the difficult life of being an OFW and feel how heartbreaking it is to leave your loved ones in search for their brighter future.
7. The Red Tape Challenge
The challenge: Our public officials should transact with the government offices personally and without special treatments. These transactions include getting NBI clearance, getting a passport, registering a business, and filing taxes with the BIR.
The lesson: Despite of the Anti-Red Tape Law, we can’t still claim that government transactions have already become efficient. Our leaders and lawmakers should have a first-hand experience on this problem and come up with the best solution.
8. The BRP Sierra Madre Challenge
The challenge: The BRP Sierra Madre is an old Philippine naval vessel stationed in Ayungin Shoal to protect the Philippines from Chinese encroachment. The challenge is to visit the rusty ship and spend with our brave marines for at least one day to check their condition and realize the problems our entire armed forces are facing.
The lesson: Our leaders should understand the real challenges our armed forces are dealing with. They should also learn how to value the bravery and sacrifices our marines and other soldiers are giving to guard our nation from internal and external threats. We need more upgrade and modernization in our armed forces, the Navy, the Army and the PNP. Our soldiers should also receive more compensation and benefits to maintain their morale and ensure that their families are getting better lives.
9. The Farmer’s Challenge
The challenge: This challenge will let our politicians do the job of a typical Filipino farmer. They should do the planting, harvesting, and transporting their agricultural products from provinces to the cities for selling them to buyers.
The lesson: Our leaders made many promises to help our farmers, such as by providing them free irrigation, fertilizers, and by improving the roads from provinces to the cities for more efficient transport of their products to the market. However, these promises were not fulfilled yet. There are still many farmers who have not yet received the assistance they need to improve their harvest and livelihood. The goal of the challenge is the speedy fulfillment of those promises.
10. The Lie Detector Challenge
The challenge: Lastly, if our public officials and politicians find it too difficult to take any challenge above, they can opt to take the lie detector challenge. This challenge is simple. The politician will simply be asked under a lie detector with these two questions:
a. Have you ever committed any kind of corruption in the government in the past?
b. Can you promise that you will never ever commit any kind of corruption in the future?
The lesson: A country where its leaders and officials commit corruption and steal the money of its people cannot progress. We need to elect honest, sincere and diligent leaders. The lie detector test is perhaps the simplest and fastest challenge of them all, yet it would be the hardest and most avoided challenge every politician could dare. But if the politician is not guilty and if he’s really focus to serve our nation, he would take that challenge.
Our country needs to face a lot of challenges and overcome them before we can finally achieve lasting progress. But to successfully overcome these challenges, our leaders, who are here to lead, should learn to overcome their respective challenges first.
The challenges above may sound too difficult for many politicians to accomplish. But in reality, those challenges are only entrance tests to the world of great and honest public service. In other words, they could pass any of those challenges above, but it doesn’t mean that they are already effective leaders.
Our dearest public officials should not only take any challenge above, but they should also learn the lessons, develop compassion, identify the real problem, find solutions, execute those solutions, and continue to serve the Filipino people with dignity, honor, actions and results.