Dear Governor-elect Dennis,

Peace.

While you are a son of your father, the legendary Governor Badong Socrates, you would also be the first to admit that you are somewhat of a reluctant politician. You would rather have your nose buried in philosophical books, your tongue discussing the encyclopedic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and your eyes closed in meditation and in deep prayer. Your reluctance, on the other hand, has brought you to the highs and lows of a typical politician. How many times have you experienced electoral victories and defeats, including a recall loss? On top of it all, you have been a city mayor, a congressman, and then as vice-governor before this recent election, which catapulted you to become the chief executive officer of our beloved Palawan. While disinclined, you could just be the envy (or chagrin) of your league. It could just be said that the smell of SPS (popular initials of your governor-father) is still aromatic to the electoral nose of many Palaweños. After more than three decades, mabango pa rin.

When it comes to making a living, perhaps an office, even if the highest in the province, is no longer necessary. At their tender age, all your children are already in a very promising place with their own respective careers, with the three of them passing the bar one after another, while the other two have already secured post-graduate studies under their belts courtesy of respected universities from abroad. Not to mention, you are likewise blessed with a devoted wife who is equally accomplished as a trial court judge. If at all, you could be sipping your coffee in the morning while reading or strumming your classic guitar. Hence, your office could no longer be deemed as yours or for your personal benefit, much less for your family. Conversely, you can look at it now as coming from God and for the welfare of the people of Palawan. It could also well be your peculiar path to the universal call to holiness.

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People perceive you as aloof, which you are completely unaware of. Hindi tulad ni Badong, as one is wont to say about you when they compare you with your dad. If you are not a politician, you will not be considered aloof but “mahiyain”. Effortlessly, you shy away from publicity and from being noticed. In speeches, you are not somebody who would dwell on platitudes or on making “bola” just to win votes. Your brand is a no-nonsense declaration of your platform of government and your philosophy of governance. This may be a real bore to many, but in the long run, what will truly matter will be the substance of the vision and the strength of your political will. Perhaps your style can be viewed as a little contribution to the maturity of politics in our age.Reject the epal-ness of politics; follow the way of truth and principled service.

You are not without baggage, as you yourself would claim. Among others, you were heavily criticized, and even hated, when you were a proponent of 3-in-1 Palawan. See the writing on the wall and listen well to people. There’s also that hidden wisdom in embracing the pain that comes from being not accepted. There is also that joy and fulfillment when we just allow God’s plan to unfold through the will of the people. The process could indeed be very slow at times, but that is because we have to journey together, ensuring that no one is left behind. “Leading by listening,” wika nga ni Cardinal Tagle. Not to rain on your parade, there will still be a lot more rejections and opposition coming your way. But then again, listen carefully to the ground of your being and to the pulse of the people. In-between, you should already be listening to the promptings of the Spirit.

Finally, our dear Governor-elect, you also have to take care of yourself. “For what will it profit a man to gain the whole world yet he loses his soul in the process.” (Mk. 8:36) Marami ang makikipag-usap sa ‘yo bilang Ama ng Lalawigan. Pero ang Diyos sana ang lagi mong unang kausap. Do take care of your gentle soul.

Respectfully yours,

FrEE

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