Finally, an Anti-Epal Bill, thank you Senator Miriam  

Posted by Laya in ,

So I suddenly came back to this blog because of this:

Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago has filed an "Anti-Epal" Bill entitled “An Act Prohibiting Public Officers from Claiming Credit through Signage Announcing a Public Works Project.”

"Epal" is slang for scene-stealers-- those people who try to take over a conversation, or grab others' attention, or even take credit that is not rightfully theirs. As in that ubiquitous term "Weh" which is said to be short for "Wag epal ha."

I for one am among those who feel distaste whenever they see one of those huge signs announcing a government project, with names and photos of the public officer/s "heading" or "facilitating" the project sometimes taking up the biggest portion of the signage. Why? Because I know that the project is using government funds. Funds coming from the taxes that take a huge chunk of my salary every month. Funds coming from the pockets of the ordinary working folk. And yet those huge signs seem to imply that the project is being undertaken due to the generosity of so-and-so politician-- as if he or she were a feudal lord of the manor who deigned to expend the contents of his treasury for the benefit of the serfs.

In the past, I was one of those who didn't realize it was wrong-- who thought that that was just the way things were.

I was a student council officer for my four years of high school, way back in the 90s. When it came time for us to plan and propose our project for the year, our advisers (with all due respect) always advised us to put up a structure with our names on it so that people would know that we were the student council officers for that year and were responsible for that project. It didn't matter if it was a bulletin board that no one would use, or a trash can, or a bench along the walkway, or even a stretch of decorative fencing, as long as it was something that had our names on it. We were spending the student council budget on it, of course, a budget which came from the students' contributions during enrollment.

I do know we put up a student council office (which is still there and does have my name on its wall) in my second or third year -- but I don't remember much about the other projects we were supposed to have put up. What I do remember is the year we didn't build anything at all. [Where are we going to put another bulletin board in this place? our president asked.]  That was in my fourth year, the year we broke tradition and implemented programs instead -- a Clean and Green contest for the year, a sports fest, a quiz show and writing contest. Stuff that would get everyone thinking, being creative, being competitive. Our advisers opposed it for being a lot of work and for being "temporary" in the sense that after we left, we wouldn't leave anything with our names on it. I know we all had fun, though-- both the officers and the student body. And we did feel that at least we were using that money for the benefit of the students who elected us.

Not that I'm against building-- some stuff does need to be built, if people need it. But that's it. You build it because people need it, not because you need to put up something with your name on it so people will remember you. Public officials are supposed to be there to serve the people, not to aggrandize themselves-- as such, they should think of how best to serve the people, not of what they can take from the position.

I don't know what happened after we left-- I guess no one carried on the programs and went back to building bulletin boards with their names on them because it was easier. Ozymandias and all that.

Some student council officers do end up as local government officials later on. And they learn young. If that's an attitude that people learn early, bulletin boards with your name on it may later become bridges and walkways with your name on it "for posterity." And it continues.

Thanks for the bill, Sen. Miriam. Perhaps you would like to include those pesky huge banners with fiesta, Christmas, New Year's, and all-around greetings from so-and-so local politicians in your bill as well. Especially the ones where the politician's name and face is actually bigger than the greetings. Or you could regulate the format and the size. I know a lot of epal will oppose this bill, but thanks. Thanks so much.

This entry was posted at Friday, November 04, 2011 and is filed under , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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