Why Biazon and Ople are on top of my list

By Randell Tiongson on April 22nd, 2010

I guess I’m one of the many Filipinos who take a long time to decide who to vote for. I really think about my choices and I pray that everyone does too. I have not yet decided who to vote for President but I’ve started to do a short-list for my Senate choices.

There are two individuals who are at the top of my list – Ruffy Biazon and Susan “Toots” Ople.

I first heard about Ruffy from my friends in Victory Church. He seems to have the respect of many of those whom I respect so I got really curious about this guy. It was in July of 2009 when I first met the Congressman, we both had to do a short line on stage for the Victory 25th anniversary in Araneta. Our encounter was very brief and I was surprised that Ruffy was actually timid and a bit shy for a politician. A few months after, my friend Carlo Ople organized a bloggers meet for Ruffy and although I don’t attend many bloggers meets, I made an exception for this one. Ruffy was still shy and timid (I guess he will always be) but I had a longer time engaging him. I am quite notorious in blogger’s meetings as I always ask questions which are, well ‘nose-bleed’, haha! Most of the questions I asked the congressmen were answered except for  a few tough economics & finance related ones. I was inspired by Ruffy’s deep sincerity in that meeting – he’ll give straightforward answers to those he can, and be sincere enough to admit that he doesn’t have the answers to some. After all the other bloggers asked their questions, they were obviously smitten by his sincerity. I asked 2 more questions and I saw the jaws of the others dropped when I asked them: “are you real” and my follow-up question was “I believe you are the real deal… but, how sure are we that you will not change and be swallowed by the system?”.

Ruffy’s answers kept each and every participant of that meet in awe. Ruffy said something like “I can fool my constituents; I can fool people around me and I can even fool my family – but I can’t fool God”. He further said something like “I will always be accountable to people around me, my family, my pastors but I am deeply accountable to God”.  Before that meet, hardly anyone knew Ruffy Biazon – after 2 hours, everyone became a fan of Ruffy.

I got to know Susan “Toots” Ople through my good friend and her nephew, Carlo Ople. My first encounter with Toots was during a bloggers meeting for the stranded bus drivers in Dubai. I was impressed at Toots dedication to help OFWs. Toots wasn’t doing it for popularity or because she wanted look good in the public’s eye – she was doing it because she sincerely care for the plight of those unfortunate bus drivers who were conned and scammed. After that encounter, I’ve had the privilege to further work with her and the Blas F. Ople Policy Center. Toots asked me to help them provide financial literacy to the OFWs through their center and of course, I immediately said “Yes!” Toots wasn’t just concerned about the OFWs, she also asked me to teach all the staff of the Ople Center – she was just as concerned with everyone around her.

Toots, the Center and myself partnered in many endeavors bringing financial literacy to many OFWs and their dependents: from Marikina to Davao, and to as far as Hong Kong. I was able to experience firsthand her dedication to the plight of the OFWs. While we were in Hong Kong, we visited the Bayanihan center and she saw a class of domestic helpers reviewing for a midwifery exam. When she learned that the domestic helpers in Hong Kong were not only paying the reviewer but even the room in the center (a grant to the Philippine Government by Hong Kong), her heart went out for them. Then, in my amazement, she talked to the organizer and gave them a big sum of money (from her own pocket) to help cover the cost. I was amazed at her passion and willingness to help even to the point of self-sacrifice. Toots also ushered for a wonderful and life-changing program for OFWs and their dependents through a grant from Microsoft – the Tulay program. The Tulay program provides computer literacy to OFWs and dependents which ushers for skills upgrade and cost-efficient tools of communication.

I used to be very cynical with our politicians but later realized that I shouldn’t be. We need to open our eyes for a few good men who should be part of the government and help them get into government. There is no sense cursing in the darkness, rather, let’s all try to be a source of light and help those who can be a source of hope for many other Filipinos – that for me, is true Nationalism.

I’m off to fill my slots this coming May 10 – I hope to find more Ruffys and Susans.

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Why Biazon and Ople are on top of my list