A tribute to the boss: The new Pinoy Citizen

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By Robert L. Domoguen

Mountain Light

Monday, January 20, 2014

"KAYO po ang aking boss!"

Imagine the chief boss in the land declaring his constituents are his bosses.

It is a revolutionary statement, the way I see it. It goes against the grain of traditional leadership and management.


The first time I heard it from President Noy, I reacted, “Oh no. Mahirap isipin, mahirap gawin.” Outright the statement’s implication to me as a middle management government operative is enormous. It brings two images of masters: those above me in our agency’s chain of command, and the farmers. The statement puts me in a place, defines and emphasizes my role in society as a servant.

I am not complaining. I like the pronouncement. It took me by surprise and had me thinking about it long time. That was how I contemplated its revolutionary impact rippling on the business of governance. Of course, it risks becoming just another political blather, minus hope and passion, too bad. We would rather all be Presidents and enjoy the privilege of speaking our minds that the ranks do not take to heart. It is not that easy being boss in these islands, a nation “na nasanay sa gaya-gaya lang.”

I believe P-Noy knows that reality about us, when he declared his thought provoking dictum, seemingly derived from President Abraham Lincoln’s, “government of, by and for the people,” and President John Kennedy’s, “ask not what the country can do for you, but what you can do for the country.” It is time we change the way we look at ourselves as citizens from being complainers and beneficiaries of comforting services, to servant-leaders and bosses. Pinoy style, “kayo ang aking boss,” we must be leader-citizens, active participants in community building and progress. And too, we live in a new and fast changing world, so that would include the creation of site relevant and applicable knowledge, new wealth and innovative ways of survival.

In the usual way we do things following an elitist style of governance, power resides among the few. When power comes through a procedural and reductionist strategy that suits the elite or defines the elite, it is in effect extrapolative too in its views, strategies and applications. To have power or be under its graces in this kind of governance makes its operatives servants in the acquisition of titles through government time; masters of repetitive planning that ensures efficiency in spending the people’s money; or experts doing an operational and strategy strip-tease, call it analysis that excites the minds of those who sit in thrones. More often than not, the exercise comes with a conclusion that the farmers are dumb, never mind if they could not imagine how the lack of policies and other support systems hinders our farmers to live beyond their first strategies and become responsible for quality and competitive capability in transforming their industries.

I grew up in the government bureaucracy as a servant, mostly “under authority.” Reaching middle management, in our agency, has not made me a master strategist or expert in the politics and daily competition for organizational power. I do not even collect or keep records of my designations. These along with titles, are important procedural papers in the processing of bureaucratic promotions.

Once more, I think about P-Noy’s dictum, “kayo ang aking boss,” and the farmer as our boss. I cannot help it but empathize with the farmer. He maybe dealing with employees that he loathes.

It is not easy being boss or leader, you know. It comes with vision, self-reliance, and actual knowledge application. As managers and experts, in agricultural development do we really do incisive strategic analysis of production and marketing but simply follow how the farmers did this and that, then make expert comments, conclusions and recommendations, at most blather?

Have we even considered where strategy comes from and why farmers do what they do? Can we imagine the passion and dedication they put in pursuing and realizing their vision, the pain that comes with failure and the satisfaction they derive from succeeding as farmers and as family “bread-winners.” As so-called experts, we think that is as easy as keeping proof-files for office promotion. Hell, we do not even know the genesis of the industry we are trying to serve; and. why farmers follow strategies and plans borne-out of their experiences, luck, and foresight as they confront daily challenges in the production and marketing of their products? Behind their humble countenance, what does the boss think about us?

“Kayo ang aking boss,” so I must engage you as such, I mean the farmers and our traditional bosses in the bureaucracy. Coming out of the President’s mouth, I assume this radical dictum is undergoing institutionalization in the nation’s governance. In our minds and hearts, it impact on governance and a dedicated bureaucracy that make systems work in addressing problems in this times of radical change. It advises us about having responsible bosses at both ends of the governance pole, and the need for well-placed policies in all levels of governance, and a supportive and engaged public as we confront our problems to making systems alive and responsive not inutile. Without those elements, when any of these composite elements are laid back or missing, addressing the problem of water lack in our mountainous abodes can be a waste of time and resources or may become a source of conflict, simply unsustainable, for instance.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on January 21, 2014.


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