The legend of a good public servant

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By Nef Luczon


Sunday, March 23, 2014

ONCE upon a time, the people of the east Southeast Asian islands decided to break-away from the foreign colonizers from the west and decided to call themselves Filipinos, and named their country as Philippines.

From then on, they tried hard to run a democratic government with offices and branches which was run and employed by government workers and officials regarded as “public servants.”

Being a public servant, one must abide the sacred vows written on sacred papers, most notably to live in simplicity in the service of the Filipino people. But being a public servant has a price, and has five arch enemies – Ambition, Vanity, Money and Power.


Once there was an ever valiant public servant, we shall call him “Juan,” he was so passionate of nothing but with idealisms about patriotism and serving the people around him, and so when he became eligible for working in a government office, he had no second thoughts but to work.

Because of his dedicated service, he was rewarded with appreciations and recognitions from his colleagues and superiors.

Until one day, Ambition and Vanity visited in his office. Ambition, being provocative, mocked Juan that how could he still be the ordinary “public servant” when he can be greater than anybody else in the office.

This is also backed up by Vanity, reminding him that his children are growing and he needs to sustain their education and other necessities in their house. But, what would his other peers and neighbors will say of him being a father who just let his children go to public schools and live in an “ordinary” house, Vanity said, further pressuring him that it doesn’t fit for a “dedicated” and “hardworking” public servant.

Juan gave in to Vanity, and so he sent his children to expensive private schools believing it will provide his children high quality of education, and mortgaged a large house in an expensive exclusive village with luxurious cars.

He also provided expensive things to his wife, so the community around him will marvel in awe on her beauty. For Juan, he thought, this is a status symbol for a “dedicated” and “hardworking” public servant, and it’s only reasonable to pamper and reward himself for a little while.

But it turns out to be addictive. It came to a point that Juan can no longer sustain the kind of lifestyle he and his family are into, because it exceeds the average income he’s getting from government work, and it’s still won’t suffice even his wife will work in a private or government office.

He called up once again to Vanity, and the latter reminded him of Ambition, who happens to have other friends who can help him. And so again, Vanity and Ambition visited Juan’s office, but this time, they bring along Money and Power.

Ambition told Juan that in order to address his problems, he should trust Money and Power because they are siblings and go side-by-side. But Ambition warned Juan that he will not able to help his own problems unless he will do some “shortcuts” in his work.

And these “shortcuts,” Juan learned, have ways that sometimes break the very vows of being public servants.

“But you don’t worry Juan, as long as nobody caught you, there is no harm to that,” Ambition said.

And so, Juan chose the path what Ambition told him, and years later it has been his way of life. The shortcuts became poisonous and even before he can finally retire, he was facing the courts to answer for his crimes for betraying the Filipino people he once swore to serve with all honesty.

Indeed, the path of a public servant is not an easy one, but we need more good public servants, because they are the reason why people should trust their government.

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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 24, 2014.


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