HE HAD NO party, no posters, no leaflets, but Jonas Paul B. dela Cruz, a third year Civil engineering student, grabbed an overwhelming win over his three rivals in the Central Student Council (CSC) presidential race at MMSU.
Garnering around one half of the near seven thousand total votes cast in the CSC elections held Feb. 4, Dela Cruz reigned the tabulation boards in most precincts. Aside from his landslide victory at the College of Engineering, his home, where he obtained seventy six percent of the votes, he also won big in other colleges and units.
Seventy-five percent of the total population participated in the polls considered a breakthrough in the history of campus politics for having the most number of political parties and candidates vying for various posts.
Dela Cruz’ closest rival, Bryan A. Corpuz of The 2010 Party, got a 25-percent share of the votes. Gevy Ann R. Villanueva of Tindig MMSU and Reynald Theodore C. Teodoro of Anak ng MMSU had 15 and 12 percent, respectively.
Overwhelmed, Dela Cruz cannot believe the results. He relates that when he filed his candidacy as an independent, some people dismissed him as a nuisance candidate. He said he pursued his candidacy anyway because “students deserve an alternative to politics-as-usual.”
Dela Cruz instantly rose from obscurity to fame when he delivered very heartwarming speeches at campaign rallies. He began by talking about his life, which some listeners described as “pang-Maala-ala mo kaya,” referring to a popular true-to-life drama show on television.
He hails from Santa Marcela, Apayao and Laoag City. His father, a carpenter, died ten years ago. Left with four children to support, his mother then began to do laundry for a living. His two older sisters were not able to go to college, and are now both married. His youngest sister is still in grade school.
Dela Cruz said he was really determined to obtain a college degree, and so he applied for scholarship grants. Fortunately, he was chosen as provincial scholar of the Province of Apayao. Aware that education is key to uplifting his family’s condition, he always worked extra hard in his studies. Even when he was still a first year student, he already brought honor to MMSU when he won as champion in the Regional Statistics Quiz, and 3rd runner-up in the national tilt. He has then since ruled in other contests.
Every semester, he would be listed either as a university scholar or college scholar, even as he serves as officer in various organizations at COE.
“Napakalaki po ng utang na loob ko sa MMSU sa pagkalinga at pag-aruga sa akin,” said Dela Cruz in his speech delivered entirely in flawless Filipino. “Kaya naman hindi po ako nag-aatubiling ialay ang aking sarili tuwing may pagkakataon.”
Explaining why he shared his life story to the public, he said emphatically, “Dahil ang kuwento ng buhay ko ay kuwento niyo rin, kuwento ito ng bawat mag-aaral na nagsusumikap, nagpupunyagi, at lumalaban sa bawat pagsubok ng buhay,” drawing thunderous applause from the audiences he addressed during the campaign rallies staged in the Batac and Laoag campuses.
Dela Cruz then detailed his platform of government. He said he wants transparency in all aspects of governance, especially in financial matters. He plans to initiate programs for scholarships, improved physical infrastructures, and the protection of the natural environment. The nineteen-year-old student leader also wants students to get involved in relevant school and community events, and to have their voices heard on salient issues. Dela Cruz also vowed to continue, should he win, his opponents’ good projects, including the bicycle-sharing program initiated by Villanueva.
“Alam po ng mga nakakakilala sa akin na madali po akong lapitan at hindi po ako mahirap kausap,” he assured the voters. “Pero hindi ko po kakayaning gawin ang lahat ng ito kung wala po ang inyong suporta, kung hindi tayo magkakaisa… hindi po ako superhero.”
To his rivals, he cast no stones, only praises and good wishes. Turning to them, Dela Cruz, a member of Victory Christian Felowship, said, “God bless po sa ating lahat.”
The presidential candidates were each given ten minutes to deliver their speeches. While the three other presidentiables consumed fully the time given them, even going overtime, Dela Cruz finished his talk after only six minutes.
His last lines never failed to draw generous rounds of applause and cheers from the audience, “Ako po si Jonas B. Dela Cruz, tumatakbo sa pagkapangulo ng Central Student Council,” and then, stretching his arms towards the audience, he concluded, “hayaan niyo pong kayo ang aking maging kapartido.”
After his speech, Dela Cruz immediately gained supporters and fans who ardently campaigned for him, even through text messaging and the popular social networking site Facebook. His best friend and classmate Jether Cornita, also a Civil Engineering junior, served as his campaign manager.
And the rest is history.
Incumbent Student Council President Ace Joseph R. Rumbaoa, who campaigned for another presidential candidate, Corpuz, congratulated dela Cruz for his victory, and assured him of an orderly transition of power.
The other winners are: Reindel Owen Salvador (CAS), vice president; Marie Stella U. Gaspar (CAS), secretary; Kara Camille L. Pedro (CBEA), treasurer; Karol Anne B. Ramoran (COE), assistant treasurer; Mark Meinard M. Mariano (CBEA), auditor; Jenny N. Madayag (CBEA), business manager; Rozanna Bianca T. Pastor (CAS), Public Information Officer (PIO) internal; and Marlon R. Mamala (CTE), PIO external.
Student Organizations and Publications Chief Marlina L. Lino says the new set of officers will take their oath “sometime this summer” when the incumbent officers will be ready to relinquish their responsibilities.
With the elections now over, Dela Cruz’ life is back to normal. He will again represent MMSU in the National Math Quiz to be held Feb. 13 at UP Diliman. During weekends, he continues to help his mother do the laundry.