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Young Blood

Just like any elections, the 2019 midterm polls produced winners and losers. That is simply the nature of the political game. An overlooked outcome of the recent May polls is the emergence of young public servants in all levels of government. In some instances, their victories caused the downfall of long-serving, veteran politicians.


This is a phenomenon not limited to the Philippines. In 2018, American voters from New York voted for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to become the youngest woman elected to the US Congress at age 29. Currently, the Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, is the youngest world leader at 32 years of age.


In 2015, Scotland voted Mhairi Black, then aged 20, to become a member of the British Parliament—making her the youngest-ever MP to serve in the history of the House of Commons since 1832. The Mahathir-mentored millennial Syed Saddiq, at 25 years old, is the youngest cabinet minister in Malaysia and in Asia.


In the Philippine House of Representatives, Nacionalista Party member Braeden John Biron who won the race to represent the 4th legislative district of Iloilo is the youngest member of Congress at 25 years old while quite a few are just a year older.


My daughter Camille Villar, who at 34 is part of the so-called millennial generation (those born between 1981 and 1996), secured a convincing victory garnering almost 90% of the total votes cast for Representative of the lone district of Las Piñas City.


In local governments, a new generation of fresh political faces has taken over some of the key cities and municipalities all throughout the country. And I am sure that many more young public servants are now occupying posts in local councils.


The entry of a new generation of young Filipino politicians is a welcome development. While there is something to be admired about experienced and veteran public servants, the emergence of fresh faces is a necessary injection of new blood into our political process.


In general, these young politicians are more adept at navigating our ever-changing world. They understand the newest technology and are social-media savvy. They have traveled more, and having seen examples from other countries, have the ability to introduce new solutions to old problems. They are more comfortable in learning from others and are, in principle, more prepared to innovate and share their knowledge.


The blossoming of these new politicians hopefully will encourage more of our Filipino youth to take part in the political process. I am hoping that these young politicians will inspire our youth to stand up and be counted, and motivate them to help solve the problems of our country.


Let me clarify that being young is, of course, no guarantee that the person would be good and efficient. Each generation produces its own brand of mediocrity. But these young politicians show promise. Let us hope that they can use their innovative and bright minds for the good of our people.


I also hope that the veteran public servants and the young politicians can work well together. The experience of the veterans and the new ideas of the young form a potent combination to come up with good policies to make our country stronger and our collective future brighter. The key is for young people to be receptive to the advice of the old and for the old to keep an open mind to the changes the young represent.


Let us keep an eye on them. Let us nurture their idealism and, at the same time, strengthen their grounding to reality.