(delivered by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman during the seminar series on
“Adaptive and Innovative Leadership: Building Community Awareness
and Resilience” sponsored by the Office of Vice Governor
Edcel “Grex” Lagman on 09 December 2020)
With the view of the majestic Mayon Volcano sitting like a regal queen on her throne; both fine white and volcanic black sand beaches lining its shoreline; mysterious caves dotting its cliffs and coasts and waterfalls cascading down mountainsides; fertile soils with the potential of yielding an abundance of natural produce; and seas teeming with fish and other marine life, the Province of Albay is known for its wondrous natural beauty and amazing bio-diversity.
But while Albay is blessed with all this beauty and bounty, it also endures a constant string of natural calamities like typhoons, flooding, and volcanic eruptions.
Moreover, lahar and boulders along the slopes of Mayon Volcano are often violently carried by floodwaters destroying lives and communities; dynamite fishing obliterates coral reefs and aquatic food supply; and there are less generations of farmers cultivating fertile lands.
Recently, Albay was once again in the headlines as typhoon Quinta and super typhoon Rolly and typhoon Ulysses pummeled towns and cities; caused roaring mudslides and dangerous flooding; damaged historical sites, old churches and public infrastructures; and rendered thousands of families homeless.
But thanks to its organized and well-prepared leaders and cooperative and supportive citizens, tens of thousands of families were evacuated to safety so much so that both the death toll and the number of injured were fortunately low.
It is important to note that our citizens will not be as willing to cooperate as they were during these past calamities if they do not have an abiding trust and full confidence in their leaders. They followed instructions and respected the guidelines imposed by local government units because they know that their leaders had their best interests at heart.
I am therefore very proud and grateful that the office of my eldest son, Vice Governor Edcel “Grex” Lagman has initiated this timely and essential seminar series on “Adaptive and Innovative Leadership: Building Community Awareness and Resilience.”
Lately, the word “resilience” has been thrown about like a catchword that epitomizes the so-called enviable ability of Bicolanos, and Filipinos in general, to bounce back from catastrophes and adversities.
Although resilience and hardiness of spirit are admirable qualities, I believe that it is time that we stop romanticizing the resilience of our people and start advocating for more accountability from public officials and good governance from our leaders.
What we should idealize and strive for is governance that is participatory – meaning that ordinary citizens must be consulted, the views of the minority taken into account and the voices of the most vulnerable in society be heard in decision-making; accountable – meaning leaders must be prepared to accept responsibility for their actions and take criticism seriously; consensus-oriented – meaning leaders must try to reconcile differing interests to meet a broad consensus that is in the best interest of the community; transparent – meaning relevant information must always be accessible to the public; and truly responsive – meaning leaders must not only be approachable, hands-on, and pro-active, they must also strive to serve all stakeholders within a reasonable time frame.
I am hopeful that this seminar will instill in all participants these values which are indispensable to achieving not only good governance but also adaptive and innovative leadership that can be realized further if leaders like yourselves become creative problem-solvers, have the ability to incorporate new ideas and new ways of doing things, and be able to learn to produce positive results especially during times of crisis and calamities.
I am happy to be able to be with you all, albeit only virtually, and I am confident that you will all benefit much from this seminar and this will redound to the advantage your constituents.