Simple is not always easy! Guidelines in Choosing our Next President

Simple is not always easy! Guidelines in Choosing our Next President

May 04, 2022

When I give FQ Talks, I like mentioning the three basic laws of money. They are easy to understand and easy to remember:

  1. Pay yourself first.
  2. Get only into a business that you understand. Seek advice only from competent people.
  3. Make your gold work for you. Make an army of golden slaves before you buy luxury.

Simple enough, right? But how come majority of our population remains poor? Because simple is not always easy.

The basic traits we all want in a president:

Today’s exercise of choosing our next set of leaders is the same. We all say these basic things we look for in a president:

  1. Integrity. We want to end corruption and trust our government.
  2. Competence. We want someone who has the knowledge and skills of running our country.
  3. Compassion and ability to empower. We want someone who truly understands and empathizes with the people, especially those in the lower classes of society, the majority of our population. Since having a prosperous country needs the contribution of each member of the society, a leader who empowers the citizens is very important.

And just like how we fail to observe the basic laws of money, we also fail to choose our leaders in accordance with the basic characteristics we’re looking for. Again, simple is not always easy.

Why? It is because of the way we are wired.

On the left side, we see our pre-frontal cortex, our rational brain. This is our Makatwirang Mak side. On the right is our limbic system, our emotional brain. This is our Emotional Emong side.  No matter how rational we think we are, we have to acknowledge that when it comes to our actual behavior, especially in highly charged matters like money and elections, it’s our Emotional Emong that drives our behavior.

All the noise that we see online also adds to our inability to choose well. When someone pays a sum of money, or promises something that gratifies our present self, we succumb to that temptation, even at the expense of our future self, not just our own future, but the future of our children, our children’s children, and the whole nation.

It’s no different from all the temptations to buy on sale things that we don’t need or can’t afford, or to eat the hefty dessert in front of us, never mind if we have diabetes.

Because of the reality that our Emotional Emong is quicker to respond, we have to consciously summon our Makatwirang Mak when we exercise our sacred right and privilege to vote on May 9, 2022.


Question No.1: Ano ba ang gusto kong Pilipinas? What is my Dream Philippines?

Take a moment and write down at least three things that you want your country to be.

Personally, I want our country to reap the rewards of our demographic sweet spot. I want a more orderly implementation of laws (traffic, cleanliness of surroundings, doing business, etc.). I want to narrow down the gap between the rich and poor.

Question No. 2:

Before I tell you the next one, here’s a not so gentle reminder: We are all stakeholders of our country. Our country is not just as good as the leaders that we elect (as what a lot of whiners want to believe). Our country is as good as each Juan and Juana, as good as what you and I, contribute. Kung bulok ang tingin mo sa bayan mo, marahil bulok ka rin kasi! (If you perceive your country to be rotten, maybe it’s because you are also rotten!)

So the next question that we should all ask ourselves is this: Given my talents and skills, how can I contribute to make Dream Philippines a reality? So take a moment again to write down at least three things that you can do to make your dream come true. Maybe we should suggest to the next president to make it a nationwide event that during the SONA (State of the Nation Address) we should also bring out our own score cards and rate ourselves how well (or otherwise) we have performed in the past year to inculcate that we are all in this together. We are all stakeholders.

We can already observe in this ongoing campaign which camp is able to inspire its supporters to use their creativity and God-given talents by way of composing songs, creating murals, videos, etc. Which camp can stage rallies that are fueled by volunteers?

Question No. 3: Who among the candidates can lead me best?

Now that you have a clearer idea of the Philippines that you want to help create, figure out what kind of leader can help you make this happen. You can now focus and look beyond the gimmicks, the mudslinging and election clutter because you now know what you are looking for. What traits of a good leader am I looking for? Who can help me bring out the best in me? Yes, just focus on who can lead YOU well. Do not be pre-occupied trying to second guess the masa vote, the middle class vote or the elite vote. Just think of who can lead you best. Anyway, you do not have control over what the others will decide and do. You only have control over your own decision and action.

You can already observe now, which supporters follow the leader and which candidate brings out the best in every Filipino.

Who is that candidate with integrity, competence, compassion, and can empower you, so you can be your best self and give your contribution to your Dream Philippines.

It’s very similar to the guiding principle of Warren Buffet and that is why he is the greatest investor. He said, “Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you end up with somebody without the first [integrity], you really want him to be dumb and lazy.”

Well, this is of course, if that dumb and lazy somebody is not influenced by someone just as bad, or even worse.

Go on with your research now.

With just a few to go before the elections, let’s carve out some time to study our choices. Who has the three most important traits (or any other traits you feel are important to you)?

Proposed Score Card for the Presidentiables Marcos Jr. and Robredo (Note that there are eight other candidates. But at this point, it is essentially a race between the top two.)

INTEGRITY: How was he/she raised by his/her parents? Are they honest and could have passed on that trait to their child? Can I count on him/her to implement the laws fairly? Does he/she have obvious sources of conflict of interest? Does he/she have a record of graft and corruption? Who are the people around him/her? His/her family, friends, allies? Who is his/her VP running mate?

COMPETENCE: What is his/her educational background? Is he/she smart enough to run a country? What does he/she have to show in terms of work portfolio? What has he/she done in past stints, whether in government or private sector? Will I be represented well by him/her in international negotiations? What good has he/she done for my country so far?

COMPASSION & ABILITY TO EMPOWER: Does he/she truly understand the plight of the poor in our country? Can the various classes of society, especially the lower classes, relate with him/her? Does he/she inspire me to do my best to work well in my field so that I can contribute to our country? Does he/she have the right health condition and stamina, not just to withstand but, to flourish in the grueling tasks of being the most powerful person in the Philippines with all its problems and high expectations?

I hope the above guidelines will help you vote wisely. And while we’re at it, remember that the Vice President is just a breath away from the presidency; hence, should be subjected to the same guidelines.

Proposed Score Card for the Vice Presidentiables Duterte, Pangilinan, Sotto (Note that there are other candidates but the above is limited to the top three.)

You may also do the same for the other national and local posts that we have to vote for.

Again, we are all stakeholders in the Philippines. We generally want the same things for our country. Let’s focus on the process. Use the guidelines:

1.) What is my Dream Philippines?

2.) What can I do to make it happen?

3.) Who can lead me best to make this happen?

Remember this: You can never underestimate the havoc that can be done by an unfit president! Use your sacred power on May 9, 2022 to avoid this.

Join me on Thursday at 11 am on Kumu or Facebook as I discuss with former BSP Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo the economic Implications of the two Presidential Front Runners.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!


  1. To learn more about your money behavior, get your copy of FQ Books and for your loved ones too. The principles you will learn from here are not only applicable in your financial life but all the other important aspects of your life. 
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3. Most of the time, what we lack is not motivation but career clarity. To know more about it visit

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This article is also published in Philstar.