MOVE over Wapakman and other political wannabes with messianic complex. Give way and prepare the road for Mr. Barangay Big Brother, reformist, scholar, social scientist, patron of arts, publisher, writer rolled into one—Mr. Valdeman!

Sorry adopting the term and definitely no pun is intended here. But who knows given the nuances of my friend’s e-mail. Two equally important images right away play in my mind. First, that man Manny Valdehuesa in Steven Seagal stance carrying pail of water by the left hand and right holding broomstick, rag dangling on the pocket with hand towel on the neck. Second, similar image but with several books brimming on the pail indicating that he’s raring to go for work and serve people of the Republic in the higher level.

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For the uninitiated and new Valdeman readers, the two images presented actually are already history. Truth of the matter, Manny has been there drawing the battle lines and waging war for effective and best governance in all fronts from the barangay to offices, academe to media and hopefully in Senate, who knows. After all he has been there since 1960s as reformist carrying similar crusade with renewed vigor and strength. His journey has been tough, bringing his cause to far away places as his remarkable bio-data indicate.

He in fact wrote about his exploits and provided solution how to rectify the system and its maladies of graft and corruption as a result of patronage politics. That he presented clearly in his book A Nation of Zombies (2009 Capitol University Press, CDO 119 pp.).

His theory incidentally is very explainable. Simply empower the barangay to thrive on its own economy and you’re on strengthening the Republic. Pure and simple. It’s how the Tiger economies of Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and others did, setting blistering pace of progress. That’s the way it works – go down to the basics, moving all the way to the top.

As the author writes “The Big Republic draws its life force, direction and political will from these small Republics. To neglect even one is to weaken the chain of 41, 994 small barangays that make up the Big Republic. Concomitantly, if we could only manage well the economy of our barangay, exploring land, labor and capital for good, it’s indeed not farfetched that development would be felt all over. That’s short of reengineering barangay into a corporation in the context of the rise of a corporation.

But here’s the catch: the opposite holds true. Deny the people the power inherent to them in running their own political affairs and you are leaving their fate to the powers-that-be, power brokers, the warlords. In sum, you are not only committing an error—a mistake you cannot afford to commit—but also prescribed death sentence, nipping the bud of development, and concocting alternatives in papers only. The results are: powerless grassroots, clueless elite and the vicious cycle of corruption in the country.

The book is a must-read for all pro-development people specially those running for 2010 election. It’s good reality check too for people in government service, knowing where we stand now. The general voting population would however stand to benefit the most reading the book as they will be the ones who will provide legitimacy and authority through the power of their votes. And that what makes the genius of Valdeman stands out.

He is by the way on leave from his column in this paper, as he is testing the water of politics as senatorial candidate of the Kapatiran party. Sail on Manny and Godspeed. You have already done your share and its payback time. True, victory is not given in silver platter but earned. It’s time to validate their appreciation of your work. We know, as you do, the ramification of Philippine politics, and that the battle is tough. You might not even make it. But don’t allow your guard down. You are already to us a big winner come what may because you are brave and have the heart of Hercules. As Michael Bolton sings, go extra mile as your new challenge would add meaningful distance in your life. Cheers and good luck!

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