“WHOEVER fights monsters should see to it that in the process, he does not become a monster”. The allegory of ‘the monster’ is a popular and timeless story, shared in many state campuses that supposedly tells the hopeless story of our Philippine politics and government. Though I am a Louisian, the Department of Humanities then, was simply a muddle of a lot of things – literature, theology, psychology, journalism, philosophy, sociology, and political science. It was the perfect factory for confused individuals, the perfect place for sharing books, ideas, and stories (even from the state campuses). The story of “the monster” is possibly the most creative elucidation of what we have to endure as citizens who only wish to have a better government for the people.
The story begins with the village chieftain inviting the brave and the strong to hunt and kill the “Monster” who is ruling over their mountains. The monster has been kidnapping and killing young women, and a hero must rise to the occasion. All of the warriors were eager to do just that, starting their hunt at dawn, sharpening their tools, and strategically placing traps. Unfortunately, the warriors met their demise one after the other – some fell on their own traps, and the others were either eaten by wild animals, or got lost in the mysterious forest.
Only one warrior was left, the toughest one who finally found the monster in a cave. They battled for many hours until the warrior succeeded in finally beheading the monster. “At last! I killed the monster!” the warrior screamed victoriously. Then, he felt something changing inside of him – he felt the urge for human blood, his nails became claws, his skin turned into scales, his face turned into a hairy crocodile’s head...he turned into the monster that he just vanquished! Upon realizing the curse, he can only let out a loud and scary growl!
Back in the village, the people, upon hearing the monster’s roar and realizing that their warriors failed, started weeping again, “When will our suffering end?” they cried to the heavens.
I was mentally composing this piece while attending a very meaningful leadership capability training for potential office leaders and heads organized by the Municipal Human Resource Office headed by Ma’am Imelda M. Obidos. The training was facilitated by the legendary Dr. Leonarda Aguinalde, who I met when I was working in the University of the Cordilleras almost a decade ago. The fierce Ma’am Aguinalde, now retired (but still as zealous as ever), reminded us about being passionate in our work: “treating everyday as if it was our first day”.
We were directed to reflect and look within ourselves for answers, to think more than ever as leaders, to sacrifice, to accept that our work is a thankless job but it is all worth it. It was really a breath of fresh air for me. It reinforces the idea of becoming the warrior who won’t turn into the monster that he/she defeats. Hopefully, when we become leaders, we won’t be swallowed by the system, or lose the drive and passion of what we dream to do...that we do not become the monsters that we hope to replace.