"BY THE power of Grayskull, I have the power!" How many of us who belong to the so-called Generation X shouted those words in front of the mirror while holding our imaginary sword up in the air? He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, a popular 2D animation TV show in the eighties is now on Netflix and in 3D. Such a surreal experience for me who like most eighties kids would be glued to our televisions back then.

He-Man reminds us today -- the meaning of "champions" -- these are people who fight for others. And where does the power of these champions come from? My apology for the Netflix spoiler but it does not come from the sword -- power comes from inside of us -- when we believe and shout that we have the power.

In 2016, after long years of being part of Bacolod politics, I realized I can still help my country without any position and without continually putting myself in a situation where I have to constantly compromise my principles in order to help. I chose to go back to a simple path to everyone's surprise including my husband. I needed to save myself from being completely eaten by the system -- a system that continuously silenced me, made me conform to things that I know can be made better or that I know are not ideal, made me tow the line for things I needed to reform. A system so big and so old -- it was too big for anyone with even the strongest conviction to withstand.

In 2019, at a spur of the moment I accepted a challenge that will allow me a chance to stick to my own principles. I survived the 2019 elections in one piece but I vowed to go back to my decision to leave politics in 2016. God kept me standing even after a loss, but He made me a recluse. When the pandemic came, I was surprised to see the world join me in my reclusion. It was unbelievable.

Then I started to find my path out of this seeming uselessness. A few months later, I found myself helping write national laws on digital transformation. I began teaching and speaking to many people without going out of my private space. I began meeting people from different parts of the world -- and sharing valuable insights. This year I received more tasks to help our country through different digital cities and through Filipino MSMEs. And the prospects are brighter.

I do not want political power. Politics in the Philippines, as my father's favorite expression goes -- have gone to the dogs. I need to find my way back. I need to find that little girl who thought about changing the world when every kid was simply waiting for the next happy meal. I want to live a simple life. And find that in that simplicity and using my own skills and intellect and without relying on any position, I can help others more.

I am fully recovered from the lessons of 2019, now I know I need to carve my own path and find my own power. Not the power that comes from constant transactional and political relations. Politics will always be transactional. I want the power of my faith. The power in me. In trusting that without any political power, I can find that power in me.

Thank you so much to all who trusted me for seven elections since 2001 or 20 years ago. You are all a part of my inspiring journey. Because of you, I have fulfilled my mission to help put Bacolod as early as 2012 as one of the Centers of Excellence in IT-BPM ahead of all cities, except Manila, Cebu and Clark, and have authored many major pioneering and trailblazing ordinances, and garnered many recognitions for our city. I have done my part as a public employee. Thank you for your trust.

May God continue to direct our paths as always. Rest assured I will find my own power to continually serve our city and country. May God bless those who chose to run for public office. May you understand how big this responsibility is.

With this, hopefully you will kindly please not ask me anymore why I am not running for public office nor ask me to do so. Ask me instead what we can do together using our own power to help save this country. Blessed day everyone. Thank you for reading up to this point.