THESE four simple words had been immortalized in many moral, academic, and moral papers. It is imprinted in the minds and carved in the hearts of the young people as these are the very words that spell out the core values of our basic education. These are Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Maka-Bansa, and Maka-Kalikasan.

These four simple words should and must be the backbone of every Filipino. These are his guiding principles. These are the values that would guide and even direct his decisions.

In a few months, the will of the Filipino people will once again be tested. Political analysts from all corners of the globe will come out with very good criteria sheets in choosing our leaders. Political scientists will once again come out with empirical and data-based political theories and principles that would suit their choices. A handful of political moralists will come out with ethical and moral criteria in choosing the most suited leaders. Yet a few will go back to the very core of the values we were taught and continue to teach the young people.

I had a chance to talk to some newly-registered voters and asked them why do they prefer this or that candidate. I got various responses. Some say that they will choose this candidate because he can give employment, could bring a brighter future, could bring us out of poverty, hunger, corruption, and murders, solve all problems, bring change in governance, could deliver us from all miseries and could make our lives better. These were the responses that I received. As I reflected upon these and many other responses, I was looking for the meat of the core values that we had taught them in school. Maybe, if I dive deeper I could see the implications of the values but swimming afloat, I could see that these reasons are not anchored on the core values.

Maybe, we failed to explain the core values plainly. There were studies conducted on the efficacy and the application of these values in the lives of the students. The studies proved that these values are integrated and are well-lived by our young people. This is the problem of academic research. The small percentage that we get from the population is already considered conclusive and may sometimes prove a wrong theory right. Thus, we sit on the laurel that we had been correctly teaching these values.

So today let us simply put these values in very simple questions that might help us choose properly, with moral courage, our leaders. Allow me to post five questions per core value:

For being Maka-Diyos (Godly): Does the candidate know and believe in God? Does the candidate believe in the authority of the religious leaders? Does the candidate understand what is right and wrong? Does the candidate see the presence of God in every person? and Does the candidate live a moral and ethical life?

For being Maka -Tao (pro-people): Does the candidate value the lives of the Filipino people? Does the candidate respect and understand all the rights of the Filipino people? Is the candidate ready to serve the nation and not the few of this nation? Does the candidate believe in justice, charity, and the common good? and Is the candidate ready to sacrifice his interests and those of his “friends” in favor of the Filipino people?

For being Maka- Bansa (nationalistic): Will this candidate use the powers of the state to protect the Philippines from any foreign interventions? Is the candidate ready to protect the patrimony and treasures of the Philippines? Does the candidate know the rich history, culture, and resources of the Philippines? Does the candidate have programs that will be for the country and not for the interests of the other countries? and will this candidate die for the Philippines and the Filipino people?

For being Maka-kalikasan (pro-environment: Does the candidate know the status of the Philippine environment? Does the candidate have concrete programs that will prevent the exploitation of the Philippine environment? Is the candidate ready to stop all industries that destroy the flora and fauna of the Philippines? Does the candidate have programs that will assure the sustainability of the Philippine environment? and does the candidate have a concrete program for the security of future generations?

All these questions might help guide us in choosing our leaders. The choice is yours and no one could dictate you.*