I BORROWED my column title from Ibon Executive Director Professor Sonny Africa's national situationer lecture last week in a symposium in Bacolod City organized by Public Interest Forum, a multisectoral and ecumenical group.

His title was incisive of a very important choice we have to make in the May 9 elections, referring to a vote for a servant leadership that can and will address the serious economic and political problems besetting our country, or a vote for a leadership whose philosophy and perspective stem from a generation of economic decline, political deception and repression, and social division.

A wrong choice could spell a thousand and one steps backward to the death of our nation and humanity. A right one could mean a step forward to the rebirth of our hope and aspiration for a united and progressive nation.

I apply the same challenge to Bacolodnons who, on May 9, will have to make a choice either for the continuity and scaling up of progress and development of the city towards a more inclusive, resilient, smart, livable and sustainable and humane city for the many, or a choice for a much touted change-agenda with no coherent platform but a hodge-podge of copy-paste motherhood statements, cacophonic promises, psychological tricks and hate slogans.

A choice either for a leadership that, despite its imperfections and shortcomings, has proven its worth in transforming the city into a vibrant engine of growth for the province and region, and a dynamic melting pot of cultures and lifestyles, or a choice for a leadership whose concealed philosophy has proven its nothingness in keeping an economically backward, environmentally damaged, impoverished and morally-broken society and a territory ruled by a dynasty of feudal and oligarch rulers.

A choice either for a leadership that has a proven and measurable commitment and compassion to marginalized sectors amid the soaring demand of the increasing migration from other towns and cities deprived of care and services from their local government, or a choice for a leadership whose commitment to the poor, deprived and the oppressed remain a hot air and a bad mouth posturing.

A choice for either a set of servant leaders in words and in deeds, or a choice for leaders who often don't walk their talk so to speak, or who speak with the tongue of the pharisees, cains, herods, thieves, rustlers, womanizers and gamblers in the old testament, among others.

Indeed, as I stressed recently, in both the national and local situation, we are at a critical conjuncture, crossroad, where the outcome of our national and local choices will have its effect in our economic, political and cultural life, not just in three years, six years, but a generation.

There is so much to be fought against this time, foremost, the historical revisionism of our governance records, the social media-induced fantasy and romanticism of the young and millennials for the so called Marcos golden age, the insomniac of some of our contemporaries for the brutality of life of the 70s and 80s, and the fast and worsening decline of our economy and political system since then.

The choices we have to make will define us either as a community and people with dignity, integrity and sense of historical mission, or as a people broken by the millenarian influence in our culture, our mendicancy and veneration of the powers that be.

This is the time for a more responsible and sensical individual and collective discernment and decision making for a platform and leadership that best capture our hopes and aspirations, not for our temporal needs, patronage, loyalty and expediency.

This is the best time to make a choice for a life that will make us more humane, not make us modern-day slaves and robots.

As Professor Africa said, now is the best time to make a step forward, or a 1,001 steps backward.