“We’re not traditional,” says Humanities and Social Sciences (HUMSS) student Mikaelo Lorenzo Bombeo. In this year’s historic first Senior High School (SHS) elections, Bombeo leads the Union of Students for the Advancement of Democracy – Xavier University Senior High School (USAD-XUSHS) to the finish line as the party’s presidential bet, along with vice presidential candidate Christalle Beatriz Seno by his side.

Photo by Coleen Vitor

Photo by Coleen Vitor

Voices for Change

Hailing from his hometown in Iloilo City, Bombeo sees the severity of the Senior High identity crisis from a fresh perspective. “People seem to lack a sense of identity when it comes to their strands,” Bombeo states. This provoked his thirst for reform in the system. He desires the voices of the role-confused student body to be heard. “I want to be the change I failed to make in my old school,” he adds.

Vice Presidential Candidate Seno, meanwhile, began her leadership journey during her three years in the Light Cavalry Leadership Community (LCLC), also serving as a committee head in the organization for a year. She has shown interest in serving the student body when she ran for office twice during her Junior High years. Despite losing both elections back in the day, Seno is determined to serve the student body and show them that she can help make their voices heard.

‘SAWI’ matters

As a center-left party, USAD is dedicated to upholding freedom, equality, solidarity, and social justice within the Senior High community. With these principles in mind, the party came up with four platforms named after the voices they wish to be heard: Strengthened Structure, Accountability, Wider Scope, and Inclusive Governance, collectively coined as SAWI. “We stand for those disappointed on [sic] how people (the administration) have been running things,” Bombeo says.

Seno believes that the Strengthened Structure platform is the most important. “Only when we form this strong, efficient, and organized student government will we be able to address other problems we have in an effective way,” she states. The party aims to strengthen the Senior High School Student Government (SHSG) structure through the formation of the Council of Presidents. It will be composed of class presidents from all sections and will be the official mediator between the student body and the student government. “Sila na dayon ang root for dissemination [of information],” Seno states.

Under the Accountability platform, the student government will be required to post official documents such as meeting minutes, liquidation reports, and schedules of activities online. “[Transparency] is not just limited to money. It can also be in terms of the work power that you give us,” Bombeo says. Aside from the aforementioned, there will also be progress reports on SHSG’s upcoming events, as well as government evaluations every semester. “Maka feedback sila (students), and they get to experience a democracy and have a say in what they want,” Seno says.

In the company of others

Wider Scope aims to uphold USAD’s solidarity principle. Students will be given the chance to connect with their strand-mates during strand assemblies as well to reach out to the outside community through the Blue Spoon Advocacy. In the Blue Spoon Advocacy, the SHS community will be taking two or three public schools under their wing and consistently hold feeding programs for the schools’ malnourished students.

With the Inclusive Governance platform, the party aims to include the students in the decision-making process through open forums. “Dapat sila pud kay they get to have a say in everything that concerns them,” Seno says. Under this platform is the Student Volunteerism Program where students are given equal opportunities to become involved in any of SHSG’s programs.

On September 28, SHS students show their support for their preferred political parties during the Miting de Avance at the XU Gymnasium. Photo by Tatiana Maligro

On September 28, SHS students show their support for their preferred political parties during the Miting de Avance at the XU Gymnasium. Photo by Tatiana Maligro

All of USAD’s platforms are aimed to promote the democracy they envision the Senior High School community to have. “The change you want to see in the system is a change only you can bring yourselves,” Bombeo says. USAD is confident that with their platforms and days of campaigning, the students will see that their candidates can bring the change in the system that the students have longed for. “I will ask them to look at the candidates […], and if they stand for what you stand for, then vote for them,” Seno says.