Creating A Bigger Impact
BY CAMILLE CABAL
COUNCILOR WIN ABEL SHARES HOW HIS SEARCH FOR PURPOSE LED HIM TO SERVING THE PUBLIC.
Fame isn’t everything. This is what Caloocan 3rd District Councilor Merwyn Lennon “Win” D. Abel realized after reaching stardom and ultimately feeling emptiness. “I felt unfulfilled like I can do something bigger to create an impact,” he shares.
For many, 25 years old is still young, but by then, Abel had already explored two industries. When he was 15, Abel tried entering the world of show business and was lucky to be cast in a few local films. Being a part of a boy band was the trend and his childhood dream, but Abel realized that he only wanted fame, not everything else that comes with it. So, after six years of being in the entertainment industry, he had to conclude his journey to move on to another.
After leaving his acting career, Abel worked as a medical representative for two years, adding that show business was no longer sustainable. “Siguro ‘yung conscious effort lang na kung hindi ka masaya dun, huwag kang mag-stay. Dapat umaalis ka sa comfort zone mo talaga eh (Have the conscious effort to leave where you are no longer happy. You should not stay in your comfort zone),” Abel says, referring to his career shift.
But his stint as a medical representative also had its end. Abel then gravitated toward public service as he continued to find his life purpose. While people “inheriting” their government positions from relatives is a common scene in our country’s political landscape, the young councilor says that his pivot to politics is all about looking for meaning by offering himself to service.
Abel’s father, Luis Chito Abel, was also a Caloocan City councilor from 1992 to 2016. Luis was the first in the family to enter politics and this exposure somewhat made the younger Abel’s transition seamless. Abel shares that he grew up seeing people asking for help from his father, random people knocking on their door asking for assistance. This is how he got used to talking to people, listening to their problems, and providing their needs. Now as an adult, Abel shares that he deeply appreciates that he was raised with the behavior of a public servant.
Abel reveals that in the middle of his father’s candidacy for councilor, the latter’s health made campaigning difficult so the young Abel took over the campaign. This served as an opportunity for him to show himself to the people who he was to serve in the future. He saw how many people were willing to support him as a public servant.
Aside from his father, some of his relatives are also in politics. His uncle is a barangay chairman while his cousin is currently a chairman of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK).
“Can you call that a political dynasty? It can be. But for me, we were voted [into office] by the people. It’s not like a royal title that will be entrusted to you. There is an election, there is a democratic process. [Having more of our family in politics] only means that we planted something [good] in the people for them to support us,” Abel says.
“We were voted [into office] by the people. It’s not like a royal title that will be entrusted to you. There is an election, there is a democratic process. [Having more of our family in politics] only means that we planted something [good] in the people for them to support us.“
A BORN LISTENER
Abel admits that while his work as a medical representative was just a stepping stone to finding his purpose, what he learned from that work stuck with him. He learned how to communicate more effectively. This experience also taught him how to work with higher-ups, which he shares is something he applies now as part of the local government. He knows how to empathize with the people who approach him for assistance.
Abel adds that, unlike show business, he can also be popular in the world of public service. Not for his talent or acting skills, but for what he can accomplish for the people. Abel makes sure that when he’s talking to the people, he’s making his time worthwhile. He empathizes with the problems of the people in the community and genuinely listens to know how he can be of help.
“yung innate sa akin, kaya kong makipag-communicate sa tao nang naintindihan ko kung saan sila nanggaling (I am an innate communicator; I can understand where they are coming from). The ability that every public servant should possess is the ability to listen,” Abel stresses.
However, he emphasizes that he never promises success, even if it means risking disappointing his constituents. For him, he has to analyze and study the factors first before committing to the request.
Abel adds that he can only do so much as a councilor and he cannot grant every request sent to his office or directly asked from him. This is why he believes that it is important to also explain to the people the limitations of his office.
THE YOUNGEST RANKS BEST
Abel was one of the youngest candidates for the position of councilor in the City of Caloocan during the May 2022 elections. To his surprise, he did not just earn a position, but also ranked first among the candidates, making him the current youngest councilor in Caloocan.
When asked about his opinion of why people voted for him, even Abel himself cannot find a definite reason but he believes that his age might be one of the factors. Possibly because of the impression that young public servants are willing and aggressive. Moreover, he shares that during the campaign, he would visit every house, chat with the people and ask them if he could be of any help. When visiting wakes, for example, Abel would hand his donation to the families but of course, he cannot provide them everything. Regardless, people appreciate his presence and sympathy.
Ranking first among the candidates is what Abel considers the most memorable moment in his life so far. Knowing that there are candidates who are more experienced than him, he feels grateful for the trust of the people. He said that he cannot let his supporters down so he will reciprocate their trust with integrity. But as the youngest who ranked first, he recognizes the pressure that comes with it. The challenge for the neophyte councilor is how he can keep up with the seniors on the floor. The lesson for newbies like him is to always observe, listen to mentors, and not take to heart when called out because it is for their own improvement. When they become seniors later on, then it will be their turn to guide the new generations of public servants.
As a former councilor, his father also advises him to consult other people and the best tip he gave him is— “‘Sa pagiging politiko, huwag ka nang makisama sa politika ng mga politiko sa loob. Ibig sabihin, kung may mga tsismis tsismis, eh ‘di mo na concern ‘yun. Gawin mo ‘yung trabaho mo, gawin mo lang ‘yung tingin mong tama. Okay na ‘yun (As a politician, avoid involving yourself in the internal politics of your job, meaning if there are rumors, it should no longer be your concern. Just do your job accordingly and that will be enough),’” Abel shares.
On the other hand, his mother, a school principal, trained him to be grounded in his principles and disciplined. Another important thing his parents taught him is to know his strengths and find his weaknesses that still need improvement. But at the end of the day, he still filters whichever advice he thinks is best and which is merely noise.
“Sa pagiging politiko, huwag ka nang makisama sa politika ng mga politiko sa loob. Ibig sabihin, kung may mga tsismis
tsismis, eh ‘di mo na concern ‘yun. “
REPRESENTING HIS FELLOW YOUTH
As a graduate of the University of Caloocan City (UCC), Abel’s biggest concern is the ability of the students to graduate when poverty is the biggest hindrance. The councilor wants to establish a university in their district that can offer free education to their constituents. According to Abel, while there is free secondary education available to their constituents, obtaining a college degree is important in getting further in life
Abel aims for students to pursue tertiary education and not go straight to work after graduating from high school. The tendency, he muses, is that when they start to earn money, no matter how small, they forget to continue their education and start their families. Their future children will then shoulder the burden of finishing their studies and lifting the family out of poverty.
Beyond education, Abel adds that he wants to develop a business area in North Caloocan. According to him, North Caloocan still has open areas that can be transformed into business areas that will generate more income for the city. More income also means more benefits for the people. While he emphasizes that education is his priority, the development of the business area will open the possibilities of additional benefits for senior citizens and solo parents in the city.
Before LEAGUE ended the interview with Abel, he left a word of wisdom to his fellow youth: “Kailangan bilang isang kabataan, hanapin mo kung ano ‘yung nagpapasaya sa ’yo. More than just sa sarili mo, kailangan alam mo kung ano ‘yung purpose mo, na ginagawa mo ‘to na kahit pagod ka na, kahit hirap ka na pero may ginagawa ka na mas malaki sa sarili mo. ‘Yun ‘yung isang motivation [na] hinding-hindi maalis sa ‘yo. Kung ‘yun ang drive mo, hindi ka tatamarin (As youth, it’s important to find that which will make you happy. Find your purpose that is not just focused on yourself, so that regardless if you’re tired, as long as you are doing something not just for yourself, that will serve as your motivation. If that’s your drive, you will not be sluggish)”