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Page added on August 14, 2009

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By Robert Ugaddan
POWER, let me give you some of its meanings from our popular WIKIPEDIA: “…the ability to do or act; political or national strength; possession of control or command over others; political ascendancy or control in government of a county, state, etc.; legal ability, capacity or authority; a person or thing that possesses or exercises authority or influence.” There are more that you can find in the dictionary when you look for the meaning of this word.

From the day that we were born, we were given certain powers to exercise, such as power to cry, to laugh, to throw tantrums, or to do other things as a human being. These are simple powers that we possess from the day we were born, powers that are within ourselves. Our own powers are limited though, because basically we do not have control over other things beyond our discretion.  So we live a simple life – to enjoy what we have for our own benefit and to make our lives comfortable.  Then, we start to mature and learn more of the complex surroundings around us. As life starts to get complicated, and depending on who we are, where we are, and what we do, our powers become complicated too.

However, powers in some situations are unique, like the power in our own household, simply because nobody has the power to be in command in our household except us. We give orders to our family members especially if we are the head of the family. And this is universal for all races and cultures.

Do you remember how our family structure was set up back at the old country, the Philippines?  It is purely patriarchal; the father is the head of the family and he rules the household.  Most of the time, the mother and the children will have to abide by the rules set forth by the head of the family.  The head of the family, the father, has total power over his family.

Similarly, there is a measure of power for some of us in the work place.  However, it all depends on what we do and the position we hold in the company. If we are a supervisor, a team lead, or a manager, then we have the power to oversee and control our subordinates.  But if we are only a regular staff who is in the bottom rung of the company ladder, our power is confined within the four walls of our office. In other words, our power is limited to the very job that we do.

The same situation applies in our Filipino community in regards to who holds the mandate and power to decide on behalf of the community. Living in Calgary for over 10 years, I have never been too involved in the Filipino community until the day that I started writing for the Pinoy Times.  As you are probably aware, we have several community organizations which have their own leaders.  Each leader has the power over his/her organization members, but only to a limited extent.

Too much power is bad sometimes because of the so-called power tripping.  As far as I know, there is always a fine line between power tripping and being merely authoritative. If we use our power to lead and be a good example to our fellow Filipinos, then that is honest, honorable power.  But if we are using power to take control and run the show to our own benefits, then that is corruptive power. The worst part of it is when someone uses his power to abuse his authority and to take advantage of his position. Power begets greed and when greed comes into the equation, power becomes evil. Getting behind the alibi that we are only human does not hold water in justifying the bad decisions that power brings.

I dare ask you now, “What powers do you have?  Are you exercising your powers for the good of yourself, your family, your friends, and the environment?  Or, are you exercising your powers to abuse other people and damage your own reputation?”  Take a minute to reflect on this subject and then ask yourself, “Am I powerful in the good or bad way?”  Nobody can answer this question except you, but you have to be truthful and honest to yourself.  If you feel that you are one of those power trippers, there’s still time to change.  Change, they say, is the only thing constant in this world. If that is so, expect that your power today may not be your power tomorrow.
For your comments on this view and opinion, please email


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