You would think that leftist politician Representative Teddy Casiño of the party list Bayan Muna is hard-nosed at all times. Not always. He plays music and taking formal lessons is on his bucket list. In this 13th of the series of INQuest interviews, Casiño relates how he became an activist. Find out in this video by INQUIRER.net
MANILA, Philippines – Despite being pictured a staunch critic of the administration in the lower chamber of Congress, Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casino claims that like anyone else, he also enjoys the lighter things in life like listening to music, watching television, movies and spending his free time with his family.
Born into a “comfortable family”, the three-term lawmaker claims he was just like any other teenager back in the day. He also reveals how he could have easily veered away from the world of activism had he heeded his parents’ request when he was still in college.
“Half of my life, I spent as a militant but before that I was in high school in La Salle Greenhills. I was exposed to politics for change when I volunteered for Namfrel [National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections],” he tells INQUIRER.net on INQuest: Vote 2013.
His experience working in Namfrel greatly influenced his decision to become an activist, says Casiño.
“Before that I was a normal teenager but I was very inquisitive,” claims Casiño.
“I’m the third child and I’m used to hand-me-downs. We come from a comfortable family but we are very simple. My father is the sole breadwinner and my mom stays home. My parents are devout Catholics,” he says.
The militant lawmaker describes his childhood as “uneventful” but this changed upon entering college in the University of the Philippines Los Baños. He then became engaged in activism, something which did not come as a surprise to his parents.
“I did not lead such a sheltered life. The community I grew up in, there were informal settlers around it, I made friends there. [My parents] were not surprised when I volunteered since it was my father who brought me to my very first rally back in Aug. 21, 1983,” he says.
But it was his presence in the massacre of farmers in 1987 which prompted his parents to urge him to take a break from activism.
“I was in front during the march. The person beside me was hit. My parents were worried and they asked me to take a break from my studies. And I did, for their peace of mind, I went home to Aklan,” Casiño recalls.
Had the legislator dropped activism permanently, he says he may have chosen a different path in his career.
“If I continued law school maybe I would have become a lawyer and not a congressman. Maybe I would have dropped my involvement in social movements,” he says.
Having no political pedigree, as he calls it, Casiño says that if he were not in politics maybe he may have chosen to become a priest, a worker of a non-government organization, a bartender or even—a musician.
“I never liked the idea of a 9 to 5 desk job. I play music—it’s one of my frustrations. I never had formal lessons but that’s in my bucket list,” he says as he prepared to give INQUIRER.net a sample.
Nowadays his parents and in-laws appear quite supportive of his plans to pursue a seat in the Senate, even going as far as personally joining Casiño’s campaign activities.
“They appreciated that I deferred to what they wanted. After I returned it was the same but they no longer opposed my decision,” he says.
“At the end of the day I’m doing what I want to do and I’m able to contribute to uplifting the lives of the ordinary people,” says Casiño.