Elections 2013: The best day to be a Filipino
Today, my friend tweeted that May 13 is the best day to be a Filipino. For more than the 52M Filipinos eligible to vote, this day marks the day when your voice matters in every vote casted. For some, it is just another extension of their long weekend–perhaps to go on vacation, to cram for some takehome work or to wait for election results.
Our family decided that instead of voting in the morning, we will just go to our precint at Palatiw Elementary School in the afternoon. As I was writing my list of candidates to vote for, I can’t help but notice on the news channel the (extra)ordinary stories of the people who truly maximized their right: (1) a man refusing to vote since the PCOS machine broke down, ergo he doesn’t trust manual count of elections, (2) a guy who was born without hands who voted and asked the COMELEC officer (who is a public school teacher) put the indelible ink in his toe, (3) old men and women in their walkers or wheel chairs who never failed to vote, and (4) public school teachers who spent their own money to replace the marker pens allocated in their precints so more people can vote. It was my second time to participate in the national elections, and apart from wanting my choice of candidates to win, these stories are more than enough reasons for me and my family to go out and vote.
My experience in this year is almost not quite different as it was in the 2010 elections. The lines were long but manageable. Even if there were 6 precints clustered in our area for one PCOS machine, our family finished voting by 4 PM, an hour after we arrived. Despite the sweltering heat and occasional downpour, one thing that I noticed was how the humor of the Filipinos to keep the people amused. It was not easy for the teachers, poll watchers, and volunteers who stayed in a small room full of people without a single electric fan working, but their interaction with us voters were full of fun and witty lines that only Filipinos could understand. Lining up for 30 minutes is not that bad after all. I only wish that in the 2016 elections, the PWDs and the elderly will receive more assistance.
Another change was the fact that more youth are active discussing political issues and stating their stand months even months before the elections. In spite of the selfie pictures via Instagram of their inked index fingers indicating that they already have voted, their tweets and posts are reminders that the voting youth is accountable to their own future, and each wanting to pray for change in the Philippines. Information regarding the candidates’ profiles are available online, and the COMELEC even developed an application for Apple and Android users to help them find their precints. Still, the Filipino humor cannot be eliminated via memes and hashtags in the social media.
While I cannot say in behalf of everyone, my take on this elections is that people should always realize how their vote is crucial not only in the next six years of their lives, but in fact in the more years that follow. If you sell your vote so you can have money to pay for your basic needs, take the money and don’t vote for that candidate. Chances are that candidate will never respect your rights for he or she cannot even respect your right to vote. I do not think that my list is a perfect list, but I selected them based on the integrity of their character and the sincerity of their platforms. My ballots may have included names of several independent candidates, and I chose them not because it is the hipster thing to do, but because my conscient tells me that these names speak for the change I would love to see in the Philippines.
For some who did not register for unexcusable reasons, your taxes may have earned you the right to blame the politicians and how their idiotic acts give your life in the country a living hell, but it does not earn you the right to call the voting massess as illiterate or uneducated. Whatever the election results may be, I just hope that violence and cheating will be reduced if not totally eliminated. We must respect the country’s democracy, and let the seemingly unqualified candidates who will be seated to be challenged and prove the nation that the votes they received are all worth it, simply because our country is worth it.