A few weeks ago, the Philippines held its first fully automated national elections. A big feat for a country like ours, and I must say I was one of the many Filipinos who were nervous about how things were going to work out, particularly as to how my Kababayans were going to react to the new process. Despite my apprehensions, I was optimistic, because the automation is for me a good step forward for my country. And we could use something that produces fast result especially for something as crucial as choosing our next president.
I want to come clean. I mentioned before that I didn’t vote. Truth is I have passed up several elections since I became eligible. But that doesn’t mean I don’t care, I do. When I turned 18, I went to register as a new voter, but wasn’t allowed to because I came a few minutes before five and the person in charge decided to close early. Years and elections later, I eventually lost interest; I figured that as long as I worked hard, follow the law, and pay my taxes, I was being enough of a good citizen already. Besides, the same sorts of people run and win every time; celebrities, traditional politicians, or their relatives. My Congressman for example has been my representative since I was in grade school, my neighborhood changed, but changed for the worst. The people who used to live around me were either replaced or became drug addicts, and most of the good ones probably went abroad. I never remembered a candidate that excited me too much, who inspired me to go back and register. I always had people telling me I was wasting my vote, JG says that there is a special place in hell for people like me who do not practice their civic duty, the most important one he says. That got to me a little since I am pretty concerned about going to heaven come my time, and it would really suck to go to hell just because I didn’t vote when I was living.
When JG went into the Foreign Service and marriage came into the equation, I figured I should have a hand at the type of leader my husband was going to represent, so I went to register. Plus the voter’s ID could come in handy. Also the automation got me excited, like most Filipinos were, like I said, I suppose it was time for me to take part in my country’s step towards advancement. Furthermore, there was one particular candidate that finally showed what I think a true leader ought to be, smart and capable, has a good enough track record, and doesn’t appeal to voter’s sympathy, someone I can be proud of and confident to run my country. He didn’t win though, but like he said, he left an idea, and gave me hope; if not now then maybe next time.
I was excited to vote for the first time, I felt a little bad when we had to leave when JG got posted, which meant I wasn’t going to experience the automation. But it was okay since it’ll still be a unique experience to vote as an absentee voter. But as luck would have it, the same guy who threatened me with the damnation became the same person to cause me my salvation. He didn’t tell me he was going to transfer his registration and didn’t bother to ask if I wanted to as well, I guess since he got used to my apathetic attitude towards politics, so he didn’t think I would mind – thus my not voting.
Although there were some set back on long lines and disenfranchisement (to which I think isn’t just the organizers fault). My mom said that it was so crowded because, like everything else in the Philippines, voting became a family affair, like taking a love one to the airport, most voters came with the rest of their families, including their children, their aunts who came with their children, and everybody else in the family who had no business there but was curious to see. But despite all these within 12 hours we had a good idea who was going to win . We only used to envy the Americans for their elections fast result, but not anymore. That got people excited, and happy, breathing a sigh of relief. It got better when other candidates began conceding, another thing we were not used to seeing. By the end of the day, they were saying it was a generally peaceful election.
But it was all so good to be true. These days a special forum was organized to hear out questions and complaints of (sorry to say) the sore losers. It’s just so frustrating that was seems a historical successful step is again marred by these problems. Their concerns range from digital signatures to time and date registrations in election returns. If you ask me, why did they have to wait days after the election to raise these questions regarding how the counting machines work? Why didn’t they bother when the PCOS machines were chosen for the election? Why? Because they lost, now they’re concerned about what a digital signature is because things didn’t go their way. Now they are asking to go back to manual counting, just to see if votes were accurately counted. It’s like one step forward and three steps back, just because some people couldn’t accept defeat.
As for the Koalo Boy, I don’t think he is worth the attention. I agree, if he’s really telling the truth he should prove it without his stupid mask, and show more than a simple flow chart.
It’s just so disappointing especially for someone like me who has finally felt a bit of excitement after being jaded for so long. I ask myself, maybe it would’ve better if I didn’t cared at all. And another thing, the same old politicians and action stars were elected anyway (My Congressman is still my congressman). The leading presidential candidate is not my choice, but if he’s the one chosen then the best we can do is pray that he does live up to his word, that they all owe up to their promises. I’m not going to hold my breath, but let’s see what they can do.
Meanwhile, there are still some things to be happy about. I still say that even if it wasn’t perfectly done, it is now or never that we push through with the automation. We can learn from our mistakes, and there is always room for improvement. I can only hope that we get through the controversies and concentrate on supporting the ones proclaimed.
I commend my fellow overseas Kababayans who went out of their way to vote. Here in Tripoli, some came all the way from the desert just to cast their leader of choice. I am a little ashamed whenever I see them coming to the embassy to vote, as suppose to me (I find solace in telling myself that it’s JG’s fault). It is a really big deal for a lot of us that are far away to be able to do what we can to have that sense that we are still part of our country.
So let us pray that the new leaders of the Philippines really do what they can to help their constituents. And one of the reasons why I did not bother to vote all those years is because I also believe that it isn’t just up to our government to make our country work, no matter whose leading it is also up to its citizen as well.