Tomorrow will be my third time to participate in Philippine elections. Actually, I’m not really sure if it’s my third, second, fourth, or whatever. I’ve been a registered voter since 2006 and I’ve never missed taking part in the elections basically, for fear of revocation of registration with the COMELEC, which then could hamper future plans of applying for a visa. 😀
Only in the Philippines: The Campaign Period
Campaigning in the Philippines is a joke. No kidding. Mudslinging, public arguments, and name-calling are just some of the very common practices among aspirants. These arise from various rumors that suspiciously sprout from nowhere. “Aspirant A did ‘this’ to earn billions of pesos at the expense of the public! Aspirant B, a known religious figure, is seen clutching reserved body parts of… three women! Aspirant C is suddenly accused of being a key role-player in an unresolved scandal thought to be forgotten some time ago.” And the list goes on for the other aspirants. To make things worse, these practices are broadcast by the media to the whole world, thus showcasing how ridiculously entertaining Philippine politics is. *sigh!*
One more thing about Philippine campaigns is the extensive use of endorsements from various personalities in different sectors of society. Think celebrities, religious sects and groups, private sectors, & non-government organizations. Each individual or group has their own political standpoints. And the surprising thing is, aspirants believe that these endorsements will actually work in their favor. I don’t know if the electorate is really persuaded by endorsements. If not, then we really are thinking independently from each other about the changes that we want to see in our country and how these can be achieved. If we are, then our electoral system is a popularity contest. Much like what has become of competitive reality TV shows (Survivor, the Idol series, The X Factor, etc.).
Another ridiculous observation would be on the local level of campaigning. The gimmicks employed by those desperate enough to get into office are just plain annoying. An example would be handing out of freebies by convoys that visit different sitios in your community. What do they hand out, aside from the proverbial sample ballots, cardboard fans, and stickers? Oh not that much, just some bottles of liquor, that’s all. It’s not like it’s considered as a form of vote-buying, is it? Besides, the liquor ban was just implemented just last midnight, right?
A second example would be the use of a jingle that is derived from an old, familiar song that you vowed never to listen to again. This jingle would be blared all throughout your barangay at an ear-catching decibel. You listen to the words and make out the name of the candidate “na dapat iboto para sa pagbabago.” Then you listen to the melody. It’s vaguely familiar… “Oh no! That song! I hate that song!” You cover your ears. “Auugggh!!!” The worst thing of this situation?
You’re stuck in traffic.
It’s Like a Reality Competition
…only, if we make a mistake and elect into office the wrong candidates, we’re in for it.
So yeah, Philippine campaigning and elections resemble that of television reality competitions. Because more often than not, the aspirant who wins the heart of majority of the people, becomes elected into office. I think generally, people don’t mind the qualifications of a candidate anymore. Besides having no time to really scrutinize all the candidates, they’re already tired of going through the same cycle to death and get nothing to minimal positive change. Also, they may have other more important things to tend to. Like work, family problems, personal struggles, and whatnot. It’s become more of a “survival of the fittest” mode with an injection of “mind your own problems.” They don’t mind what happens to the country; they’re more concerned with what happens to their own selves.
There are also persons who think that because a certain candidate is elected (in this case) to the position of Philippine president, “magwawakas na ang kahirapan! Yehey! Mabuhay!”
Poverty can’t be eradicated immediately within six years. It’ll take much more time than that. In fact, the generation that we all belong to now will pass away before this country would be certified as “first-world.” People can really be disillusioned… because we all are tired of living the hard life.
One thing that I’ve noticed as election day approaches is the constant thoughts of possible vote count manipulation, thus justifying a need for a manual count. Come on! It’s automated! Isn’t that the reason for automation—to do away with manual counting and to speed up the process of government transition?
I think people here are paranoid because they still can’t get over martial law. When PGMA declared martial law in Maguindanao, some cried that she’ll declare it over the whole country. Guess what? It didn’t happen. Some said that it wasn’t a mark of competence. Duh! There were strong political personalities back then in the area; they had to be controlled. Another reason could be because they are overly cautious of making the mistake of placing the wrong one in position. Well, it’s true that we should watch who we put up as our leader, but there will always be mistakes on our part and incompetency on the part of the chosen president. There will always be that one instance where no matter how prepared, qualified, and ready something/someone is, there will still be that one thing that will go wrong. So stop looking at the leader’s mistakes and look at what he/she has done right. Frankly, that’s what I’m irked about how they judge the present government.
No Matter What, Just Vote Dammit!
We all have different political beliefs and varying inclinations towards the candidates. Certain candidates seem like they will reign victorious tomorrow, as shown by extravagant public support; thus, making your bet appear insignificant if you have a dissimilar vote. It’s actually a battle between us, the electorate—with marking pens, modern ballots, and the PCOS machines as the weapons. No, wait. It’s our brains or consciences that are the weapons and the PCOS machines are the judges.
It doesn’t matter if your bet wins or not; it’s a majority vote, what can we do about it? But the support that you will give your bet will epitomize the political actions that you would like to see implemented in your society. You stood up for what you think should be happening in your community so as to achieve success for your country. That justifies why you should vote/fight for your beliefs tomorrow, even if it may seem like a losing battle.
Personally, I feel like tomorrow will just be like any other ordinary day. I know that it will be very special because it’s the presidential elections, and historic because it will be the first automated elections in the country, but I don’t know—I’m not excited.
I hope you’ve chosen your bets for the different national and local government positions. I’ve joked of being undecided to my friends a few weeks before, but I think we should abandon the middle ground and make choices that, although cannot satisfy, are still close to what we look for in a leader. I hope you’ve chosen them according to your own conscience, also taking into account their qualifications, and how much you can trust them. And I hope we all make the right choices.
May the best political candidates win!
- “Good Monday morning!…: [CARTOON] Elections and Mondays ~ Past Expiry [http://pastexpiry.blogspot.com/2008/09/cartoon-elections-and-mondays.html]