This is a previously published column write-up from Iloilo News Today last February 12, 2013 under my by-line.
Filipinos are unaware supporters of irony. On a chilly night whilst swaddled in the warmest Baguio blanket, we keep the electric fan on. We like to eat dirty ice cream. We make it a habit to join the Zumba in the Plaza every morning but eat a cholesterol-rich Longsilog thereafter – with two cups of extra rice. And during the election period, we endlessly rant about the hopeless system of suffrage but the turn-out of voters sets the lining-up time longer than two hours. This is how we value our right to opinion. This is how we value our right to select leaders. This is how we value democracy. Despite the millions of tirades on how we are left to choose the lesser evil, millions still come to voting centers anxiously hoping that their ballots won’t get rejected by the 100% flaw-free PCOS machine. Yeah right, 100% my bum.
There were more than 50 million registered voters in the last presidential election. Approximately 38 million actually went to the precincts. Although not all voted, the mere act of going through the registration process – getting a horrid photo via the biometrics included – is not a mean feat. 60 percent of the 38 million belonged to the youth sector (40 years old and below). If with a common voice, the youth may become the determinant of electoral results. That may be the reason why most platforms of government include scholarships and free education programs. That may be the reason why campaign ads need to have a touch of Sarah Geronimo and Julia Montes.
The youth, therefore, must run the extra mile to vote according to patriotic conscience and responsibility. The youth’s decision mustn’t be based feebly on bright, colorful and obviously Photoshopped campaign posters. The youth, therefore, must expose themselves to unbiased candidate information. Voter’s education may initially appear as a weak solution to our past electoral regrets but give it time, attention and while we’re at it, hire a conman to crack the ribs out of vote buyers and sellers.
What are shown on advertisements are filtered versions of the candidates. Screened. Edited. Photoshopped. Of course, who would promote themselves as money launderers or someone with a mysterious SALN? If the youth can stalk – I mean, research – about their favorite celebrities like a piece of suman latik, then what’s going to stop them to gather valuable information on 2013 candidates? If the youth found out the identity of Coco Martin’s lovechild then, surely they have the skill to fish out the credible from the incredible hulk.
There are many ways of knowing our candidates through and through. Read newspaper articles about them since they’re most likely unadulterated. Follow them on Twitter or Facebook and observe their consistency. Bookmark and subscribe to NGO websites that advocate unbiased voter education. Attend political rallies and stay for the candidates not for the artistas they brought along – well, except perhaps kung si Ser Chief. Watch political debates because aside from a possibility of seeing a brawl on live television, their havey and waley remarks can seal the deal for you.
No one has the right to actually dictate who you will vote for. Clichéd as it may, it is still your choice. But I grip firmly to the belief that in spite of personal preferences the nature of human conscience is universal. We all want what is best for the Philippines. I’ll let you in on a secret. The moment when the right information and conditioning gets into you, is the moment when you’ll be brave enough to strip out each candidate. Because beyond her Hanepbuhay, what we truly would like to know is if she can make every Filipino’s buhay convenient and secured. Because beyond his relationship with Heart Evangelista, what we truly would like to know is if he really has the heart to serve.
May is just a few months away and Flores de Mayo isn’t our biggest concern.
I trust your conscience is the same as mine. Vote for the Philippines.