I never got to vote for over 20 years. Not only because I worked in Japan for 7 years but because I decided not to. I believe that this has made me unhelpful and insensitive being a citizen of the Philippines. In other words, “useless.” No matter how many times I heard people tell me that, I did not care at all, not even when my husband tried his chance for Sangguniang Bayan in our municipality. Not even that has encouraged me to exercise my right to suffrage!
Voting is indeed necessary. We have the power to elect officials whom we trust could be effective public servants. But when you speak with the urban poor or outskirts of provinces, this vital purpose diminishes. A citizen said, “I will vote for whoever gives me the highest amount of money because they’re all the same.’ Another one opined, “This candidate is better because at least he had tangible projects. It’s better than none.” Then there’s this, “It’s okay to get envelopes because by the time they win, we cannot even feel them.” These all go down to “MONEY” and for them voting means a chance to directly receive something they weren’t able to gain from politicians in their reign. Thus, when I listen to these people, I would ask myself, their number accumulated vs. my only vote, will it matter? Hopeless.
In 2016, I personally campaigned for President Duterte. I distributed ballers, t-shirts, posters and attended his rally here in Iloilo to show my support. That year I was very optimistic for change. I rooted for his strong will to govern. He failed me. The change I saw wasn’t the change I thought the people needed. In 2022, I saw the same faces in the National bid. Why would I vote? I told myself, “These people were given years to prove themselves. Same-same, nothing will change. I will bet my life’s entirety for that.”
In the year 2022, even when I saw the willingness of my husband to sincerely serve, I first opposed because I believed that we can still be of help to our town even as ordinary citizens. Regularly, we have yearly gift giving, we promote employment, we also distribute goods in times of pandemic, we help build chapels, and there are more that I couldn’t enumerate here. However, since he was too strong of his decision, I supported him, campaigned for him, and I also witnessed a large number of folks believed in him. Yet he placed 10th of over 40 vying for the post. Then I concluded, even if I did vote, he wouldn’t make it anyway because people like me, whose too ideal with high hopes in clean elections and governance are outnumbered by the kinds I mentioned above and we couldn’t even afford to throw the blame on them. As the rich becomes richer and poor becomes poorer, will there be an ounce of chance to reach majority of Filipinos who will vote for the sake of the Philippines lifeline?
I’m not writing this to encourage you to boycott next elections because if you were that kind of voter as I am, combined, we would fail on our search for genuity in times election education and information gets blunt with the hungry stomachs.
Not until long-term politicians stop controlling low income families, or at least provide jobs with better benefits, they still mightily take a hold or gain the penniless’ sacred, life-changing “VOTE,“ which results to my one chance being repeatedly proven inadequate. Then, I would just remain an ordinary person that could somehow be useful in bringing light to my family and community.