On the eve of Election Day, May 13, 2007, my friends and I were discussing what time we will go to the polling place to cast our "boto" (vote). I told them that I will make sure that I will vote early so as to avoid the rush of voters like the one I experienced back in 2004. Although I made it a point to go early, lines were slow moving, it being the Presidential Elections. Everyone was anxious to exercise their right of suffrage. Naturally, there were a multitude of voters. And we all know how that election turned out notwithstanding "the mother of all tapes" and the "Hello Garci..." hoopla and subsequently leading to the "I am sorry" speech which left me and probably the nation and the world wondering what the speech was about since nothing was admitted other than incurring a "lapse in judgment" for talking to an unnamed COMELEC Commissioner.
(Photos courtesy of the web)The "barkada" insisted that we all go together. I just shrugged it off knowing full well that they are late risers. "Basta maaga ako bukas" (I will go early) was all I said to them while sharing my stock of beer bought from our neighbors "sari-sari" store before the liquor ban. Hey, we knew it was illegal to drink that night and the day after that, but come to think of it, it was only a minor infraction as against those violating the gun ban. In any case, we were at the comfort of my own home and not doing it in the street like the other "tambays." Besides, we needed, nay, deserved, the break from the continuous bombardment of political advertisements in print, radio, television, walls, trees, shrubs, the neighbors "batalan" (outhouse), electric posts. Not even my neighbors dog house and dove house was spared. I whimsically thought, had these "politicos" decided instead to convert these voluminous posters to campaign toilet paper, their smiling faces, slogans and promises might have been put into better use after we use the best seat in our homes. Laughing silently to myself, wouldn't it be grand having one politicians' ad wiping our backside and instead of "itanim sa senado" (plant in the senate), "itatanim natin siya sa poso negro" (We will plant him in the septic tank). Just think how many trees were sacrificed just to produce the paper needed. And some of them even labeled themselves, "makakalikasan" (nature lover).
I was surprised the next morning upon hearing my mother calling out to my niece, "halika na" (come on). It was 7:30 AM. I immediately got out of bed and went out of my room as my mother was locking the front door. I told her that I will just catch up with them since I just got out of the delta state. I proceeded to the bathroom to use the toilet and take a quick shower. I smiled to myself when I saw the toilet paper... what if we had one of them as a human bidet instead? I know, I know that's sick, but after all they say that they are doing this for public service, di ba? They want OUR VOTE to put them IN SERVICE, to be called HONORABLE and to have access to the billions of OUR TAX PAYED PESOS for the next six years. Heck, if there's a payback for all of that, I guess my price is fair. I can't and won't be bought by a few hundred or even thousands they dish out during the campaign. Just a thought... It's hard on my budget to rent a van to take the whole family to Laguna or even Baguio for a holiday and yet we have a candidate who rents planes at US$3,000 AN HOUR to make it to his campaign sorties and even had the audacity to announce on nationwide television that "sulit naman" (worth it). At US$3,000 an hour, it better be. As far as I am concerned, I needed only a P7.00 Jeepney ride to get to the polling center to elect 12 honorable senators, 1 congressman, 1 mayor, 1 vice mayor, and 1 party-list.
Being the mid of May, the heat was almost intolerable and it was only 8:30 AM. I was perspiring profusely when I got to the polling center and found out that I needed to climb four flights of stairs to reach my precinct. When I finally got there, I was literally drenched and parched. Thank God I still have the full normal use of my lungs and legs that I was able to make it despite the number of cigarettes I puffed the night before. Blessed be... No Lines. The number of voters was outnumbered by the number of watchers in and out of our precincts three to one. The process done by the teachers was precise thanks to the COMELEC'S computerized voting list. Score one point for COMELEC. I was in and out of there in less than five minutes. I saw my mother, niece and aunt waiting for me outside. It was that easy to locate each other using the lists posted on the hall outside the precincts.
With right index finger dripping of indelible ink, literally splashed on by "Ma'am" to ensure I won't be able to vote again. I approached them so we may go home together and back to our "normal" lives. Curiosity got the best of me and so I turned back to look at the list again. Right there in plain sight, written in dot matrix, were the names of some neighbors and relatives whom I know are already deceased several years back. In one page alone, there were two or three of them in my precinct alone. I wondered how many more there are in the other precincts? They announced earlier that they already "sanitized" the voter's list on a nationwide scale. Given this fact, one wonders just how "sanitized" is the COMELEC'S "sanitized voting list? It would be understandable to find the name of a recently deceased person on the list, say, one who passed on that very day to six months back or maybe even up to a year, the time they claim, they started to clean the list. BIG OOOOPS! Deduct two points from COMELEC. If there is an average of two to three dead people still on the list, multiply that by the total number of voting precincts all over the Philippines, we would still have a million, give or take, dead people still eligible to vote. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that figure more than the actual number of registered "absentee" voters both local and abroad combined? Ay yay yay! Having satiated my curiosity, I no longer bothered to check all the pages since the heat was getting to me. Not to mention all the hi's and hello's from neighbors about to cast their own ballots and those who have already done so and the discussions about who they are voting/voted for. Best to get out fast lest we would still be there with the heat and all these people until the poll closes at 3:00 PM and be asked in a survey by Trends or Pulse Asia for the exit polls.
As I stepped out of the school building that served as our voting precincts, I can't help but wave at the camera of a leading network television stationed right outside it's lobby. It's my way of telling the nation, "Hey look! I have done my civic duty! See this indelible inked finger? Oops, wrong finger." Now that we have done our part. I just hope whoever wins in this circus keeps even half of their promises. As one candidate who wants to be planted said, in his accent, "Matotopad ang pangarap mu!" (Your dreams will come true) and another stating "Pag bad ka, lagot ka" (If you are bad, you're screwed), I just hope if they get elected they will not be the only one's whose dreams will come true and if they turn out bad, "malalagot sila talaga" (they will be skewered for being bad). I hope that there won't be a need to call on that old woman in another candidates' ad saying "...ipagdarasal kita" (...I will pray for you) . After all this, and nothing positive emerges for the country, I might decide to vote for Ogie Alcasid's character "TUKMOL" in the next elections come 2010. The nerve of one candidate declaring in the papers, now that the 2007 elections has passed, the race for 2010 has begun. Well he better start racing dupers now since as of last count, he still has to make it to the top twelve unlike his wife who has a commanding lead over her opponents for Governor of their province. "Ito ang korek" (this is correct)
As I looked at the sample ballot littered street and posters stuck to the walls, trees, posts and what have you, I still feel sorry about the amount of paper wasted in this elections. I still think they could have opted in using all that for toilet paper. Sayang (what a waste). Incidentally, now that it is finally over, who will clean up all the mess? Hmmmmm.... Probably we should call on those who said they are "malinis" (clean) and "walang bahid" (without a speck) to look after all that junk. They could make a killing if they sell all those paper by the kilo in the junk shops. A good way to start recouping loses during the campaign and help clean out the environment at the same time don't you think? People will definitely remember you being true to your word and maybe, just maybe, be elected and given the privilege to be called "honorable" should you decide to run for a seat next time around.
However, I am sorry to state the unique quality of Philippine Election, NOBODY LOSES GRACIOUSLY, expect the list of suits and counter-suits alleging massive "dagdag-bawas" (add-subtract), "pandaraya" (cheating) in the upcoming days ahead. Let me rectify my statement that nobody loses graciously. At least in this election, we have one candidate who has already conceded defeat and we are not even halfway in the counting process. Ironically, that candidate happens to be one of the principals of the "the mother of all tapes" and the "Hello Garci..." hoopla which subsequently led to the "I am sorry" speech. Hay naku! I just hope that by this gesture alone, Bukidnon's sugar crops come harvest time, will be sweeter and plentiful.