Ever since political ads starting airing on TV, I've been very observant and studying each candidate's qualifications, platforms, and plans for our country. I read every information on the process of the automated elections. I watched every episode of ABS-CBN's "Harapan", as well as some of the other networks' election-related debates and/or programs, staying up till the wee hours just to hear the candidates' responses to the various issues our country is facing. So, humility aside, I think I can say that I'm an informed voter. I was really looking forward to the May 10 elections, as I believe that every election is an opportunity for change, a chance for a better future.
Days prior to May 10, I made my list of candidates that I will be voting for for the national positions (President, VP, Senators ... I opted not to vote for a party-list, as I didn't see any clear platform from anyone of the party-lists). And the day before the elections, I completed my list for the local positions (from Congressman down to Councilors). As I went to attend Mass that Sunday of May 9, my fervent prayers were for peaceful and clean elections.
On May 10, election day, I was up at 6am, and ready to vote by 7. My hubby, brother-in-law, and I arrived at our precinct by 7:20am. I was surprised to see so many people already at the site. I thought we were early, and I was hoping to finish by 8, as I also had a morning appointment with my dermatologist. My hubby and bro-in-law started lining up, while I looked up our names in the voter's list. I joined them in line, and told them to memorize our voter numbers (according to the voter's list). While in line, I observed the procedure that the teachers, watchers, and other election officers were implementing. First, voters had to fall in line in a narrow hallway which was directly hit by the morning sun. I noticed a bigger field where there were no people, a much bigger area, and with shade. I imagined how we would all be more comfortable in that field, unlike where we were standing in line. Even though we brought an umbrella, a small face towel, a bottle of water, and fan, we were still dripping with sweat amidst the scorching heat of the sun. But still, we waited. And waited. And waited. Then, the line moved! Yey! We were then placed inside a small classroom, this they called "Room 1". At least now we were seated, with some shade, but still little ventilation, as they fit 40+ adults in that small room. And again we waited. And waited. And waited some more. After what seems like eternity, we were transferred to another room, "Room 2", which turned out to be another waiting room! By this time, we were really tired, all sweaty, and ready to give up. I was thinking about whether I could still make it to my derma appointment. In my mind, I was calculating, and choosing between whether to stay and wait to cast my vote, or leave and have my beauty rest. All signs were telling me to leave. People losing their tempers, others calling out to friends and relatives so that they could move closer to the line ("singit", as we call them in our native language), men smoking in the already unventilated room (I was afraid I would have an asthma attack right then and there!), the scorching heat of the sun, the waiting time that seems like forever, etcetera, etcetera. Despite all these, I chose to stay. I had to. I could give up my beauty rest for today, but not my and our country's peace and hope for at least six years. I couldn't give up. I just couldn't. My patience and small sacrifice today could mean a brighter and better future for our country, for my family, for my daughter.
Finally, in what seems like light years, I was inside "Room 3" where voters are casting their votes. After verifying my name in the voter's list, I was handed my precious ballot, which I so carefully handled, in fear that a single crease would void my vote. That was my greatest fear that day, that my vote would be void if my ballot was not read properly by the PCOS machine. Maybe I would cry. With all that careful planning, staying up late to watch the candidates' debates, waiting endlessly in line with sweat all over, I would be very upset if my vote wouldn't be counted. So, I carefully filled up my ballot, and within a minute or two, I was finished. I approached the PCOS machine, gently inserted my ballot, and nervously waited for the "Congratulations" message of the machine. Then, there it was, "Congratulations!". I heaved a sigh of relief! :) After having the indelible ink on my finger, I was out of the room. I checked the time: around 10 o'clock. The entire process took us 2.5 hours! Nonetheless, I was happy. I was glad I had enough patience to endure it, thankful that I was able to exercise my right to vote, wishful that my choices would prove themselves once elected, that they would live up to their promises, that they are worthy of the sacrifice I made that day just to be able to vote for them.
So, congratulations to me, to you, and to the millions of Filipinos who went out on May 10 to cast their votes, amidst the many hurdles. Now, again, we are waiting. Waiting for the results, and continuously hoping for a better and brighter Philippines!
Mabuhay po tayong lahat!