The first time I voted was in 1998. It was a hilarious experience. I voted in Tondo, Manila, my mom’s hood. I rooted for Manila hizzoner Alfredo Lim, then a known crime buster. I even had the rare chance of voting with him in the same precinct. Lim was sitting right in front of me. The crazy media was all over him. And since I was sitting behind him, they were all over me too. Some crazy photojournalist even stepped on my desk just to photograph Lim while casting his vote. Thus, my ballot had this photojournalist’s shoeprint. I was too young to protest nor complain. Sana palá sinumbóng co cay Lim. Sayang.
The late President Cory Aquino endorsed Lim. Fellow hispanista/filipinista, the late great Nick Joaquín, even wrote his biography: May Langit Din Ang Mahirap: The Life Story of Alfredo Siojo Lim. I was too young back then, 18 years of age. I could easily be coaxed. And many of my peers in the university were communist/socialist supporters. I voted just for the experience. However, my choice for the presidency was genuine: I really wanted Lim to pulverize crime and corruption, something that he was known for during his cop days (or so I was told). But Erap won that game.
Through the years, my disdain for local politics was like a festering disturbance in the brain. Politics worsened, and so was my opinion of it. Like many disgruntled Filipinos, I lost hope in the electoral process. Heck, I lost hope in politics altogether. And during my reevaluation of Philippine history, world history, philosophy, and religion, I figured out that we were actually better off under a monarchial form of government (seriously; but I will expound more on this in a future blogpost). I viewed democracy from another standpoint. I realized that it will not work without theological guidance, something frowned upon by hardcore fundamentalist democrats. Filipino nationalist and philosopher Dr. Salvador Araneta proposed for a Christian democracy (published in his 1958 opus Christian Democracy for the Philippines), but he was ignored to the point of even being marginalized.
In 2004, the issue of the National Identification System was top news. Many politicians were proposing that all Filipinos should have a national ID. During that time, I wasn’t really following the news; I had my own personal crisis to take care of, something far more important for me than the caprices of the powers that be. But if I understood the events of that time correctly, those who were eligible to vote but will not register for that year’s election will not receive this important National ID. Yep, I was suckered to vote. As if I had no choice. Whatever. So I chose the lesser evil: FPJ. Me and my wife voted in Pásay City (where we used to live). I was able to cast my vote. She failed to do so — her name was missing for crying out loud! And countless others in the same area were not able to cast their votes as well.
During chats that we had with those unfortunate ones whose names were missing in the voting precincts, I found out that most of them –if not all– voted for Erap back in 1998 (Yeyette herself voted for him). A clever move.
A few years later, “Hello Garci” became one of the most celebrated and best-selling records of all time, of all time! And that was it for me. I told myself, “never again”.
So that is why I did not register for this election. And I vowed to myself that, after what they did to FPJ last 2004, I will never for the life of me waste my time practicing my right of suffering… suffrage I mean.
And so I would like to extend my sincerest apologies to our family friend, Mayor Calixto Catáquiz of San Pedro, La Laguna, who is running for reelection (I did not vote, but I prayed for your victory, sir).
But fellow hispanista/filipinista José Miguel García is wittingly correct with his comment on my Facebook wall: “Pepe, participating in election today, is interacting in a social game, which is very entertaining and diverts us from the stress of the real world for a few weeks or months at least. Do you not like to be relieved of pain even just for a few months?”
Hmmm… sure, why not? It only comes once in a couple of years. It may already be too late to vote. But it is certainly not too late to enjoy the show!
So I went out this morning to take a couple of photos of this circus called the 2010 Philippine National Elections!