A voter’s dream
How do we educate ourselves to vote right? Is there any manual? Where can we learn it? What are the things that we should look for in a candidate? How can we know that a candidate’s intentions are to really serve the public genuinely, sincerely, and never for self-vested interest? How can we have a 360-degree evaluation for a candidate? What aspects should we look at? Shouldn’t we have metrics for the elected official to know if they are doing their job properly? Why do we not have voter’s education in our curriculum when it is as important as algebra or the Rizal course?
I was 17 when I registered to vote in time for the 2010 elections. I ask the same questions until now, but I still don’t have answers 11 years since I first voted. Four barangay elections, four senatorial elections, and two presidential elections. The two presidents I voted for did not win; the four senators out of 12 I voted for in the 2019 elections did not make it either.
Is there something wrong with my criteria? What kind of candidate should I vote for? My friend said to vote for somebody with the same values as I have. What are my values? How are values important versus the competency and skills of a candidate?
During my first time to vote, I voted based on the process of elimination. It was based on whether I “felt” that this candidate would be good enough. Then as now, I do not like to vote for the popular ones, because I want to be an outlier. So what should be our basis in voting for a candidate? Is there a list of standards?
We often say, “vote wisely.” But how do we vote wisely? How do we teach the people, especially first-time voters, to vote wisely? How can we make sure that the candidate is qualified for the job aside from listening to their debates, considering their track record, and dissecting their campaign speeches? Speaking of track record, remember that one former president was already impeached, but he was still allowed to run and almost won the second time. So how important is the track record of the candidate? Should we give second chances to those who were once convicted?
Never was I asked, as a citizen, by my district representative whether I am in favor of a bill. Shouldn’t they ask their constituents what they think is best for them?
I dream of a Philippines where voters, when asked why they voted for a candidate, will answer with conviction and with at least five specific reasons, and not “just because,” and most certainly not because their vote was bought. A country where every voter is educated, standing for their own beliefs.
I dream of a Philippines where we are united by purpose and not divided by issues. It is between those who are in power and those who are not. It is between the rich and the poor. It should never be about winning per se, but advancing together. It is about playing our role best for the good of the team.
I dream of a Philippines where we move away from crab mentality and push for more collaboration.
To date, we have four million unregistered voters. Will we wait for democracy to be taken away from us before we start to realize the importance of voting right? It is all about collective effort. “What can my one vote do?” The problem does not lie in the candidates. The problem is with the voters. We get the leaders we deserve, so we must be vigilant.
Let us forego the mindset that nothing will change if I do this “small thing”—small things like throwing trash in the proper place, recycling, wearing a face mask, registering to vote. I believe that it is our everyday choice and the little things that we decide to do that will make all the difference.
I dream of a Philippines where every Filipino has a dream for their country. We may not see the change we want to happen in our lifetime, but we can pave the way for future generations. We need not aspire to be Martin Luther King Jr. or Nelson Mandela. Remember the women’s suffrage movement? The women who first fought for it never experienced voting, but they paved the way. Look at where we are now.
There is hope, and the change will start within ourselves. Change will start once we ask the questions, and when we journey together in answering those questions. In the words of Simon Sinek, “Let us all be the leader we wish we had.”
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Jaiza Marian Anuat, 28, is from Antipolo City. She works in a nonprofit education-based organization that caters to underprivileged students in public schools.
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