“My stomach’s been turning from the anxiety,” a friend texted Sunday evening, referring to the coming elections on May 9. Leni-Kiko all the way, she knows, as I do, that it’s still a steep uphill battle.
My Sunday was somewhat calmer, spent with my kids. We did talk politics even if none of them can vote yet, with my eldest frustrated because she’s two months shy of the minimum age of 18 to be eligible to vote.
She and many of her classmates, incoming Grade 12 students, have entered politics early, including participating in the Sta. Rosa, Laguna rally for Leni and Kiko and sharing photos of themselves in proud pink.
Her messages on Viber are among the many I get, more especially from fellow senior citizens who have been bombarding me with daily celebratory chronicles of the progress made over the last few weeks.
I’m feeling a strange mixture of anxiety from all the uncertainty together with gratitude, having seen so many elections but never this truly political mobilization of this scale, based on principles rather than guns, goons, gold, and glitter.
The mantra of 1986, “Hindi ka nag-iisa,” doesn’t figure in 2022. This time around we know we are not alone in our readiness to fight for what we believe in, based not on a fantasy of a mythical golden past but on a future that repudiates the failings of the past.
My eldest told me what she was going to be doing in this last week of the campaign: visit Marcos-Duterte supporters from among relatives to try to convince them to “move over.”
I asked if she had attended some kind of orientation for Leni-Kiko volunteers on house-to-house campaigning and she said no, she hadn’t, but that she would start by gently asking what exactly they find in Marcos-Duterte and then take it from there.
She knows about the surveys showing the support for Marcos-Duterte is coming strong from Gen Z and from low-income households and the role of disinformation and historical amnesia in shaping that vote, but we’ve talked as well about the failings of earlier generations, including my own, in addressing the problems of the nation.
No fancy discussions yet about economics and governance but my kids are learning we have to do our part, why our driver has to have days off and fixed working hours, why we’re putting his son through college, and why we’re helping them to get their own home.
They know, too, why I continue to teach, and run a school where all the students are scholars, complete with computers and WiFi, and yet face so many challenges, including pressure from parents to go on leave of absence and take up full-time work. Our counselors do so much remote hand-holding, talking with the parents, and reminding them that their children’s longer-term future depends on finishing college.
I tell my children pride and self-worth are so important. One student lost his grandmother just last week and asked for a loan of P5,000 for the burial, offering to pay it all back in five weeks, out of his salary. I told our administrators to assure him we appreciated his offer of prompt repayment, but to tell us if he needed an extension.
Last year as election fever built up, I resumed getting print copies of the Inquirer so the kids get to read “real live” news, here and overseas, of war and peace. And of the rare re-election of a French president and his use of a slogan “nous tous” (we all) to which I boast, we Filipinos only need one word: tayo.
Later that Sunday evening I had an avalanche of jubilant texts from UP’s Fighting Maroons making it into the crucial finals in the UAAP basketball competitions. We allow ourselves a bit of superstitious fun looking for good omens.
Sleep well, pitong tulog na lang (seven more nights). Listen to our guts, courage fueled by gratitude and hope we have from a democracy, however frail. We’ll need those guts for more battles beyond the UAAP games, and beyond the elections.
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