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Dying embers

“Did the burning hope within me die off?” was the question that came to mind as my blood ran cold upon hearing the recent election news. I desperately tried to seek that hopeful warmth that embraced me for several months by talking to some of my friends, taking some time off from the news, or focusing on other things that needed to be done. However, nothing could stop it.

For several days, I felt like a dying ember trying to muster the remaining hope and energy within me in order to function correctly. And eventually, I got tired of feeling that way. I, then, decided to ponder and look back on what happened over the previous months in hopes of answering my own question, to see where this feeling of hope sparked. It definitely took me to where it all began.

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I could vividly remember the joy that sparked within me when I was told that we could already register for the coming elections in October last year. No words could describe my excitement about the idea of voting right after turning legal. We went on the last day of registration.

Despite the long drive to the municipal hall, seemingly endless lines, and irritating warm weather, I tried to be patient in completing the process until they handed me the registration receipt. And just like that, I was one of the four million newly registered voters who will be determining the country’s future for the next six years.

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This is where it all started. The feeling of hope and determination to become an instrument of positive change for the country began to ignite.

In the following months, it was heartwarming to see other teens and adults come forward the same way I did. Be it my previous or current classmates, acquaintances, friends, or a handful of netizens I just saw for the first time. We were all blazing with eagerness to put our vote to good use, combating lies and disinformation, and doing our own research about the candidates.

Witnessing the youth united in making campaigns bright, transparent, and creative filled many of us with high spirits—from creating pub mats about candidates to witty and funny rally placards. These observations further fueled my desire to use this vote to secure a great future for the Philippines.

With a “kodigo” in hand, my principles and values in mind, and a burning sense of hope at heart, I was filled with determination and hope when I entered and left my assigned precinct. However, the raging desire in me to keep the nation’s future secure seemed to be extinguished after Election Day.

I can still hear the claims and jokes like “Ang mga kabataan talaga, di na pag-asa ng bayan,” “SK club naman ‘tong mga ‘to,” “Kahit anong gawin mo, di pa rin uunlad ang buhay dito sa Pinas,” and “Bata ka pa, marami ka pang kailangan na matutunan” being uttered by adults to ridicule the youth for embodying Dr. Jose Rizal’s timeless line, “Ang kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.”

What hurts the most is that these were the same people whom I used to look up to and the ones who told me that I was a “pag-asa ng bayan” as a kid. Since then, I felt defeated and crushed as the flaming hope and determination in me began to falter.

But after recollecting the series of events over the past months, I could finally answer the question I asked myself a few days ago: did the burning hope within me die off?

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No, it didn’t.

Indeed, I was a dying ember then, but looking back on how many of us stood up for our principles and values in hopes of fostering a healthy and just environment for us and other Filipinos in the future kept the fire aflame in me. That despite the heated political climate in our country, we didn’t get engulfed by the raging flames of the deceived and hopeless. Instead, we flourished and remained ablaze through dark times.

Undeniably, no one can really tell what the future holds for us. And we should keep in mind that voting is not the only way to make significant changes to help the country. We must also continue to stand up and take action to achieve good governance, volunteer for causes that would help the voiceless and the marginalized, and combat lies, historical revisionism, and disinformation.

Let us use the hope we shared not long ago to fuel our drive to take steps toward securing a better future for the Filipinos and the country.

Let us remain blazing throughout the dusk so that we can live to see a brighter tomorrow.

* * *

Klaud Kaniteng, 19, is a campus journalist and a communications major.

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TAGS: #VotePH2022, elections 2022, hope, Klaud Kaniteng, Young Blood
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