An election experiment: Yes, some Filipinos ‘vote-guess’ | Inquirer Opinion
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An election experiment: Yes, some Filipinos ‘vote-guess’

/ 05:02 AM May 27, 2022

I filed my candidacy for city councilor in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan, on Oct. 5, 2021. I told nobody except my family and my best friends. The reason: To learn firsthand if voters may just be guessing or choosing at random the candidate to vote.

This may sound irresponsible to some, but not everyone can make a self-sacrifice and experiment on something unconventional, particularly me who is a pharmacist teaching in a pharmacy school and is not highly involved in politics.

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To prepare for this experiment, I did not allot campaign expenses and did not ask for contributions from the people I know, even those with money. During the campaign period, there were zero campaign materials, zero strategy—I never campaigned at all.

When the Commission on Elections released the list of candidates in our city, I went through the names and discovered that there were five of us who were independent, out of 20 candidates seeking councilorship in the first district that only needs six councilors.

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On Election Day, I was at ease and frightened at the same time. At ease because I was trying to prove something and frightened because I knew I was going to be humiliated. Not all my acquaintances knew the reason I was running, and perhaps they were expecting good results. My friends have always known that I am a fighter and someone who produces results. But I prepared for any outcome. I thought of the possibilities before committing to it: that if I did not win, it would be okay because I had a purpose. And if I’d win, it wouldn’t be that bad since I knew I can do the job. I’ve been in academia for years. Surely councilorship wouldn’t be that hard. But I also take no pleasure from an effortless victory.

In the end, as expected, I did not win. At the time of writing, I garnered 7,570 votes, a number higher than I expected. Analyzing the results, a few acquaintances may have recognized my name on the ballot and voted for me, but the majority seemed to have guessed and randomly selected me. The wonder of it all is that I wasn’t the last. I was 16th out of 20 candidates. And I even defeated someone aligned with a political party. I marveled, what could have been the factors behind this? Was it because I was female? Or because I was sixth on the ballot and some voters could have automatically picked the first six candidates?

On one hand, maybe some voters were busy making a living and had no time probing the candidates. Or others had that “bahala na” attitude and didn’t actually care who runs the government. Others may just be unapologetically undecided. Whatever their reasons may be, one thing is for sure: Those 7,570 San Joseños who voted for me did not sell their votes. I can guarantee that because I did not spend a centavo. I am proud of them because they are not part of vote-buying, a rampant political maneuver in the country that should never be normalized as an economic exchange.

Another observation is that voters focus more on national candidates, especially the presidency. They don’t often pay attention to local candidates, who, once elected, could actually create a bigger impact on local livelihoods, opportunities, basic services, and facilities like street lights, water, schools, and public libraries—projects that could greatly affect them on a day-to-day basis and uproot them from poverty.

I ran for office not to win, but to send a message.

Teresa May Bandiola, Quezon City

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