By Reby Y Gaw
We all know the drill. Neatly piled up like the Von Trapp children, we are ready before 7am to head for the school in which we will cast our votes. My sister, brother, dad, and I would arrive at our assigned room even before the members of the Board of Election Inspectors are ready to receive the first people to exercise suffrage, including us. We would patiently wait outside, scanning the list of voters, checking out our list of candidates, while propelling the fan frantically to cool ourselves.
I don’t remember when I first voted in the Philippine elections. What I do recall is the system by which we as a family would conduct this activity at the crack of election hour. During the 1998 elections during which more than five wanna-be’s ran for President, my dad was convincing us to vote for Erap Estrada, who eventually won that election. However, following our own conscience and discernment, we ended up voting for three different candidates. In the family, it doesn’t matter who you vote for. What’s important to us is to do our homework in studying the candidates’ profiles and platforms, and to participate in this electoral exercise. Voting is not only a right, but also a responsibility.
Perhaps this is our family’s contribution to charting the future of the country. We never, and I mean NEVER, miss an opportunity to vote, be it selecting a new President or set of Senators, or a new barangay captain and kagawad for our community. No election is too insignificant for us not to throw in our one vote and put suitable candidates to represent us, our voice, our rights, our dreams and aspirations for the Philippines.
I read in one Facebook post that we are lucky to live in a country that is free, and where we could choose the leaders to run the country. Not every nation in the world has that. And I agree. It’s so easy to take for granted what our one vote could accomplish, and how this one sacred vote could actually make a difference. It’s sad that a lot of people have grown tired and chosen not to even register to be eligible to vote. They would say, it’s useless, or it’s hopeless. The truth is, however, if you don’t do the vote, you don’t give this country a fighting chance to achieve whatever it is that the Philippines should be accomplishing. It weakens our national hope reserve when only a few put in their bid to actually bring about change, progress, bounty.
I am thankful that my parents raised us to be conscious of the sanctity of the vote. I hope to pass this on to the youngergeneration in our family—to dutifully go out and vote when they already can. Voting is part and parcel of being a good citizen, and to be one, we should always regard the vote with respect and see it as light and hope even when others don’t.