Monday, May 10, 2010

My Halalan 2010 (The Philippine National Elections)

Today is National Elections in the Philippines. Across the country, every Filipino citizen who can vote is getting their first taste of the automated elections. For the first time ever, since 1986 when it was first attempted, the election process is finally going through with the vote counting in a speedier way.

I didn't go up the hill (where my precinct was) until about noontime, though, because my mother had told me that  there were still loads of people waiting in line. I thought the line and crowds would have thinned out by then. I was wrong. People were pretty much still clamoring to cast their vote.

The elementary school, which was the polling place for our area is situated on top of the hill. It's a pretty small school, and I know that some of my friends from the community who live nearby have gone there. It is pretty historical...back in the time of the Japanese occupation, many Filipino soldiers died defending the town from the invading Japanese. Every year, on October 11th, a ceremony is always held on the hilltop, and a speech is always given near the marker that commemorates these brave soldiers. My grandfather's brother Santiago was one of them...

     I checked the lists for my name (I was in the same precinct as my Uncle Dick), and found that I was assigned to this building. Now, it being midday, I wasn't particularly pleased when this sight greeted me. 

     When I got there, I was told that the Comelec people were taking a brief lunch break and had closed the doors for a while...which was probably not a good idea. :-s The voters there were not irate, but they refused to budge and wouldn't form a line in the shade 'cause they were probably afraid of losing their place in line.

     I admit, I thought it was silly, but then overall, it was pretty encouraging that many people showed up to cast their votes. Apathy was certainly not the case here. :-) Even Senior Citizens went the extra mile (and up the 70 steps to get to the school) and even asked for special permission to have assistants to help them fill out the ballot cards.

     Like I said, not many people wanted to get out of the noonday sun and get in the shade for fear of losing their place. We tried. They wouldn't budge. I had to join in the fray eventually. haha.

     Somebody told us that earlier in the day, they had given out priority numbers for voters, but these ran out, so everyone had to fall in line. It was pretty inconvenient, and many people, including myself did not relish that, but hey, we wanted to vote, and the Comelec seemed to have a lot more on their minds than keeping order and structure in that precinct.

These are some of the folks who decided to have some R&R in the shade, while waiting for the Volunteer with the megaphone to start calling their numbers out. :-)

:-p Now this is one guy who is clearly taking it easy, and enjoying the view. :-)

     The "egg-shading" instructions were stuck to the front door of the precinct, and although it looked simple enough, it was quite hard to do on paper. They gave us large felt-tip pens to use in filling up the "eggs" to tick off our choices. At the back of your mind, you really want to stay as long as you possibly could, 'cause you wouldn't want to over-shade. Over-shading meant having your ballot cancelled.

Thus, no vote, no choice, no voice.

Which is probably why this lady took like, maybe 30 minutes with hers.... :-)

Anyway, backtrack a bit...before the voting pushed through, I found myself at the door...when the organizers decided to hand out priority numbers... I was so close. and then they finally decided to institute order. Which had me swearing my usual Hiligaynon word at least three times before I finally got over it.


It pretty much sucked to have my foot in the door and be handed out a number 12 slip, no kidding. However,   it was ok, because everything started to loosen up and people were no longer crowding. (When you're number 12, you realize that you're pretty lucky you're not voter number 250, if you know what I mean.)

My precinct was number 65. :-)

I was entertained by these wall "curtains" cut out from colorful magazine pages... <-- anyway, it's a minor detail.

The COMELEC lady was a friend of my aunt, and that's her guiding the voters along, checking the ballot cards, etc. That big black box beside her contained the ballot cards of the 600+ voters of the precinct.

Voting instructions in Filipino. :-)

Senior citizens who couldn't see very well, or felt that they could get pretty shaky had their daughters (or other family members) do their shading for them.

And this is a shot of me, being a part of Philippine history. :-) (The woman at the door was a friend of a friend, and since she was older, I called her Auntie ('cause that's what we call everyone who's older, even if we aren't related.: p ) Oh, and i agree with Secretary Teodoro (a presidential candidate) who was interviewed this morning...the "eggs" were simply too false stroke, and you could overshade. (I was gripping the pen really hard in this one.)

After casting the vote, people affix their thumb marks on the master list, and get indelible ink on their index fingers (that's the ink in the little bottle in the background)...which takes days to wash off. 

That's the PCOS machine,  big, black and brand new. :-) 
(Oh, and by the way, the words "Bayan muna, bago sarili" is Filipino for "Country first, before self", which is pretty fitting, don't you think? )

After voting, people lounged around, talked and gave their two cents to anyone close by. Who will win? I don't know, your guess is as good as mine.

For now, it was time to head down the stairs and head on home to watch the live updates on TV... May the best man win. 

And to end this entry, i'd like to share a prayer my cousin Chris put up on his FB status update. Christo (what we call him at home) is half-Australian, half-Filipino, but hey, he's as Filipino as they come. :-)

Chris King God, please watch over the Filipino people today as they elect their next President. Let them be discerning. Give them the courage and wisdom to choose the best person for the job. Someone with intelligence and integrity. Someone that will put the interests of his country and countrymen ahead of his own personal interests. Someone with a profound love of his country. Someone that will be the kind of leader the Philippines has needed for so long. God Bless the Philippines. "


  1. more posts like this doc. :p

  2. The turnout for the vote is encouraging. We have toruble getting the majority to vote in the US. That leads to fringe elements on the extreme right and left controlling what happens in our primiary elections. Since they are the only ones sure to vote, the candidates have to make them happy--instead of the lazy majority.

  3. @marley: thanks C. documenting the elections in my "barriO" was fun. i can't believe erap was still a contender. pretty sucky, if you ask me.

    @Rick: Yes, turnout is good...smarter choices are better. Oh, i hope everything turns out ok.

  4. The COMELEC representatives should have had rotating shifts so they didn't have to close the elections for their lunchbreak. Oh well. The results are in, I can't believe the Senators who won :( God bless the Philippines.

  5. Wow, thanks for sharing these impressing fotos with us!! On Sunday, I also went to the elections of our federal state in Germany, I think it is so important to go to the elections! I cannot understand people who just don't care and don't vote! I wouldn't want my vote to be wasted XDD



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