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April 25, 2013

It’s a mad rush to Election Day back in the old country. And just as we* are being treated to new, and renewed, promises of prosperity, we are also being treated to the warnings and entreaties, as if we were deities. We’re exhorted to vote for good candidates. We’re told that we should mind our votes, that we should choose candidates of Life and not of Death, that we should reject political dynasties, that we should, that we should, that we should… (A chock-full of posts on my Facebook wall.)

This mix of promise and warning might have been well and good, except that we’ve been through this many times already – so many times, I lost count. There was good ol’ 1986 (well, the revolutionary situation had promise and warning). And then there was 1992 – we might have made it big had we followed up. And then 1998, in which Erap won – looking back, I sincerely think he might have done much better than the present situation if he continued to govern. And then, the 2001 midterms, which saw another revolution and a riot before it happened. And then, the infamous 2004 elections, the one where we learned that the incumbent got 100% of the votes in certain Southern provinces. And then, the recent 2007 and 2010 elections.

You know what, even listing these dates made me a little sleepy. I know that you know this already, though, and you’re also probably a little sleepy from reading the paragraph. But what the heck.

There will be so many promises made during these 45 days prior to Election Day 2013 (seriously, I didn’t even bother to look the date up). And each cycle, moneyed and famous people are promising us change, optimism, light, growth, resurrection, whatever. Each cycle, the party-list system tries to seduce us with its glowing repertoire of parties, which represent, among so many others:

  • security guards
  • janitors
  • tricycle drivers
  • scientists
  • the pro-life movement
  • the Left (why don’t they just form a coherent party? or a united front? why do they have to be people running around the mountains?)
  • women
  • religious people
  • Left-leaning women
  • Left-leaning religious janitors
  • Left-leaning janitors who are also tricycle drivers
  • pro-life religious women security guards
  • Left-leaning pro-life scientists
  • Left-leaning pro-life women tricycle drivers
  • Left-leaning pro-life religious women bus drivers

It’s a confused Venn diagram out there, buddy, but there’s some “consolation”: the party-list system itself beckons us, each freakin’ time, to rejoice in the multipartisan glow of the Philippine political scene, so different from the political monotony of the red hook across the sea or the royal ornery of the saffron flower further west.

Don’t get me wrong. I like voting. I like it so much that I abuse polls on and I would like to give you the opportunity to do so on this blog (soon, if circumstances permit). But don’t you think that, for far too long, Philippine elections have been exercises in futility? No, don’t tell me I should make my voice heard, or that you hope I will still give it a try. Elections are not like sex, where “making your voice heard” while being stifled is very pleasurable, or where even a bad try is still a good try. Elections are supposed to be straightforward things, because what you put in the ballot should rock the vote and determine the government. But in the Motherland, the vote stones the voters. And the government? Well, if you note that the ideological composition of the government changes while the people in government do not, and that the change has nothing to do with your vote, then damn.

*means you back there in the old country, so damn – again.

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