Dear First-time Voter,
Do you know the feeling when you are about to see your crush after a two-month summer vacation? Or when the sequel to your favorite book is finally released after a long wait? Or when you have just been given a free ticket to a 1D concert? Or when you get a rampage killstreak in dota? I had the same feeling some twenty odd years ago when I was, just like you are now, a first-time voter.
I could still remember how incredibly excited I was at the prospect of finally exercising my right to suffrage for the first time. It was, after all, some kind of a rite of passage for me. My first legit act as an adult! Imagine, my singular vote would have exactly the same weight as that of the most powerful (Pres. Noynoy Aquino) or the most financially successful (Henry Sy) or the most famous (Is it Aldub, Jadine, Kathniel or Lizquen?) citizen of the land. How cool was that, right?
I could choose whomever I wanted. People could keep on asking me to vote for their candidates, but at the end of the day, my final choice would just be between my ballot and myself, witnessed only by my pen. The secrecy of votes assured me of that.
I was over idealistic. With my vote, I could be instrumental in changing the condition of the country, the plight of every Filipino, and even the future of the generations to come. I had the power to get rid of all the corrupt officials in the government, to fix all the ills of society, and to install in power the best candidates among the lot.
Countless of elections after, the country is still plagued by the age-old, seemingly unsolvable and persistent dilemmas. The people are either bailing out due to hopelessness, or staying behind due to an obstinate sense of hope.
The future is bleak.
And I am jaded.
Our country needs us, though. If we are all to give up, who would care for our beloved Luzviminda? Who would fight off the vultures and crocs in government? Who would expose the transgressions and evils in society? Who would serve as the voice of the voiceless and the marginalized? Who would champion the causes for your future children and your future grandchildren?
And so I pray that you would never lose your excitement whenever election time comes. That you would never surrender your hope that, somehow, sometime, the Philippines would get better. That you would never let go of your faith in every ordinary Juan and Juana’s inherent love of country. That you would never misplace your trust and idealism. That you would never stop believing that your seemingly lone and small voice could have an impact on other people. That you would never be complacent, indifferent, impotent or ignorant. That you would never give up on your nationalism.
Along the way, you will meet different kinds of politicians (Pardon me, but it pains me to refer to most of them as public servants). And, believe me. When they need your votes, they can be extremely charming that they can even charm your pants off you! They can smile until their faces crack. They can promise you the moon and the stars. They can shake thousands of hands, carry hundreds of babies and pat the heads of countless of children.
But most of it are mere acts. Pretenses. Make-believe.
In my next letter to you (which you can read here), I will introduce you to the finer art of seeing through their façade. I will guide you in discerning the genuine from the fake. I will give you a quick lesson on recognizing the tell-tale signs of a traditional politician or what we so fondly call “trapo”.
Meanwhile, be extremely observant. Empower yourself with all kinds of politics, election and candidate-related information. Remember, we only get what we deserve. If we deserve trash, we’ll get trash. But if we deserve and demand for honest-to-goodness public servants, we’ll get people with unquestionable integrity, uncompromising principles, stellar work ethics and genuine love for our country.
Wishing you lots of luck,
Lorelei B. Aquino (Mom On A Mission)