May 03, 2007

Why vote?

Quite a few have been asking me who I'll be voting for on May 14. My usual response to that would be a semi-facetious "that will depend on whether I decide to vote or not." That usually elicits a reaction of disbelief that I would even consider not voting.

My reply--"that will depend on whether I decide to vote or not"--- is not a facetious one; it was not intended to be so. It is a statement borne out of experiences of being hopeful and, time and time again, rendered hopeless.

For those old enough to remember how Marcos rendered voting a farce in every sense of that word, my reply would not be so incredible; for many--including myself--who remembered the boycott movement for the Interim Batasang Pambansa elections, that was a statement that Marcos's government would never be "of the people, by the people and for the people." A refusal to vote was the strongest weapon against a craven dictatorship that desired but one thing: legitimacy; and the hope brought about by one's vote was, ironically, that which involved denying a dictatorship that vote.

For those old enough to remember how one's vote truly became a symbol of hope in the snap elections between Marcos and Cory, my reply would not be so incredible; many--including myself--remember casting a vote for Cory, not because we were great fans of hers (I was not and still am not; I voted for her though because I wished to spit in the face of the dictator) but because we truly abhorred the dictator; many still remember how our vote became a statement in itself, a collective repudiation of all that Marcos was and a collective affirmation of the hope that an anti-Marcos symbol like Cory was (never mind if she couldn't govern, we just wanted Marcos out). The hope brought about by one's vote was, fitfully, that which involved casting that one precious vote.

For those old enough to remember how Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo managed to once again reduce the hope that one ballot brought to unfathomable depths of ignominy, my reply would not be so incredible; many of us--including myself--still remember hearing the dictator Gloria--that unmistakeable voice, that unmistakable nasal tone--directing her underlings Garci, Ebdane, Esperon and so many others to steal not only an election but the hope that that election symbolized. The hope brought about by one's vote was, maliciously, snuffed out in the most cynical of ways--"but will I still win by over a million votes?"

The power of one's vote--my vote and yours--is the power to hope; it is the power to dream; the power to say to the face of a dictator, like Gloria, "Your time is up. Be gone"; it is the power to stay what may be an inevitability--the clash of arms drowning out the rule of law--and say, "not yet, not just yet."

The power of one's vote--yours and mine--is the power to chain as well as liberate; it is more than a symbol of hope, it is hope for change itself. To paraphrase Diokno, for change will come, if not now, then inevitably.

The power of one's vote--yours and mine--spells the difference between light and darkness; the light that comes out of a realization that hope is not lost, that change will not tarry much longer, that our passions, our ideals, our dreams, and yes, our hopes, will one day bear fruit in a country that is truly Filipino, truly free, and truly beautiful.

But why vote, when the very ones who stole our hopes for change in 2004 still abound in the highest places?

But why vote, when the obscenity that is "Hello Garci" comes back in full flavor and in living color to inflict himself on our popular psyche and our electorate by means of his very own full-fledged candidacy?

But why vote, when the very cynicism that eats away at hope abounds in every nuisance candidate made to run, in every Manny Pacquiao fielded, in every dynasty created?

But why vote, when even now the dogs of war have been unleashed and the staccato of gunshots rings out louder than the tolling of the bells of peace?

Why vote indeed?

Because there must be hope. Because there is hope.

The hope that one vote and one's vote--yours and mine--brings.

One's vote and one vote makes the difference between light and darkness, the difference between being in chains once more and being truly free, the difference between whining in enforced silence and raising voices in just and righteous indignation, the difference between all that is good for this beautiful country and all that will lead us further on the road to perdition.

So to those who ask who I will vote for, allow me now to answer you this way: I will vote for those who will truly symbolize the hope that my vote brings.

And so, I will not vote for any member of Team Unity--most especially not Joker Arroyo.

And so, I will not vote for most members of the Genuine Opposition--most especially not Panfilo Lacson or Loren Legarda (I am still praying about voting for Chiz Escudero).

I will most probably vote for Kiko Pangilinan simply because he has chosen to stand on his own, not allying himself with all that Team Unity and Genuine Opposition represents; my reservation is that he might finally find the voice and the passion that has eluded him in his previous term in the Senate; my hope is that he might truly stand on his own and speak only for those that matter--the people who put their trust and hopes in him.

But I will vote for the three gallant souls who have decided to fight the good fight--the three members of Ang Kapatiran: Martin Bautista, Zosimo Paredes and Adrian Sison.

Fittingly, the hope that one vote and one's vote--yours and mine--carries is borne on the shoulders of these dreamers; for only those who hope dare dream.

These three will lose the election and not become Senators but they would not have lost the respect of a grateful electorate; these three will lose the election but your vote would not have been wasted; these three will lose the election but they will have run the race extremely well.

In these times of cynicism, the hope that these three dreamers and "losers" represent is more than enough. The words of George Bernard Shaw borrowed by a famous Kennedy* and spoken by his even more famous brother** are apt indeed, "Some people see things as they are and ask 'why', I dream things that never were and ask 'why not'?"

My one vote represents the power to dream, the grace to hope, the courage to ask "why not?"

Why vote? Why vote for them? This is why--the power to dream, the grace to hope, the courage to ask "why not?"

To these three dreamers, my hopes go with you.

* Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy, U.S. Senator, killed June 6, 1968;
** John Fitzgerald Kennedy, U.S. President, killed November 22, 1963;


kokok said...

“The VOTE:

Daisy said...

Dear Ted,

last week I was moved to send to friends your post. And this is one of the email response I got:

hi day,

maraming salamat sa pag-forward ng essay. but i would not consider the 3 candidates losers because they do not belong to the pack mostly made of dogs (my apology for the dogs and dog-lovers), that is, the senatoriables. they belong to the group of trailblazers that the 16-year-old-physics-graduate-summa cum laude-valedictorian of UP Diliman mentioned in her graduation speech. trailblazers do not lose because there are no updated standards to measure them; they make their own standards because the available standards of political victory are all outdated, inept and outmodeled. they will always win in their own hearts and soul, in the minds of the thinking electorate, and in the spirit of a grateful and hopeful human being. i would only hope and pray, that they plus more like them will chose to fight for the 2010 election.



TED said...

salamat day.

I agree that they are not losers; they are "losers" only in the sense that they will lose the elections but they will win in every other sense.