Sunday, May 8, 2016

Some thoughts on the eve of election day

I write this on the eve of national elections in the Philippines. This would be my fourth time to vote in Presidential elections. My first time was in 1992 when I was among the many young people who voted for the first time since the snap elections of 1986 that eventually led to the EDSA revolution that same year. I voted for Miriam Santiago and Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. then and I still believe Miriam would have been and should have been President because she lacked the machinery that could have protected her votes from manipulation. I was not able to vote in 1998 when I was abroad and there was no over overseas voting yet. 

To my memory, this is probably the most divisive elections and that is not in small part due to social media. It is so easy for (mis)information to spread at least for people who are online or who have access to apps like Facebook and Twitter. I have learned to screen much of the information I see and I am usually very patient. But apparently for many people including those I consider friends and those who were former students, social media is like the saying about TV goes..."If it's on Facebook it must be true!" 

Tomorrow we again elect people whom we think are the most qualified to lead us at the national and local levels. I have made up my mind about who I will vote for at the local level but I must admit it is very difficult to decide who to vote for as President. We all have our criteria but and some people will have personal connections with particular candidates. As such, it is inevitable to have personal biases because we know this and that person directly or indirectly (through relatives, friends, etc.). That can be dangerous because it has been established fact that if you or your kin know someone personally, then there is the high likelihood that you will be spared from the abuses or bad things that the person did or will be doing. Let's face it, if you are related to a bad person, that person would still appear good to you because bad people may still be good to family. Not to others though and that is what a lot of people forget because they don't pay attention to history or can be generally blind to inconvenient truths.

I think we should be critical about our candidates and we should be careful about the information we get including and perhaps especially about where such information comes from. It is easy to poison our minds with all the misinformation out there including those by people who should know better and are regarded as experienced and experts. Do not be misled by people who have been astray themselves despite their past. I think the saying about one being as good only as his last performance applies to many politicians, analysts and other people involved in these elections. But we should not disregard past faults that have not been atoned for and for these elections at least, I believe that such is a big factor.

Good luck to us all and may we all be guided in our decisions tomorrow. Whoever wins this one will be responsible for a lot and regardless of who wins there will be change. Whether that change will be for the better of most people, we will likely know real time and well into the first year of the next administration. Think about your children or grand children. Think about their futures and the environment they will be living in. Perhaps that thinking alone can help you get closer to a decision on election day.

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