My First Vote: Jeannie E. Javelosa - Lifestyle Asia
June 11, 2021

“I remember a gun pointed at our group during my first real voting experience…”

READ ALSO: My First Vote: Carissa Cruz Evangelista

This month, Lifestyle Asia is talking to several members of society of differing backgrounds about one of the most important choices they have had to make in their lives—who should govern them and the ones they love.

In these personal essays, we hope it would enlighten everyone that, while our current situation remains seemingly bleak and unconquerable, even the smallest decisions that we make can still make a difference.

Our voice matters. Our vote matters.

I remember a gun pointed at our group during my first real voting experience.

It was the period of NAMFREL. I was young and out of college, idealistic. I volunteered to be a watcher, as many in our church group did. This was at the Guadalupe Viejo area in Makati, when the last hurrah of the dictatorship was making itself felt through guns and goons.

While only a mild scuffle happened and we ladies got out of the way, it was an eye opener for me to count and watch the ballots as they would determine a shift of government back to democracy.

So I was young, idealistic and a little fearful as it was my first time to have such a goon-ish experience. But I clutched at my ballot and voted. Because I believed there could be changes away from one man’s corrupt and dictatorial regime.

I am older now, and I can say cynical too. I am decades away from my first Namfrel experience.

Since then I have worked alongside government from the private sector side, served changing leaders and watch the political immaturity of the masses translate into selling their votes.

I saw the continued political dynastic succession that keeps power in the hands of the same people. And so corruption continues and as each new President assumed office, I moved deeper into working for changes, that the good done in previous administration could become even better.

But everyone seemed to accept corruption in government as a natural thing; or that manipulation of media and statistics are normal fare, and dirty operations continue unabated.

As the years go and we see statesmanship gone, people with mediocre minds in positions of power with no clear direction. Instead we see posturing for public consumptions devoid of real results. Empty promises. And lies. Until anger became my ally against politics. Except that it was so tiring to always be angry.

So instead, I choose to cut off from anything political and just keep working for positive changes in my sphere of influence.

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Sometimes it is good to have fear, or even anger. But what happens when apathy sets in? That through the years I/we have again, and again, been disappointed in our leaders.

Until there comes a point of questioning: Can my vote really matter? Will my vote really count to bring forward true leaders with the hearts for the people? Or noble leaders with capable governance skills and the firm desire to better lives of our very poor folks?

Can my vote even count for intelligent visionary leaders that will take our country through the deeply challenging and transformative times we are in.      

Today, as 2022 looms with the specter of intense cheating. I pray because a part of me feels so powerless. Writing this article now almost feels like a lamentation!

Can we hope that political personalities unite and personal interests be set aside for the bigger interest to that of a nation and our people. I will pray on my knees to shake the apathy within me.

For this time more than ever, may my vote truly count. For it is a vote to call back leaders with values we can emulate and respect; leaders with wisdom and intelligence to inspire our nation to hold a vision of what is good and true. And so I will vote, perhaps because a miracle of an alternative opposition may come together.

What is clear is we cannot have the same kinds of people in power. Not the corruption. Not the misogynistic treatment of women. Or the bullying style. Not the blatant disregard for respecting the highest position in the land.   

So I will clutch my ballot in this crucial time as the country is in a political tailspin.

In this time when the darkest shadows are cast by those in power; where values are thrown to the wind and there is a palpable sense of hopelessness in the thick fog that surrounds us all.

I will vote to bring out the power of my choice, my identity as a Filipino that speaks with a prayer: Oh God, in 2022 may we be inspired and blessed with new leaders with vision, honesty, integrity and values that carry Your Light.  

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