This post is way overdue but I will not miss the opportunity of sharing this scrapbook-worthy experience.
Let me start with my expectations. In my mind, my first legit voting experience would start like those Nescafe commercials where bird tweets wake me up. I stretch, smile and have breakfast. Then, I get ready to head out to the precinct. When I get there, I would be warmly greeted by an old lady in her late 40s, sitting behind the Comelec helpdesk and she would be directing me to the voting room. At the voting room, I would stand in line to receive my ballot. Then I vote. After which, I would submit my ballot to the PCOS machine, have my index finger marked with indelible ink and leave the precinct feeling fulfilled and a contributing citizen to the country.
That was just my expectations.
This was what really happened.
After dinner at Makati, I spent the remaining hours of Sunday researching on the people running for office. It was like Facebook stalking only this time, I was entitled to do it so as to know if these people I had the intention of voting for deserved my vote. Wikipedia was quite helpful in my last minute research. I ended up sleeping late and waking up with bloodshot eyes on Monday morning. And as much as I wanted to wake up to bird tweets, I woke up to my alarm clock and my mom knocking on the door.
She told me to wake up, get dressed and go down to have breakfast. At the moment, I was groggy and puzzled. ‘Am I not supposed to take a bath?’ I asked. ‘No. We’re going straight to the precinct.’ Ma replied. So I did what mom told me – I sprayed some deodorant and got dressed, went down and ate. Then we went to the precinct. It was dad, mom, yaya and I. It was our first time to vote – yaya and me, so it was still kind of exciting – when you push the thought of not having showered to the back of your head.
We arrived at the precinct, well it was a public school turned voting station. It looked like a mess! It was a mess of people, flyers and cars. We arrived a little after 7 am and there were so many people inside. It felt like I was entering a club but in daytime. People kept pushing and there was so much body contact that I felt icky. And there weren’t welcoming old ladies behind helpdesks at the entrance. I was met with a blackboard with the precinct floor plan drawn on manila paper stuck to it.
It took us a while to figure out which classroom we were supposed to proceed to. I was sweating so much and navigating through the campus felt like I was on the Amazing Race without the cameras. After a while, I found my name at the precinct where yaya’s name was expected to be. So I fell in line. Yaya went wandering around the campus until she made the conclusion that her name couldn’t be found so she proceeded to the help desk.
In the meantime, I was still in line and this woman in front of me kept asking me to save her spot while she wandered off. Well, seeing that I had no choice and it felt really hot and humid I kept nodding my ‘okay’. When she came back, I think she took pity on the state I was in – beads of sweat trickling from my temple down to my neck, me trying to save myself by fanning myself with my handkerchief – because she asked me if I wanted a fan. I said I did and *poof* she produced a fan from her bag. It had the face of Cynthia Villar – one of the senatorial candidate. I thanked the lady and took the sign that I should really vote for this woman on the fan.
It felt like a million years and a whole lot of patience to wait in line especially if the woman behind you cannot seem to stop moving and hitting you in process. When I got inside the room, I was asked of my details which I gave right away because I wanted this entire thing over with. I got my ballot and I took a seat to start shading. It was funny because it felt like I was taking a test. Shade the best candidate. Front page was easy – senators and partylist. Back page was a challenge – the local officials. When I reached the ‘Councilors’ portion, voting really felt like a test. I had no clue who these people were and I haven’t heard of them. So I did what I was ready to do. Shotgun the damn thing. I voted for the candidate whose name sounded pleasant to the ear. I know. It’s humiliating. But it made the entire event really seem like it was my first time.
So far, the candidates that I voted for and really wanted to win are far from the ‘Magic 12’. I find it disappointing and annoying that the political butterfly and the 20-year OJT made it to the list. It’s probably worse than having me shotgun my votes for city councilors. But this is another story to tell.