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Opinion

Voting amid COVID-19

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

Tonight, most of the candidates are holding their mitings de avance, the last big hurrah of campaign 2022. For the main event, the national candidates are pulling out all the stops, drawing in mammoth crowds and planning as big a bang as possible, to seal in the votes of their diehards and to hopefully pick up a few more votes from the still-undecided (I think it’s too late to be trying to change the minds of those who are for a rival candidate, although of course anything is possible).

I for one am relieved that this campaign season is over; hopefully the vitriol and muck will be over too. Maybe we say this of every election, but this year’s campaign seems to be especially heated, with passions – and prejudices as well – running especially high.

However, I see that in a positive light, an indication that cynicism has not taken over and hopelessness not set in. Seeing young people in particular getting so creative in supporting their candidates – and having such fun in the process! – is encouraging, a beam of light and a boost of positive energy. Whoever they were supporting, it was great to see them put their energies and talents into participating in shaping the country’s future.

Social media turned out to be a real important factor, albeit double-edged. Chat groups, Facebook, etc. were so useful in announcing events and reporting as they happened in real time, and for friends separated in the crowds to regroup. Three friends, all of significant heft, got separated during a rally. Turned out two of them, not quite used to marching and standing for a prolonged time, saw a foot spa and ducked in for relief – “ang sakit-sakit na ng paa namin!” – but the three were able to find each other after the much-needed break.

Social media also, unfortunately, were the venues for fake news – oh, that awful modern-day scourge! – and misinformattion/disinformation and hate messaging. I’m not active on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, but even in the few – very few – chat groups that I’m a part of, the antagonism and arguments sometimes got really intense.

The day after tomorrow, on what should be a bright – but hot and humid, according to PAGASA – summer Monday, millions of us will head to polling places to cast our vote for the next set of national and local leaders. The other day I went to the Comelec website and looked up the 64 senatorial candidates to put together my list of hopefully not-dirty-dozen. Armed with my kodigo, my ballpen (to sign the voter’s list; to shade my ballot I will use the pen provided), alcohol and double masks, I will march to my precinct – which I confirmed through the Comelec’s precinct finder – and cast my vote; hopefully I will not run into a huge throng and have to stand in line for a long time (sasakit din ang paa ko! – and there’s no foot spa near my polling place).

COVID is not going to stop me from voting; I hope it won’t stop you either. Just keep in mind that this sneaky virus is still around, so do be careful. Your vote counts, so don’t waste it.

2022

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