Starweek Magazine

Dirty finger

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

Once every three years, a dirty finger is considered a good thing, indicating one has fulfilled the duty of a good citizen by participating in the elections.

We voted mid-morning, and in our polling place, though it was hot and humid, things were orderly and quite efficient. Old fashioned blackboards – green in color – were set up by the entrance, upon which were posted lists of voters according to precinct, and the precincts grouped together according to cluster. There were more than enough volunteers to help you look for your precinct, then direct you to your cluster.

The line was quite long in our cluster, and moving very slowly. Senior citizens were treated royally, escorted to seats, attended to immediately and assisted through the entire voting process. My sister-in-law made full use of her dual citizenship status and finished voting while we were still way back in the line, allowing her to go and buy shrimps and come back for us with time to spare.

Some of the volunteers may have been a bit too zealous in trying to assist voters. My colleague did not quite appreciate being approached not once, but twice, by volunteers offering to bring her to the senior citizens’ lane.

We ended up standing in line for over an hour, but the actual voting process – from receiving the long ballot to voting to putting it in the PCOS machine to being congratulated by the machine for a successful vote to getting the dirty finger – took less than ten minutes. When we got out of the polling place it was raining hard, hopefully giving those still inside the converted basketball court and those having to stay there until evening some respite from the oppressive heat and humidity.

Voter turnout was noticeably less this year despite the long line in my cluster, and the friends I ran into at the grocery later in the morning said they weren’t voting because it wasn’t as important as a presidential election and besides, they did not care for most of the senatorial candidates and did not know any of the local candidates, so why bother?

Unfortunately voting did not go as smoothly throughout the country, with reports of blackouts, malfunctioning PCOS machines, and the usual harassment, vote buying and, unfortunately, killings and shootings. Politics in this country still being so feudal and dynastic, such anomalies are hard to eradicate, since control of turf – or fiefdom – is not something a family or clan will give up without a fight. While automating the voting process may eliminate some forms of cheating, count on the ever resourceful Pinoy to come up with new ways to achieve his end. We heard about the supporters of one mayoral candidate in a little rural town who “invited” a good number of his opponent’s supporters to an “all-night party” on election eve, plying them with liquor despite the ban, and when everyone was adequately soused, they were given the dirty finger so they could no longer vote.      


You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. Psalm 86:5-10

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with