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Slim Pickings

December 31 seems like yesterday, instead of the four-month break that this blog seems to have taken. I had intended to follow my last blog post with a zodiac-based forecast for my sign, as I usually did in the past years, but life took over and before I knew it, almost two months had past without me posting anything. I signed up for a project in February but that fizzled out due to reasons I will not discuss anymore. I take full responsibility. I have burned a bridge that I really like. In the process I have learned additional lessons in working and relating with people. I wanted to share the experience in this blog but I didn’t. That was me exercising atypical restraint.

And now I find myself with a restless desire to share–as if I had shared enough in social media–my thoughts on the elections, which is happening tomorrow.

a memory of the 2010 elections

a memory of the 2010 elections

The last time I voted was in 2010, when an overwhelming majority of Filipinos voted for PNoy. I was still living in Cambodia back then and my group of Filipino friends actively campaigned for him. By the midterm elections I was already back in Manila but I never did anything to change my registry data so I wasn’t eligible to vote. But that didn’t stop me from speaking against candidates that, in my opinion, did not deserve to get elected. For this election, I made sure I updated my registration so that my tendency to speak my mind regarding the candidates is more or less justified.

The campaign for this election is one of the dirtiest, in my opinion. Those with the loudest voices didn’t talk about issues, focusing instead on demonizing the other candidates. Then there are those who have been stealthily using social media to revise history in the eyes of young people/ first time voters who knew nothing of what really happened in the last 30-40 years in the country. I was disheartened when the list of candidates was finalized. We didn’t deserve to have such a narrow field of choices.

I never considered Binay not only because of allegations of corruption but because his platform of government wants to make the whole country a welfare state. Same with Duterte. I’m not a fan of his unfiltered manner of speaking and his bravado. I listened to his platform of governance but found it full of sweeping promises with no clear means of fulfilling them. If it sounds too good to be true, then it’s probably not true. I got turned off with Grace Poe with the way she reacted to the INC issue and basing it on how I understood the circumstances around her return to the country, I think she’s not qualified to run as President. In addition, she should be held accountable for lying in her certificate of candidacy. I voted for Miriam Defensor-Santiago when she ran for president twice but she lost my vote when she sided with Estrada during the impeachment trial. The image of her goading the crowds at EDSA 3 to storm Malacanang has never left my mind. And now, my biggest turn-off: her choice of running mate in this race really leaves a foul taste in the mouth.

It took me a while to warm up the idea of choosing Mar Roxas as President. After all, I have been exposed to his missteps that really reflected badly on his suitability for the position. I thought he was as charmless as Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, only less brilliant. But later on, as I learned more things about him–about the lies that have been written about him and the wrong things he supposedly did–and the good things he actually did in his various government posts, I started seeingΒ him in a different light. He’s not perfect but I think among the candidates, he is the best and most logical choice.

For my Vice-President, I didn’t have to do a lot of deliberating. Leni Robredo was a clear choice for me over the coup plotters, theΒ dynastic politicians, and the dictator’s unrepentant and not-so-brilliant son vying for the second-highest elected post.

And talking about slim pickings, the mayoralty race of my dear home city is filled with old-timers, almost all of whom deserve to retire from public service if only to breathe new life to my hapless city. It appears to be a 3-way fight between Amado Bagatsing, Joseph Estrada, and Alfredo Lim. Bagatsing is the guy who proposed to turn Rizal’s monument around so that the effing condominium will cease being a nuisance. His running mate is the son of former mayor Lito Atienza who has complained publicly that Bagatsing is not campaigning because of his friendship with Estrada. His solution? He formed an ‘alliance’ with former bitter rival Alfredo Lim to fight Estrada.

Lim is loved by my family and I was inclined to vote for him but this deal with Atienza–a religious bigot who has continuously blocked the access of Manila’s women to reproductive health services–is a deal-breaker for me. I never liked Joseph Estrada but I will vote for him as Mayor of Manila. Why? Because I believe that in the 3 years that he’s been in office, he has done more than Lim and Atienza did in all the years they held this post. Estrada has accomplished a lot in terms of the city’s financial standing, city hall services, peace and order, and the traffic situation. Another plus point for me is his pro-RH stand. So while I maintain my belief that his impeachment was justified and that his pardon was a political strategy of another corrupt president, I will vote for him because I think he is good for Manila. For now.

But regardless who wins tomorrow, whether they are my choices or not, my responsibility as a citizen remains the same: to be supportive yet vigilant, cooperative but critical, and trusting yet clear-sighted.