May 10, 2010 was not your usual Monday here in the Philippines. Instead of the usual early-morning traffic with thousands of commuters lining and filling-up the side streets; people struggling to catch the train, bus or cab; jeepneys almost "flying" because they are moving in very fast speeds; cars honking everywhere; and stress already creeping up even before people have set foot in their offices...This time, however, there was a hint of excitement in the air.
May 10, 2010 was declared a non-working holiday because it was the day of the much-awaited National Elections. It is also the day when the country held it's first ever automated elections! Since we didn't want to get hold-up in heavy traffic, Cupid (my husband) and I left the house (and our still-sleeping daughter, Maia) at 6:30 a.m.
I remember feeling very optimistic. I remember noticing that drivers were more "giving" towards one another. Not one vehicle tried to swerve by and cut us off. I remember drivers having smiles on their faces. People were in a jolly mood and were actually being polite to one another. I remember seeing big, wide smiles from people on the streets. I, myself, was feeling very patriotic. Perhaps because it is election day and people were hoping that positive change was finally about to happen. Maybe it is also because that day signified the "start of the end" of the reign of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the most unpopular president in the history of the Philippines...and people were starting to feel extremely relieved and excited at the thought of her being replaced by someone honest and true (hopefully!). Whatever it was that was "in the air" that day, it was really great!...until Cupid and I arrived at our polling place in Makati.
There weren't that many voters yet when we arrived at the polling center in Barangay Valenzuela, Makati City at 7:00 a.m. But outside, by the wall where the official list of clustered precinct numbers was mounted, people were already lining-up. Well, at least, some did. Some, however, just went right up to the list and in front of other people. Then came some pushing and shoving, as more people started arriving and getting frustrated when they could not find their names on the list. As I searched, I couldn't help but feel scared too for I couldn't see where Cupid was. At one point, the top of my head was already under someone's armpit...literally! But I charged on. I thought to myself that I would look for him after I find what we were looking for. It took Cupid and I around 15 minutes to finally find our names and cluster number. Actually, it was Cupid who found them and then came looking for me. We were lucky. For I heard about people, going through that list for over an hour!
The outside was more orderly and peaceful, compared to the chaos that greeted us as we entered the polling center. I saw what seemed like an ocean of heads just bopping and floating along as I was trying to look for our cluster number. When we finally saw it, our next hurdle was to look for the actual line leading to our precinct. There were lines everywhere, already long, winding and even crisscrossing at one another. There were even people who refused to fall in line.
And then there were those who did nothing but complain about the long lines, about the pace of the election officers (EOs). And after which pretended to want to help, then talked and asked silly things from the EOs every now and then. All this time, I was just in line and simply observing. And I saw from the EOs' faces how much this distracted them and, consequently, delayed the process further. Until the time came, when I was about 5 people away from casting my vote, that I was unable to contain myself any longer. One of these "good-for-nothing" people approached the table again and asked the EOs how much more time they had to wait. And then I said, in my firmest (translation: "booming!") voice, "Could you just stop talking to them and let them do their job?!" The girl looked at me, obviously shocked that I told her off. People around were nodding their heads in agreement. The EOs said, "Thank you, ma'm!" And then the girl left and we never saw her again.
My hubby and I spent a total of 3 hours and 45 minutes in the polling center (I know, right?!). It was only then that I realized that it wasn't the entire election process that was automated, but only the actual counting of the votes. Nevertheless, I still it is A LOT better than if we reverted back to the old method. I admit, a lot of things could have been done and prepared prior to election day, and a lot of other things could have been improved. But still, despite the setbacks, it was really a relief to see that a lot of people still exercised their right to vote. That people still believed in the electoral system. That Filipinos still have faith.
That, for me, is a really good start and a good sign for national progress. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas! Mabuhay ang Pilipino!
|This picture was taken from my husband's HTC Tytn II mobile phone. See here people lining up to their clustered precincts.|
|Senior citizens had their own special line and seats :)|
|Posing in the car and showing-off our index fingers marked with indelible ink. It was so thick, mine didn't come off till after 2 months (even after having regular manicures).|
|I ordered the Two-Piece Pan Chicken served with gravy and garlic fried rice... my favorite!|
|Cupid ordered the Beef Tapa served with scrambled egg, sliced tomatoes, and atchara|
|Coming home to see this was definitely all worth it! Maia was all-smiles when we came through the bedroom door. Suddenly all the stress, sweat, hunger, and the soreness from standing in line for almost 4 hours just disappeared :)|
|Soon after our arrival, Maia took her afternoon nap :)|