Why I vote (revised)  

Posted by Laya in

In my pre-teen years, I came across a story in a book... it might have been Philippine Prose and Poetry, it might have been the Philippine Readers. (I'd say it was Camilo Osias' Philippine Readers because I distinctly remember the illustration of a boy in a camisa, trousers and chinelas that might have been by Amorsolo.) I don't remember the title, the author, or even the names of the characters, I just remember the story, as it was a huge influence on getting me all het up about voting.

The story begins with a boy waking up on the morning of his birthday. His mother greets him, and there is a reference to them being poor, as his father is already dead, and that she is sorry for not being able to give him a birthday present.

He tells his mother that it's okay because his country has given him a wonderful present for his birthday. It is his 18th birthday, and he is now able to vote. His mother asks what is so wonderful about it, and he explains that his country has now entrusted him with its future. By voting, he will help to decide what happens to his country.

After breakfast, they have a visitor, an old friend of his father who is a politician. The old friend now starts in being buddy buddy and banks on old friendships by asking for the boy's vote in the upcoming elections. The boy refuses, and his mother grows indignant. This is his father's old friend, he is embarrassing his mother by refusing. He now explains that his vote is not to be given away that lightly, that it is his duty to his country to vote for someone because he believes that person will govern wisely, not because that person is a family friend or someone he knows. He cannot make a promise he will not be able to fulfill.

"Someday, mother, you will understand," he tells his mother as the politician angrily leaves.

The boy's words in that story has stayed in my heart and mind over the years. Because of that short story, I was keen to register for the SK elections as soon as I was old enough. I registered as a voter for the regular elections at age 17, because I was turning 18 before Election Day. I dragged my sister to register at the first opportunity she had after her 18th birthday.

Yes, I know, this country has problems, especially during elections. Yes, I know the existence of the dagdag-bawas and all those other forms of cheating. So why do I still vote?

Because, as the boy in the story said, my country has entrusted me with its future. Others may disregard my vote as of no consequence. But if I do not vote, it will be the equivalent of standing aside and doing nothing. "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." Our indifference would, in time, kill what little democracy we still have.

Besides, in law, before you can bring suit for the redress of a wrong, you must first have the legal standing to do it. If there was damage to property, you must be the legal owner of that property. You cannot bring action for damage to your neighbor's property, or even to your sister's property. Same thing, you should not complain of cheating in the polls if you yourself have not voted. You don't have the right; you disenfranchised yourself. Vote first. And if you see your vote misused or disregarded, then speak up for it. No one else then would have better right than you.

That's why I vote. How about you?

This entry was posted at Monday, July 06, 2009 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

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