We just had another Election Day. Every three years, we always hear worn-out messages like “every vote counts.” But does it really though?

My longtime friend thinks otherwise. He has this unwavering stance that voting is a waste of time. For him, voting won’t change a single thing at all. He neither has faith in politicians nor in the Filipinos’ wisdom to pick the right leaders to govern them. Even if one would vote for the right candidate, he said, millions would still pick the shady ones.

His view is in stark contrast to mine, as I harbor this belief that voting is an invaluable part of democracy—it is the populace’s only shield against abusers and plunderers. I told him once that abstaining from voting amounts to abandoning one’s duty as a citizen, but he just shrugged his shoulders, showing his indifference.

There was even a time when he sarcastically told me that he would only vote if I someday decide to run for public office, which never, not even in the figment of my imagination, will happen. He remained adamant and did not vote in 2019 for senators,  and, last Monday, didn’t cast his ballot again.

Though I don’t agree with my friend’s stance, I can’t blame apolitical people like him. In a perfect world, elections are a mechanism for voters to boot out corrupt politicians. But in reality, people have no choice because the alternatives are just like the incumbents most of the time. Our country has a “brain drain” of genuine public servants. This is the continuous episode that we continue to endure every three years—we are stuck with choosing the lesser evil among the plethora of ill-reputed candidates.

Most candidates are straying away from the true meaning of a campaign: no platforms, just vibe. During campaigns, voters are royalty that some candidates become servile to. These cockalorums are willing to do everything to please their temporal masters: they can dance, they can sing, and all the other clownery for the sake of votes. I can’t figure out if they are campaigning or auditioning for a talent show.

We are now more divided than ever. The atmosphere of the 2022 elections has been utterly different from what I witnessed in the preceding polls. Over the years, my perception of elections has completely changed, as politics in the country became meaner due to social media’s vicious algorithm.

Disinformation has widened the crack in our society. Social media is echoing bifurcation in the country,  exposing our inner devils.

The harder pill to swallow is that this election has uncovered the lack of education about our history among the youth. They view the University of Facebook as their go-to source for (dis)information. Jose Rizal must be rolling in his grave with what is happening—he did not sacrifice his life just for the youth to learn Philippine history from a random guy on TikTok.

The 2022 presidential election was momentous for me. I cast my ballot for president for the first time. I am certain of who deserves to govern the country in these turbulent times. But many Filipinos see things differently. It seems that they don’t treat polls as a tool for them to choose the qualified candidates; instead, they conjecture elections as an avenue to vent their anger toward one another.

We are still fortunate because, in other countries, people can’t even freely exercise their suffrage and choose their destiny.

I still trust in the power of us, the youth, to make a difference. We are more than enough to determine the outcome of the election. Despite its flaws and excesses, democracy opens an avenue for us to change the path we are heading to. If we keep on falling on our own credulity, we will soon witness before our eyes the demise of democracy.

We are entering a new phase. The victors will indubitably change the course of the country—either for better or for worse.

In the end, the impact of this election will be indelible in our memory. This has been our best chance to choose our country over any persona. Will I eventually succumb and subscribe to my friend’s apolitical view? It depends on the final outcome. I do hope millions of Filipinos will have proven him wrong.

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