Whoever made this image, I thank you.
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
Nation, allow me to remind you exactly what’s at stake at the wee hours of the morning as some of you pore over who you wish to vote for the last minute. I struggled all day to write how I felt about this, but I couldn’t quite find the right words.
One of the few things I still value about my time in Ateneo was the fact that they made me feel it was a stereotype for Ateneans to be apathetic. They drilled it home so well, any person who had the least bit of love in his heart for the country would feel defiant about such a label: I was anything but apathetic. I admit I made some mistakes in my attempts at taking part in voicing out my ideals as a Filipino citizen (After all, I *was* in EDSA 2...). As I moved on into the blogosphere, it felt like armchair activism was cool and hip and edgy, until the wakeup call of the infamous Valley Golf incident made me realize that you need to temper wild opinions with some measure of responsibility.
True, we’re not journalists. But we shouldn’t be rabble-rousing hacks, either.
I believe that the time for apathy is not now. I’ve heard it said and said again by many people: “wala nang pag-asa ang Pilipinas.”
Nation, as a patriotic Filipino, this sentence grates on me. For almost a decade, we allowed someone to run roughshod over our country and reduce it to a laughingstock. Every excuse, every technicality, every loophole was used and abused just to keep holding onto power for as long as humanly possible. Today, she seeks to hold onto the power for even longer, as she insists on staying in “public service” by running practically unopposed in her Congressional district today. I’ve been writing about politics for a long time, but in 2009, something in me just clicked. Something in me just fell into place.
In 2009, I found myself writing about politics for The POC, At some point, I found my voice. I discovered the best way to highlight the things I perceive to be wrong in this country, not through rabble-rousing or ambulance-chasing, but in being an uncomfortable parody of an administration sycophant who would spin everything that he sees so that we could all realize “this could only mean good things for GMA.” I became a caricature of every trigger-happy blogger who lived to spread wild lies and accusations. Some were uncomfortable because it reflected a culture online that is so deep-seated and irrevocably prevalent, while most were oblivious to the levels of wrongness I sought to lampoon beyond merely being a GMA sycophant.
I parlayed laughs and sometimes shocks into a robust character that has managed to capture the heart of everything that is wrong about the Philippines as of late: someone who doesn’t care how bad things are going, so long as they don’t feel affected by it. The kind of pathetic excuse for a man who would probably never give Kitty Genovese the time of day. I revel in this character not because it reflects who I am, but because it underscores precisely what it should mean to be that kind of a human being in real life: pathetically laughable.
I still feel indebted to Chip Tsao and Stephen Colbert for this newfound passion to be able to write the way I do about politics, but this isn’t about my origin story, really. It’s about the fact that today is the day where everybody gets a chance to make a difference, the way I sought to do when I started writing the way I did. In all honesty, you don’t even need to write 800-1000 words on your word processor like I do. You actually just need to do one small thing I can’t do: you just need to shade a few circles.
In the interest of disclosure, I am disenfranchised. I won’t be able to vote later, but I refuse to be a part of the problem. This is why i’m making a stand not just in advocating for my candidates (My senatoriable list is very public. My presidential choice? Not so much.), as I stand by the likes of Susan Ople, Ruffy Biazon, TG Guingona, and Rissa Hontiveros, to name four of the most important names I feel, coming into the elections. Or maybe supporting “Ang Ladlad” as my party-list sounds weird since I’m straight, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that these people who fought for their right to be represented actually deserve to be represented, rather than a group of security guards who think that Mikey Arroyo would espouse their ideals.
I don’t know if fighting Hayden Kho is the reason, but it boggles my mind people want Bong Revilla. I don’t know if holding a knife in front of Lito Lapid’s one law would make it two laws, but people complaining that Noynoy has done nothing in the Senate have no right to complain if they’re voting for Lito Lapid in turn. But lest this turns into a slagfest for politicians I don’t particularly care for, let me just emphasize that while I am incapable of voting today, I still insist on doing my part to more than make up for it. You can probably do something I can’t today, and that’s shade some circles. So goddammit, go shade those circles!
Seriously, nation, knowing that you really just need to shade a few circles, would it be too much effort for you to even just think about which circles you’re going to shade? Whether it’s your councilor or your Party-List or your president, you owe it to yourself to make a choice that you believe is the best choice you can make. You owe it to yourself to not sell your vote, or to make a joke out of your ballot by, say, voting for disqualified presidential candidate Vetellano Acosta.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it once more: screw the surveys. They are numbers that tell you nothing about the candidates. The only survey that matters is the one happening today. I may not agree with who you want to vote for, but I’ll defend your right to vote for the candidate you want, guns, goons, gold, or call center management shenanigans be damned.
As the continuation of the Marcelle Fabie character hangs in the balance, the real me reflects on the apathy that surrounds him and takes a stand against it. Coming from a country that has been plagued by compromises and a lack of ethics so long as legalities are danced around; coming from a university that looks the other way for plagiarism when they need buildings and then overcompensating when one has none to give; coming from an online culture that shoots first and asks questions later; coming from a sector of society that feels a bit of intellectual masturbation is enough to earn the right to be called an “activist”; yes, the future seems bleak. Yes, evil has a foot in the door and can very well triumph.
Despite all that, I am a patriotic Filipino in that my faith in the country runs far deeper than just watching Manny Pacquiao’s fights: I believe that this country is filled with good people from all walks of life. I believe that we are surrounded by a climate of goodness, no matter how bad things may get. However, I must point out, as a man greater than I once said, that for this evil that permeates us to triumph, good people simply need to do nothing.
The apathy, the willingness to be a part of the problem instead of the solution is all evil needs. The resigned sighs, the hands being thrown up in the air (And waved like they just don’t care.), the cynicism, the jadedness, the culture of compromise, all of these have led us to a crossroads we face on this day. Don’t tout the “I’m gonna migrate anyways” escape button as if it’s truly a solution. Don’t tell me “you don’t care” and then proceed to whine about the government for the next six years, when you did nothing to fix the problem.
It’s time to do something. We want our politicians to do something, yet we go there to the polling precinct, randomly check of our six councilors, then expect things to be better? I guess it makes sense, then, that politicians represent us best, since a huge swath of us don’t do anything, too. Truly, we get the government we deserve.
So today, be a patriotic Filipino. One-up me, despite the numerous people I have convinced to vote for people whom I believe will be good for this nation: go out there and actually vote, and make that vote stand for something. Vote because you’re sick and tired of nine years of the same old crap, and you want the biggest going-away party ever 51 days from now when the Countdown To Stepdown finally hits 0. Vote because you want what’s best for your nation. Vote because you want to have the right to complain about the government some more. Vote because for once, you actually hold the power. Vote because migrating and starting over again really sucks. Vote because you don’t want the status quo to just keep going. Ultimately, vote because it’s your God-given right. If you’re atheist, vote because it’s your fucking right.
Nation, I refuse to be a part of the problem. I have faith in you that whether or not you read this, you will make the same stand on this day as well. Today, we will be a part of the solution. Let us throw away all naivete and wishful thinking: we know our leaders can’t do it alone. Your vote is far bigger than just shading dots on pieces of paper: your vote is a renewal of your covenant to your nation. As Manolo Quezon put it, if yesterday was the day for our mothers, today is the day for our motherland.
Long live the Philippine nation, and long live the Filipino people.