I’m sixteen years old and too young to vote. But just because I’m too young doesn’t mean that I can’t be informed or passionate about the elections. Many of my peers are like me, willing to discuss politics and the upcoming senatorial elections and express our thoughts on the different candidates. But as I was researching about the men and women running for seats in the Senate, I was hit with the reality that even if I was old enough to vote this year, I know nothing about the May 13, 2019 elections.
For a start, I had no idea that there are 62 candidates. Going through the complete list of names, I’m not proud to say I’ve only heard about a handful of those running. And from those I know of, I have no idea what their advocacies, political platforms, or credentials are. Most of the names I recognize are due to the public scandals they’ve been involved in, which, if you think hard enough, are valid reasons why they shouldn’t be running for office, and yet here they are.
Another thing I had no idea about was that even if there are 24 seats in the Senate, only 12 seats are up for grabs this year. From 62 candidates, there will only be 12 “winners”, meaning, the Filipino people have a very wide variety of “contestants” to choose from. I am concerned, however, over the fact that due to a large number of candidates, the winners would probably not even represent the majority of the Filipino people. Senators will be elected despite having relatively few votes on the basis that they won by only a fraction more than their opponents.
Because of social media, I have only been aware of the candidates who are supported by the people I follow. Therefore, I am being fed biased information. Even though most of the people who share this information are adults I love, respect, and look up to, it makes me think about how many of the opinions and beliefs I have are truly my own. How can I confidently root for one political party when I’m not even aware of the other parties’ candidates, histories, and advocacies?
What are the issues facing our country today? Poverty? Corruption? The quality of our education? Access to basic healthcare? The war on drugs? Disaster management? Others? All of the above? What are the senatorial candidates promising? Do they even have the power to push through with their promises? Do these candidates have a good track record of turning their promises into actions?
What about corruption? Do these candidates have a history of shady deals and misuse of government funds? Do they have criminal records? What were their previous jobs? What makes them qualified to run for office?
Finally, my biggest question is: why am I even thinking of this? I’m sixteen, two years too young to vote. I don’t even have a say in any of this. Will my voice even make a difference? Will, whatever I believe affect or change the decisions of the millions of Filipinos voting on May 13? Am I too idealistic, or am I just clueless?
Maybe I AM too idealistic. Maybe I AM clueless. But what I refuse to be is ignorant. If I can’t control who’s running my country (yet!), then I can at the very least educate myself and be aware of what’s happening in the Philippines. I refuse to turn eighteen and still have a limited view of Philippine politics. I want to learn more about what our country really needs compared to what politicians say we do. I want to know when it’s right to call BS on laws and promises and actions that don’t make sense.
This year, I can still do my part. I can encourage the adults in my life to do their research and think long and hard about whom they want to lead the Filipino people. I can spread the word that the right to vote should not be wasted, so don’t abstain from it, or even worse, sell it. It’s my generation that’s going to inherit the successes and problems of this country; we need to encourage our parents to think about the Philippines they want their children to live in and vote accordingly.
I don’t want to live life accepting that the current state of our country is as good as it’s going to get, that nothing can be done, that things can’t get better. And I am one hundred percent sure that I am not the only young person counting down the days before we can finally burst into the polls to vote for the leaders we want and so desperately deserve.