The democracy that was given to Filipinos has brought the blessing of bestowing the power to decide the fate of the country as citizens, especially during election time. Unlike neighboring countries that continually engage in different political conflicts without so much as a semblance of democracy, Filipinos are more fortunate to savor a sort of political freedom given to each of them. Last elections, people used that freedom by electing the next public officials and leaders who will lead them to a greater nation. With the Philippines being a melting hot pot of cultures, one could find oneself in a sea of different nationalities, and you could never stop wondering, “Are they excited about the change that is going in the air, or are they quite aloof to it, along with the right they could never have in this country?” Foreigners who have invested in the Philippines by staying here and calling the nation their home also have their political rights, at least to expression. Coming to the Philippines, specifically DLSU, The Menagerie has compiled some opinions of our campus’ international students on the recently held Philippine General Elections.
According to Rhea Adri (IV, AB-PSM), an Indonesian, the election here in the Philippines is more colorful as compared in their country. “It’s like a festival that everyone is invited to!” said Adri as she pointed out the different banners and posters by tons of candidates. Backing up Adri is Phin Pou Sonida (III, FIN), a Cambodian who says that the candidates hold an “intense campaign through posters and music.”
On another note, Drew* (III, AB-LIM), a Korean, noted that like any other election in the world, it was filled with “active advertisement of the candidates all over the place.” Yes, we can never elude the fact that in spite of the Anti-epal campaign, we can still see our streets full of colors filled by posted election materials paid by candidates’ “friends”. While in China, “most of the officials are selected and voted by the government parties, there is so less involvement of the public in choosing officials,” says Monica Shi (IV, BS-MKT), a Chinese student, adding “the election in the Philippines is open to the public and everyone has the chance to vote.” Elections here in our country may not be the most awaited in the world, but it sure is great to express our rights.
What we fail to see
However colorful our elections may be, we cannot miss the truth that behind the loud noise, foreign observers can see much more of what many of us failed to do. Drew* was surprised as to “how the supposedly secretive and illicit acts of dishonesty during the election could go unpunished.” He was also despising the fact that the very machine necessary for choosing the leader breaks down during the election.
“I don’t know if it is product of ignorance or pure intentional manipulation; either way, the inefficiency this country so proudly proclaims to the public is something that I do not enjoy seeing.” As for Shi, she mentions that many people don’t vote fairly. She mentioned that voters failed to delve into the platforms that each candidate or party made, and tend to make the wrong decisions and not vote the right person.
To add to this, Adri is negative to the existence of political dynasties here in our country, saying that, “The presence of political dynasties in the Philippines; because sometimes the family names give an illusion of greatness and leadership, but the thing is, those things are not passed down genetically.” Another point to look at is how the platforms in this election have alienated international citizens residing in the country. “None of them really push through for something that’s related to bilateral relations or ASEAN or something of that sort. Even if they do, I suppose it wasn’t strong enough because my international friends and I didn’t feel it,” says Adri.
Phin also notes that it is the only country where “candidates are allowed not to join in debate.”
Even as international students have different ways of perceiving the elections here in the Philippines, they still hope for the best for the country, looking at the positive things the candidates have to offer. Just like how Adri suggests having less names and more solid platforms, she suggests, “Maybe instead of advertising their names and all, candidates should advertise more on what they stand for instead.”
For Shi, the key for a successful election should come from educating the media not to broadcast information to mislead the public. She responded, “Most of the time people will be influenced by the media and vote only the candidates that media have been paid to promote.”
Phin sums up an objective view on the entire matter: “Some have solid platforms, some don’t. But let’s see what they can do. Because we cannot judge their stories by their synopsis. There are more surprises in the story itself.”