MANILA - This year’s Philippine election became the battleground between a late dictator's son Bongbong Marcos or BBM, and human rights lawyer Leni Robredo.
As the May 9, 2022 election day neared, more and more supporters of BBM’s red and green team as well as Robredo’s pink team were becoming more passionate about their candidate. Many heated arguments on social media were unfolding and friends were quickly becoming enemies which clearly showed how fully invested Filipinos were in this election and who wouldn’t be?
After the pandemic, I am sure many Filipinos were looking for a change and who else would bring this much needed change to them but a leader of the country. As a Canadian who just moved back to the Philippines, I felt protective over our country’s future and felt the need to take part in this year’s election.
Before moving back home, I registered in Vancouver and considered transferring my vote over to Las Pinas where I am currently residing but the process was very tedious so I thought of other ways for my vote to count. I didn’t think much about voting until that moment when my ex-husband received my ballot in the mail back on April 23 and sent me a message.
I immediately had this very strong feeling of not wanting to waste my vote so we checked our options at Canada Post. The quickest way to get my ballot to Manila from Vancouver was a minimum of three weeks. Other than spending more than a hundred dollars for the courier, the elections would be over by then so I sent a message to my Vancouverite friend Anna Pansacola who was vacationing in Manila and who was also facing the same dilemma and discussed our options.
Anna considered asking friends who were coming to Manila from Vancouver and her Vancouver friend, who is a manager with Philippine Airlines (PAL), and I considered my PAL pilot friend who I remembered flew to Vancouver back in March. We both started to send messages to see if it was possible for our ballots to hitch a ride to Manila and my PAL pilot friend responded back to me, giving me the name and phone number of a pilot who could help us out. Soon after, we made arrangements for our ballots to be dropped off at the hotel where the PAL crew was staying.
[Editor’s note: Limcango and Pansacola are dual Filipino and Canadian citizens.]
My ballot almost didn't even make it to Manila because the hotel front desk insisted that they had already given it to the pilot. I had to make long distance phone calls to hound the front desk staff to find the envelope containing my ballot and they eventually did but the pilot had already left. Thankfully, another one of PAL’s crew was able to pick it up from the hotel reception. We were waiting for the status update of our ballots and by May 2, my ballot that was left behind was at the PAL office while the other was ready to be picked up from the pilot’s residence.
The last hurdle of our voting adventure was to get our ballots to the Philippine Consulate in Vancouver by May 9. My PAL pilot contact gave me the name and number of another PAL pilot who will be flying to Vancouver on the evening of May 4, but my ballot, blank and unsigned, was still sitting at the PAL office. The easiest solution was for me to fetch the signed ballot from the voter’s residence to take with me and to meet the pilot at the PAL office with just enough time for me to put in my votes and give both ballots to the pilot so he could leave them at the front desk of the same hotel in Richmond.
By March 6, our ballots were ready to be picked up by our friend and fellow Canadian Filipino writer Emmy Buccat, but I had to make sure that the front desk won’t lose the envelope again and called them for assurance. By May 8, our ballots were safely dropped off at the consulate. Imagine, those two pieces of paper flew all the way to Manila from Vancouver and back hoping that they could make a difference.
This year’s election has indeed riled people up for a good reason. In my case, I went out of my way to make sure I vote so we could see a brighter future and a Marcos-free administration, but this rose coloured dream soon turned bleak as the dictator’s son led by a large margin. We could easily say that our effort was in vain or we could look at it as two people who did what they could do for our country.
In a perfect world, candidates with the squeaky clean backgrounds and most qualified for the position should win but it was never the case in Philippine politics. Action stars with zero qualifications but idolized by many often win the popular vote. Politicians who did the country dirty are always welcomed by the majority with open arms. Sometimes you really wonder where the Philippines is heading, and as a Canadian Filipino who just left her life in Canada where the government really provides for the people, you can’t help but question your decision. Then again, that spark inside of wanting to create tiny ripples in the Philippines, however that may look, is still strong. Perhaps our contribution for our country will manifest in some other way.
The way we will help create ripples of change doesn’t have to involve politics so that hope for change shouldn’t die here. Seeing how we managed to make our votes count despite the hurdles is proof that if we really want to make it happen, we can absolutely make it happen.