THE VOICES OF THE YOUTH IN A BALLOT
I was in 5th grade back then. I was enjoying my dinner at a long rectangular table with my family. They were talking about something familiar, something I heard during my class on a particular subject. The adults were earnest about it. I witnessed frustration in their faces and in how they spoke. I had no clue what they were saying, but after they mentioned some names, I eventually knew what it was about – politics.
Political discussions are not my cup of tea. I never really took it as a serious matter. The vivid memory in that family dinner has cruelly taken over my mindset, which made me uphold many misconceptions. “How can politics significantly change my life?” was a question I often asked myself. A question that continuously became my excuse for avoiding the topic. At some point, politics was like a muddy puddle for me. It was dirty and a place where I wouldn’t want to take a step on.
As an elementary student, I engaged in school activities to help me bloom and reach greater heights. At an early age, I ran as a senator in the Student Government Council. I was so innocent that I convinced myself that it was just a school thing when the truth is, it wasn’t. I witnessed myself entering the tiny realm of politics, and I was just in denial.
I can still remember how I managed to say “yes” because it’ll assure my popularity. It was how things worked. The more well-known you are, the better chance you have of winning. This is the truth which remains a continuous habit up until this day. Students who vote for school officers often secure a spot for well-known candidates. As a matter of fact, in Junior High School, it continued to be that way. Somehow, it became a turning point for me to take a step back and reflect on what I could do to reverse this situation.
Being able to shift what students got used to doing takes a lot of work. I realized that at such an early age, it is vital to educate young people about this topic. The student government plays a crucial role at school, but it does not compare to how it affects a country.
As a youth member in this modern age, I am grateful to be part of an open-minded generation. A generation that recognizes their role in nation-building. A generation that is not afraid to voice out and plea for a better government that the Filipino citizens genuinely deserve.
However, there are still voices that continue to remain silent. Voices of people who have something to say but are afraid to be judged and criticized. Why? It’s because they live in a world where others make them think that they’re too young to make a difference. But age is just a number, and that is a fact. It can’t and will never be a basis of what you can offer and what you are capable of doing.
Today, young people continue to overcome the barriers that stopped them from speaking up. They take action for what they know is right and for the betterment of our world. Various youth-led projects also continue, despite our current situation. Youth leaders were able to explore options and render service, proving that no pandemic can stop the heart of someone who is willing to give. Furthermore, the pandemic did not hinder them from carrying on their mission towards fighting for numerous issues present in our country, most especially for our democracy.
Hence, despite all the initiatives that youth-led organizations facilitate for the upcoming 2022 Elections, their work has not yet reached a grander scale. Currently, numerous youth members eligible to vote have not yet registered for various reasons, both valid and not.
On the 30th day of September 2021, the voters’ registration officially closes. As that phase comes, our chance to have a great system will be determined by how many people decide to do their part and pick the leaders worthy of having a position in the office.
Remember, it is your responsibility as an individual and as a citizen of this country. It is your civic right and duty to choose your country’s leaders and set a standard on how the people must be heard, recognized, and prioritized. Furthermore, who do you think would be in advantage if capable leaders were chosen to lead the pillars of our country? It’ll be us, our generation, and the future generations to come.
Come to think of it. What if you didn’t register, and your vote could’ve become the tiebreaker? It takes one ballot to cast your voice.