Student Vox


/ 15 October 2021

A Filipino displays her finger marked with indelible ink after voting at an elementary school turned into a voting precinct in Manila, Philippines, 13 May 2019.

A common instance during lockdown is to find a hobby. Some started getting their nails dirty to transfer the air-purifier snake plant in a cemented towel pot. While a newly-recognized pastry chef in the family kneads a handful of flour, a mother unknowingly competes with another mother in answering Dodong’s module. If there is something I enjoy doing, that would be studying. I know…boring. Self-education is a series of jumping jacks, push ups and Russian twists in the mind in order to decide objectively. This exercise I’ll be needing for 2022.

Before I paint my finger purple, I want to understand its worth. Last 2019,  I volunteered as a photographer in a non-government outreach program in Cebu. It was through that lens that I saw the lives of the deprived–with which the big percentage of the population belongs. A literally naked child with thin arms and a protruding stomach, probably because of internal worms, ran to catch up the free burger in Taboan Public Market, where we briefly parked. The weigh of your choice also directs the future of those who cannot choose: the children. Will your choice feed that child or will it starve him to death?

Before I paint my finger purple, I revisit history. This way, I could take a look at the journey of our country with a better sense than this clueless kid I was years ago. History used to be a yawning subject introduced to us when we were still young, and is inescapable up until college. The interest was a grain of salt, little did we know that its impact is a whole ocean.

A few paragraphs from a red and beaten elementary Sibika at Kultura book is not enough in order to come up with a sound judgement nor a subjective blog circulating in Facebook. In an interview from Eagle News with University of the Philippine’s Professor Clarita Carlos, she informs the public on the importance of segregating facts from fake news saying, “Pwede ba ako’ng mag-research sa laway lang? Sa good will? No. You do research and you pay a research assistant. You ask them to go on field, to go to the library.” I’m not saying you need to hire an expert for the truth to be served on the table but my point is, the truth is not a neighbor’s tsismis, a meme, nor a TikTok trend. It involves a refined scholarly process that is why it is evident to consider your source. Read journals and theses from different perspectives.

Before I paint my finger purple, I reflect the present. The pandemic is probably the world’s biggest plot twist. It is a silent war of the unseen. A healthy friend who just cracked a joke yesterday is suddenly battling for oxygen. Some politicians use this incident to advance their race through promising air. Words spit here and there that the suffocation tightens when the real question is, “Who is there to help him breathe?” Action. Consistency. Now. Those three factors complete the formula to save this pleading patient, not a pledge. Now, do the equation.

Before I paint my finger purple, I consider education and experience. When a normal person applies to a company, some goes home unemployed because they were not able to meet the minimum qualifications. Now, we are talking about high positions that opt to lead our place. Character and attitude may be a basis for choosing one but those do not suffice the role. When I was in college, we were taught about parallelism in professional development. This means, what we have studied in our bachelor’s degree should match our masters, and doctorate. This is true to the career we’ve determined. Of course, the stages are different from one field to another but the point is each of those phases are equally critical because it seasons out a person. We don’t want raw steak in our plate, right? It contains a fair share of dangerous bacteria.

Imagine being a Human Resource personnel and those candidates as applicants. Check their resume, know their medical history and examine their criminal records. A normal Juan dela Cruz may even be stuck up in the National Bureau of Investigation office because he got hit, now why would you employ someone with pending cases? I remember the late former senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago saying, “Those who like me, raise your hand. Those who don’t, raise your standards.”

Before I paint my finger purple, I’ll avoid burning bridges. Political colors are displayed everywhere, from shirts, to flags, to bracelets, and even face masks. Red. Yellow. Green. Pink. Soon, you’ll see one of your friends wearing a different chroma. This, somehow, leads a casual debate. Her reasons could be personal. For example, that opposing candidate assisted her grandma’s chemotherapy sessions. Or maybe her tuition was supported by this running aspirant. Respect that. In the end, we are biased to our own experiences that then shape our decisions. We try to be as constructive as we can but there are happenings that may or may not be favorable to everyone. Support the person of your choice and their advocacy; do not worship them. Remember that the victor of a position is replaceable, but those who remain in your life, your real friends, are hard to find.

Suffrage is not just a right; it is an obligation. There are still a few months left to research and ponder. Do not spend so much time attacking dummy accounts in the social media. Instead, gather authentic data. Share when you can and be open to criticism. As Socrates puts it, “Smart people learn from everything and everyone. Average people from their experiences. Stupid people already have all the answers.” I entrust the winners to the Almighty. I just hope that in the end, Filipinos win: economically, sustainably, fairly, mentally, and physically. In that way, the purple paint on my finger will be worth the stain.