THIS is my first time to vote as a senior citizen.
While I’m grateful to God for giving me good health, give or take a few aches and pains here and there, I cannot deny that I don’t have that many more years to live. So much so that who wins in this elections has become very, very important to me.
In the past, when I felt people voted for the wrong candidates, I consoled myself by saying that “six years is long, but bearable.” At 61, I’m no longer that confident telling myself this. The sudden death of a schoolmate made me more aware that, whether I like it or not, I do not have the luxury of time on this earth.
Now, more than ever, I feel that we must choose the right leaders. When I used to think I want the right leaders for my children’s welfare, now I want them voted into office for my own sake, simply because I still want to enjoy the years I have left here in my own country.
I’ve seen many elections. I’ve seen many leaders come and go, some better than the others. And after all these years, I wonder: Why is it that our elections leave much to be desired? Could it be that the problem is not just the candidates but we, the voters, as well?
As Heneral Luna, in the movie, said: “Mayroon tayong mas malaking kaaway kaysa sa mga Amerikano, ang ating mga sarili.”
I think about what our hero said (at least in the movie), and I wonder: He must be right.
See, why do we blame others for our own misfortunes? Why are we discontented if we spend our time lazing around—and yet we spend money on gadgets and other things we could barely afford?
If we bribe a traffic officer or a government employee to expedite our transactions because we don’t want to be inconvenienced, do we have the right to denounce corruption? If we don’t pay our taxes correctly, what right do we have to point our fingers at public officials who steal from government coffers?
Why do we patronize nepotism and the padrino system? Why do we embrace political dynasties even if they themselves are lawbreakers?
Could it be that we lack concern for the common good? We cut the line, we violate traffic rules, and we throw trash anywhere with utter lack of concern for others.
I envy the Japanese. We have read in the news how they lined up for relief goods after the tsunami, how store owners kept prices on the shelf low. I was struck by these small acts of humanity, small gestures for the common good.
We blame the government for everything we hate about the Philippines and insist on seeing the glass half empty rather than half full. But have we, including myself, been really good citizens even in small ways?
I have been praying like I never have before because I want the right person to win as President. My country deserves it. I, a 61-year-old Filipino, deserve it.