It’s easy to think that your vote doesn’t make a difference. In a country of millions and an electoral system allowing multiple candidates, it’s hard to see how a single citizen’s personal decision can sway the course of an entire country. So, why even bother voting?
The Philippines has a long and proud history of upholding the democratic process.
In 1937, the Philippines became one of the first countries in Asia to allow women to vote. In 1986, the peaceful Edsa People Power Revolution ended a dictator’s 20-year regime, showing the world that democracy can prevail without violence.
Our history is filled with instances that prove how ordinary people can change the circumstances of their government. With this in mind, we have the opportunity to write— or rewrite—this current chapter of Philippine history.
Whatever side of the political spectrum you’re in, it is undeniable that the past few years have been controversial. The general public’s mistrust of politicians, political parties and even the press has never been greater. It’s times like these that we ought to trust ourselves in making decisions that will help form the future of our nation—and there is no better way to practice that trust than by going out to vote.
I wanted to have a hand in shaping the course of our nation. I wanted to be able to say that I went out and exercised my constitutional rights as a citizen of my homeland and a character in its ongoing narrative.
The first thing I did was to go online and search where I could register.
While every city hall has its own Commission on Elections (Comelec) office where you can register during office hours Monday to Saturday, several barangays also have their own Comelec outposts. Every so often, Comelec even partners with major malls to accept voter registration applicants.
I headed to Parañaque City Hall to register, bringing a valid ID—examples include passport, student ID, library card, driver’s license, senior citizen ID and Bureau of Internal Revenue or National Bureau of Investigation clearance. You cannot use a community tax certificate or cedula, or a homeowners’ association ID to register.
When I arrived at the Comelec office, there already was a line of applicants. A busy team of supervisors quickly and seamlessly attended to the stream of people.
In all honesty, I was surprised at their efficiency. In five minutes, I presented my ID and was given Registration Form CEF-1A to fill out. The form requires your basic information and signature.
The form informs you that, for any given national election, any Filipino citizen at least 18 years of age, a resident of the Philippines for at least one year, and one who resides in the place where he or she intends to vote for at least six months before the election can register to vote.
Fill out three copies of the form and sign on a photocopy of the ID you brought (photocopy your ID before registration to make things faster and easier). While you can download Registration Form CEF-1A, it is better to receive hard copies at the Comelec office because they’re already marked with your precinct number.
After filling out my forms, I submitted them to the Comelec officer.
Biometrics testing was next. I told the interviewer where I reside and how long I had lived there. She then took my picture, scanned my index finger and recorded my electronic signature.
Finally, I placed my fingerprint on each of the three forms that I had filled out. After that, I was given the acknowledgement receipt found at the bottom of each form. (Keep it as a claim stub and proof of registration once election season comes around.)
The entire registration process took about 20 minutes. It was not a hassle at all; I’d even describe it as a pleasant experience.
During my biometrics, I asked the officer why she thought it was important that young people register. She said, “Kung hindi kayo magpaparehistro para bumoto, balewala lang ginagawa namin dito. Kailangan niyong bumoto dahil marami pa ring mahirap sa ating bansa, marami pa ring problema. Hindi kaya ng isang tao ayusin lahat ’yan. Pero kung boboto ka, makakasama ka sa mga taong gumagawa ng paraan upang ayusin lahat ng problema natin.”
It was clear in her eyes and her tone that she takes her work seriously. Like her fellow officers, she believes that her work can help make a difference in the country.
If she can believe this, then I can believe it, too. If this spirit of participation and involvement is something we can all buy into, then I believe it has the potential to make a difference in our lives.
If you experience any problems with your own registration process, contact Comelec at [email protected] for assistance.