Thursday, August 31, 2006

Been There, Been That

Got a refresher course in Philippine style elections which essentially remains an exercise in massive vote-buying. Only the price of a vote has gone up and more "documentation" is required (meaning, each paid voter needs to produce a carbon copy of the handwritten ballot!). Politicians no longer attach much influence to the votes coming from the "educated classes". Virtually the entire campaign is focused on the desperate poor which compose the overwhelming majority of the electorate in the Philippines today. Who can blame these hungry masses for trading their vote for a few days worth of food? "Been there, been that," sighed a popular radio announcer of yore.

I am not deterred. I was aware of this reality when I made the decision to return. By now you should begin to appreciate why the most marginalized among us choose to go to the mountains and fight it out with the government because they have seen generation after generation remain powerless and they don't see any hope for their own children.

There must be a peaceful way out of this. We do not have to die for this country in order to change it. We need to live for this nation and we need to rouse the people into committing themselves towards longer-lasting changes that will set us free from this cycle of corruption.

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