Waiting on Obama
NEW YORK, USA - In the lower East Village of Manhattan just off 1st Avenue, I strode last night toward the apartment of my professor. She teaches Propaganda and Media at The New School in New York and was hosting an election night party to wait out the results of the presidential derby.
Her second floor walkup opened into a very spacious living area decorated with Persian rugs and ornate Chinese boxes which she proudly showed off. After dispensing with reading an assignment, we sat around her TV as the results began trickling in.
It was almost 9 pm and the electoral vote count showed Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney ahead. I couldn’t really remember the score – maybe it was 88-77 – but tried to reassure a classmate who was a bit nervous about the results so far.
“I don’t think I will be able to stand it if Romney wins,” she said, threatening to go into a breakdown.
“It’s early,” I say, quickly adding that when the Pacific coast states’ vote rolls in, Obama should jump ahead of his rival. I was a bit anxious myself.
There were about 10 students in the room, me included, and we were all pulling emotionally for an Obama victory. The GOP is seen by New York students as the Evil Empire bannered by a pair of misogynist candidates whose declaration that rape is God’s will stoked the gender gap in favor of Obama. Loud cheering erupted around the room when both candidates for the US Senate lost.
A little after 10 pm, CNN showed Obama had gone ahead and was edging closer to victory. One classmate who came from Florida said the Democrat should win the Sunshine State because the only county left to finish counting is Miami-Dade – where Obama is leading by 25 points.
The networks were being cautious about calling the race for Obama, but after 11 pm it became increasingly clear he would win. CNN declared him the victor at 11:18. Arms went up around the room in celebration and my professor wrung her hands in celebration.
“See,” I told my classmate. “He did it.”
She gave me a wan, but jubilant, smile. Relief was etched on her face. I had to admit it would have been really distasteful to see Romney win. Honestly, the better, more decent man won.
It wasn’t over though because the Republican candidate had not called Obama to concede defeat in the election.
“I just want to hear that concession speech and then go home,” another classmate quipped, looking at his watch as the clock edged toward midnight.
I wound up doing the same thing myself. Romney’s people were bitching they wanted to count the last vote in Ohio, the key battleground state both sides coveted. The watch ticked past midnight and it was now Wednesday, November 7. Still no concession speech.
I had to go to the English class I was teaching that morning at 8. At 12:15 am, I bolted and said my good-byes. I walked as fast as I could on that darkened strip of East 12th Street, looking worriedly over my shoulder because the last thing I would want to happen is get mugged on the way home.
On reaching 1st Avenue, I flagged a cab blaring some South Asian music and asked to be taken to Penn Station. I got there in time for the second-to-last train going to New Jersey and got to my apartment just before 1:30 am.
By then, Romney had called Obama and given a short surrender speech to his stunned supporters. The US president was on television by 1:38 and I listened avidly to the victory speech of the first person I ever voted for as a US citizen. I fell asleep at 2:40 am.
Three hours later, I snapped awake. I felt horrible, very much like warmed over turd.
The drive to the college where I taught, I had the radio on really loud because I was afraid of dozing off at the wheel. The CD on was Joey Ayala and I was hitting all sorts of odd notes when singing "Bankerohan," the one where he warbled: “Kung tamaan ka ng shrapnel ng granada, laslas ang iyung bituka."
That kept me awake. On the drive home from school, the CD switched to Ryan Cayabyab songs and I was belting out "Iduyan Mo" sung by Grace Nono.
I finally got to my apartment, plopped down on the sofa and was lights out. The forecast for that afternoon was a nor’easter, a follow-up storm to the one that slammed New Jersey last week and caused so much damage around the state. Instead of 90 mph winds, we’re getting 50 with snow and freezing rain.
A friend called. “Buti nanalo yung bata mo,” he told me. (Fortunately your bet won.)
“Oo nga, eh. First time kong bumoto sa America tapos baka matalo yung binoto ko,” I said to some laughter. (You're right. It was my first time to vote in America and my candidate could have lost.)
By early in the afternoon, the snow was starting to fly as the flakes swirled outside my apartment window. I felt a fever coming on. It’s ok, I told my throbbing head. Obama won. - Rappler.com
Rene Pastor is a freelance journalist who worked with the news agency Reuters for nearly 23 years. He is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University and is completing his Masters in International Affairs at the New School in New York. Rene is also a lecturer at Middlesex County College.