2022 Philippine Elections

‘Something new to the table’: First-time voters share what their vote means

Niña Diño
‘Something new to the table’: First-time voters share what their vote means

LONG LINES. The snaking lines and sweltering heat do not dissuade voters at Guadalupe Elementary School in Cebu City on May 9, 2022.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Of the 67.5 million Filipinos eligible to cast their ballots in the 2022 elections, around 30% are youth aged 18 to 30

MANILA, Philippines – Braving long lines and the heat of the sweltering sun, Filipinos from all over the country flocked to their respective polling precincts on Monday, May 9, to cast their votes in the high-stakes, pandemic-era 2022 Philippine elections.

Of the 67.5 million Filipinos eligible to cast their ballots in the 2022 elections, around 30% are from the youth sector aged 18 to 30. These historic registration numbers came despite the results of a commissioned Pulse Asia survey back in June 2021 that found nearly half of the entire Filipino population would be unwilling to go out and vote should their barangays log a high number of COVID-19 cases during the election period. (LIVE UPDATES: 2022 Philippine elections – News, voting process, results tracking)

‘Stand up’

For 19-year-old Patrick Allere, May 9 was a day of firsts. Not only was it his first time to vote, but it was also his first time to cover an on-ground event for The COMMUNICATOR, the official campus publication of the Polytechnic University of the Philippines – College of Communication.

Tumitindig po talaga ang youth kasi sawa na kami sa pagiging takot lumabas, lalo na po ako na gustong maging media practitioner at journalist in the future. Natatakot din ako na baka ma-red-tag ako, so mas gusto ko po ng gobyerno na makapagbibigay ng pag-asa at sekuridad sa bawat isa,” Allere said.

(The youth are standing up for what they believe in, because we’re tired of being scared to go out. As an aspiring media practitioner and journalist, I’m scared to get red-tagged and so I want a government that gives hope and security to each citizen.)

Allere strived to be actively involved in his first elections, even volunteering to be an official poll watcher at a precinct different from where he cast his vote. His experience was not without struggles, however, as he and fellow youth poll watchers were denied entry to the precinct.

According to Allere, he had been waiting by the gates of BF Multipurpose Hall Phase III in Parañaque City, the precinct where he was assigned, for over an hour but officials would not allow him to enter as the venue was already supposedly full.

Ang katwiran po namin ay kung walang poll watchers doon, paano masisigurado na malinis ang eleksyon? Hindi po sila nagrerespond, pinapaurong lang po nila ang mga poll watchers,” he said. (Our justification in wanting to enter the precinct is to ensure that our elections will be 100% clean. But they would not let us poll watchers in, instead they just kept asking us to step back.)

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Despite the obstacles, Allere and his fellow youth poll watchers persisted in staying to vigilantly observe and guard against any possible violations of election laws.

Karamihan sa mga youth ay tumitindig para sa kabutihan. Ang role ng youth ay baguhin talaga ang sistema upang maging mas maayos na at maiboto ang mga tamang lider,” Allere said. (Majority of the youth are truly standing up for what’s right. The role of the youth is to change the system and vote for the right leaders.)

Similarly, first-time voters Jonathan Quirino and Anne Kristel Toledo stressed that the next six years are crucial because they directly affect the future of the younger generations.

Securing their future

Like Allere, Quirino, and Toledo, sisters Sofia and Samantha Reyes were also among the youth who got up at the crack of dawn, eager to cast their very first votes at their precinct in Parañaque City.

Standing in line for over two hours under the heat of the sweltering sun is no easy feat, but the Reyes sisters were determined to persevere and wait for their turn to cast their ballots.

“We’ve always been taught that once we reach the age of majority, we have to register to vote not only because it’s our right as Filipino citizens but also because it’s our chance to actively choose the leaders that we believe are fit to lead the country,” Samantha Reyes said.

Pandemic response is the issue that the Reyes sisters hope the next administration will urgently address. Within their family and community, however, it wasn’t always easy for the Reyes sisters to be taken seriously with their political views and stances on current issues.

“Some of our older peers are opposed to our opinions… ‘Lagi nilang sinasabi na wala pa kayong experience, hindi niyo pa ‘yan alam. This kind of discrimination still exists from the older generations,” Sofia Reyes shared.

(They always tell us that we don’t have any experience yet and don’t know what we’re talking about.)

Similar to other members of the Filipino youth, however, the Reyes sisters kept themselves informed about local and national issues through social media, critically filtering their feeds and digesting credible information in order to make an informed vote in the 2022 elections.

“With social media, it’s much easier and faster to be informed about issues cropping up, but of course this comes with our responsibility to fact-check everything we read,” Samantha Reyes said.

Allere and the Reyes sisters are only some of the country’s first-time voters who went the extra mile to secure their future through educated voting.

Ang youth talaga ang makikinabang for the next six years. (It’s really the youth who will benefit over the next six years),” the sisters shared. “It’s very important that we incorporate the ideals of the young minds when it comes to the next administration because we have a lot of new ideas to bring to the table.”

Other first-time voters across the country proudly shared photos of their index finger marked with indelible ink on social media after they cast their ballots:

– Rappler.com