PHVOTE 2013

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Absent: Hong Kong OFWs snubbing polls

Leah A. Valle
Posted on 05/09/2013 10:51 AM  | Updated 05/10/2013 12:07 AM
THIS WAY, PLEASE. Bold signs for voters who forgot to get IDs. All photos by Leah A. Valle/RAPPLERTHIS WAY, PLEASE. Bold signs for voters who forgot to get IDs. All photos by Leah A. Valle/RAPPLER
HONG KONG, China - Every Sunday, as early as 4am, the steps leading to the road in front of the Bayanihan Center in Sheung Wan becomes busy with people campaigning for their party lists and senatorial candidates. Wearing shirts with matching colors, the groups secure their areas and linger for the rest of the day, greeting voters and handing out flyers.

We have 122,000 votes here in Hong Kong and so far, only 20,000 people have voted. The mind-set "just because we are not in the Philippines, our votes don't really matter" must be setting in for more than half of the voters here. Many OFWs have been living here in Hong Kong for so long that the idea of home has become fragmented and abstract. So who could blame them if they are thinking that their absence from the Philippines is not making a difference in society and that their one vote will clearly not cause any change in the system? If so, what a shame.
WAITING. Voters line up before entering their assigned precincts.WAITING. Voters line up before entering their assigned precincts.
EARLY RISER. Cat naps for the weary campaigner who usually start their day at 4am.EARLY RISER. Cat naps for the weary campaigner who usually start their day at 4am.
LONG QUEUE. The Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center in Sheung Wan.LONG QUEUE. The Bayanihan Kennedy Town Center in Sheung Wan.
Over the years, overseas employment has become a pillar of the Philippine economy. Through remittances, OFWs have become a force that hastened positive economic changes. For example, with people working abroad, many students who normally cannot afford to go to public schools are now attending private institutions. This phenomenon, on the other hand, has fostered dependence not only for the family receiving money from abroad but also for the government. Instead of fulfilling its duty to protect and provide for its people, the government seems to consider itself relieved from its obligation to its citizens. As these OFW families enroll their kids into private schools in search of quality education, the development of better education in public schools, for instance, has not happened.

We are among our country’s most important commodities. Prized for fluency in English, we provide much of the temporary contract labor all over the world. Needless to say, the Philippines' most important export is its people. That alone, make us important shakers in shaping our nation. But instead of creating more entrepreneurial opportunities for workers abroad when they come home, the government has built a system that cultivates the culture of migration to enhance its dollar reserves.
PREPPING. Voters confirm their registrations.PREPPING. Voters confirm their registrations.
VOTING INSTRUCTIONS. None can be found on why voting is important.VOTING INSTRUCTIONS. None can be found on why voting is important.
CHOOSE JUICY. Mundane objects ironically sends warning messages to voters.CHOOSE JUICY. Mundane objects ironically sends warning messages to voters.
Our votes, in many ways, matter. Could it be that since we Filipinos always wait for the last minute to do something important, the missing "half "will turn up in the last week? I fervently hope so.

The overseas absentee voting will conclude on May 12, 2013. - Rappler.com
BY THE LETTERS. A voter looks for his name on a list.BY THE LETTERS. A voter looks for his name on a list.
CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT. A standee of actress Kim Chiu outside of the polling precinct reminds voters what the elections is for.CELEBRITY ENDORSEMENT. A standee of actress Kim Chiu outside of the polling precinct reminds voters what the elections is for.
Leah A. Valle is an artist from Southern Mindanao, Philippines. She is currently based in Hong Kong pursuing her Masters in Fine Arts. She is currently working on a photo-documentary about Filipino migrant workers in Hong Kong.

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