Today is the last day of the circus.
The early morning air is still with a waft of excitement. Along with my mom and younger sister, we were at the gates of our assigned precint at about 6:30 AM. We anticipated that the turnout will be thick so we went there as early as we could.
A crowd is already gathering when we reached St. Michael School of Cavite. The place is teeming with banners and posters of candidates wooing voters with their toothy smiles. At exactly 7:00 AM, the gates were opened. I prepared myself for a sweaty and physically-challenging morning.
We immediately proceeded to the 2nd floor of the school building where our precints-127 Q and 127 R- are located. Our precints were clustered with 3 other precints O, P, and S. As a result, there were approximately 1000 voters in a cluster group who will be sharing one PCOS machine.
The trip going to the second floor to our cluster group 222 was a feat in itself. Sharing the floor with cluster group 221, you can just imagine how the walls of the rooms are bursting with voters, all eager to get a feel of the "efficient and reliable" SMARTMATIC machines.There, as sweat trickles down my face, ideas of a smooth and orderly voting were all gone. And it is just 7:30 in the morning.
At around 8:00, a nameless Board of Election Inspector ordered everybody from the 2nd and 3rd floors to proceed to the school's quadrangle. He said that number stubs will be distributed and will not be permitted to enter the polling precints unless we have with us a number stub. I have no problems following instructions, so being the obedient citizen that I am, I lined up and waited to get a number stub under the scorching sun. This is where the fun starts.
As we waited for our number stubs so we can exercise our frigging right to vote, I see some PPCRV volunteers giving away number stubs to individuals who were not in the queue--a perfect picture of the good old "palakasan" system at work.
The eight-hour wait I spent lining up to get inside the precint was just equivalent to 10 minutes inside the polling precint. This included finding my name in the masterlist, shading my ballot and feeding it to the PCOS machine.
I was able to cast my vote at 3:45 PM after a gruelling 8-hour wait. I stared at my inked forefinger as we walk out of the school vicinity, then fatigue started to set in.
I came to realize that automating the election is a significant step for the Philippines' electoral system. Making the people utilize the system is another thing. For the people who got so used to antiquated manual polling system, we still have a lot to learn and unlearn.