For the first time I am voting in my father’s hometown. And as I write this I am inside the Alaminos Central Elementary School, one in over a few hundreds of registered residents who have come out to exercise our most sacred right to vote.
This actually s my second trip to the school; I walked over from my father’s house at 8am only to find long lines outside the classrooms that were housing the clustered precincts of our Poblacion barangay. People were in different moods: some were joking and some were worried and some were just resigned to their fate of having to wait in line to get the chance to vote.
Not having had breakfast at that time and fearing I could turn dizzy, I opted to turn around, walk back home, get into my car and drive ten minutes to Casa San Pablo where I had my usual bacon omelette sitting at an antique table while jazz music played
The contrast in the atmosphere of the two venues could not have been greater.
Now back at the school, well-fed and ready to be more patient I can only listen to snippets of conversations of my fellow townsfolk all around me. Two women were noisily discussing which councilors to vote for. One man was on the phone telling someone else (maybe his wife or kid) to come over to the school to vote. Another in the line was asked if he knew where precut 2C was; “Sa Calauan”, he replied with a laugh. Calauan was the next town, and he was intentionally teasing the other because, he told everyone listening, “iba ang kandidato niya sa akin!”.
It struck me that these scenes were absent in my old polling place – the Barangay multi purpose hall in San Lorenzo Village, Makati.
And then an argument caught my attention. Who would be a better president? One – a younger woman – was arguing for Robredo, while an older woman (her mother?) was arguing for Marcos. For a while I was wondering whether the two could be arrested for campaigning because they were effectively doing that. But one back and forth caught my attention. The Leni voter said she couldn’t vote for Marcos Jr because of his father’s record; the Marcos voter said she was sure the younger Marcos would want to do much better than the older one.
Indeed while Bongbong Marcos was spared the burden of having to defend the record of the outgoing Administration, since he was never endorsed by President Duterte, he was however burdened by the attacks on his own father’s record – from the human rights abuses to the plunder cases being laid at the very feet of the Marcos family. The younger Marcos chose to ignore these attacks throughout the 90 day campaign and refused even to engage in any of the presidential debates organized by media outfits and the Comelec itself. Instead he calculated that by taking the campaign direct to the people (with the help of the provincial leaders who committed to him) he could get to the finish line without stumbling on these land mines.
If the surveys are to be believed, his strategy is paying off.
He might win – but the issues will remain.
But if I think of how I would look to the next six years had I been in Marcos Jr’s shoes, I would look at it in such a way that legacy would be my principal motivation. I would even frame a photo of the damaged Marcos bust (now totally dismantled) in the La Union section of the Marcos Highway and keep it on my desk – to serve as a reminder of what failure will look like.
Legacy as motivation.
Nothing can be more powerful than that.