June 16, 2019 - Sunday
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Davao City, Philippines

Post-election reflections

May 19, 2019 - Sunday 5:05 AM by Grace Gaston Dousel

It's now five days after the midterm election. I have been observing the responses of people to the results of the polls. I have been watching political analysts dissect the recent events on national TV. I have read all kinds of FB posts, laughed and pondered at memes, perused over online news articles, and listened to family and friends express their opinions.

I am hearing the same post-election litany: questionable personalities gaining positions of governance they are unworthy of, vote-buying becoming so blatant, campaign violations, manipulation of ballots, losing candidates crying foul and possible election fraud, some dynasties still in power, etc.

I am also hearing and seeing new things: senior citizens and PWDs making their way to their precincts to exercise their right in spite of their physical difficulties, political neophytes putting an end to decade old dynasties, youngblood and new politicians taking mayoral and congressional seats, the electorate really fighting for their right to vote and guarding their votes.

The question that lingers in my mind now is what I, an ordinary citizen and mother, can do to help my children become wise voters and see the huge role their one vote plays in determining the course of their nation.

Back in 2016, just a month away from the presidential election, I tied up with publisher OMFLit to conduct a voters' education for homeschoolers. I realized that such kind of awareness building should be done when the citizens are in the 3rd grade and not when they are already in their 30s! Protecting our sacred right to vote should be a value inculcated when the citizens are young and moldable not when they are already old and their ways set.

During that special homeschool voters' education session, we invited Rei Lemuel Crizaldo, author of the book "Boboto Ba Ako?" In just one afternoon, Rei was able to help grade schoolers understand Philippine government and politics! And in just a few hours, these young Filipinos made a commitment to be wise voters, to not sell their votes, to think and pray for who they will vote for when their time comes. Many of those children who attended will be voting in the next presidential elections. I have high hopes that these new voters will remember the lessons on governance and responsible citizenry that they learned that afternoon.

As parents we need to educate our children about love of country. Unfortunately, this is not something preached. We need to walk the talk! It will be impossible for our kids to be patriotic if they hear us criticize and detest our country day in and day out. I always hear parents exclaim within the hearing of their kids, "Only in the Philippines!" "Pinoy kasi!" "Wala nang pag-asa ang Pilipinas!" while referring to something negative about our country and our fellow Filipinos. Parents tell their children to study hard so they can go abroad and seek better opportunities outside of the country.

I realize that the results of the election are perhaps just a symptom of a deeper issue. These days I am asking myself, do I really love my country? Up to what extent am I willing to work and sacrifice to effect change? Have I complained more than I have contributed to my country's progress?

I think I have an idea where to begin. I can start loving my country more by training my own children to be truly Filipino sa isip, sa salita at sa gawa.

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