We have it sprawled all over our barangay walls and our Facebook timelines. In fact, a lot of us are probably sick of it, but it’s undeniable that as the 2016 Presidential Election draws closer, we won’t be able to turn away from it or hide posts from our more politically vocal friends any longer. It’s not just because we have no choice but to be bombarded with faces of candidates as the campaign period draws to a close, but because it’s our duty as citizens of this country to face this democratic exercise, no matter how dirty or depraved it is.
The last presidential debate has come and gone, and, similar to the previous caucuses, it has brought out the worst in us. With the freedom to express what’s on our minds on social media, we wreak havoc on each other’s online lives by pataasan ng ihi. We post long essay-like status messages convincing others that our Presidentiable is the best and other people’s choices are wrong. Some of us even share memes that insult other candidates. We have been swallowed whole by each candidate’s promises which make us turn a blind eye towards their many imperfections while pushing us to jump at each other’s throats.
But as George Martin has eloquently said, “Words are wind.” The promises by those who many of us almost revere to as heroes and minor deities are nothing if not backed by how they’ll see them through. Amidst all the rabid campaigning that many of us have been doing, we need to step back and take stock of everything that has been going on.
Electoral promises are made to be broken. We all have to understand that these televised debates and these town hall dance numbers can be equated to the intricacies of courtship. They want our hands in political marriage—they’ll say what many of us want to hear. These candidates are up on the stage to put their best foot forward, almost like a twisted parody of a beauty pageant where much of their answers equate to “world peace.” Thus, we need to look beyond their words and into the heart of their platforms. We need to ask relevant questions. We need to force them to actually look at us and see their countrymen, not just statistics for ballot boxes.
This is not to say that all presidential candidates are fakes, and that they only sell their flowery words in exchange for our votes. The truth is that some, if not all of them, have good intentions for the country. Still, we need to stop glorifying them as heroes. We don’t need a savior. We need someone with a plan, someone who can lead us and teach us to save ourselves. We need someone who can remind us that we shouldn’t rely on the words of others, but on the vows that we make for ourselves. Presidents come and go, but if we keep on focusing on the promises that others make for us instead doing our best to keep our own, we’ll never break the trapo cycle.
In the last two weeks before we hold our ballots, let’s listen to our both our logic and our hearts. Let’s ask ourselves what are the promises that we want to keep for ourselves and our country. What can we promise to do to improve our communities? What can we sacrifice, and who can guide us through the next six years as we realize our personal vows?
As cliché as it sounds, change begins not when we try to put the burden on another’s shoulders, but when we try to carry it ourselves. Let’s not rely on the promises of our candidates. Instead, let them guide us as we make our own.