Posted 27 April 2007
It was quite exhausting but happy indeed that once again we were able to do the task in line with our “go out and vote campaign”.
Yesterday night I and Ka Francis Oca with ka Alex Bello were busy preparing the materials necessary for what we have accomplished today.
We went to Batha this morning to post our Go Out and Vote posters in selected strategic points of the area where our co-pinoys frequently hang out.
Sad to say that some of our kababayan only learned that OAV had already started after reading the posters.
My fellow concerned OFWs/Overseas Filipinos who believe that the spirit of democracy is measured through electoral process, please help us in our campaign.
To Francis Robert Oca, son of our colleague Francis, thanks a lot for designing as well as providing several copies of the campaign material.
To each and everyone, lets do our share.
OAV update in Riyadh: Ka Ambo’s “It’s Just Another Day“.
The second week of the ongoing Overseas Absentee Voting ended this evening. While there was a slight increase in the number of voters who cast their votes this week compared to last at the embassy here in Riyadh, still it is much lower than we expected. But the sight of three company buses transporting voters to the embassy was a good sign, and we hope the remaining two weeks will really see us more company buses bringing in more voters.
Ask anybody, especially government officials, what they think is the reason why the turn out of voters have been very low, the most common answers you will get are that: many overseas Filipinos think that since this election is not a presidential election it is not so important; many think that it is useless to cast their votes because these will not be counted anyway; and many say ‘nakakatamad naman kasing pumunta sa embassy’.
At one point I did believe that may be those are the valid reasons. But this afternoon, I realized that those earlier statements may not be the reasons at all..
In relation to our Go Out and Vote campaign here in Riyadh, we designed a campaign ad that centered on why we should cast our votes. The message was conveyed by the following lines that were printed on the poster/flyer:
Ipaabot ang nagkakaisang tinig
Gamitin ang karapatang marinig
Ang Boto mo, pahalagahan mo.
We had the poster designed by a young OFW for free, but the printing of the four color poster cost us SR 2.50 each for the A4 size, and SR 50 for the A3 size. Thursday night we have the number of posters we needed ready.
This morning we started placing those posters in areas around Riyadh where many Filipinos usually hang out especially during weekends. In one supermarket the Filipino cashier commented: “Nag umpisa na pala ang botohan?” In one restaurant one employee asked, “Taga Comelec po kayo?”; while a jolly barker in the fastfood center said, “huwag kayong mag-alala kabayan, akong bahala dyan”, referring to the poster that we stuck on a suggestion box.
When I heard the supermarket cashier said, “nag-umpisa na pala ang botohan,” I asked myself how many Filipinos like him are not aware that the overseas absentee voting period has already started two weeks ago; maybe a hundred, or maybe a couple of thousands? Could this not be the main reason why there is a low turn out of voters?
What really made me smile was the question from the waiter at the Thai restaurant. When asked, “taga Comelec po kayo?” we simply said we are not from Comelec, but are from various OFW organizations. But he’s got a point. Bakit nga ba kami ang nagdidikit ng mga OAV posters na yon at hindi ang mga taga Political section ng embahada?
Commissioner Tuason proudly announced during the OAV Forum at Intramuros last March that the OAV cost per voter this year compared to that of 2004 is very very much lower. That of course was great for the budget department. But given the experience of 2004, the Comelec could have spent some amount on information materials like posters and flyers. If posters were sent to the Posts a month before the start of the voting period, and the Posts are able to distribute these to the major companies and community organizations, as well as display some in areas where Filipinos usually hang out – like what we did today, chances are the turn out could be better than what we witness now.
But if Comelec cannot even send postal voting materials and voters ID on time, can we expect them to be able to think of those little, yet very important, things?
It bleeds my heart when I think of how little the government cares about us who are sacrificing to be away from home just to keep the Philippines survive. Perhaps when the bleeding stops, time will have been ripe.
But for now, today is just another day. ###