Robust expressions of democracy, albeit quite fragmented, remain existent despite the challenges of the intensifying authoritarian practices and the sinking national economy of the Philippines in the forms of digital innovations and electoral resilience. This accommodates significant truth in it as in this time of the coronavirus pandemic, the right to vote, though seemingly mundane but nevertheless a powerful expression of democracy, becomes more meaningful in consequence.
As we face continuous challenges and struggles, room for democratic action exists, facilitating participation and novel ways of co-governance among the members of the society. Being a company that aims to make a positive impact in the community, Ripple VAs wants to empower micropolitical expressions of democracy by raising awareness and developing programs that embody the youthful and participatory culture of the Filipinos.
While the company fosters a God-centered culture among its members, it also endeavors to foster responsible participation in the nation-building process among the members of the society. Ripple VAs strongly supports an endeavor that encourages nation-building — voter’s education.
With that, Ripple VAs collaborates with the Rotaract Club of Metro Cebu - CIT University Chapter in conducting a 2-hour-long webinar tagged as “#KEBS Know Elections Better: A Voter’s Education Program” last May 9, 2021, via Zoom.
You, me, and the country — power of the electorate
With the organizers hailing from the Queen City of the South, the program emphasized kebs — patterned from the Cebuano gay slang “kevs” which means “care for something” — as a significant factor in facilitating more participatory democracy. With various controversies surrounding the government right now, apathy towards elections and democracy has become an issue we, as one Filipino community, have to address before we can realize a better future.
Vhon Christian Ganuza, the Transform President of the Rotaract Club of Metro Cebu - CIT University Chapter, elucidated that the online program targets the youth as its audience to achieve its aim of raising awareness and ensuring that the future voters understand better the value of elections and the power of the electorate. Furthermore, he emphasized that the youth’s participation in electoral matters is an indication that the democracy of the country is upheld; hence, we, as the electorate, have the power of judgment through our votes which matter.
In a Nutshell: Two hours of democracy and electoral Resilienc
COVID-19 has rewritten our horizons and redefined our means of communication, especially in this terrible time where mass gathering and physical contact are no longer viable options. Fortunately, in this modern society where innovation continues to approach the peak, we get to utilize cyberspace in accommodating participants, senior high school and college students alike, for a meaningful discussion.
In a span of two seemingly short but momentous hours, the importance of the democratic expression of voting was engraved in the hearts and souls of the participating youth members. Moreover, the enthusiastic approach of the student participants towards the matter became an opportunity that elicited curiosity, nationalism, accountability, and a breadth of opinions from the audience.
Questions ranging from the necessity of voting to the right of the populace to demand accountability and criticize the government arose amid the intelligent exchange of thoughts. This overwhelming participation and interest give hope to keeping the spirit of democracy alive and encourage electoral resilience.
Educators from two renowned Philippine universities empower the youth
Conducted via Zoom and broadcast live on the Facebook page of the Rotaract Club of Metro Cebu - CIT University Chapter, the voter’s education program guested professional educators to catalyze an intellectual discussion about electoral matters with the audiences. From 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM, the program highlighted the necessity of election and the significance of the constitutional right to vote.
Joeddin Niño Olayvar, an educator from the Political Science Department of the University of San Carlos, a globally renowned basic and higher education institution, contributed to the event's success by sharing his expertise on “The Power of an Electorate: Citizenship and Necessity of Voting.”
Olayvar, during his 50-minute discussion, highlighted the situation of the Philippines and the considerations why Filipinos should vote critically. On the question of the necessity of voting, he elucidated, “Why do we vote? Primarily, it’s because it is our constitutional right”, citing Article V Section 1 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.
Furthermore, he urged the Filipino youth to participate in the sacred democratic process of election. Olayvar emphasized that as the electorate, voting during elections is our privilege and responsibility. “We are the ones who gave them that authority; therefore, it is a responsibility for us,” he added.
In the same event, a professor from the Political Science Department of another globally renowned university graced the program. She was Maria Eliza Mendoza from the University of the Philippines - Diliman who talked about “Elections 101: How to be a Smart Voter”. Anchoring on her immense knowledge about the country's political landscape, she articulated her message of encouragement to the youth to participate in the elections.
Mendoza recalled the main electoral exercises in the Philippines and cited the importance of knowing the kind of elections when voting. She said, “Halalan 2022 is a presidential election. All elections are important because this is an exercise of our democratic rights as citizens. But of course, we have to realize the gravity of the upcoming presidential elections wherein we will be choosing the next highest leader of the land”.
Advising the youth on how to become an intelligent voter, Mendoza outlined four pieces of advice, namely, know your candidates, engage in discussions, educate yourself, and know your worth. The youthful professor enunciated in her discussion the basic principle of “public office is a public trust.” “We must hold our public officials to the highest standards. If we have high standards for things unrelated to politics, we should set the same high standards for the candidates we vote into office”, Mendoza added as she urged the public to exercise their right to criticize the government and demand accountability from the same.