By Jay Ledesma

ELECTION is over. The results are out. Perhaps by the time this article comes out, most of the winners have been proclaimed. The usual family dynasties are back in power, some unexpected winners, some first-timers. Most of those who did not make it have gracefully accepted defeat while others are still lodging their protests. Followers and supporters are either celebrating or comforting each other. Meanwhile, everyone is hoping and praying that things will turn out for the best. 

So much hope and expectation are pinned on this election, that we really felt the passion, involvement, engagement, and energy of everyone, regardless of political affiliation, from campaign sorties to the actual election day. Followers and believers of the different candidates went all out in showing their support. Many took it to the streets during the rallies, donating food, drinks, campaign collateral, or simply with their presence. Some even did house-to-house campaigning on behalf of their candidates. While others actively participated thru their social media accounts and other forms of media. FB feeds kept coming in from all camps. Everyone is rooting for their chosen candidates as the stakes are high! 

This high engagement continued up to Election Day. The number is not yet out, but we may have registered the highest voters turn out last May 9. I believe the highest, at 86%, was during the 1998 election where Joseph Estrada won. Last Monday, as early as 6 am, eager and excited voters flocked to the voting centers. Even the senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) made their way through their assigned precincts. Those who had to work on that day, did their best to beat the 7 pm closing time. Everyone was flexing their inked index finger indicating they had successfully voted. While there were other factors that caused delays, the high volume of voters' turnout was a big pleasing factor. The heat and the long wait did not deter them. Everyone wants to be counted as the stakes are high!  

We say that this election is already for future generations. And if they put their acts together, these young generations, which already comprise more than half of our population, can be a solid voting bloc. These millennials plus, on their own, can win an election. They dominated the streets during the campaign rallies. They either spearheaded or actively participated in volunteer work. And they showed their force last Monday. The majority of the voters came from these young generations. It’s heartwarming to see that they got involved, they cared and participated in something they consider vital in shaping their future. Everyone wants to make a difference for their future as the stakes are high!     

Voting in the Philippines is usually an unpleasant experience. This was again repeated last May 9 when the majority had to queue for hours before they were able to vote.= They were the lucky ones. Others had to queue for hours only to be told later that the vote-counting machines (VCM) in their precincts are defective and needed to be replaced. Some were replaced, and some were not. While the option to fill up and leave their ballots for encoding later, was available, many chose not to and willingly waited or came back to ensure their vote is safe. Even the millennials plus, who are known for having short attention spans and being restless did not mind staying in line for hours to ensure that their ballots were protected. Everyone wants to be a part of an honest election as the stakes are high!  

The interest and involvement did not end with the casting of their ballots. Many stayed late in the evening, monitoring the initial results and trends of the election results. Aside from the 24-hour coverage by the different TV and radio channels, social media were flooded with election stats, analysis, and fearless forecasts from experts and wannabes. Those from the camps of leading and sure winners stayed awake already planning their victory speeches/celebrations, while those in the tight spots stayed awake closely tracking their numbers. Everyone wants to take part until the very end as the stakes are high! 

We cannot overemphasize how critical this election is for the Filipinos. With our nation still reeling from the catastrophic damage of the pandemic, the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, and from the increasing fuel and commodity prices, the new elected leaders must be able to do the gargantuan task of leading our country and the Filipinos from this pit. Already we saw some negative knee-jerk reactions from the market. Our new leaders need to bring back stability soonest, as what happens these next 6 years when the world economy opens up post-covid, will dictate our state moving forward. When we have the right leadership, we can expect a bumpy but safe ride to our destination. Otherwise, it will just be a bumpy ride to nowhere. 

We saw and experience a very involved citizenry in this election because everyone wants to make sure that whoever wins will make true their promise to bring not only unity but to put the interest of the Filipinos at the top of their list thru a transparent, consistent and servant leadership.  All eyes will be on our next leaders on how they will deliver their plans and programs. It is now the challenge for our next set of leaders to harness this "people engagement" to strongly support their programs.

Now it takes two to tango. While the new government has its duties and responsibilities, every Juan and Maria of this country also has a share in its uplift. Whatever color we represented during the campaign, they’re now gone in favor of the only color that matters… the Filipino color. It’s okay to feel sad, disappointed, and disheartened but we soon have to move forward as one. We can still critique the new government when needed but we need to support it when deserved.  Let’s be mindful that individually, we can do great things, but together we can do greater! When the Philippines win, we win. When we win, the Philippines win! 

We cannot afford to continue the divisiveness… the stakes are just too high!      

About the Columnist

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Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.