By Axcel Beltran

Cartoon by Aureus Ken Pupa

Disclaimer: I am writing this column not to accept defeat but to comfort the grieving, and to bother the celebrating over the partial, unofficial results of the 2022 National Elections. 

It was supposed to be an easy choice. It was supposed to be a choice guided by our conscience. An untainted leader over a thief. A farmer over a murderer. A lawyer over an actor. A feminist over a sexist. Conscience over algorithms. Truth over perception. 

It hurts me to see the partial, unofficial results favoring a possible Marcos-comeback in Malacañang, and another Duterte ascending to power. It’s disheartening to hear stories of thousands of Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) failing on the day of elections. It’s frustrating to know that illegal campaigning and vote-buying are being ignored by the Commission on Election (COMELEC), and that there are irregularities in the election process and its results. 

So for the heartbroken and grieving, 

I feel and understand you. But there is nothing to be ashamed of. When all else fails, remember that we stand for what is morally upright. We choose to be on the right side of history. I am so proud of us because the whole campaign season drew out the best in us — a version of us that we may have lost amid lockdown.

We have ignited the light of impeccable volunteerism and a people-led campaign that no other country has done. From hundred-thousand rallies to house-to-house movements, we have shown the world the power that we hold. 

I myself have participated in house-to-house campaigns — the people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard, and the experiences I’ve gained already have a special place in my heart. I wonder when I will ever experience this again; or should I experience this again? For that only means that nothing has changed within our government. 

Nevertheless, I am grateful for what we’ve done. I know you are, too. I personally thank you all for allowing me to see and feel that there is still hope in us. And we did what we’ve done because of two things: love and compassion. 

It’s okay to cry for now. Weep as hard as you can and need. But let those tears boil with the heat of our nationalism. We will not move on because we will never forget. Never forget those who need to be remembered. A movement for government transparency, competency, and integrity has embarked. It must continue. 

For the celebrating, 

I am in great dismay and disbelief.  You have chosen graft and violence as the course of the Philippines for the next six years. It is unfathomable that we’ve allowed a possible Marcos presidency after we ousted his dictator father 36 years ago. How could you elect a convicted person with no clear nor concrete platform, with a record of corruption, without a college diploma, and who does not show up in debates and media interviews? How come Robin Padilla, an actor and pardoned ex-convict, is the current leading senator? How come a convicted plunderer is in the Magic 12? 

Do not use the “respect the results if you’re a good Filipino” card on me when there are blatant anomalies in the election process and results. Do not tell me to move on because that is an insult to the victims of Martial Law, to extrajudicial killings, to injustices, corruption, unemployment, to our underpaid yet overworked medical frontliners and teachers, to breadwinners who are taxed by the government that allows thieves to run for/the public office, to farmers who continuously seek for land reform, to fisherfolk who are being intimidated by Chinese vessels in our own waters, to income-less jeepney drivers that have to bear the oil price hikes, to OFWs who need to be away from their families because of the lack of opportunities and the low income in our country, to students who have been clamoring for the safe reopening of schools, and to many more. 

Do not mock us as if the goal of this election is to beat us. Reality check, you lost too. You lost our chance for a greater future. Because of our sagging education system and the online proliferation of disinformation by your saints, you are deceived and manipulated. You are a victim, too, of this megalomania system. They took away your free will. They stole your conscience. Hindi kami natalo. Pero naloko ka.  

How will your “leaders”, who have no clear economic platform, save our country now that our Philippine Stock Exchange Index is declining, inflation is untamed, and our international debt is ballooning? Actually, you did not vote for leaders. You voted for clowns, and now the world is laughing at us. 

When the time comes that the country is sinking into inequality and poverty and our democracy is being smothered worse than ever, I hope you’ll finally realize who our real enemies are. A warning is set at the very beginning. Their victory today will be the loss of our future—unless they prove us wrong. 

Yesterday, we mourned. Today, we continue our pursuit of truth, justice, and hope. And tomorrow, we will reclaim what is rightfully ours. Acceptance of defeat against Marcos-Duterte and their pets is not an option. 

The fight isn’t over. In fact, we are just getting started. We’ve felt and seen the light of hope. Let us use this as a torch to find those still in the dark, and to withstand the darker days that are about to come.