At 8 a.m. on election day, I wheeled my dad to the voting precinct. It was not easy maneuvering the wheelchair to the farthest corner of the school, but I was touched by the collective display of kindness. Long queues parted to let us through, and we were hustled right inside precinct 57A. Within minutes, we were done.
The day before, when campaigning was no longer legally allowed, our quiet end of the street was anything but quiet. As it turned out, it was my lot to live near some "leader's" house, and there was an endless stream of people trooping over for the requisite election moolah. This year I think the going rate was P300, which in effect translates to a measly P100 per year of service (or dis-, depending on how you look at it, hehehe).
But then again, it was hard to imagine that most of those patiently waiting out their turn at the PCOS machine were probably the same people who pocketed the crisp bills. And so it was that I left the polling place in high spirits.
Alas, it was a different story when the results came trickling in. I should have known that my hometown is a tinier model of the rest of the country. And that the elections is nothing more than a glorified version of the popularity--uhm, money--contest. Or an episode plucked right out of Dynasty.
In the end, Smartmatic has not made us any smarter. Despite the relative success of the automation, Sorsogon is still Sorsogon. Except that right now, there are a lot of crisp bills changing hands.
Bills with staple holes, to be exact.