After initial results of the Philippine midterm elections were announced, young Filipino voters were torn on how they felt about the outcome. Some remained hopeful, others expressed disappointment, and still others resorted to pragmatism and resiliency.
Out of the 12 Senate seats, all winning candidates are supportive of the current administration. Not a single opposition candidate won a seat, an unprecedented result in Philippine history. Among the winners are the President’s closest aide Bong Go; Duterte’s hand-picked former Philippine National Police Chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa; Imee Marcos, daughter of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos; and former actor-turned-senator Bong Revilla, who has detained for 4 years on plunder charges and recently released but still facing graft charges.
Duterte won the presidency three years ago on a populist platform. Since Duterte’s election however, his controversial policies have polarised Filipinos such as his war against drugs and foreign policy shift towards China. Despite this, he has maintained high satisfaction ratings. The victory of his endorsed candidates is further evidence of his enduring popularity, and will likely mean a continuation of his divisive policies.
While the youth vote largely remains a myth and young Filipino voters are fragmented in opinion, some see the result as a wake-up call.
Arianne Marzan, 31, lawyer
I'm a corporate lawyer, litigator and the former chief legal officer of known Congressman of Pampanga. I used to work at the House of Representatives. I feel a mixture of disappointment, fear, doubt, and guilt regarding the results of the midterm elections.
Disappointment, because a number still did not exercise their right to vote: there were numerous reports of defective/damaged [election voting] machines, tampered ballots, vote-buying, and worse, attacks and acts of violence in some parts of our country. Much disappointment goes to the Commission on Elections. They were given three years to prepare for this.
Fear, because when people posted their concerns online, they were attacked personally, sexually, even posting "rape jokes." People abuse their freedom of expression and ridicule human rights.
Doubt, because in three years, we will elect the next leader of this nation. All the anomalies and irregularities will happen again, unless someone acts on it.
And lastly, guilt. Perhaps I could've done something to influence, educate or make others aware of what is going on, behind social media, fake posts, Youtube influencers, etc. People need to snap back to reality and think about their future and the future of their children.
Charles Erwin Yu, 26, businessman
I feel happy and at the same time disappointed with the senatorial elections. Happy because some of the candidates that are on the top 12 really deserve to win. But some I don’t think so. Like Lito Lapid for example. I’m not sure what he'll do if I’m gonna base it on his credentials. Same with Bong Revilla. He stole money and he won. He told the media that he’s not going to give the money back so it really means he stole it.
It’s annoying that people with more credentials, like [opposition candidates] Chel Diokno and Romy Macalintal, didn’t even win. [Duterte allies] Bong Go and Bato [dela Rosa]... their resumes and credentials are empty, and they won.
It’s all a power play.
Daryl Dexter Julio, 29, businessman and engineer
I'm happy that the election was generally peaceful and we can say that democracy is indeed alive and well. However, I was very much disappointed with all the machines and SD card malfunctions. The Commission on Elections had 3 years to make sure that this wouldn't happen and this isn't their first rodeo so they should have been prepared. Sure, malfunctions can happen but they should have prepared a back-up plan that would still secure the integrity of the people's votes. Even the transmission of votes to the transparency servers experienced issues last night so naturally this would cause a lot of doubt and mistrust, damaging the perceived integrity of the election results.
Some will claim that election was rigged and some will point towards the malfunctions but as for me, I am happy with how the elections went and I will accept whatever the results will be. Because history teaches us that whatever happens, happens. It is up to us individually how we adapt, survive and thrive regardless of environment and circumstance. Moving forward, I am still hopeful that the Philippines will have a bright future under the Duterte administration and I hope that whoever wins the elections will help in Duterte's vision of a better and more progressive Philippines.
Rona Raissa Angeles, 32, freelance marketing consultant
Redacted version of her publicly posted Facebook status, with permission to repost.
I used to stay mum about and away from politics and just because I thought there were too many things I don’t understand about “the system”, it’s just “too toxic”, and there’s little that I can do about it anyway—it’s not like ranting/sharing opinions once in a while can change anything. My life will seemingly go on, as is, regardless of what’s happening or who whatever position.
But everything has been sparking so much rage in me and it’s quite disheartening whenever people say “Meh. Ayoko sa politics.” ("Meh. I don't like politics.")
I’ve realized that staying out of or staying silent about what’s going on is “privilege in action.”
However, despite our privilege, we should care. We should care about politics because we should care about other people. We should care about what the future might hold for the next generations. We might not see the horrors all this will cause tomorrow, but what kind of world will our children be opening their eyes to? What kind of leaders will they see?
Caring beyond what’ll affect us directly is not just our duty as Pinoys. That’s our responsibility as human beings.
Sure, the system is fucked up and to beat it or change it seems like a hopeless, never ending endeavor, but it won’t ever change if we don’t start caring more and more.
Sure, there are more important things to worry about like the environment, epidemics, starving children—but all these causes will be affected by whoever we put in charge.
Sure, we can’t resolve the problem immediately because it’s rooted in our long battle with our people’s lack of education—but the wrong people in power will just keep ensuring that Filipinos generally stay stupid and ignorant enough to buy into a Budots dance.
Sure, constantly posting reactions won’t cause a dent—I won’t be heard by anyone who can shake up the system up—but imagine the volume if we all react, if we all get mad, if we all talk about what’s happening as passionately as we talk about GOT and Endgame, if every single person starts caring. We can possibly reach more people, we can possibly open more eyes, we can possibly be heard more—and this government won’t ever think that Filipinos will just “let things pass” and “let things be”.
So to the friends in this cyber universe who have been continuously vocal: Thank you. Keep sharing. Keep resisting. Stay loud. Stay mad. Stop apologizing for adding toxicity to your feed. There’s nothing more important now than adding to the big collective voice we’re building that’s saying NO to what’s happening. As long as this voice gets stronger, there’s always still hope.
Jonas Latoza, 26, Teacher
I didn’t expect that no one from the Liberal Party would win, but I absolutely did not expect that Bong Revilla would win. I only hope that he would clear up the accusations against him and I’m hoping that even if our perceptions are different we would help each other out and not point fingers on who’s wrong.
I'm sure there will be very heated discussions and criticism, but I’m hoping discussions at the end will be good because our country needs us to help each other now than further divide ourselves.
Armmina Maclang, 25, Senior Big Data Analyst
After seeing even the partial votes, I wasn't surprised. I was hopeful for the opposition bets whom I voted for, but I didn't think it not even one would take a seat.
The truth is that money wins the elections, and the same people who invested in [former President Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo's campaign were the same ones who invested in President [Benigno] Aquino III's campaign, and again for President Duterte and his allies. They place their bets on the winning horse, because they need the head of the state to be a grateful pawn.
So if the people really, truly wanted to have a chance at running against the popular vote, all of us really have to pool our time and resources together and offer it during campaign season. Early on, not when it's in the last few days leading up to elections.
It really doesn't suffice to just share memes around our little echo chamber. There are people out there, far from our reach. We like to blame them and call them stupid, but what did we do to educate them? Those of us with education, with resources, within the kinds of circles that pass around a Tableau web tool that tells you which senators fit your stand—did we acknowledge that our "informed" vote comes from privilege? Did we try to extend that privilege to the poor?
Or do we blame them? Call them stupid? Say things like, only tax payers should vote? We should weight the vote based on the tax you pay? Wouldn't that just give the richest the most important vote? Wouldn't that just make our politicians pander to the wants of the middle to upper class rather than focus on the needs of our farmers and fishermen?
We don't want to blame ourselves, but honestly, we did not do enough. We cry about how much we love our country, and then research how to migrate out of it and leave the rest of those who can't afford that option to suffer in the hands of those we elected.
I'm scared, not just because we elected thieves. But because this coming few years are when we vote for or against federalism. Which inherently isn't a bad thing—but the charter change that comes with it allows for the removal of term limits and the removal of the anti-dynasty provisions. It also requires that a Vice President is from the same party as the President. And so even if we impeach a President, the next guy that comes in is the next grateful horse from the same stable.
Change is coming, but it isn't progress. Not for us or our people, not for our fishermen in the West Philippine Sea, not for our farmers, our teachers, our medical practitioners. It's the kind of change that benefits only the rich and their closest friends. It's the change that benefits the families that have held power in this country.
If this teaches me and my generation anything, it's that we have to do more. When our parents were our age, they saw their friends and family be abducted and mistreated by an oppressive regime, and that caused them to stand up against it. I hope that we don't wait for that long before we make the effort. I hope we all survive until the next three years, and that it isn't too late for us to try again and try harder this time around.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.