Now Trending or Un-trending: #YouthVote2013

“NOW TRENDING: #YOUTHVOTE2013” is a network of youth and student organizations that push for a young people’s progressive agenda in politics in the Philippines. Last Saturday, April 6, the said network spearheaded a Local Candidates’ Forum on Young People’s Agenda (along with the 4th SCAP Sugbo Congress) held at the Provincial Capitol, Cebu City.

According to the event’s official page, the forum included local candidates of Cebu for a discussion on their track record and platform for the youth. The activity aimed “to let the youth of this nation participate in this timely, relevant and engaging political discourse.” The event was co-organized by the Cebu Bloggers Society, the Cebu Youth Ambassadors, the First Time Voters’ Network, the Forum for Family Planning and Development, SMART Communications, News5, and InterAksyon.com.

One of USC’s Supreme Student Council (SSC) councilors, Gea Ecoy, was privileged to speak at the event as the spokesperson for the Student Council Alliance of the Philippines – Cebu. Her speech got people glued, and people started quoting her on Twitter. One of her most striking statements were: “Who doesn’t criticize politicians? It’s fun! But who’s worse than a bad politician? Bad voters.”

Apart from the clause in the 1987 Philippine Constitution that emphasizes the importance of the youth sector in nation building, specifically Article II, Section 13, I would like to commend the organizers for their efforts in materializing the clause and aiming to make the youth aware and to encourage their participation. It’s a great cause, and it lacks appreciation. Unfortunately, I learned about the event late and was not able to go even if I wanted to. Is it just me, or does the name not match?

Now trending or un-trending? Definitely un-trending. It’s not even a trend. Trend is probably an overstatement. It’s hardly even talked about. Honestly, I’ve seen more Carolinian Confessions, cute girls wasting their time on “Gwiyomi” and bikini spams on my Facebook newsfeed than anything about YouthVote2013. Sure, there’s the occasional “Senyora Santibañez” making fun of the current candidates and mocking their names and platforms, but that’s the closest thing to trending as far as the youth and voting are concerned. I slightly had difficulty gathering information about the event before it happened, and if it weren’t for Google, I’d be lost. Don’t get me wrong though, the initiation of the event and its goals are great, and I appreciate it- but I just see it as a waste because it lacks coverage and promotion. The event was co-organized by Cebu Bloggers Society and I found only ONE blog that talked about the event a few days before it occurred. Don’t judge my Googling skills, but really, that was all there was. The most disappointing part of it was that the person who owned the blog was my friend, and I learned about the event from her and whatever we chatted about was a mimic of whatever information she posted on her blog. The information on the official page wasn’t all that inviting either, if I were a regular teenager who didn’t care about voting, I would close my browser and mistake the page for a pop-up spam. There were news articles about YouthVote2013 and how events went in other areas of the Philippines, but they were all so dull, so lacking in substance. They were perfect on providing information about the time and place of the events, but I bet they never even started at the exact times stated anyway.

Let’s not play the blame game though. Can we blame the youth for generally being uninterested in voting? Can we blame Carolinians for constantly refreshing the Carolinian Confessions page? Heck, can we even blame young, pretty, teenage girls for wanting to flaunt their sun-kissable bodies? No, of course not. What about the organizers? Is it their fault that people prefer to stay home and watch “Please Be Careful with My Heart” and fangirl (this is applicable for the guys too, it’s okay guys- it’s perfectly fine for grown men to enjoy that show) over reading the candidate’s credentials? Is it their fault that people would rather travel to the beach and take thousands of same-faced pictures with different scenes than travel to the Provincial Capitol to sit down and listen? Well, it’s no one’s fault, really.

True, what’s worse than bad politicians are definitely bad voters. Sure, we can’t blame the youth for prioritizing other things over politics, but there’s no doubt that we’d all be at fault if the wrong politicians are elected into office. What’s even more mortifying is that the people who might be elected into office would be mere politicians, and not leaders. In this case, we cannot play the blame game for having different interests and priorities. But the blame game does come in when the candidates that we did or did not vote for become officials. How is it our fault? We have the power to decide whoever is put up there, and most don’t understand the significance of that. We have the ability to layout the future, but some of us don’t even use that ability to its utmost extent. We criticize officials endlessly but have we exerted the effort to be aware so we’d make the right choices? These elected officials and their decisions will affect our lives collectively, and that is no longer a choice.  

Maybe elections shouldn’t be during the summer, because people are always so occupied with summer stuff to care about elections. I mean, at least the people who have the budget to be occupied with summer stuff are. For those who are poor in the summer because of no allowance like me, you’d probably be bored out of your wits. Why don’t you use your time to read the news? Or hey, read about the candidates. The internet is free. The COMELEC application is free for download on mobile phones, if you’re bored with Twitter and tired of envying the traveling elitists on Facebook and Instagram. Technology and social media nowadays are so useful; especially for gathering information… so take advantage of that. A lapse in the current generation, oddly, is also because of technology- it is both an advantage and pathology. People in the past didn’t have the internet, or mobile phones to search about candidates or elections, so they went out of their way to be physically present to listen to them. They were like that because “trending” existed in a more material manner. Now, it’s just a misused hashtag that doesn’t live up to its name.

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