Friday, May 17, 2013

Reflections on Election

It is common knowledge that there are "hotspots" within the Philippines that are prone to violence before during and after elections. Myself and about 20 other volunteers were required to leave our sites for a week during election and stay in Manila for safety reasons (yes, believe it or not PC felt Manila was safer that week, go figure..) - anyway, we were placed at our lovely home away from home (Pension) and treated to a bunk bed in a dorm room with an electric fan, yeah!! Because some of us were seriously afraid of melting away into a human puddle, we upgraded to an air con room, at our expense, of course. The heat in Manila was really unbearable and hiding out in air con made the days tolerable. We did a little sightseeing and went to the office to work. Here is a rambling list of things that will not mean anything to you readers but were significant: 2 large rats chasing themselves up a tree, another large rat being chased by the resident cat, the homeless families with naked children bathing on the street, having BLACK feet despite wearing sandals, permanent heat rash at your bra line, sweat cloths/handkerchiefs tied onto yourself, eating at Swarma and trying the hookah, your patience being tried by giggles, I am sure I am forgetting a lot and that is probably a good idea. Let's leave it at that for now.
Before the election we were treated by early morning and all day loudspeaker campaigning. Jeeps/cars had huge speakers strapped onto the roofs and slowly drove through town with deafening campaign songs and slogans. For example, one candidate picked the Gangnam song and changed the words to reflect his/her name, it is really hard to describe actually. Some songs will never be the same to me again....oh and did I mention the gazillion posters EVERYWHERE.....some are actually amusing, big smiles, nick names like "Dong" or "Boy" - again, words cannot describe the election carnival. Seriously, I really admire the locals who campaigned daily going door to door advocating for their candidate. It was true democracy in action. I don't think I have ever seen as many people working so hard every day in American for their candidate of choice. Vote buying is rampant here and what they call "dynasty" families tend to prevail. Yes of course it is illegal but it happens. Fear is a huge motivator.
So we survived the election, summer is coming to a close (not the heat though..) and school starts again June 3rd. I am excited to be back in our library!

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