Not a Quiet Place

Words by Axcel Beltran

In the recent election surveys, the tandem of the dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and incumbent strongman’s daughter Sara Duterte continues to be the leading ticket for the May 2022 polls. As a first-time voter, I admit that I was so frightened when I saw the numbers. 

I can still remember that night. I was in a quiet place in my room, but the anxiety was spiraling inside my head. Are we a hopeless case? That was the question I was trying to answer myself. But my fear of uncertainty was clouding my vision. 

History already has it. History has been teaching us about the atrocities of the Marcos family, yet a Marcos is leading the surveys for the highest position in the country. And they are doing everything they can to revise and destroy history in the digital milieu. As Nobel laureate Maria Ressa puts it, invisible atom bombs of lies have been planted in our online information system. Worse, they have been exploding, and many people, mostly from the vulnerable sectors, became its victims. 

The exponential spread of misinformation and disinformation intertwined with the government’s tactics to silence their critics, and the alliance of the filthiest political dynasties in history, all seem horrifying for a first-time voter like me, who aspires to contribute and witness a progressive change for his country. 

Adding to this agony are the recent questionable and controversial actions of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), stemming from its decision to junk the disqualification cases of Marcos Jr., and the unconstitutionality of Oplan Baklas. I cannot help but recall what is written in history books about what transpired 36 years ago, when a massive and blatant poll fraud rigged the 1986 snap election, and caused 35 COMELEC canvassers and computer operators to walk out in dismay and disbelief. All of these marred my thoughts. 

However, after that night, I realized that I am not alone nor incapable of this fight. Lest we forget, it is too soon to assume the outcome of the elections. The surveys only give us ‘what could be’ and not ‘what is’. We still have a long way to go and more work to do.  

I was relieved to have a discussion with a Marcos sympathizer, and the discourses ended in a healthy exchange of insights.  Though it is not certain, but there is a chance. For me, I will hold onto that chance that he and other people like him can reassess their choices and defy the lies planted in them. Conversations like these demand us go out of my echo chambers, and to talk and help other people understand the facts. One thing I proved from our conversation was that the secret to persuasion is always empathy. 

I admit that there is still fear inside me. I am still anxious about the upcoming elections. Who isn’t? We can no longer endure living the next six years of our lives in fear and horror. But I somehow learned to listen to that fear because it can tell us exactly what we need to know and  act against. 

We shall continue fighting and speaking for the truth. Let us continue to espouse conversation and learn from the point of view of one another. Diplomacy instead of war. Now more than ever, true unity lies in the masses. 

Besides, our fight does not stop with the elections. As long as there is oppression, injustices, and government mishaps, there will always be a demand for accountability. 

So, are we a hopeless case? No, we are not. The expansive picket of the masses are the hope. It is the conscience of the people that roars: enough is enough. It is our collective spirit to resist, fight, and save our country against distortion of truth and the negation of our holistic memory of history. And there is no place nor time for hope to be silent. [P]

Graphics by Iloiza Vitug

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