I arrived at Paso De Blas Elementary school at exactly 9:38 a.m. It was hot and humid amid the sea of voters lined up at Precinct 1154A. Everyone seemed tired and bored but determined to wait for their turn in Room 203.

I went to the end of the 30-feet long intestine-like queue together with my sister, Dezza, who brought her DSLR camera. She tagged along just so she could experience what the first automated election was like, since she failed to register as a voter last Christmas break. I brought my notebook so I could document the important happenings in my first voting experience.

It took hours waiting for my turn. Since Dezza wandered around to take pictures, I was left alone, unable to put my thoughts on paper because of the stress the queue was giving me.

By 12:30 p.m., everything felt right partly because the temperature dropped to a more tolerable level, but more importantly, I was next in line. It was my turn. The thought of idealism quickly consumed me — I was excited, if not aroused, at the thought that I had the chance to make the Philippines a better country to live in.

But it all crashed when the Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS machine stopped taking in ballots. All hope and enthusiasm seemed to have been washed down the murky waters of Tullahan River. What came to my head was the “just get on with it” attitude, but I was easily irritated when people came close as if they were wiping their perspiration all over my exasperation.

Voters weigh in

Then it was my turn again. The rousing feeling came back. I told the lady who distributed the ballots my precinct number and name, then signed the list of voters.

Voting was easy with an accomplished sample ballot. After shading my choices, I had the option of leaving my ballot to the poll officials or wait for the machine to work again.

Then I realized I lost my cellphone. When I found my phone a few minutes later, the PCOS machine was working again! I thought I was fortunate as I would be able to try the machine, unlike the others who just left their ballots with the Board of Election Inspectors.

I fed the ballot into the PCOS. It seemed the machine was taking a little bit longer to process my ballot, as if doubting my choices. Then the message finally came: “Congratulations, your ballot has been counted.”

The feeling was so rewarding after hours of drudgery. I just hope the next president won’t drag the country down the muck. Darenn G. Rodriguez


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