The perils of a last-minute Comelec registrant

SPEAKING OUT

bunyeBy IGNACIO BUNYE

Why do we always wait until the last day before we do some very important chores? Many students routinely cram for examinations. Many taxpayers file their returns close to deadline. And yes, many voters, as shown last week, had their biometrics taken during the proverbial “last two minutes”.
The short answer is: Because we often get away with it.
But my daughter Frannie, another last-minute registrant last week, vows: “Never again.”
“Showing up on the last day of COMELEC voter’s registration was a bad idea, except that I had no choice. I had planned to go on Thursday, but the COMELEC website said that the (registration form) paper had to be a certain length and by the time I read it, it was too late to get to the store. I also ran out of ink. I also thought that that lining up after I bought the item at the store would be too late (I was advised to go as early as I could in the morning because so many others would be there at the last minute). I was color-coded on Friday, so Saturday, October 31st, it was.
“I showed up at Makati Coliseum at 7:25 a.m. with my hair still wet, (yes not damp, wet) and got to the long and winding line that probably started in the wee hours of the morning. A lady I met in line said she was there the previous day, but missed the cut-off of 800.
“At around 9:30 a.m., a lady came by handing out orange slips of tape with our numbers. I was number 646! I made it! At that point I wondered if I could go home to eat but the saleslady at the snack counter discouraged me because she said if I missed my number, I would have to start at the very back of the line again. The lady registrant, who missed the cut the previous day, also observed that the line was moving a lot faster so it was harder to gauge how long before my turn was.
“Good thing I had my trusty Kindle. I made it a point to turn off all the other non-essentials on my phone in order to conserve batteries. I had also with me a bottle of water and some snacks. Others left the line, and came back with Max’s, Jollibee, cup noodles and fruit from the sari-sari.
“Ten hours later, at around 5 p.m., it was my turn to submit my application for checking, but my pen ran out of ink! Good thing two siblings who were with me in line lent me their pen. I was told that since I was a transferree, I needed to submit proof of a change of address. It was a blessing my folder contained some mail from Yupangco inviting me to a private sale! Otherwise, I think my lining up for all those hours would have been for naught.
“I asked the COMELEC Officer why those things weren’t listed as requirements on their website. He said that the website notes were national requirements, and that Makati had its own local requirements. He also assured me my application wasn’t being rejected; I just needed to append the application. I paid an extra two pesos for photopying and then I waited again until it was my turn at biometrics.
After eleven hours, I was “Hagardo Versoza” and no amount of primping would have improved my photo, but I didn’t care anymore. I would be able to vote in 2016 and that, to me, was a blessing.
“I couldn’t bring myself to complain because honestly, it was my fault I waited until the last minute. I had seen a couple from my church drop by in the afternoon, but they also left shortly afterward. They probably saw the sign written on a piece of cardboard that read: WALANG FOREVER! (Underscored) ETO NA PO ANG LAST NUMBER (#1000) HINDI NA KAYA NG MAKINA (COMPUTERS) NAMIN ANG MAGDAGDAG PA. PASENSYA NA PO! UMUWI NA PO YUNG WALANG NUMBER.
“Some folks were also complaining about a family that jumped the line . A senior citizen who was number 900+ brought along his family members who weren’t seniors. I didn’t join in with the complainant who said they (the non-seniors) needed to be told to get out of line. Part of me was too tired and the other part also felt sorry for the senior. He wasn’t talking back to the hecklers though—his family members took care of that. I felt embarrassed for him.
“I recall talking about it with my friend Nikki who told me that despite the imperfections of our government and the system, we still live in a country where we have more rights than our female counterparts in other countries, the right to vote being one of them. I hope we don’t ever take this for granted and participate as much as we can in suffrage.
“Lesson learned though! Next time, I’ll go as early as possible, and not on the date of the deadline itself! I also thank God for the gift of joy and peace. It’s not to my credit but His continuing work in me (although unfinished) that I could talk about the experience with a grateful heart.
“PS. Makati Coliseum was very clean and had running water. The folks were the ones who littered and turned it upside down by 6 p.m. Someone even brought a dog and allowed it to defecate by a window sill!”
Note: Frannie Bunye is currently finishing her Masters in Education at Ateneo de Manila University. You may email her at [email protected]

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