Making the youth vote count
“Hindi ako nabaril para lang sayangin mo ang karapatan mong bumoto. (I wasn’t shot just so you could just waste your right to vote.) No way, Jose!” a cartoon version of Jose Rizal tells visitors of the website Magparehistroka.com.
Other Philippine heroes including Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini and Melchora Aquino and Aurora Quezon make an appearance on the website too, reminding people to register to vote in the 2022 elections. “O sige, bhie. Magparehistro ka na. Kung hindi … mumultuhin ka talaga namin (Go register. If not… we will haunt you),” they say, after detailing instructions on how to register.
The website, which is a project of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), MullenLowe Treyna and Google Philippines, and features the art of Chinny Basinang, leads visitors to Comelec’s iRehistro website and also gives users access to downloadable registration forms.
With its comics-inspired style, use of current lingo (“Tara G!” “Achievin n’yo to.”) and shareability on social media, it’s clear that the site was created to target younger voters.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, “The Philippines today has the largest generation of young people in its history.” Forty million Filipinos from ages 18 to 39 will be eligible to vote in the 2022 elections. In the 2019 elections, Comelec data showed that more than half of the registered voters were millennials or Gen Z.
As of June this year, 60 million voters have already registered for the 2022 national elections. The Comelec has a target of four million first-time registrants. And with less than three months to go until voter registration closes, there’s still plenty of time for people to sign up.
Magparehistroka.com is just one of the many projects and initiatives created to make sure the youth vote counts in the upcoming presidential elections.
On May 9, 2021, exactly a year before the elections, more than 700 youth organizations gathered to launch a nationwide coalition called Kabilang Ka Sa 2022. They called the launch “an online voter empowerment celebration” led by Youth Leadership for Democracy (YouthLed PH).
“It is up to us to wield the future Philippines we want and deserve. Let’s take this chance to elect leaders who will champion our call for kalayaan, kaginhawaan, at kapatiran,” Madelene de Borja, coconvener of We The Future PH, told the Inquirer.
De Borja shared that they will be rolling out local youth assemblies in 22 provinces all over the Philippines—from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao “to create platforms for the youth to discuss our local struggles, and to create action points to advocate for positive social transformation.”
In November, young Filipinos across the country will gather in a National Youth Leaders Forum to discuss issues that affect them and to discuss the youth agenda in the elections.
De Borja said, “This #Eleksyon2022, we will make sure that our vote will count by being heard and seen starting early in the decision-making for policies and campaigns of aspiring candidates of the national elections… As young people of our country, we are concerned not only for what our country is facing today, but also if we would even have a world to live in the near future.”
‘Anong Ambag Mo?’
Last month, the Polytechnic University of the Philippines House of Parliamentarians organized a voter’s education series called “Anong Ambag Mo?” The webinars, held on all Sundays of June, covered topics such as trends in Philippine elections, sectoral representation and the role of the youth in the polls.
Last month, the Broadcast Journalism Program Council of De La Salle University Dasmariñas hosted “Bata, Bata, Boboto Ka Ba?,” a webinar that aimed to empower and educate the youth about the elections.
The University of the Philippines Los Baños Grange Organization has created the “Your Vote Is Your Voice” campaign with the goal of amplifying voices in the national elections.
YouthVote Philippines (www.youthvoteph.org), which has been around since 2008, is a network of youth groups and organizations also empowering the youth through citizen and voter education. It’s counting down to the elections and providing programs and resources for voters.
Social medmoia, of course, is playing a big role in getting young people to register and vote. Facebook pages and Twitter accounts like Uy, Boboto Ka Ba? and @YouthVotePH have been created to provide information—from stressing the importance of a single vote to listing voting dos and don’ts.
On TikTok, the hashtag #Halalan2022 has been viewed 2.8 million times as of this writing, a number that’s sure to grow in the coming days.
Celebrities and social media influencers have been using their clout and their reach to spread awareness about the importance of voting.
Saab Magalona, Jennylyn Mercado, Janine Gutierrez and Bianca Gonzalez are just some of them.
Young artists and art studios like @aydapadiart and @artifactstudio.co are doing their share, too.
Macoy Averilla, known on social media as Macoy Dubs and his alter ego Tita Julie, is part of We The Youth Vote, a nonpartisan coalition of young Filipinos who “envision a Filipino youth empowered to collectively take action in shaping the country’s future by exercising their right to vote.” He said, “Voting is your power. You need to take advantage of the registration period. Encourage everyone, encourage your friends to register to vote. Make Auntie Julie proud.”
Mela Habijan, Miss Trans Global 2020, is another active voice urging people to vote. “I still believe in my power to vote. I still believe in the elections. So I will never get tired of encouraging you to register and vote,” she shared on social media. “Our 1 vote is powerful. It defines our future as a nation,” she also said. INQ