This Pinay voting from Uncle Sam’s land

While at the hotel reception desk in Makati during our recent weeklong visit from the US, a white guy made small talk with my husband, another white guy. The stranger said, “I’m happy to be flying out on Saturday. These foreigners are idiots.”

It took an incredible amount of self-control for me not to grab him by the collar and say, “Nobody dragged you here. If you want, book an earlier flight and get out of my country now.”

I love the Philippines. Being transplanted thousands of miles away from it, in the territory of Uncle Sam, has not diminished this love one bit. Say what you want about the capital’s horrendous traffic or the asthma-inducing polluted air, but keep my people out of your rant. Nobody calls my people idiots.

——–

It will be quite a stretch for me to compare myself to Queen Esther of the Bible but allow me this analogy: Like her, I hurt for my people. Like her, I would do everything within my power to protect my land. Like her, I want to do the right thing.

But what can I do to show this love aside from having a tiny Philippine flag display on my desk? Is it enough for me get offended by what outsiders say? What good will my indignation do when I am becoming a mere spectator watching from the sidelines, in another continent, as the history of my people unfolds?

Several weeks ago, I emailed the Philippine embassy in Washington DC. Apparently, they are making it easy for immigrants like me to participate in the national elections happening in May 2016. All it will take is a request on my part for a ballot to be sent to me, which I will then mail back to t13001212_10153775573248692_8783892950397378590_nhem. Now that I have it, I am praying for wisdom to discern which names to write in my ballot.

But why bother? It’s not as if you are directly affected by what is happening in the land of your birth. Go worry about spring cleaning. You are in a better place now.

These thoughts, fortunately, get silenced the second I hear them. There is no room for apathy or indifference in my heart. Why should I feel lucky for having escaped the place where a seat on the bus is not guaranteed for commuters like me (I remember the many times when I had to endure standing for hours when traffic was especially bad), or where I get substandard service from many government agencies?

You see, as long as I shall live, Filipino blood will run through my veins. No matter how many servings of mashed potatoes I eat, it will not dilute my love for rice. During this time, while the election fever is running high in the Philippines, I am not too far removed to feel it. Like any other ordinary Filipino voter, I am doing my own research. I read the credentials of the candidates, asking God to help me separate the wheat from the chaff, the wise from the cunning, for my eyes to be able to distinguish between the selfish and the selfless. By the grace of God, I will vote wisely, in good conscience, untainted by cynicism, hopelessness or despair.

I believe in my country. I believe in my people. But more than my belief in sweet-talking politicians promising the moon and the stars, my unshakeable belief and faith in God trumps everything. Because like any other Christian who believes in divine sovereignty, I know the future of my land, ultimately, is in the Lord’s hands.


 

Read about what others have to say about Christian faith and politics in OMF Literature’s fresh-off-the-“digital press” ebook, What About Philippine Politics? Download the free ebook, share the link and join the discussion.

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