14 May 2007

This is going to be a long day

SINCE 1998, when we were still residing in Bagumbayan Norte -- a barangay near the city center -- my wife Lynn has been serving as member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), the three-person team managing voting at the precinct level.

As a teacher, it goes with the territory; blame it on the Comelec's bungling, poll automation remains another one of those essential Philippine dreams -- so near and yet so far -- making manual count a necessity. She started out in 1998 as the third member responsible for the tally sheet when votes start to be counted; since 2004, she has been chairing the BEI, and is largely responsible for what happens at the precinct.

Whenever around (three years ago, I was away for schooling), I am the dutiful husband who brings her meals (lunch and dinner) and snacks in between, and other provision that will make life more bearable within the classroom-precinct. While she is away, my mother-in-law and I are left at home to look after the kids.

This is another of those triennial long days. The first time we did it, the whole process in Sabang High School (where she was teaching at the time) ended up at 3 am the following day -- when their BEI finally returned the ballot box, election returns and other completed documents to the City Treasury where they secured it earlier.

This morning, we woke up at past 3 am; I had to wake up as well to drive her to City Hall. She had to be there by 4 am to secure the forms again so that their team will beat the lines usually made long by latecomers. The City Treasurer's Office announced they will open at 2 am, and when we arrived this morning, it was already buzzing with activity.

While they were lining up, I went up the office to check on my email and upload the previous entry that I failed to put up last night when my Blast dial-up internet credit ran out; it took them about 30 minutes to secure everything they needed. Before going to Pacol Elementary School, where our eldest Ezekiel graduated and where her precinct is now located, we dropped by Atlantic Bakery for a bagful of hot pan de sal and at Biggs Diner for her breakfast of goto and black coffee.

Between 6-7 pm, I will go back to Pacol Elementary, about 2 kms from our Grandview community, to bring her dinner again; I figure they should be able to finish everything well past midnight, given two inexperienced greenhorns completing their BEI, which the Alliance of Concerned Teachers complained about here.

But I am confident Lynn will manage, as she always does. This civic duty is part of these necessary distractions; in other more advanced societies where elections are automated, teachers are spared these unnecessary troubles, allowing them to focus on what they do best: teach our young.

That is why I puke when losing politicians complain they are cheated, and accuse teachers of doing them in. I think they are barking up the wrong tree; it's the bumbling gang of Abalos, Luzviminda Tangcangco and their cohorts they should actually be running after, not our hapless public school teachers.