The Informed Filipino Voter: A Myth or Reality?

With the national elections less than three months away from today, you just know I’m going to HAVE to blog about it at some point in time.

In the same class that made me start this blog, we were asked our opinions on whether or not the Internet would change the way the Philippine election is wired.

The Digits

If my memory serves me right, we came to a conclusion that no, there won’t be an Obama in the Philippines–he who won the elections partly through social media and, a year after clinching the position, just tried to woo the Americans back to him with the help of the trusty teleprompter…

The most recent stats states that not even a quarter of the Filipino population are online. With less than 50 million Filipinos registered for the elections, I don’t think the average number of Filipinos online can make a huge blow on the registered voters. Of course, out of that small number, you still have to discount the minors who are online to play games. And then there are the non-voters. And those who log in to check their social networking alones… you get the drift.

And let’s admit it: political awareness isn’t exactly the reason why any average Filipino would go online, nor am I saying that Americans go online for such. I’m saying that reaching Pinoys online to campaign for the elections will not be as effective as in Obama’s campaign. There are many Filipinos talking about the elections online, but let’s not forget, there are 90 million Filipinos out there who are mostly watching TVCs and just not that into intellectualizing the elections that much.

Consider this:

In fact, whenever I start thinking that the country is becoming more and more digital in favor of the elections, I stop, take a breathe, and confront cold hard reality: the few urban centers in the country are undoubtedly in touch with technology, you have bloggers like me to prove that. But everywhere else, it’s just poverty or rurality, and the plain truth is that many more Filipinos don’t even understand what the Internet is. Let alone understand how it can actually be of big help in deciding their vote.

Given that, is it safe to really say that Filipinos are intelligent voters now, thanks to the Internet? Or are we just fooling ourselves into thinking that the 21st century Filipinos now votes more on the basis of the politician’s platform than on the charisma alone?

Don’t get me wrong–I think we might be getting there and that the Internet’s great for decision-making. But we’re just not there yet. And the sooner we admit that fact, we can all stop being smug and start engaging absolutely everyone about the elections. So let’s not get carried away.


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