Young voters' realization: Volunteering helps them cope, hope for better days

Published May 13, 2022, 3:36 PM

by Betheena Unite

While the unofficial results of the 2022 elections have generated an emotional response from some sectors, a group of young people find comfort in volunteering.

PPCRV Command Center (Photo by Ali Vicoy)

Inside the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) command center at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) are volunteers from different places, walks of life, and a wide range of age, who share the same purpose—to be part of an effort that ensures the integrity of the election results.

Rickson, 21, of Tondo, Manila, admitted the day after the elections was filled with questions and uneasiness but volunteering, he said, helped him through.

“Of course, nung una parang medyo (at first, I felt) anxious, medyo may (there was some) point of questioning and also parang I really felt blank. I was asking questions why,” he said. Rickson is a graduating student at the UST-Department of Pharmacy.

But four days after the elections, Rickson gained hope sparked from the spirit of volunteerism within the poll watchdog’s command center, where he has been working with many other youthful volunteers.

It also helped that he was seeing the results of the elections first hand. He is now almost at the point of acceptance, calmer, and hopeful.

“Right now, siguro (perhaps), nasa (I am) almost (at the) point na ako ng (of) acceptance since siyempre nakikita rin natin yung (of , course, we are now seeing the) results dito sa (here at the) PPCRV,” he said.

“But right now, medyo mas kalmado naman na ako (I am calmer) since it’s already four days after the elections but still hoping for the better,” he added.

Volunteering as an encoder at PPCRV is fulfilling, Rickson said, because he shares the same purpose with his fellow volunteers, some of them are his classmates.

It’s really fulfilling and sobrang gaan ng pakiramdam sa loob na (it’s really comforting) knowing na lahat kayo same yung purpose kaya nagpupunta rito (that all of you share the same purpose of going here),” Rickson said.

‘We just want to keep our foot on the grass’

For Chelyn, 22, of Laguna, volunteering at the PPCRV is one way to be involved in the country’s history that will “shape our future.”

“Alam naman po natin na very crucial yung election for this year (We know that this year’s election is very crucial). It will shape our future, yung future po ng (the future of the) young generation,” Chelyn said.

Chelyn said she knows that there are things that are already beyond their control but this is also an opportunity for their generation to keep their feet on the ground by giving what they can. And for her, it is time and effort that she can give now.

“Alam po namin na madaming bagay ang hindi namin mako-control so we want to dedicate our time sa mga paraan na makakaya natin (We know that there are a lot of things we can’t control, so we want to dedicate our time in a way that we can),” she said.

“So since magkakaroon kami ng face-to-face and nandito kami sa Manila and free naman po kami, currently so pumunta na po kami dito (Since we will be having face-to-face classes already, and we’re here in Manila, we’re free, so we decided to be here) as we just want to keep our foot on the grass. So kung ano po yung kaya naming ibigay, ibibigay po namin since meron naman kaming time, binigay po namin (So, whatever we can give, we will offer, since we have time, we gave it),” she added.

Chelyn, also a Thomasian, has been at the command center since 6 a.m. on Friday, May 13, for her first day of volunteer work.

Seeing fellow young volunteers, some are even younger than her, gives her inspiration to be a better adult, she said..

“I am really glad, it gives me more hope in our generation because they’re very involved this early, at such a young age. As an adult, if I see volunteers younger than me, I am more inspired to be a better adult,” Chelyn said in mixed English and Filipino.

Since shortly after the elections on Monday, May 9, volunteers continue to arrive at the command center stationed at the Quadricentennial Pavilion inside UST.

While being involved in the election process helps ease the post-election stress among young voters, Rickson also raised a concern for schools to look into possible conduct of stress debriefing for their students once they resume face-to-face classes following the elections.

That way, he added, students can focus on their studies.

“I really think na siguro in schools ‘no. The schools should have an initiative to perform debriefing sessions para sa (for) students para in order for them to really have preparation para makabalik sila (to return to school and) fully focused on their academics,” Rickson said.

‘We can’t vote but we can count’

Volunteers as young as nine years old also came in to volunteer for the church-based poll watchdog. They said because they cannot still vote, the only way to help is to volunteer.

“We can’t vote (yet) so at least we can count,” Freya Delos Reyes, 10.

“That’s very important, starting young and having this desire, I think that is something that you will carry with you until you’re much much older,” Ramona Locsin, who accompanied Freya, said.

Locsin said kids from the Maria Montessori Children’s School Foundation had a webinar last week with the PPCRV where they expressed the intention to volunteer.

Two nine-year-old girls, Millie and Nikki, were also among the PPCRV volunteers on duty on Thursday night.