Archive for July, 2013

            By two days after the Election Day, May 15th, our itinerary and routine—as Sir Mike would put it—was back to normal. It was actually a bit frustrating when I went all the way to the jeepney terminal that drives through the Taguig City Hall area, only to find out that Lani Cayetano has already been declared as the mayor-elect of Taguig at 2 a.m. And thus, there was no use in going to Taguig anymore, and we were instructed by Sir Mike to go back to Makati and ask for updates as usual. There were barely any stories that day, since the elections just ended. There was no action coming from the camp of Rica Tinga, no petitions whatsoever. We didn’t have anything to do that day, basically. Trish and I just went to Coffeebean as we monitor the news. But till the day ended, nothing significant really came up.

            Still tired and sleep-deprived, I forced myself to wake up at 8 a.m. to make it to the Taguig City Hall by 11 a.m. The canvassing was still not over. Seriously, it was slow in Taguig. Other cities have declared mayor-elects as early as 11 p.m. the night before. The latest count was held at 2:07 a.m., the canvassing was only 53.05% complete. The stats given to me by the Taguig PIO were:

Mayor

Cayetano – 68216

Tinga – 42495

Congressman (1st district)

Cerafica – 28066

De Mesa – 16794

Congressman (2nd district)

Cayetano – 34494

Duenas – 27179

Other than getting these stats, there was nothing to do. The next canvassing will resume at 2 p.m. I just forwarded a press release the Taguig PIO gave me to Sir Mike. Other than that, Trish—who was instructed by Sir Mike to join me in Taguig—and I just waited. Well, we did ate lunch and desert at a McDonalds nearby and chatted with some reporters and the ever-so-accommodating public information officers.

At last 2 p.m. came. Something frustrating happened though. Trish and I already stood by the building where the canvassing is going to be held as early as 1 p.m. We were literally waiting by the table where some local guarding cops are situated. But by 2 p.m., when a lot of volunteer poll watchers and television reporters came, we were taken for granted and almost weren’t allowed to enter. I mean, seriously? I thought their policy was a “first-come-first-served” kind of thing, but I guess I thought wrong. It seems that they would prioritize people prominent people instead. Of course, us mere interns are nothing compared to established TV reporters. Thankfully, one of the public information officers recognized me as he was on the way to the canvassing, and helped us get in.

Again, I could not stress it enough: the canvassing was taking a while. And now I know why. It turns out that some PCOS machines were not able to transmit votes, and two or three machines were not able to feed ballots. The transmissions and ballot-feedings were done manually in that canvassing room, in front of a committee. So you can only imagine how long it took. I admire transparency in government activities, I really do, but at this time, I came to dislike it. The mere opening of the envelope, what are the contents of the envelopes, who are examining the envelope and so on were stated publicly. It was a long process.

By 4:36 p.m., the progress was only 62.33% with only235 out of 377 clustered precincts have transmitted the results. We waited there till 6 p.m. and the total progress hasn’t moved that much. Sir Mike decided we’ll just return tomorrow to get the final number of votes.

                Last May 13th, was a very exciting day of coverage. It was historical and we were very lucky as interns to be part of the body that informs the masses that day. It was no other than the long-awaited coverage of Election Day. That morning, though I lacked sleep, I was excited and giddy—overwhelmed with adrenalin and energy. As early as 7 a.m., we were already in reporter mode. Trish and I were already in San Antonio Elementary School in Makati, waiting for the Binays to arrive and vote. TV and radio reporters were already standing by. Some were practicing what they were going to say in front of the camera, some were just beginning to set up their equipment, some were interviewing voters, some were taking pictures of disabled and aged voters who insisted to go up the fourth floor—where their precinct is located—to vote. Everyone was busy, but I noticed print reporters were the least busy while waiting for the Binays. I actually fell asleep a couple of times while waiting. I barely got any sleep the night before. Other than finding out how many clustered precincts are there in that school, we had nothing else to do. After waiting for hours, they finally arrived. Everyone gathered up around them, even those who are not reporters. Some voters took some pictures with the Binays, and of course, the occasional kissing-on-the-cheek-of-a-politician-as-if-they’re-some-kind-of-celebrity scenario. Probably the most notable thing that happened when the Binays were voting was when the Comelec people in that cluster are going nuts because they run out of markers. One woman’s voice was about to crack when she told another Comelec staff that the markers they have are out of ink. One guy, who is really tense at that moment, was asking the other voters in the room if they’re through using their markers. There was panic, but it eventually died down when the Binays had markers in their hands and finally casted their votes.

The Binays were surrounded by a pool of reporters—with each reporter trying to get a statement out of them. It’s quite admirable how tolerable this family is—answering questions side by side. It was about 11 when we finished our work in San Antonio Elementary School. But the day was far from over. I remember Sir Mike telling us that ordinary people can go on ahead and enjoy the holiday after casting their votes. But journalists basically can’t go home until the election is over. Man, this is bittersweet. I have to face the fact that if I do pursue journalism as my career in the future, I wouldn’t experience the joys of any holiday. Ever.

After lunch, there was really nothing to do but to wait for 6 p.m., where we can start monitoring the status of canvassing in Makati and Taguig. And by “wait,” I do mean monitor the news and any suspicious activity while sipping a 155 peso coffee in Coffeebean. Trish and I actually made it to two rounds of coffee and a single order of a lemon square because of the long wait. There was nothing much bizarre on the tweets that we monitored. Just some reports of some flying voters from Quiapo, Manila being brought to Taguig to vote for a “certain mayoral candidate,” or so the tweet says. We really didn’t get the chance to verify that. We also took the time to admire the silence that rarely surrounds the Ayala area. There were barely any cars around, as in close to none. There were no MAPA and MAPSA officers in sight; the streets were deserted. It doesn’t feel anything like Ayala that day. One of the busiest places in the country turned into a ghost town.

When the clock struck 6, the long wait was over. We all packed up our stuff and got ready to face the night. We drove to Taguig first. Sir Mike told me they’re going to stay there with me till 9, and then they’re going to Makati for the canvassing. When we got to the Taguig PIO office, I got settled in. There were free snacks and coffee, and the information officers, reporters and a couple of interns from other publications were really friendly. I suddenly didn’t mind being left there till midnight.

To be honest, there was barely any action that night. The only thing we did was to wait for the announcement of the number of votes. Print journalists were just taking notes, while internet, radio and television reporters are busy as bees—doing reports and updates every 15-30 minutes. The canvassing in Taguig was slow, really. As of 10:50 p.m., these were the stats:

Mayor

Cayetano – 51599

Tinga – 31545

Vice Mayor

Cruz – 44301

Papa – 34946

Congressman (1st district)

Cerafica – 18699

De Mesa – 11205

Congressman (2nd district)

Cayetano – 28896

Duenas – 22686

By that time, only 40% of the total votes were cast. There were a couple of barangays who haven’t transmitted their votes yet. The canvassing was really taking a while. By that same time in other cities, the total canvassing was already in 70-80%. Looks like I have to go back tomorrow. Sir Mike instructed me to go home at 11:30. The PIO of Taguig was so kind to offer me a ride home—as in from the city hall to my doorstep, for free! Cool. Haha.