be the change

Okay, who wants to spend hours working under potentially chaotic conditions, poring over smudged columns of numbers, doing shifts at odd hours, and all without pay?

Apparently, I do.

7 PM last night saw me and Don trooping to Ateneo de Manila in answer to an open call for volunteers for the Namfrel Operation Quick Count for this coming election. The full page ad said: “We are looking for 1 million people who will fight for this country.” And, seriously, sappy as it may sound, that’s the exact sort of stuff that I find hard to resist. I’m actually an anti-social person by personality, but I’m a sucker for patriotism.

The Namfrel quick count is just one of the suite of activities one can volunteer for, but one can also do stuff related to voters education, campaign monitoring, canvass watching, or poll watching, among other things. I’ve been thinking of doing some election-related volunteer work this May and was just looking for the opportunity, and this one seemed to fit the bill quite nicely.

Looking at the group that filled Escaler Hall to overflowing that night, I suddenly felt so old. Right. The fact that the group maintains a Multiply site should have given me a clue on its major demographic. Majority appeared to be students, save for a few nuns and some middle-aged people sitting at the back row. I was thankful that I didn’t have a client meeting that day and was able to wear jeans to the office, or I would have looked quite odd sitting on the floor listening to the presentations. Sitting on the floor was no problem, of course, it’s a skill honed by years of hanging out at AS Hall corridors, Main Library nooks, and the various available flat surfaces at Mass Comm.

The turn out was apparently a pleasant surprise to the organizers, who ran out of sign up sheets and had to adjust the process of signing up to accommodate everybody as fast as possible. Still, the Quezon City Namfrel chapter needs 2,736 volunteers to serve 4-hour shifts during the nonstop tabulation of results starting on May 14 and ending on May 20. We signed up for the first shift, 8 PM on May 14. After that, well, let’s see how it goes.

One of the speakers said that contrary to popular notion, the problem afflicting the citizenry is not so much apathy but rather a sense of disempowerment. It’s not that they don’t care what’s happening to this country, they do, it’s just that they don’t think that there’s anything they can that will make any difference. Well, I care about what’s happening to this country, and I’m not willing to just take it sitting down, and nothing will change if nobody’s even willing to make any effort.

As the old quote and Namfrel slogan goes, “It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” I know I’m lighting quite a tiny candle with this endeavor, but the point is, I AM lighting that candle.

Interested would-be volunteers can check out the Volunteers for Clean Elections site at for the latest updates and volunteer opportunities.


6 thoughts on “be the change

  1. Joan Carla April 19, 2007 at 1:49 am Reply

    Hi Rina! Interesting post, parang gusto ko mag-volunteer din, thank you so much for the info too. Like you, I’m kinda anti-social, I tend to not want to stand out and stuff but the patriotism fever gripped me too. See you there maybe?

    Btw, I tagged you for a Real Mom meme. Hope you don’t mind, check my blog out na lang to find the details of how I tagged you, hehe. ^_^


  2. rina April 19, 2007 at 4:45 am Reply

    waaaah! i don’t have a very good history when it comes to doing memes… but let’s see, let’s see…

    am definitely pushing through with the volunteering thing and i hope you find the time to try it out too. i’m guessing it will be exhausting as heck but well worth the experience.


  3. don April 19, 2007 at 10:41 am Reply

    Tara sa Bantay Bilang! 🙂


  4. noreen April 24, 2007 at 12:26 am Reply

    alam mo, interesado ako dati mag volunteer sa Namfrel pero nung naranasan ko kung pano maging watcher sa election… hwag na lang. 🙂

    apathetic na ba ako? di naman, tamad lang LOL


  5. Ipat Luna April 26, 2007 at 4:20 pm Reply

    we only need 40,000 people who will look at the voting center results and text/fax/send it to us for us to put on the net. This way, everybody is a quick counter and no one can do any trending. Halalang Marangal (Network of Citizens for Honest Elections and Truthful Statistics – nocheats) wants to encourage
    .1% of the population to just send in their voting center’s precint results and then see it up on the net. That way, everyone can see and we can keep correcting and debating it if anyone raises a howl. We are different because we are an audit. The precinct results are the closest to the truth and we aim to get at that truth and show it to you. You can be NAMFREL AND NOCHEATS volunteer at the same time, especially if you stay long enough to see the precinct results, so check us out at


  6. rina April 27, 2007 at 1:01 am Reply

    thanks ms ipat! this sounds interesting!

    just a correction on the link, remove the “www”, it’s


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