- April 30, 2021 13:20
By Erica Mae De Luna and Kristine Anjela Pablo
Nothing and no one can stop the people with deep aspirations to guide the Tamaraw community in designating student-leaders with accountability and concrete platforms – this is what TAMang boto, a youth-led voter education campaign, strongly aimed to promote in this year's University elections.
Various sentiments and emotions ensued over the University election. What exactly are the things to consider when voting? Do the future situation of the University and the student body depend on it?
TAMang Boto is a project headed by the former president of FEU Political Science Society, Rigel Kent Alvaran, that aims to help the Tamaraws in choosing the rightful and deserving persons to be the next leaders that will govern the University. Through this youth-led initiative, three phases were introduced, hoping to resonate with the Tamaraws’ role in practicing their rights to suffrage and ultimately to be able to contribute to nation-building.
TAMang Boto as an organization
TAMang boto focuses its goal in all Far Eastern University (FEU) campuses including FEU Manila, FEU Cavite, FEU Diliman, FEU Tech, and FEU Alabang. During a crucial time like the University elections, Alvaran highlighted their roles and involvement in the voter education campaign in helping the Tamaraw community.
For Alvaran, their main involvement lies in the challenge of helping Tamaraw voters to choose a political stand. Using their three-fold plan divided into phases, he hopes that other students with the same passion and initiative would continue the cycle. Through utilizing their social media platforms, the campaign conducted webinars on being a smart voter. As Alvaran noted, they want to slowly engage with the students through a step-by-step process.
On-ground for the Tamaraws
According to Alvaran, TAMang Boto is an instrument that encourages the FEU community to participate in electoral matters both inside and outside of the University by conducting face-to-face sessions during the hybrid setup to ensure that Tamaraws are well-informed about the upcoming elections and the candidates who will be running for various positions.
Prior to the hybrid setup, TAMang Boto undertook virtual webinars and social media initiatives to help students become informed voters. As Alvaran noted, they had also set up email blasts containing information that would help students decide who to vote for.
To remain in contact with the Tamaraws, the organization also had social media partners with power-sharing on their end intending to disseminate their objectives to a wider reach. But more than this, they also made use of Canvas announcements and sent email blasts to the Outlook accounts of students for their upcoming events.
To speak up
As the health crisis became the campaign’s backdrop, Alvaran and the organization did not stop reminding Tamaraw voters what to keep in mind before, during, and after the University elections. He noted that they are not only limited to the national elections, but they are also transcending towards transparency of the University elections. He highlighted that Tamaraw voters should scrutinize the candidates, may it be an academic organization or the institute council.
“Kasi itong mga student leaders na ‘to, sila ‘yung magkakaroon ng plano para sa ating university and para sa inyo in the upcoming year 2020-2023. So parang sa context ng national elections, kung sino man ang iboboto natin, sila din ang magkakaplano sa atin.” (Because these student leaders, they are the ones who are going to come up with plans for our university, and for students in the upcoming year 2020-2023. So just like in the context of the national elections, whoever we vote for, they are the ones who will have plans for us), Alvaran lamented.
During the elections, Alvaran reiterated that we should not only vote, but highlighted the prime importance to vote right. Just like TAMang Boto’s tagline, they hope that Tamaraw voters will not be moved by a candidate’s looks and popularity, but rather, by their track record, how they communicate with the people around them, and their proposed projects. He reminded Tamaraws that we can look beyond the situation, which the voters' education campaign strongly promotes.
Alvaran advised Tamaraws not to be afraid to speak up when their chosen candidates are not accountable. The importance of voicing out is what the organization wants to amplify, urging drive for passionate student leaders who are open to constructive criticism.
The TAMang Boto campaign includes three phases: voter encouragement, voting wisely, and remaining involved after the election. Before the election, the program ensures that students are persuaded and encouraged to exercise their voting rights by informing them of how the outcome of the election may affect them and the entire University in the future.
After being encouraged, the team behind TAMang Boto also ensures that they can enlighten the students to vote wisely. As Alvaran stated, you should not vote for someone simply because they are popular or attractive. You must vote for someone who has a proven track record and is qualified to govern.
Furthermore, the program ensured that there would be involvement long after the election. This is done to establish responsibility for everything that occurred during the election. This will include the effectiveness of the chosen student leaders, as well as the students' courage in calling out the leaders if anything ever goes wrong.
But on the other side of it, Alvaran also shared the phases’ rough patches. With the different settings brought by the pandemic, he said that there are students who remained neutral, and are not seeing the importance of being involved. This challenge has led the organization to recalibrate and focus their call that whoever may be elected in the University election, that this will be their life next year, especially for the 4th year students.
Undecided voters, swayed
The organization firmly believes that “Our vote is our future.” With such belief, Alvaran reminded undecided and first-time Tamaraw voters that the candidates who will be elected are the ones who will call for a fair system in the university and lobby our concerns to the university admin. He once again highlighted that this equates to how powerful our votes are. With our student leaders, we can have a more inclusive community and new policies to look out for. Alvaran noted that “If we can do it in the national elections, why can’t we in the University elections?”
With such a powerful call, Alvaran reminded everyone not to turn a blind to the atrocities. He highlighted that the students in-charge in these campaigns can reach more students because we are all on the same wavelength. For Alvaran, voting is not only specified to specific advocacy or setting, but to any initiative that you want to share with others. He continues to encourage Tamaraws that if they are passionate, we can help the Tamaraw community in our own ways.
Not a band-aid solution
For Alvaran, voting and participating in the University elections is only an initial step, but our involvement does not stop there from aiming for change.
Alvaran also shared the stereotype in voters’ education campaigns, where some students say that these are only arising because of the elections. But for Alvaran, they have settled the matter already. This is where their third phase, the accountability aspect, will reign. He highlighted that TAMang boto is not a band-aid solution, but a long-term sustainable solution with an impact with an intergenerational approach. Alvaran also sees to it that this cycle would continue, also seeking the accountability of the leaders, and making sure that their platforms are performed.
The advocacy of TAMang Boto does not end after the election. Even after the voting process, the said program, with the help of the people behind it, will continue to give enlightenment to the minds of every student at the University to not be afraid to call out the newly elected student leaders and express their thoughts and grievances, especially if it will help in maintaining the order in the entire FEU community.
Students' rights to suffrage do not cease with the upcoming University election. In reality, it only begins there. Shortly after the election, students must have more open eyes to evaluate the actions of the newly elected officials. They must involve themselves, engage in dialogue, and demand transparency. As the goal of TAMang Boto goes, “You are not only voting. You are voting wisely.”
(Photo Courtesy of TAMang Boto Facebook Page)