Cover MANILA, PHILIPPINES - MAY 07: Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. waves a Philippine flag during his last campaign rally before the election on May 07, 2022 in Paranaque, Metro Manila, Philippines.

Many Filipinos find themselves confused and in disbelief as son of former president and strongman Ferdinand Marcos wins the highest office in the land; yet 31+ million ballots (an electoral landslide) easily put him there

After six years under President Rodrigo Duterte’s tumultuous administration, Filipino citizens are eager for the next generation of leadership. The 2022 national elections included a deeply competitive presidentiable slate which included Manila Mayor Isko Moreno, global boxing champion and sitting Senator Manny "Pacman" Pacquiao, Vice President Leni Robredo, and of course, former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.

Over the past months, colours red, pink, blue, and more invaded our social media platforms, subliminally conditioning many into political divides and ultimately strengthening partisanships (even among friends and family members). The campaign period was nothing short of historical and quite frankly, acrimonious—especially between the camps of frontrunners Marcos and Robredo.

Hashtags #Kakampinks and #Uniteam became gun and fodder for stronger and stronger competition between the two. Recovering from two years of a crippling pandemic, many Pinoys took to the streets in support of their candidate. Seas of crowds in red and pink invaded our news feeds and our collective consciousness—reminding us (or perhaps reawakening us) to the fact that beliefs are fortified not merely through our screens but in real life - amongst fellow supporters.

The Marcoses Return to Malacañang

Today, as partial and unofficial vote counts roll in (98.26 per cent of precint returns as of writing), all eyes are on the man of the hour (or should I say ‘of the next six years’?): presumptive president-elect Bongbong Marcos. There’s no denying that, even with over 31 million votes, Marcos faces overwhelming pressure from all sides—the opposition, the victims of his father’s regime, and even his own camp who pin the country’s next ‘renaissance’ to him and his promise of a ‘united’ Philippines.

While not shocking (as many pre-election surveys already put Marcos at a large margin against all other presidentiables), many Filipinos remain perplexed as to how the son of a former dictator could make it back to the Malacañan Palace within a single generation. But that is where our country stands today—at the precipice of new governance meanwhile confronted by the realisation that life, indeed, is stranger than fiction.

Millions await Marcos’s next move and who he will be appointing in key government positions. Although the future remains uncertain, the 2022 national elections had marked a staggering voter turnout of about 67 million Filipinos – the most in the country’s electoral history.

Hope Springs Eternal?

Majority wins in a democracy: a double-edged sword. ‘What happens when the majority forgets?’—the May 9 election result offers a perfect case study. However, many Marcos supporters are eager to remind: the sins of the father are not the sins of the son. Granted, but it should be important to note that the accomplishments of the father are also not of the son’s. Marcos will have to pave his own way and prove himself as bigger than the ghost of this father’s dictatorship. Many wonder and hope he is different. As with any incumbent president. . .we shall see.

While emotions run high, blood pressures continue to rise, and Uniteam celebrations ensue, a silver lining is tucked away amidst all the political brou-ha-ha. This 2022, more people voted than ever before—for the cautiously optimistic, this alone is a well of hope. Hope for a citizenry that is eager to find their voice, hope for a greater political consciousness that grants every Filipino a stronger sense of social and civic accountability. Sounds like wishful thinking? Perhaps.

Whichever side of the coin you may fall on, whoever you supported, or whatever colours you brandished the past months, one thing remains crystal clear: this is only the beginning. The fight for a better Philippines, while exhausting, is one we cannot (and should not) yield.

The Price of Democracy

What is lost in the fight for a fair election and proper governance? If history is anything to base on. . .immeasurable amounts. We pin our hopes on promises and we forge our beliefs in the furnace of our collective hurts and national strides. In true Andersonian fashion, we imagine our community as Filipino, as one, united and together working towards the common goal of national development and advancement.

What will a Bongbong Marcos presidency look like? Speculations abound. But what’s not up for debate is the fact that the Filipino people deserve a governance that puts the country first, a democracy that is not gamified or manipulated for personal gains, an administration that is dedicated to the betterment of every citizen, whichever class, leaning, or party they may fall under. This is the price we pay for a democracy: allowing the loudest voice to lead. 67 million voters and 109~ million Filipinos now pin their futures on Marcos. Here’s to hoping there is a brighter tomorrow for all of us.

As of writing, the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) has not yet released an official vote count. The partial and unofficial tally of 98.26 per cent of precint returns puts 31,080,487 votes for Bongbong Marcos; 14,810,097 for Leni Robredo; 3,629,281 for Manny Pacquiao; 1,893,485 for Isko Moreno.

This is an evolving story; article information will be updated as new polling numbers come in.

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