It was a cool sunny day in Sun Valley, California where I started to line up to vote in the U.S elections. People were starting to line up to cast their vote. I was number 30 on the line sandwiched between an African-American woman who read a book while waiting for the queue and a blonde who kept on calling her cell phone.
Poooooffff! I was just day dreaming. Seriously, I never lined up to vote in California. I wish I did, but I couldn’t because I was in Cebu City, Philippines when it all happened.
Despite the distance, technology has somehow made a way to let me feel the euphoria of the U.S elections. The Cebu Blogger’s society through the efforts of Political blogger Kevin Ray Chua got invited to observe the U.S elections.
I woke up early since I have to have my annual physical checkup courtesy of my insurer, Philam Life. (They want to make sure that they won’t loose money so they keep on checking my health condition regularly hehehehe?) After spending an hour or more at HP diagnostics I then went to the Waterfront hotel to have a free breakfast again courtesy of Philam life.
I then proceeded to the famous lobby of S.M North wing which looked like the lobby of Las Vegas hotels where the U.S elections watch would be taking place. They say that it will kick off at 9:00 a.m. I arrived at around 9:30 a.m. luckily, the show hasn’t started yet. The mall was supposed to be open at 10:00 a.m. but the guards let those who will be joining the election watch pass through.
There were lots of security personnel, American citizens, Filipino Americans and the “little brown Americans” who is always and will always be fascinated with how Americans do things. (“Little brown brothers” – that’s what the Americans used to call us during the American occupation, the title would not have been forgotten if only we had become an American State) Whether we like it or not, America is always and will always be the greatest example of how a democracy works.
Kevin Ray spotted me and ushered me to the registration booth where I registered, got my identification card and my other U.S elections “goodies” which includes a folder containing, pamphlets and other information on the U.S elections. I also got a fan and some car stickers bearing the logo of both the Republican and democratic parties. Plus I got two pins with the names “Barak-Biden” and “McCain-Palin” on it.
We chit chatted for a while, and then Paul Jones, the U.S. Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission gave a speech about this great day of “celebrating democracy.” In my opinion, basically the U.S elections watch is meant to inform the world on how the American democracy works. I reckon that the U.S somehow hopes to inspire other countries in pursuing the democratic way of life. Paul Jones asked us to try out the U.S elections machines, take our photographs with cutouts of candidates, chitchat about the U.S elections, watch the news, talk to American embassy personnel if we have any questions on the U.S elections and wait for the results which will came out in the early afternoon.
So we went around and toyed with the election machines that is being used in the U.S elections. There were three voting machines that were being exhibited. The first one is where a voter fills up the ballot through shading the candidates name. The ballot is then fed to a machine. The second machine is somehow similar to the first except that instead of shading they use a “connecting” the arrow type of scheme to indicate who you voted for. The ballot is then fed to the machine. The third machine is the most sophisticated as it uses touch screen technology in order for you to cast your vote. We were informed that in the U.S elections, it is the preference of each state as to which machine they wanted to use.
The food was overflowing and so were the drinks. I really didn’t have the appetite to eat since I was so full from having my buffet breakfast, so I was just munching on the nuts and M & Ms. The U.S embassy had been very resourceful in getting sponsors for the food which includes KFC burgers, Dunkin Donuts and some Oreo chips. One could then wash it off with coffee, juice, soft drinks etc.
After going around and talking to U.S embassy officials about the U.S elections. We continued to chitchat and had our pictures taken by cut out candidates. Some local dignitaries, politicians and famous media personalities also arrived to observe the U.S elections. The politicians were hoping to learn how to cheat the system in case the U.S elections equipment will be used here (hehehehe ) Kidding aside, they were there because the U.S embassy invited them to observe the U.S elections. Well, we rubbed our elbows with the rich and the famous and had our pictures taken with them.
With intervals of several minutes, the U.S embassy staff held a trivia on the U.S elections. Those who got the correct answer got some goodies such as umbrellas, t-shirts foodstuff etc. from the sponsors.
At about 12 p.m. we were surprised to learn that the results already came in. CNN reported that they had projected that Obama had won the election. Minutes later they confirmed that indeed, Obama won the elections. The little brown brothers were exuberant! We clapped our hands, as if Obama’s winning would somehow immediately alleviate the dire situation that this country is in. At way past twelve, McCain gave his concession speech from Arizona. He played the game very sportsmanly and congratulated the president elect Barack Obama. (See youtube video below for McCain’s concession speech)
The people’s attention were diverted back to Chicago Illinois were thousands were gathered at Grant Park to await Obama’s speech. Minutes later the charismatic Obama appeared and gave one of his fiery, soul stirring speech on how “Change has come to America”. The people in Chicago chanted “Yes we can!” and responded with a loud applause after Obama’s speech. Us brown brothers at SM together with the Americans clapped our hands. A die hard American which is obviously a McCain-Palin fan made a thumbs down sign. (Watch the Obama victory speech in the youtube video below)
Cameras were rolling and media personnel were scrambling to get the opinion of those who were there in S.M on what they thought about an Obama victory. After the euphoria has died down the people slowly started to part ways and go home. The Cebu Blogger’s society raided the buffet table wherein we filled our stomachs to our heart’s content after which we parted ways.
We may have not participated in the actual U.S elections but the experiencing the excitement of the U.S elections in our own little way proved worthwhile. Special thanks to the U.S embassy for making all of these possible. See you in the next U.S elections!