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CDO citizens are being urged not to sell their votes by a local artist.

Nicolas “Nic” Aca stands in the middle of J.R. Borja Street, one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city, wearing a long-sleeved white Barong Tagalog, trousers, and black shoes.

The multitalented artist, who is 53 years old, maybe mistaken for a politician or a lawyer.

Aca was carrying a tiny bamboo pole with a cooking pot hanging from one end and a discarded ballot box hanging from the other on Saturday morning.

“Boto dili ibaligya (Don’t sell your votes),” he warned passers-by as he stood in the hot sun, in danger of being hit by a car on the four-lane road beside the Cogon public market.

Aca, who is currently the resident artist and gallery curator at Capitol University’s Museum of Three Cultures as well as the chairperson of the City Historical and Cultural Commission, said he has been presenting his street version of voter education since 2004.

Aca used to prowl the city’s business sector during prior elections.

He would sometimes stand outside the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral, greeting visitors as they entered and exited.

In the past, Aca has marched alongside journalists to oppose media killings.

“This is my way of urging people not to sell their votes,” Aca explained.

There will be no’ulan-ulan’ to buy votes.

According to the artist, there are candidates who are very competent but will be unable to run on election day due to a lack of funds to distribute to voters.

“There are many excellent candidates who I believe can better serve the people, but the electorate will not even consider them since they are unable to provide for the ulan-ulan.” “Just because they have no money, their political career will not take off,” Aca added.

Ulan-ulan (drizzle) is slang for cash provided to voters by political candidates the night before elections, usually handed by campaign staff door-to-door.

He bemoaned the fact that in today’s political climate, only those who can afford to run a campaign have a better chance of winning.

What makes it worse, according to Aca, is the Filipino culture of utang na loob (debt of gratitude), which requires voters to vote for those who have given them money.

“This has turned into cancer, and I hope that the following generation does not follow suit.” He continued, “We must modify it.”

According to Aca, the money distributed to voters would not last long.

“The politician gives Juan dela Cruz PHP500 to PHP1,000. He responded, “That is only equivalent to a goto (porridge).”

The used ballot box represents the right to vote, while the cooking pot represents goto.

Corruption

Aca’s advocacy is shared by Nestor Sablaon, a food vendor at the Cogon public market.

“We must not sell our vote because it is precious,” Sablaon stated in the vernacular. “We must choose the correct people, from barangay (village) authorities to the President.”

Vote-buying, he argued, is a type of corruption that must be eradicated.

“We can’t wait for ulan-ulan and ayuda to arrive” (government aid). They must be eliminated. “Even with just bulad (dried fish) and ginamos (salted fish), most of us can eat three times a day,” Sablaon added.

He added that if people worked harder, there would be no need for politicians’ assistance.

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