Bloc voting is said to be a vestige of our colonial past, a practice intimately linked with how Bicolanos responded to the threat of foreign colonizers taking over the land. To such predicament, earlier Bicolanos responded by maintaining close family ties, in the hope of propelling leaders from their own groups or clans into power against the often oppressive foreign forces. Bicol was especially persistent in its resistance, inciting many movements which proved successful precisely because of such tightly-knit familial relations.
These close ties remained long after the colonizers departed, yet we are left with such clannish behavior that significantly contributes to the outcome of the polls.
There is nothing inherently wrong with bloc voting, as large numbers are a surefire way of ensuring able and competent leaders get elected. However, there is danger when only a candidate’s place of origin determines how the electorate decides, in the hope of gaining benefits from the candidate, once he or she is in office. Elections should be about issues and platforms, not about patronage due to the places of origin.
In the coming polls, let the Bicol vote be not solely about propelling one of our own to a national seat, unless he or she truly possessess the leadership abilities and integrity to lead the nation. Instead, let the Bicol vote be intelligent and discerning, based on a deep understanding of the candidate’s background and platform of government.