MANILA — Seventeen year-old Jomar Andog and his 16-year old friend Jehar Batugan witnessed the ruthlessness of war during the 2017 Marawi siege.
Both were born in Barangay Bangon, Marawi City.
Because of the war, Jomar said their life became more difficult.
The war also left him disinterested and disheartened to continue his studies.
While still a year short to becoming a voter, Jomar went to campaign rallies of presidential candidates in his city, listening to their platforms and visions for the country.
“Importante para sa Pilipinas. Para sa ikabubuti ng Pilipinas," Jomar said of the coming May 9 elections.
(It is important and for the good of the Philippines.)
As he studied candidates' speeches, Jomar said that he sees character as an important requirement for anyone who wants to be a good leader of the country.
“May puso. Saka marangal,” Jomar said.
[They have to have a heart. And dignity, too.]
His friend Jehar, meanwhile, hopes the next president will help the people of Marawi, especially those who can no longer eat on time.
“Merong hindi na nakakakain. Sana matulungan,” he stressed.
(Some of us are unable to eat anymore. We hope someone can help.)
He also asks another thing from the next president: "Sana magawa na mga mosque namin."
(I wish our mosques could be repaired.)
Another friend of theirs is Kenzo Maisan, who will vote for the first time this Monday.
He is still undecided who to vote for the presidency and vice presidency.
His dilemma, he said, is seeing candidates good enough to lead the country.
Asked if he was considering certain bets, Kenzo said: “Wala.” (None.)
“[Gusto ko] marangal, saka may maitutulong sa bayan… Iyong ngayon, panay pangako lang eh,” Kenzo added.
(I want someone who has honor and can help our country. The candidates today are only full of promises.)
Marawi City, a part of Lanao del Sur province, has 79,244 registered voters, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).