Politics

This Five-Minute Quiz Helps You Choose Your 'Magic 12' for the Philippine Senate Election

This is a starting point for voters searching for senatoriables with values aligned to their own.
IMAGE tableau.com/ Ryan Yu
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There’s less than a week left until the mid-term elections, and yet many Filipino voters still find themselves without a list of candidates to vote for. The local elections may be easier to assess with just a handful of candidates in the roster. But the national election, which has 62 people running for a seat in the Senate on May 13, can be overwhelming, especially when researching each of the candidate’s background.

Ryan Yu, a data strategist in a global data consultancy firm, was caught in the same problem, so like anyone who loves playing with data, he created a quiz that will help determine his Magic 12.

“As a data strategist at Thinking Machines, my role is to help different organizations understand how to use data in order to make better decisions. I wanted to apply the same principle in the elections, with a similar objective in mind: How can I use data to help average Filipino voters make more informed decisions?” Yu shared with Esquire Philippines.

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“Initially, I came up with the project for my personal use: I was having trouble picking my final list of 12 senatorial candidates, and I wanted to find a data-driven way to make the decision. I shared it with my family and friends, and it suddenly became viral,” he added.

Yu shared a link to the quiz on his Facebook account last May 1, and it has since been shared 3,000 times. Another user shared the quiz on Twitter, and this has been retweeted by more than 5,000 users. Clearly, Filipinos, who need help with their final list of candidates, found Yu’s quiz helpful.

The quiz, which was created on Tableau Public, an online data analytics tool that allows anyone to publish program, graphs, and other visual materials for free, can be answered in five minutes.

After clicking the link, you will be taken to a page with three wide columns. (It will be best to access the quiz through a desktop computer or a laptop.)

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The first column asks if you are for or against some of the most important issues in the country today. The 12 issues range from laws passed during the first three years of the Duterte administration, like the Tax Reform for Inclusion and Acceleration (TRAIN) Law, to measures being currently studied by the legislature, such as the legalization of medical marijuana.

The second column is where the program generates the ranking of all 62 candidates based on the answers you have selected. A candidate earns one point every time his position is similar to yours and loses one point if he or she isn’t on your side. If the candidate has “abstained” or has no recorded stand on an issue, he or she earns nothing.

The quiz is based on an Excel file prepared by Bella Brillantes, who charted the stance of all 62 candidates running for Senator on the 12 key issues. The political leanings of each candidate were based on how they answered during the televised senatorial debates. News reports and data collected by a data visualization website Project Panopticon were also listed as sources.

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To be sure, since the stance of each candidate was based on televised appearances and news reports, the position of other lesser-known candidates weren’t supplied with enough data. For example, Vangie Abejo who is running under the Katipunan ng Kamalayang Kayumanggi Party, a candidate unknown to most, was only recorded with a stand on one issue: Federalism (which she is in favor of, if you’re curious).

Yu admits the quiz cannot fully capture all issues in the country and the positions of all candidates, but it can be a starting point for a Filipino voter who is searching for senatoriables with values aligned to their own.

So don't take the list generated by the quiz as your only basis for the voting on Monday. Back it up with research and also double check your choices. After all, the future of the country is what you're deciding on. And isn't the Philippines worth a few more minutes of work? 

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Elyssa Christine Lopez
Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of Esquire. Follow her on Twitter @elyssalopz
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