Artist mounts ‘no to vote-buying’ campaign outside church

May. 13, 2018

NO TO VOTE-BUYING. Artist Nicolas Aca mounts a ‘no to vote-buying’ campaign outside the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral in Cagayan de Oro, on Sunday, May 13, to remind the people not to sell their votes during the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections on Monday. (Jigger J. Jerusalem/

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – A local artist here has urged people not to sell their votes through his performance art as voters are set to cast their ballots to choose their barangay and youth leaders on today.

Carrying a blackened cooking pot and a ballot box as his main props, Nicolas Aca, 48, positioned himself, oblivious to the heat of the sun outside the St. Augustine Metropolitan Cathedral. Church goers passed him by, while others paused to briefly look at him, on Sunday morning.

Written in red chalk on the pot was “my vote is not for sale,” the message that Aca has been trying to send to the city’s voters for the past four elections.

Aca called his performance “Boto, Goto” essentially summing up many of the Filipinos’ attitude during election where they will likely vote those who hand them out money. The ballot box symbolizes “boto” (vote), and the cooking pot for “goto” (beef congee).

“You can buy goto from the few pesos that you receive from politicians during the election season. Sure, it will fill your stomach for a day. You’re contented, but what’s next? Is your vote just good enough to buy goto?” he said.

Through his art, Aca wants to stir the conscience of the people in the hopes that they will think twice before accepting money from candidates seeking elected posts.

“This is my contribution to the efforts to have a clean and honest election,” Aca said after his two-hour performance wound up.

While he acknowledges that vote-buying and vote-selling is the “norm” in the country, Aca emphasized that he wants people to know that there are still individuals like him who wants to change the system.

“People nowadays wait for the ‘ulan-ulan’ on the eve of the election day. I think this attitude will not change overnight, but at least I am doing my part to let them know that it’s not the right way,” he said.

“Ulan-ulan” (drizzle) refers to the act of giving money by political candidates to voters before election day.

While a few Roman Catholic devotees took notice of his performance and nodded signifying that they got his message, most of the church goers just ignored him.

“It’s expected. Many will take my performance for granted. There were even others who ridiculed me,” Aca said, adding that one of the cathedral’s resident priests even asked him to leave the premises as he was causing traffic congestion.

“I didn’t argue with the priest. I figured that the priest will always win over the artist in that situation. But it cut short my performance and the message I was trying to convey was lost,” he added.

Aca is the resident artist and art gallery curator at Capitol University’s Museum of Three Cultures.

Aside from his performances, Aca also paints and does mixed media and installation artworks. (

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