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Day 11: Limping their way up to vote, and be counted

19 April 2016

Jess and Jenny Cruz waiting for their turn to vote
Hong Kong old-timers Jess Cruz and his wife Jenny wanted to cast their votes on Sunday but the 74-year-old retired driver could not walk. He had bad knees.
But today, Apr 19, the couple decided they could make the long trip from their Tin Shui Wai home to the polling center in Kennedy Town, a distance of about 40 km.
“Gusto naming bumoto noong Linggo pero hindi siya makalakad dahil namaga ang mga tuhod niya,” said Jenny, who at 60 still works in a restaurant as assistant cook.
They were among the 457 voters who came from various parts of Hong Kong to take their turn in voting for the country’s next president and vice president, as well as 12 senators and a partylist.
The long trip from the New Territories was not the only thing they had to contend with in casting their ballots They also had to hobble their way up several flights of stairs leading to the election secretariat at Bayanihan Center.
But once there, they were given chairs near the verification desk and asked if they wanted to vote upstairs or have their ballots brought down from their respective precincts.
“Dito na lang kasi si Tatay, kahapon pa hindi makalakad,” said Jenny. She recounted that the day before Jess had relished eating the marrow and fat from the beef soup that she cooked, but this apparently caused his mobility problem.      
After filling up their ballots, the couple chose to go up their precinct so they could insert the ballots into the vote counting machines themselves. Who they voted for was a tightly kept secret.
Jenny came to Hong Kong in 1984 when she was 28, and was granted right of abode. She later met Jess who arrived in 1988 and became a family driver for several employers, mostly westerners, the last one being an American who was liberal with both time and benefits.
They live in a public housing estate in Tin Shui Wai, which Jenny praised for size, quality and convenience, compared with the tiny flat they used to rent in crowded Sai Ying Pun.
Jess, whose sons are also drivers here on a domestic helper’s visas, now enjoys the benefits of Hong Kong social support for the elderly, especially health care – a blessing for someone like him who is a cancer survivor and diabetic. – Vir B. Lumicao

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