ELECTION day is fast approaching. If your vote is for a wrong leader whose vision of the future is only up to the next election, then, you are voting to put society in disarray.

But voting is not just done during elections or in choosing who should lead us. In fact, you cast your vote every time you buy as you choose from different economic alternatives, i.e. local versus foreign, organic versus inorganic, the essentials versus junk.

Buying between local and foreign products, the latter has been winning in all fronts as Filipino consumers are overwhelmingly choosing foreign products. Truth is, when you buy products from other countries, you are supporting the labor force and the economies of those countries where the products are coming from.

That is the reason why our country has been consigned as dumping ground of finished products and as cheap source of raw materials following an extractive economy. That is why there are 3,000 Filipino workers jumping in droves every month (like jumping from a “sinking ship”), leaving their loved ones behind just to find jobs in other countries.

Yes, we are consuming what we are not producing. That speaks well of a captive mind, an offshoot of the bombardment of advertisements by TNCs. We have good nutritious dairy products from our dairy cooperatives, for example, yet many are still opting to buy milk from China even tainted with melamine.

Let us be mindful of the fact that a country that is consuming what it is not producing will always be penalized by slow growth.

Buying between organic and inorganic, the latter wins hands down. Consumers do not know that these inorganic products come from the massive practice of “conventional agriculture,” which is tied up to the heavy usage of chemicals. This dominant agriculture paradigm has robbed farming communities of farming that is controlled by TNCs. That is the reason why everyone profits from farming like fertilizer dealers, HYVs Agri-corporations, compradors, usurers but not those who are doing the backbreaking job of farming – the poor farmers.

Buying organic means that we don’t have to import massively chemicals that have already done so much harm to the integrity of the eco-systems and deaths due to cancer. Buying organic means lowering production cost by way of our farmers trusting in the innate processes of nature and saving beneficial insects which are now nowhere to be found. It also means saving our water tables from being polluted through the massive use of toxic non-biodegradable chemicals.

Buying between the essentials or the non-essentials or junk, again the latter is now the order of the day. Consumers cannot escape from the massive ads of corporations which are giving high adherence to the neoliberal capitalist system. Buy this, buy that to be happy. Creating so much want based on the money – must-grow principle; perpetuating a rotten economic system that use money to make more money but not to enhance the wellbeing of the people.

Yes, unbridled materialism and consumerism has characterized the society’s way of life, even sacrificing Mother Earth that as if nature is inexhaustible.

Let us remember what Mahatma Gandhi had said several decades ago, “reduce your want and provide for your own needs,” and that “if mankind has to be saved from doom, development must be harmony with nature and not at its own expense.”

This time, let us give notice to one and all that the Filipino people have now awakened to the material fallacies of life. Not anymore to buy this or that to be happy because happiness is something internal. Serve the people through cooperativism and you will be happy.

This time let us vote very well: Buy Local, Buy Organic and Buy what are essentials! And in doing so, you support the Filipino labor force, the Philippine economy and the livelihood of the poor.

Let notice be served to one and all that when you buy the products of the cooperatives, you buy what are local, what are organic and what are essentials and in effect, support the livelihood of the poor and the vulnerable.

To have a glimpse of these products, visit the cooperative display during the International Conference of the Network of the Development of Agricultural Cooperatives in Asia and the Pacific (NEDAC) on January 19 to 22 at Luxe Hotel in Limketkai, this city.