U Vote Insights from the College Experience Survey and Pinoy Voter’s Vibe: Your Edition Survey

U Vote
Insights from the College Experience Survey and Pinoy Voter’s Vibe: Your Edition Survey
November 20, 2021, 2:00-4:30 PM, via Zoom Meetings


The Filipino youth, particularly first-time voters, constitute an important voting demographic that could influence election results across all levels of government. In the 2016 elections, Vice President Robredo won over former Senator Marcos with a margin of less than 300,000 votes. In the upcoming elections, both politicians will once again compete against each other, having filed their respective candidacies for President. In other levels of government, particularly LGUs with fewer registered voters, results can be decided by one vote.

Despite the challenges of voter registration brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino youth have expressed their interest in the upcoming elections through voter registration. As of 14 October 2021, COMELEC reports that the total number of newly registered voters aged 18 to 21 years old have breached 4 million.

Given the importance of first-time voters, different sectors of society have and will make various efforts in helping the youth process information and decide on the country’s next set of elected officials. The FEU Public Policy Center (FPPC), with its access to rich data on college students, is in a unique position to contribute to efforts on voter education.

FPPC administers the College Experience Survey (CES), a longitudinal study that covers a wide range of topics, including voter registration, public expression of opinion, time spent on activities organized by student organizations, time spent checking social media platforms, and socio-political views. By looking at student responses on these topics, it is possible to gain some insight on topics that voter education efforts may cover and platforms where voter education efforts could be implemented.

The FPPC is also a partner institution of the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) in the implementation of the Pinoy Voters Vibe: Youth Edition (PVV). The PVV surveys students enrolled in partner universities on topics such as voter preferences, behavior, and perceptions of government; and misinformation.

Voter education efforts can be made more holistic by combining insights from data-driven analysis from actual implementation experience. Educational institutions and advocacy groups provide a wealth of experience in such efforts.


Primarily, the forum aimed at providing school officials, student organizations, and advocacy groups with insights on youth voters, which could serve as inputs to voter education efforts that may be organized in the lead up to the 2022 National Elections in May 2022.

This forum will/may answer the following questions: 

  1. What is the relationship of student characteristics to voter registration and their socio-political views?
  2. What are some of the topics that voter education efforts could focus on?
  3. How well can the youth spot fake news?
  4. What are some of the best practices observed in previous voter education efforts?


A. Opening Remarks by Atty. Gianna R. Montinola

Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs, Far Eastern University

Atty. Montinola touched on the relevance of the national elections in charting the country’s direction and stressed the importance of exercising our right to vote. She gave a rundown of the program, mentioning the presentations from the FEU Public Policy Center and Ateneo School of Government as well as reactors from the TAMang Boto Campaign, FEU Office of Student Development, and YouthLed PH.

B. Presentation by Mr. Justin Muyot

Technical Consultant, FEU Public Policy Center

Mr. Muyot brought up figures on first-time youth voters and discussed the results from the study using the College Experience Survey (CES).

As of mid-October 2021, more than 4,000,000 first-time voters registered for the upcoming national elections. To put that number in context, the vice-presidential race in 2016 was decided by a margin of fewer than 300,000 votes. Coincidentally, the top two candidates for vice president in 2016 filed their candidacies for President in the upcoming elections. In local politics, electoral races had been decided by a single vote. In 2019, the next mayor of San Isidro, Leyte won by a single vote.

The study looked at data from freshmen students at FEU schools who participated in the 2020-2021 CES. Two simple statistical tests were performed to examine how student characteristics related to voter registration and socio-political views.

Findings of the Study:

  • Females are more likely to be registered voters compared to males. Voter registration efforts must ensure that both males and females are equally encouraged to register.
  • Students who publicly expressed their opinion online or signed online petitions are more likely to be registered voters compared to those who did not. Moving forward, the limited resources available for voter registration efforts could be targeted to individuals who have previously shared opinions or supported causes. This could be a more effective use of resources that would maximize the number of registered voters.
  • Students who spent time participating in activities organized by student organizations back in Senior High School are more likely to be registered voters.
  • Student organizations in Senior High School offer avenues where voter registration efforts can be implemented early. Frontloading registration would lessen the burden on COMELEC whenever the deadline for registration draws near.
  • Almost 30% of students spend more than 20 hours a week checking social media platforms. Despite heavy exposure to social media, there is no evidence linking time spent on social media with voter registration. This raises the need to study the role that social media can play on voter registration further. Given the ongoing public health crisis, many voter registration efforts have been utilizing social media platforms.
  • Based on student responses, there are several issues that students cannot decide on:
    • Public Services – Students are undecided on state ownership of major public services and industries. This is an important issue that tackles the government’s responsibility to provide goods and services to the public. Students can be encouraged to think about this issue by introducing them to three simple questions: Between governments and the private sector, who should provide public services? Should services be paid for by the government (through taxes) or should they be paid for out of private individuals’ pockets? Lastly, should the government regulate private sector provision? 
    • Economic growth and the Environment – Students are also undecided on the harmful impact of economic growth on the environment. Moving forward, today’s youth will have to contend with seemingly competing objectives of economic growth and environmental protection. Economic growth is necessary for the provision of goods and services that increase our quality of life. Meanwhile, environmental protection affects our quality of life through environmental quality and climate change.
    • Other topics that students have difficulty taking a stand for it deals with justice, democracy, and personal values, are obedience to authorities, premarital sex, death penalty, and economic growth over civil rights and political freedoms.
  • Student characteristics have a relationship with socio-political views:
  • Assigned sex at birth is associated with 17 out 19 statements, however, even if it does not directly affect, one must still understand issues of the opposite sex.
  • Student engagement is associated with all 19 statements, providing space for discussion and engagement regarding social-political views.
  • Joining school activities for 16 out of 19 statements, providing discussions among peers to probe and engage topics deeper
  • Student characteristics have a relationship with socio-political views:
    • Assigned sex at birth is associated with 17 out 19 statements, however, even if it does not directly affect, one must still understand issues of the opposite sex.
    • Student engagement is associated with all 19 statements, providing space for discussion and engagement regarding social-political views.
    • Joining school activities for 16 out of 19 statements, providing discussions among peers to probe and engage topics deeper.

Mr. Muyot ended the presentation by stressing the importance of providing students space; student organizations and online discussions are possible avenues, where the youth can engage with others to discuss their socio-political issues to form and refine their positions. Their positions can then be aligned with candidates’, consideration is taken when voting.

C. Presentation by Dr. Imelda Deinla

Senior Fellow, Ateneo Policy Center, Ateneo School of Government

Dr. Deinla began the presentation by noting that the youth are the most prone to misinformation. The Ateneo School of Government launched the Pinoy Voters’ Vibe (PVV): Youth Edition to gather insights on misinformation and disinformation among the youth. The project aims to fulfill the following objectives (3 Vs): Voice, provides a platform for electoral discourse, Vibe, collect insights and views, and Vote, gather, and inspire to participate through voting.

The PVV’s survey is focused and divided into four parts: demographic question, perceptions on job performance of the government, and self-rated confidence in determining fake news, lastly, a fake news quiz was also given to the respondents. The survey employed a snowball sampling method and was distributed to partner academic institutions, targeting the top vote-rich cities in the country.

The results of the survey were analyzed to determine whether political polarization increases the Filipino youth’s susceptibility to believing in misinformation. Although the Philippines does not have a stable political party system, nor political personalities embody different political ideologies, which contribute to political polarization. Division in political opinions, however, signifies a healthy democracy, though it may lead to antagonism and violence.

The study asked respondents about their support for President Duterte and Vice President Robredo as a proxy for measuring political polarization. Their support was then regressed against their fake news score.

The study found that supporters of President Duterte have a lower capacity for spotting both real news and fake news. On the other hand, supporters of Vice President Robredo have a higher capacity of spotting both real news and fake news.

The observations regarding supporters of the President have also observed similarities among supporters of the US Republican party. According to Dr. Deinla, the results may have been due to the type of content they are exposed to in their social media feeds.

Using data from Round 2 of the PVV, the study found that a high likelihood to vote is correlated with high accuracy in identifying real news.

Respondents who answered that they will vote are 43% more likely to detect real news items. However, there is no statistically significant relationship between the likelihood of voting and the likelihood of detecting fake news.

The average score in the fake news quiz of those who will vote is 7.0 while those who will not vote is 6.3 out of 10. The results imply that voters will more actively seek a variety of information and are more likely to seek real news, as it stimulates political awareness and engagement.

 The study also explored trust in media sources as it decreases the odds of identifying real and fake news by 3% and 14%; higher trust in mainstream media is correlated with higher accuracy in identifying official real and exaggerated fake news.

Other studies have shown that trust in mainstream media lessens the likelihood of engaging in conspiratorial thinking. Meanwhile, the results also revealed that higher trust in Facebook as a source of information is correlated with lower accuracy in identifying real and fake news.

Dr. Deinla concluded the presentation by noting that fake news is endemic in the Philippines and that many students have difficulty in identifying fake and real news. The youth are immersed in a culture of fake news and efforts at the individual and societal level are needed to combat the proliferation of fake news.

Dr. Deinla invited the participants to the upcoming Round 3 of PVV this coming February-March 2022, and “What the Fake?! Fake News Challenge ng Bayan” fake news diagnostic tool through inclusivedemocracy.ph/fakenewschallenge.

D. Panel Reactions

1.) Mr. Rigel Alvaran

4th Year AB Political Science Student

Far Eastern University

Proponent of TAMang Boto

Mr. Alvaran started off with an overview of TAMang Boto, a student-led initiative that started in his organization, the FEU Political Science Organization. Since then, TAMang Boto has aimed at encouraging the Tamaraw community to register and vote wisely in the upcoming elections.

The first phase of the initiative’s three phases, focused on getting the Senior High School and College students from the FEU Group of Schools to register so they can participate in the elections as a major exercise of their democratic and political rights.

It also included a series of webinars on the technical and civic aspects of the elections for first-time voters, as well as social and political issues that candidates should prioritize to address.

As Mr. Muyot shared in his presentation, joining and organizing discussions about elections and the social and political realities that the next set of officials will have to address can be a ‘game changer’, as it can inspire the youth to influence peers to register and select their candidates according to correct and credible information through social media and actual conversations, and collectively ensure that candidates who will work on the protection of democratic institutions and the improvement of Filipino lives will win.

The last activity under the TAMang Boto Initiative was Pulso ng Tamaraws (The Tamaraws’ Pulse). This was a roundtable discussion that gathered FEU student leaders representing various advocacies to openly discuss the youth’s perceptions on the upcoming 2022 Elections.

So far, the TAMang Boto campaign has been largely conducted on social media to take advantage of the youth’s online presence and, as mentioned and to be mentioned by the presenters and panelists, the scale of social media’s influence in the youth’s attitudes towards candidates and voting per se.

The Phase 2 of TAMang Boto will commence after the filing of candidacy ends. It will focus on empowering their fellow youth to become “wise voters” in 2022.

This phase aims to make the youth change the current state of affairs with their vote, and, in order to do so, be more cognizant of the realities that increase the stakes in the upcoming elections—from the damage inflicted in democratic institutions, to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic which is seen to continue impacting lives and livelihood—and make these their guideposts in casting their ballots.

Phase 3 of TAMang Boto focuses on accountability aspect of governance and politics. It aims to break from the tendency of ending voter education after elections. It aims to make voter education a cycle that starts from voter registration and continues with the tracking of the winning candidates’ policy action vis-à-vis their promises, and well into the next election cycle.

Mr. Alvaran concluded by sharing that the TAMang Boto team is exploring partnerships with like-minded groups to carry out their campaign more effectively, especially as they enter the second phase. He said youth engagement is very crucial as their vote, if decided wisely, can save millions of lives and change the society we live in.

2.) Mr. Glenn Concepcion

Academic Services Coordinator

Far Eastern University

Office of Student of Student Development

Mr. Concepcion highlighted the data from PVV on the impact of the youth vote in the 2022 National Elections. With 4,000,000 new voters aged 18-21, the youth now comprise half of the registered voters and hence, can be a powerful political force to influence election outcomes.

He emphasized the importance of election in a democracy. It enables the nation to select the next leaders of the country that requires responsibility and accountability. The election is an opportunity to dismiss corrupt officials and place deserving leaders who can change the course of the country.

Academic institutions must provide students with learning opportunities to develop political awareness and voting behavior. An environment must be created where students can freely express their civil engagement by supporting programs discussing social, political, and economic issues.  Correspondingly, FEU’s Office of Student Development supports participatory leadership all year round; developing proactive student leaders who volunteer to act on issues regarding the society and leading the community towards nation-building. Projects like advocacy concerts, talks, competitions, leadership training, and open forums competitions organized by FEU students are made to influence votes and inspire civic engagement.

Mr. Concepcion emphasized that while being an educated voter is easier with today’s age, when information is conveniently available through the internet, the irony lies in the rampancy of malicious lies that usually takes the form of legitimate online information sources. Hence, the youth should develop and strengthen their discernment. Academic institutions can help by teaching students to evaluate information presented to them and striving to learn more about fact-checking through webinars or course activities. Additionally, institutions can provide and recommend credible sources to instill a culture of verification and discernment among students as they write their academic papers. These initiatives can help students become honest, responsible, and discerning consumers of information, both as students and voters.

Mr. Concepcion believes that voter education projects that underscore social and political issues will help students in forming their stance and making better decisions.

3.) Ms. Natalie Christine “Ching” B. Jorge

Chief of Party

Youth Leadership for Democracy (YOUTHLED)

Ms. Jorge introduced YOUTHLED, a program focusing on youth leadership, youth coalitions, and civic education. With 11 regional hubs nationwide, YOUTHLED conducts various activities for the youth and their engagement including voter registration and education campaigns. It has also built coalitions for youth engagement, such as Kabilang Ka sa 2022 Coalition (You Matter In 2022), with 850 youth organizations of late.

Since the pandemic, the Internet has become the main platform for social and political engagement. YOUTHLED believes young people have a greater propensity to initiate change and join social movements as a means of belonging and take risks compared to older generations. They also have wide social networks that can be mobilized to generate or execute new ideas.

However, not all youth are accorded with support structures to share their voice responsibly. Thus, YOUTHLED is working to provide capacity building platforms for the youth towards more effective engagement in democratic affairs.

Similar to parts of the FPPC’s College Experience Survey and the Youth Edition of the Ateneo Policy Center’s Pinoy Voters Vibe, the YOUTHLED nationwide survey, conducted in partnership with the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and with 4900 participants representing all social classes, provides a deeper dive on the youth’s use of and attitudes towards social media as a means for democratic participation. Survey participants were presented with 16 different individual and collective political actions, and were asked whether they have done, have not done or might do in the future the said actions.

According to the survey:

  • 60% have liked or shared political/social posts in social media
    • 54% sought out news about political issues
    • 49% have discussed politics and societal issues with another person online or by person
  • 33% followed a politician, political commentator, and/or political accounts
  • 27% have posted their comments

Opportunities presented by online engagement allow for creative and innovative contributions (e.g., short videos, short videos); from the youth to express their views and opinions. However, support and guidance are needed for discernment and civic-minded participation. 

As for offline engagements, student organizations remain the main entry point for youth civic and political participation, at 45 percent of the youth surveyed.

Ms. Jorge referenced Mr. Justin Muyot on the importance of young people forming their own opinions: YOUTHLED’s strategy for youth engagement is anchored on evidence that the youth are most likely to participate when presented with particular issue-based advocacies that affect them the most such as poverty (58%), violence against women and children (54%), lack of quality education (54%), climate change (51%), and response to COVID crisis (49%), rather than general modes of participation such as joining political groups. These can be cross-referenced across different geographic and demographic profiles.

The survey also examined the degree of the youth’s agreement with and knowledge of their civil rights and responsibilities.

Majority of the youth agreed to statements concerning their rights and responsibilities as citizens. On the other hand, it provides guidance on areas to focus on in terms of governance and accountability; especially with communicating and engaging with government leaders.

These insights will form part of YOUTHLED’s civic education modules. The modules will start as early as Senior High School, where students will be eligible for voting in May 2022.

YOUTHLED also wants to ensure that voters’ education must not only be implemented before the election but carried out as part of the curriculum. This is something they are working on with civil society organizations, and the Department of Education.

The survey also tackled who influences the youth voting decisions. The results highlight that the youth’s voter preferences are most likely influenced by family, at 54 percent. Political experts are a far second, at 29 percent; followed by the president (24%) traditional media (19%), community leaders (19%), and peers (18%).

Majority of the youth also look to their families for stance on political issues (at 59%) and for guidance on their support to government policies (at 57%). The figures above can serve as a guide for implementers of civic education initiatives to look at designing their efforts not only for individuals but also families as a political unit. Family- or community-based voter education efforts can also provide opportunities for the youth to have a voice and become political influencers in their family and community.

The youth get their information about electoral candidates mostly from television news coverage, at 45 percent. Word of mouth follows closely, at 44 percent. Social media ranks as the third go-to platform for information on who to vote.

Participants were also asked about the frequency of which they verify the news they get on traditional and social media. The numbers are alarming given how rampant disinformation is—only 22% and 27% of them always verify; 51% and 44% sometimes or never verify. YOUTHLED is currently taking steps such as capacity building to instill the habit of verification among the youth.

Lastly, Ms. Jorge presented what a week in the life of a Filipino youth looks like, especially under the pandemic. Mostly at home, the youth are most likely engaged in household chores, browsing social media (aligned with the findings of the CES on social media usage), or talking to family. This again provides guidance on the possible entry points for youth engagement.

Ms Jorge summarized her presentation with the following a few takeaways:

  • Young Filipinos are more inclined toward individual civic political actions online and on issue-based collective action.
  • Youth engagement is more personalized and is reflective of one’s personal interest and self-expression; there is less interest in politics and more on social issues and social change.
  • Youth and student organizations are still the top group that young people participate in, which makes them a promising main entry point for engagement.
  • The youth turn to their families for political and civic decisions. This dynamic can be maximized as having the potential to empower the youth and make them political influencers in their families and communities.
  • The upcoming 2022 elections provides an opportunity to activate, organize, educate and encourage participation through dialogues, debates, and other civic education initiatives, in which YOUTHLED takes an active role.

E. Open Forum

1.) All the panelists spoke about how fake news is rampant in the Philippines. How can educators and schools be avenues to combat mis- and disinformation?

Ms. Jorge: Academic institutions are the first line of defense in fighting fake news. Teachers have a big role to play in guiding students in analyzing and creating a habit of verifying news and information they see online before sharing.

YOUTHLED has videos and modules that teachers can use to impart practical actions on how to differentiate facts from disinformation. Ms Jorge committed to share these resources to teachers and other forum participants.

Mr. Alvaran: From the perspective of students, one thing they have learned from being immersed online is to fact check even in academic matters. He believes that he and fellow members of student organizations is to also fact-check posts before sharing via their organizations’ social media pages.

Going beyond this, and especially with the 2022 Elections underway, the youth should also engage in actual, personal discussions with their friends and right at their homes, keeping in mind to emphasize facts and to be also strategic in present facts—particularly, ensure facts are shared simply and comprehensibly to avoid confusion and aversion (i.e., the feeling that they are being attacked when shared with facts).

Dr. Deinla: It is important for fellow educators to remind students about fake news and the risks it pose to civic spaces and democracy in general. Schools should be the first in line in terms of combatting disinformation. This requires that educators equip themselves with the tools and attributes (e.g. discernment) to lead students to critically think about facts they are consuming.

She appreciates efforts by FEU and the Ateneo for the conscious effort of their respective leaderships to address how fake news can undermine democracy. Institutional support is very important; collaborations such as PVV, and coalition building among academic institutions will even further facilitate what needs doing to combat disinformation.

As a rejoinder, Ms. Alqueser emphasized the need for training and discussions for educators in grade school and high school—especially considering how disinformation featured in modules for blended learning.

2.) How will we modify our voter education modules for the out-of-school youth—some of whom may have little access to voter education initiatives by academic institutions or student organizations?

Mr. Alvaran: One thing the Tamang Boto team has factored in when designing Tamang Boto was the medium to which their messages will be shared, especially as the pandemic forced the schools and students to conduct academic and extra-curricular activities online. The challenge is, indeed, on how the reach of their voter education and engagement efforts can expand even outside of the university.

One thing the team encourage their webinar participants is to do is to engage outside of these webinars by having casual conversations with friends and family or sharing on social media videos and other materials that demonstrate how fact-checking works.

In its future phases, TAMang Boto is considering the inclusion of out-of-school youth (OSY), as well as fellow FEU students who have not yet enrolled due to challenges owing to the pandemic.

Ms. Jorge: In terms of accessibility of voter education efforts, majority of Filipinos unfortunately still don’t have opportunities to attain voter education, more especially online initiatives.

The challenge is how to reach out to grassroots communities who have little or no access to Internet. YOUTHLED is trying to close this gap by their work with bigger institutions, such as the Department of Education, to develop modules for OSYs enrolled in its Alternative Learning System.

YOUTHLED’s network of community partners, NGOs, and small civil society groups also help in spreading messages around voters’ education and civic participation not only among the youth, but also, to Filipinos with little or no access to forums and materials on disinformation.

3.) (On the weaving of revisionist narratives into educational resources): Unfortunately, Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) teachers are (intentionally or unwittingly) feeding fake information to students. What suggestions can you offer on how to deal with teachers who are practicing revisionist culture?

Dr. Deinla: Evidence points to the existence of revisionist narratives in educational materials. This reality is basically the reason why the leadership of the Department of Education should get onboard in countering fake news. Educational materials should be screened and checked for inconsistencies with historical facts.

DepEd should also acknowledge the scale of this concern, as demonstrated by the fact that some teachers themselves have been engaged in spreading historical distortion.

Given these challenges, the youth should step up by, among others, exercising critical thinking; do not be afraid to engage with teachers and question the source and veracity of their information, as much as teachers require them to cite their sources. It’s high time for students to be more assertive in this environment of fake news. They are after all, on equal footing in terms of the right to access credible information and make an informed opinion out of it.

Alquesser mentioned FEU Public Policy Center’s initiative to counter revisionism in the pedagogy of history using the framework of historical reasoning.

Dr. Maris Diokno, professor emeritus of the University of the Philippines and Board Member of the FEU Public Policy Center, briefly shared the two initiatives: (1) the analysis of methods and practices of teaching Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) in Grades 5 and 6 and (2) a review of seven (7) Social Science textbooks including the one being distributed to public schools by DepEd, the results of which will be released by yearend.

Currently, FPPC is conducting trainings for young teachers on historical significance in preparation for their professional licensure examinations, and the magnitude of the problem on historical revisionism surfaced. And this problem is not borne out of malicious intent on the part of the teachers, but rather of the systemic problems in teacher education that need fixing, especially in the way AP/Social Studies is being taught. The ball is hence not on the teachers but on the Commission on Higher Education and the colleges and universities offering Education courses.

One area that the teacher education curriculum is lacking is on critical thinking which translates both in the way History is being taught and to the students’ view that Social Studies is merely about memorization, at the expense of appreciating it as a narrative to appreciate the need for participation in democratic and civic exercise.

While commending voter education initiatives aimed at the Filipino youth, Dr Diokno said the studies and sample modules her team is preparing under FPPC will complement such efforts as they are anchored towards Araling Panlipunan teachers—they are after all, the ones who are shaping the minds current and future first-time voters.

4.) How do we best explain the difference between facts and opinions?

Dr. Deinla: Facts are units of information that answer the question of what, when, where, who, and how; and have no other interpretation than itself—one’s date of birth, for example. Opinions are an interpretation of, or a perspective on a fact or a facet of reality—e.g., that people in democratic societies still fare better than those under authoritarian regimes.

While it is not bad to have an opinion, it should be backed by facts and presented without any intent to distort or manipulate facts.  

F. Closing Remarks by Ms. Julia Abad

Executive Director, FEU Policy Center

Ms. Abad closed the forum by underscoring the main vision for the UVote Forum—that is, to complement widespread voter education efforts among youth groups, advocates, and fellow academic institutions by providing them with information and insights on the characteristics and inclinations of young people especially towards elections and democracy, and, as a result, help in the enhancement of their ongoing voters’ education efforts.

She bestowed gratitude to the presenters and panelists from the academe and the youth sector for the inspired discussion. The facts and insights they shared proved that contrary to the perceived apathy of the youth, they are quite active and predisposed to advocating for and seeking change.

The challenge in the coming days lies in creating an enabling environment for the youth to better discern the different sources of information presented to them, especially those that will inform decisions that can make or break democratic institutions; and to be inspired to enhance their critical thinking skills and commit to deliberative action.