[OPINION] ‘Your Vote Matters 2 Us’: Filipino American mobilized through bipartisan efforts

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“Never before in the history of American elections has the Filipino American community mobilized, strategized and organized to the degree I’ve seen. For at least the Filipino Americans for Biden/Harris affinity group, there were pockets of staunch and stellar state leaders in some 20+ states working efficiently and effectively to GOTV (Get Out The Vote) – phone banking, text banking, working at the direction of the National organizing committee and strategically (with precision) focusing on how to empower and enliven and ensure the Filipino American vote on ALL levels – national, state, and local. It’s something I have never witnessed in the decades since I’ve been voting.” – Ted Benito, Executive Producer of ‘Your Vote Matters 2 Me’ (Nov. 8, 2020)

“When viewpoints are expressed, we must each endeavor not to attack others for holding differing viewpoints or to ascribe such disagreements as being derived from less-than-noble intentions. Much like Republican President Ronald Reagan and Democratic House Speaker Tip O’Neill and conservative Justice Antonin Scalia and liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the United States Supreme Court, we must restore ourselves to living life according to the highest ideals of our best nature. Only through consistent efforts over an extended period may we truly appeal to the better angels within us all. The time for us to reset is now.” – Ollie Cantos, Esq., former associate director for domestic policy at the White House, under Pres. George W. Bush (Nov. 7, 2020)

“I have a firm belief in our shared humanity, regardless of political affiliation…I didn’t want to tailor the message specifically for the benefit of getting a specific party or individual elected. I opted to focus on encouraging people to think for themselves based on the issues that mattered to them and consequently, to all of us as people. There was a need to see ourselves presented in something that we could all be proud of with a message that, hopefully, resonated across partisan lines.” – Mark A.J.Nazal, Director of Your Vote Matters to Me (Nov. 8, 2020)

With these noble, patriotic, and bipartisan Filipino Americans, I was seeing daily messages all the month of October 2020 on why voting matters to us.

I wondered if it moved even one voter, and when A.J. Rafael, a musician, got one of his fans to vote, his first and tweeted to him, that was a victory for mobilizing our Filipino American community. Even just one who has not engaged before and is now voting is a success.

I was moved when Rev. Cisa Payuyo, whom I have known for three decades as an unassuming woman, gave this message: “We have a moral obligation to take care of this country and to take care of each other.”

It felt like the heavens opened up, a prelude of gloomy gray skies strong rains for ten minutes, and then, a beautiful rainbow and a sunny day on Nov. 7, a Saturday.

Cold winds came on Sunday followed by snow-dusted mountaintops, and thick white clouds on Monday. Blue skies greeted us on Veterans Day.

Appropriately, as when the ballots got counted, military soldiers overseas voted 4 to 1, in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, as reported by CNN.

Walter Talens, co-producer of Your Vote Matters 2 Me, a US Army veteran emailed me, “We spent so much effort telling locals in Afghanistan and Iraq the importance of voting despite their apathy and suspicion towards the process. The Afghans and Iraqi’s literally risked their lives to get the opportunity to vote, yet some of my fellow Americans take this right for granted.”

But, Talens can smile now as a record number of nearly 160 million Americans voted by mail and in-person, braved strong rains, long lines and even the existential threat to their lives, the coronavirus. As of Nov. 9, the virus has claimed the lives of 238,053 in the U.S and with 10,036, 282 new confirmed cases and California’s 3.7 positivity rate, second in new cases of 978,881 with 17, 985 deaths to Texas’ 997,258 new cases and 19,221 deaths.

Joe Arciaga, producer of Your Vote Matters 2 me, underscored the importance: “As a father, grandfather, U.S. Army veteran, immigrant person of color, healthcare frontliner, as someone who cared deeply about our community, civility, Truth, rule of law, Honor, science and the Common Good, I felt duty-bound to take action, to work for change and to contribute to the cause. I felt that if we didn’t act now, the America our progeny will inherit would not be the same America that has embodied freedom, justice, equality, prosperity – ideals that moved us and those who came before us to seek haven here.”

It was a definite blue America, Biden’s 74,446,452 votes, still growing a lead, as votes were counted transparently, using webcams, live streaming, which surpassed Trump’s 70,294,341 votes, according to CBS News, on Nov. 7. Trump exceeded Barack Obama’s 69,498,516 votes in 2008.

CNN reported 87% of Black Americans turned out to vote for Biden/Harris on Nov. 3 and 82% of young Asian Americans voted for Biden/Harris. Cuban Americans voted overwhelmingly for Trump, as did the southern states.

Memes of John Lewis, Kobe Bryant, Ruth Bader Ginsburg were illustrated as angels in conference with Alex Trebek, who died Sunday morning.

In 2018, Prof. Dawn Mabalon passed away, yet how prescient her tweets were.
When Prof. Dawn Mabalon met Joe Biden in 2018 in San Francisco, she tweeted Prof. Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales, her best friend, who tweeted back: “What did you say to him?”

“I leaned in and whispered,” you gotta read that Fire and Fury book. Ok, I whispered ‘You and Kamala, 2020.’ Ok but for real it was so quick. He was trying to leave and not cause a big ruckus. It was a smile and click and done,” Dawn shared.

In 2015, I met then-Vice President Joe Biden at West LA Community College, accompanied by Rep. Karen Bass. He spoke about protecting women and their vulnerabilities to sexual assault on campuses. He spoke of his compelling work on Violence against Women legislation. I witnessed how considerate he was to the students and thoughtfully responded to their questions.

Cathy Sanchez-Babao in a recent Facebook post recalled: “In 2017, [Biden] released a book entitled, ‘Promise Me, Dad.’ On page 201 he recalls one of the final moments in 2015 when Beau asked to speak to him in private. “I know no one in the whole world loves me as much as you do. I know that. But Dad, look at me. Look at me. I’m going to be okay no matter what happens. I’m going to be ok, Dad. I promise you. I was jolted by the realization that my son was beginning to make peace with his own death. Then he leaned across the table and put his hand on my arm. “But you’ve got to promise me, Dad, that no matter what happens, you’re going to be all right. Promise me, Dad.”

“I’m going to be okay, Beau,” I said, but that wasn’t enough for him.

“No, Dad, he said. “Give me your word as a Biden. Give me your word, Dad. Promise me, Dad.” I promised, Joe Biden wrote.

Cathy Sanchez-Babao speculated: “Tonight, five years later I want to believe that as President-elect Joe Biden looked up at the skies in Wilmington, emblazoned with fireworks in red, white and blue, he was probably whispering to Beau in his heart, “See, son. I kept my promise. This is for you.”

With the promise Joe Biden made to Beau, also came Biden’s choice of Senator Kamala Harris, who had a close friendship with then Delaware Attorney General, Beau Biden, who was taking on the mortgage industry.

Harris became the first woman VP-elect, first of Jamaican and Indian descent, a graduate of HBCU, and one who sought justice from the reckless multi-billion mortgage lending done by the large banks who had securitized these loans, betting on getting paid, even if homeowners defaulted.

The banks were found to be squeezing monies on both ends, as mortgage payments by the homeowners and as paid securities when the securitized mortgages defaulted. It led to a national settlement of $20 billion, done against Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Ally Bank (formerly GMAC), when she served as California Attorney General in 2012, arrived at by several states, the federal government, and the “American banks over the predatory mortgages that helped sink the economy, as reported by The Atlantic.com, Aug. 20, 2020.

With that promise to Beau, the first Sunday after the election, President-elect Joe Biden visited the grave of his late son with his grandson and daughter-in-law.

Promise kept to Beau meant a new purpose for Joe Biden: to heal America to value truth over thousands of lies, fairness in news media and governance over fiction, rule of law, integrity of public service over corruption and private gains, protect Mother Earth over climate change denials and to rebuild the ravaged economy from coronavirus and racial justice over white supremacy.

When Rep. James Clyburn took risks to say, “We know Joe and Joe knows us,” it gave permission for the states to Joe Biden as their presidential candidate.

From that, it seemed a new gate was opened by the heavens.

“I need to know whom you are voting for,” Mrs. Jannie Jones, a 76-year-old who wanted to know whom Clyburn would be voting for in the South Carolina primary. When she heard his response, she asked him to make that decision known.

“It wasn’t James Clyburn, it was Mrs. Jones who wanted me to stand up,” Rep. Clyburn told CNN, and he stood up. prompted by Mrs. Jones.

Sierra Club and Filipino Americans’ Get Out The Vote Campaigns

I was fortunate to have joined the Sierra Club’s Facebook live meeting moderated by Executive Director Michael Brune with their key political directors. I perked up knowing they had done so much mobilizing efforts via postcards, texts, letter writing, phone calls and deployed poll workers to help out.

Ted Benito convened a group, Your Vote Matters 2 Me, to answer the call for action to mobilize the votes. He is registered independent, raised by a mom who was a Democrat and a father who was a Republican.

He said, “I was struck by the outspoken brashness of Mark Nazal whose unique perspective was: ‘the strength of our message (whether it be to encourage people to register, to vote or for a specific candidate) was rooted in communicating the point that decisions from those elected to office affected everybody and messaging should focus on discussing issues important to the voters. I also produced a GOTV night of empowerment featuring Asian Pacific Islanders celebrities, elected officials and an appearance by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It featured Tamlyn Tomita, Tia Carrere, David Jenkins, Travis Atreo, AJ Rafael, Keiko Agemi and Lou Diamond Phillip’s hosted by MSNBC’s Richard Lui.”

Ballot counting was livestreamed via webcams and observers from both Republican and Democratic parties observed the process.

So when Trump announced filing lawsuits left and right, many television panelists wondered why, what is the legal issue being litigated, on what legal grounds, and the lawsuits were being dismissed.

ABC News reported that judges in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Michigan have rejected the Trump campaign’s efforts to halt the counting process and NY Times’ Peter Baker wrote that former President George W. Bush congratulated Pres.-Elect Joe Biden Jr.
“I extended my warm congratulations and thanked him for the patriotic message he delivered last night,” Bush said and continued, “The American people can have confidence that this election was fundamentally fair, its integrity will be upheld, and its outcome is clear.”

Two days ago, I requested a Republican friend, whom I highly respect, Ollie Cantos for quotes, read above.

Both of us exchanged our desires to find the common ground in everyone. “Nations will come to Your light and Kings to the brightness of Your dawn.”(Isaiah 60:3) and we exchanged I love you, my friend, by texts. Imagine that?

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 12 years. She also contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and over 22 national parks in the US, in her pursuit of love for nature and the arts.

Prosy Abarquez Dela Cruz, J.D.

Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 13 years. She also contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and over 22 national parks in the US, in her pursuit of love for nature and the arts.

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