“Rock The Balut” Launched In Chicago

by Joseph G. Lariosa

 

CHICAGO (jGLi) – “It only takes a spark to ignite a huge conflagration!”

Using this horrific quote as motivation, Executive Director Jerry B. Clarito of Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE), told a handful of young Filipino Americans not to be disheartened with the challenge of convincing the new 28,426 Filipino Americans, who propped up Illinois population during the last 10 years.  According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are 114,724 Filipino Americans in Illinois; 2,555,923 nationwide.

Instead of heading to pub houses on a Friday night, like typical teen-agers their age do, these young Filipino American college students attended the launching of “Rock The Balut” (pronounced with an accent at the second syllable “lot” as in “allot”) at the new AFIRE headquarters at 7315 North Western Avenue at the edge of Chicago’s northside last Aug. 31.

Their mission: to canvass the neighborhood door-to-door knocking and asking residents to go out to vote (GOTV).

Using the spelling of the name of the popular Filipino delicacy of a boiled fertilized duck embryo egg that conjures dynamism and vigor, AFIRE’s slogan, “Rock The Balut,” mimicked the 21-year-old “RockTheVote.com” non-partisan website that urges everyone to register voters with or without any party.

Former executive director Angela “Tita Ging” Mascarenas, Ph. D., president of the AFIRE, reminded everyone the importance of getting Filipino Americans to get out and exercise their right to vote.

Mascarenas, who is also founder of CIRCA-Pintig, a Chicago-based group promoting Filipino culture thru art and drama presentations, said that as a martial law baby, she was forced to come to the United States because there was no freedom when she was born and grew up in the Philippines.

“WE COVERED OUR FACES TO JOIN STREET PROTESTS”

“I left the country (Philippines) because President Marcos was a dictator. The only way we can register our opposition to Marcos here in the U.S. growing up was thru cultural presentations. We joined marches after our friends were imprisoned or had disappeared.

“The only way we could express in what we believe in was thru performance while dancing in the street. As we joined street protests (here in Chicago), we put covers in our faces and when the crowd settled, we danced. When everybody rose, we removed our masks.

“That is the power of art, culture and being creative. With difficult times (in the Philippines), everything is being taken for granted by many people in the community, who would rather, attend beauty pageants, instead of engaging in some serious civic activities.”

Mascarenas said, “the difference from then to now is that we could now perform and be identified, put bodies on the line and walk the talk. I don’t think people realize that every year more and more people walk for justice, not just 20 people, but 20,000 will be walking, taking action, praying for human rights in the Philippines. Let our actions count, our voices count and start believing. I want to make sure we are in this together and (let’s) make history right now.”

For her part, retired AFIRE president Juanita Salvador-Burris said she may not be able to walk around the neighborhood to knock door-to-door to tell residents to get out to vote (GOTV) but her mobility has not yet slowed her to campaign to tell the community to vote.

Wearing a T-shirt which she used in her GOTV campaign two years ago, Dr. Salvador-Burris is now focused in campaigning thru phone banks, saying, “Those who just sit can still help in the campaign by placing phone calls to unregistered voters.”

Clarito remarked that “balut” when eaten is like a God-sent manna from heaven. He first observed in San Francisco, California the “Rock-The-Balut” (RTB) presentation a few weeks ago.

BREAK THE ROUNDER END OF BALUT

Holding a balut, Clarito said, this boiled duck egg has “sharper and rounder ends. You will have to break the rounder end and open a small hole. You take aside the plastic tissue and you will see juice and you sip it. When there is no more juice, Voila, it’s the end of the duck (actually the embryo dies when it is cooked) and you start the enjoyment.”

If the egg does not fertilize, it is also boiled and it is called “penoy” which is cheaper than balut.

Also in attendance at the “Rock The Balut” were entertainers Baron and Louella Cabalona, whose  “goal is to promote culture where there is gap. We are not singing traditional songs anymore. I am not finding the songs (in the Internet) that we used to hear. (It’s like a) dying (art).”

Others who attended the RTB launching were Connie Triggiano, Flor Clarito and Sally Velasco-Richmond, all ABKD CORE volunteers and Myrla Baldonado of the Chicago Coalition of Household Workers.

With barely few weeks before the November 6, 2012 Presidential Elections, U.S. citizens, who are at least 18 years old by Election Day, and residents of at a precinct during the last 30 days, where they can vote, can still register until Oct. 9, 2012.

Illinois’ residents may register in person at the office of the election authority, at Driver’s license facilities, with deputy registrars who are appointed in each jurisdiction, or via mail using the Illinois Voter Registration Application available in English and Spanish.

In Chicago, the election authority is the County Clerk’s office at 69 West Washington, 5th Floor, Chicago, IL 60602.

According to http://www.wikihow.com, to get a person to register to vote, he should be gently persuaded and reminded to vote on Election Day. Email, call, knock on doors, text, even offer him a ride to the voting place. He should be told that he is participating in democracy matters.

Although there is a probability that in a large election, individual votes rarely make a difference, and feels that voting is not worth the effort, a voter should be reminded that “a handful of votes have made a difference.”  One example was the case of Al Gore in the 2000 elections. If one more vote per precinct in Florida was added, Gore would have won.

When dealing with benefits of voting, use logic; base predictions on verifiable examples of how that candidate has taken action in the past. But when choosing which benefits to emphasize, and choosing the way in which to express them, there is a need to relate to the person on a personal level.

Remind the person how lucky he is to be able to vote. Talk about how different life is for those who live in nations where they cannot vote. Emphasize those differences that the person probably can’t imagine life without. In 1913, in the U.S., during the “Suffrage Parade,” “Women were spit upon, slapped in the face, tripped up, pelted with burning cigar stubs, and insulted by jeers and obscene language too vile to print or repeat.”

Help the prospective voter with paperwork (e.g. any registration procedures); offer free transportation to the voting site; and contact the person to remind him/her that Election Day is coming up. (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

Photocaptions:

ROUNDER END AT THE BOTTOM:
“When you open the shell of the balut (boiled duck fertilized egg), the rounder end should be at the bottom by lightly hitting it against a hard surface,” according to Executive Director Jerry B. Clarito of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights & Empowerment, which launched Aug. 31, 2012 its “Rock The Balut” get-out-to-vote (GOTV) registration campaign a few weeks before the Nov. 6, 2012 presidential elections. Young Filipino American AFIRE volunteer members were given a primer on how to canvass the neighborhood by knocking door-to-door to inform and educate U.S. citizens, who are at least 18 years old, and that if they have resided in their nearest precinct the past 30 days, they can still register on Monday, Oct. 9, 2012, if they want to vote in the presidential elections. Among those in photo from right are Myrla Baldonado of the Chicago Coalition of Household Workers, Angela Mascarenas, Ph. D., AFIRE president; Louella & Baron Cabalona at the AFIRE headquarters at 7315 North Western Avenue at Chicago’s far northside. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

GREETING THE GROUP:
Ms. Kristina Tendilla, community organizer of Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights & Empowerment, greets the young group of Filipino American students, who attended the launching of “Rock The Balut” last Aug. 31 at AFIRE’s new office at 7315 North Western Avenue in Chicago’s far north side. The campaign for U.S. Citizens, who are at least 18 years old, to get out to vote (GOTV) to register will end on Oct. 9, 2012, if they still want to vote on the Nov. 6, 2012 presidential elections. Looking on at extreme right is Dr. Juanita Salvador-Burris, retired AFIRE president, Jerry B. Clarito, AFIRE executive director and Myrla Baldonado of Chicago Coalition of Household Workers. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

WELCOME TO ROCK THE BALUT:
This is the sign board notice that welcomes those attending the launching of “Rock The Balut,” a get out to vote (GOTV) to register campaign by the Alliances of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights & Empowerment (AFIRE) last Aug. 31, 2012 at 7315 North Western Avenue in Chicago’s far north side. Young Filipino American AFIRE volunteer members were given a primer on how to canvass the neighborhood by knocking door-to-door to inform and educate U.S. citizens, who are at least 18 years old, and that if they have resided in their nearest precinct the past 30 days, they can still register on Monday, Oct. 9, 2012, if they still want to vote in the Nov. 6, 2012 presidential elections. (jGLiPhoto by Joseph G. Lariosa)

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