These days you have to mute people to hear yourself speak. And the presidential debates committee are taking a cue from a Fil-Am media pioneer who recognized the need to time and mute one side to hear the speakers’ thoughts.
Many webinars are of people of the same organization or belief talking to one another. It’s like preaching to the choir or selling to those who already bought in. LA-based TV host Jannelle So recognized this early on, and worked to create a space where we can all share insights, listen to one another and maybe even learn from each other last Saturday, October 17th, through a live webinar on her Facebook page @SoJannelle.
In a time of contentious debate where even family and friends don’t see eye to eye, it’s important to remember to still listen and give space to hear people’s voices, opinions and preferences.
One of the attendees, Gus Mercado of Texas said: “It was a great debate, yes contentious at times, but always civil and no personal insults exchanged — a credit to all four panelists and the very professional and fair moderator Jannelle So (cable news moderators cannot hold a candle to Jannelle, I mean it!). After all, the protagonists are good personal friends. Most of the panelists were very well informed of the issues and spoke out of conviction not out of spite. This “model” debate among Fil-Ams will be remembered for a long time.”
With prepared questions about COVID-19, Transparency and National Security, Taxes and Economy, Racial Equity, and Pro-Life Issues, So asked two speakers from Fil-Am supporters of Biden, Lila Shahani and Rodel Rodis and two speakers from Fil-Ams for Trump Rudy Asercion and Marie Cunning to speak on why they’re supporting their candidate and what they want viewers to remember about their choice.
Marie Cunning is the National President of the Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC), and Vice Chair of Arizona Asian American Republican Coalition. Lila Shahani is the former Secretary General of the Philippine Commission to UNESCO. Prior to her being a doctoral candidate at Oxford University today, she worked for the Philippine government for 13 years under three different presidential administrations. Rudy Asercion serves as Commissioner for the Veterans War Memorial Commission, and is an elected Delegate to the California Republican Party. Rodel Rodis is an activist and civil rights lawyer who has been practicing since 1981, and is the first Filipino American elected to public office (San Francisco Community College Board).
Questions were flashed on slides to allow viewers to follow the discussion easily. People who wanted to interact or ask questions sent them to the production team upon registration.
Another viewer, Ve Fenix, said: “The discussion nearing debate was truly enlightening! Questions were well structured! Trump and Biden’s debate should be more like what you did! Maraming salamat, Jannelle! Mabuhay @SoJannelle and AARP!”
AARP California partnered with So Jannelle Productions for the non-partisan civic engagement event. Joe Garbanzos, AARP California’s Executive Council Member, reminded viewers that about 230 million Americans will be eligible to vote in what many say is the most important election in recent history. And that AARP is fighting to protect voters 50 plus and make their voice heard on the issues that matter most to them like, protecting Social Security and Medicare, lowering prescription drug prices, and ensuring they can vote safely from home or in-person.
Dignitaries like former US Ambassador to the Philippines, Harry K. Thomas and Former US Ambassador John Maisto were among the attendees along with community leaders like Loida Lewis, Rocio Nuyda and Gloria Caoile joined among 200 Zoom registrants from across the States and around the world. The Livestream has garnered over 1,300 views as of this writing.