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(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Rafael A. Francisco served as District Governor of Rotary International District 3830 Philippines for 2006-2007. Known as Butch by his family and friends, he is a Multiple Paul Harris Fellow and was president of his home club, Rotary Club of Makati Central, in 1993-1994. Spouse, Maling, and son, Rafael Jr., are also actively involved in Rotary and are both Paul Harris Fellows.

R.A. (Butch) Francisco

Š 2007 R.A. (Butch) Francisco All rights reserved Published by RTV.PH Foundation, Inc. For permission to reproduce, in whole or in part, write the copyright owner. Email: Post: P.O. Box 2518, Makati Central Post Office 1265 Philippines Printed by MG Reprographics, Inc. San Juan, Metro Manila, Philippines. Cover design by Sir Speedy Book design by Herbert Montevirgen Rotary International and logo are registered trademarks of Rotary International. Other product and company names mentioned herein may be trademarks of their respective owners ISBN Pending

Reyes, Rodolfo O., 176

Swensrude, Neil, 97

Rivadeneira, Bernardita B.,

Tan, Corazon E., 154


Tan, Yolanda C., 80

Rosales, Felisa B. , 137

Tumangan, Guiller E., 198

Salas, Ma. Rhodora R., 162

Vidal, Ricardo Cardinal, 100

Sanchez, Teresita, 161

Villania, Elvira H., 109

Santiago, Ricardo L. , 103

Villavicencio, Ma.

Sapitan, Federico P., 89

Adelica B., 98

Sebial, Aks 181

Wilkinson, Wilfrid , 200-201

Segovia, Willy, 45

Yoshida, Steve, 106

Sin, Jaime Cardinal, 100

Yu, Doris E., 41

Singzon, Cesar R., 180

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

I NDEX OF N AMES Acoba, Ma. Rosario, 147

Gimmi, Mel, 172

Afzelius, Edwin, 44

Indonto, Noe B., 50

Akwari, John Stephen, 111-

Jorge, Lulu Virata, 176


Josol, Jose G., 61

Alas, Donnies T., 189

Josue, Ma. Arlin, 123

Aquino, Corazon C., 100

Kaneko, Masato, 76- 78

Badr, Mohammad, 204

King, Ma. Paz, 131

Bartholomew, Helen, 134

Lucas, Alice, 119

Bates, Sydney, 132-133

Madrid, Rey, 176

Blessed Mother Teresa,

Maligaya, Malou, 115

28,98, 170

Marty, Conrad, 160

Boyd, Bill, ix

Oba, Hiro, 77

Bunye, Estelita F., 70

Oplas, Bienvenido Jr. S., 168

Cura, Jaime A., 74, 84

Oplas, Ma. Criselda, 66

Dela Cruz, Ma. Rosario

Pablo, Ignacio, 37

Elizabeth G., 193

Perez, Hugo, 127

Evangelista,Rocky Fr., 47, 101 Ferrera-Brunner, Estelita, 76

Quinlivan, Tony, 98 Rabe, Julie R., 159 Ramos, Fidel, 100 Razon-Arceno, Carmen, 114

Francisco, Rafael A., 68, 107, Rellera, Letecia C., 185 200-201, 218

Reyes, Angelo, 100


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

valuable time to help take care of her father who is ill, for being understanding with this endeavor and


the selfless care. My staff, for all the honest-to-goodness work and extra-work in order to finish the book in

FOREWORD .................................................... ix

accord with the timeline. Above all, the Almighty God and Father, whom we never forget to invoke in our club meetings, for the inspiration, guidance and unconditional love. And all those whose names do not appear in this book but who nonetheless helped put this together in one piece, for all the hidden sacrifices and generosity.

C HAPTER 1 BACK-TO-BASICS: A FRESH LOOK INTO THE FOUR-WAY TEST ..................................... 1 Keeping the table firm .................................. 4 Is it the truth?................................................ 5 Is it fair to all concerned? ............................. 8 Will it build goodwill and better friendships?...................................11 Will it be beneficial to all concerned?......... 15 A call to be committed................................. 17

God-willing, I look forward to start writing its sequel.

C HAPTER 2 Butch

SERVICE ABOVE SELF: LEADING THE ROTARY WAY ......................................... 20

Main objective: service................................ 24 The meaning of service ............................... 26 Essentials of service..................................... 28


C HAPTER 3 DRIVING THE WHEEL: MUSINGS IN THE LIFE OF A ROTARIAN ...................................... 31 First and last impressions ............................37 True rewards ................................................ 41 The reluctant president .............................. 44 Worth the sacrifice ..................................... 50 Little things, big discoveries....................... 56 Giving and living .......................................... 61 Never too young .......................................... 76 Going once, going twice, going… ............. 70 Serendipity .................................................. 76 Extra small club, extra big hearts ............... 80 Of treasures ................................................. 84 One wheelchair, one life, one perspective...................................... 89 Beyond borders ........................................... 98 Dr. Rotary is in ........................................... 103 Race to the finish .......................................109 Caught by the Four-Way Test ....................114 The rookie....................................................119 Sharing blood, saving lives ........................ 123 Public service the Rotary way.................... 127 Passion, hard work and dedication ..……... 131 Putting a smile on a child’s face ……………...137


T involves

o come up with a book could be very









presidents at that! I would like to thank all those who participated in one way or another in making this project a reality. First of all, the four club presidents, Noe Indonto from the Rotary Club of Las Piñas Camino Real, Inky Reyes from the Rotary Club of Makati Dasmariñas, Nonoy Oplas from the Rotary Club of Taguig-Fort Bonifacio and Buboy Intal from the Rotary Club of Rizal West, who helped me initiate this project, for their ideas, wit and good humor. All the contributors, whose names appear in Chapters 3 & 4, for sharing their original stories for the first time in print. Maling, who in spite of having to split her


C HAPTER 4 CLUB BITES: AMUSING STORIES IN THE LIFE OF A ROTARIAN ............................. 143 Unusual birthday party.............................. 147 Open sesame! ............................................. 154 The million-dollar question....................... 159 Rotary is for oldies?.................................... 162 From meetings to projects to parties—Rotary is lots of fun ..............168 San Isidro gem............................................ 172 It pays to listen ........................................... 176 The beard of fame ......................................180 When words aren’t your forte ................... 185 Short is beautiful: fun and service in the Rotary ...........................189 Center stage................................................ 193 No red light ................................................198 A chance to smile ...................................... 204 AFTERWORD ............................................... 209 BIBLIOGRAPHY ............................................. 211 ACKNOWLEDGMENT..................................... 213 INDEX OF NAMES ......................................... 215 PROFILE OF THE AUTHOR ........................... 218

B IBLIOGRAPHY The bulk of the articles in this book consists of reallife stories of Rotarians, and only relevant bibliographies of the first two chapters will be cited, to wit: Bennet, William J.

Book of Virtues.

Simon &

Schuster, New York 1993. De Marco, Donald. Heart of Virtue. Ignatius Press, San Francisco 1996. Escriva, Josemaria. The Way. Sinagtala, Manila 1991. Orwell, George.

Animal Farm.

Harcourt Brace &

Company, New York 1946. Tuazon, Oliver M. (ed).

Back to the basics:

fundamental principles and values for nation building. FCA, Makati 2005. Most of the information about Rotary can be found in Rotary International’s official website,


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

all readers—Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike—to try to apply these principles into their own lives,


and somehow write their own life stories in due course.

I am sure that each Rotarian has

something to share, what with the constant exposure to these examples.

But why not, any

person of goodwill, to whom this book is dedicated,

example of the good lives of many, unsung


ordinary people.

by Rotary International President Bill Boyd to

will surely have a word or two to contribute in this valuable endeavor to help build this world with the

ead the Way has become an unforgettable theme for many Rotarians. It was chosen

embody his thrust for Rotary Year 2006-2007. Truly, at the end of it all, as one of the early

Expounding on this theme, he invited all

mottos of Rotary puts it, He Profits Most Who

Rotarians to lead the way ”by living as a role

Serves Best!

model of tolerance, unselfishness and integrity.” It is along these lines that we have struggled for the past year to build our clubs—its members and projects. And it is our wish that this








endeavors. Incidentally, we can outline the entire book along the main ideas of President Boyd’s


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian






unselfishness and integrity


In this modern world, tolerance can only be understood correctly in the context of a real understanding of the truth. Notably, the concept The first question in our world-renowned ethical


code, the Four-Way Test, is all about it. Chapter


1 will guide us into a deeper understanding of

amusings—of serious work and fun-filled service, of

this ethical code, positing the first as the

inhibitions and discoveries and moments of

foundation of the other three.

hesitations and generosity.

of truth is very much into the ideals of Rotary.

It ends with a

ne obvious conclusion that you will make after reading this book is that life in the







challenge to the reader to assimilate these principles and translate them into one’s day-today existence.

That is true and this book attempted to precisely





seemingly contradictory yet forming a unity—in

The concept of unselfishness, on the

the lives of Rotarians, with the backdrop of the core

other hand, is tackled in Chapter 2. It is devoted

principles that make up the organization: its ethical

on the elucidation of the all-encompassing

code, the Four-Way Test, and motto, Service Above

Rotary motto of Service Above Self. It takes a

Self. We could liken these foundational principles

short glance into the history of service in the

elucidated anew in Chapters 1 and 2 as the spirit

world of Rotary as started by its founders. This

that breathed life into the flesh-and-bones (the

chapter also touches on how Rotary sees and defines service covering its four aspects: club service, vocational service, community service


real-life stories) narrated in Chapters 3 & 4. But the challenge only starts here. I invite


and international service. And to somehow put life into these concepts, the meaning and essentials of service are further elucidated. Finally, the virtue of integrity provides a perfect foundation on which the reader could understand and appreciate the variety of stories in Chapters 3 and 4. At the end of the day, each Rotarian should be able to ask him/herself sincerely if he/she is happy devoting his/her life at the service of humanity. Happiness will only be true if we keep ourselves ”whole” as we engage in our activities by the practice of virtues such as honesty, unity of life and fidelity—all of which strengthen one’s integrity. In 2005, integrity was the most looked-up word according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. It means ”firm adherence to a code, especially moral or artistic values.”

And in

Rotary, we have an ethical code—the Four Way Test!

We can say that the day-to-day

application of this code could best be gleaned from the actual stories of the lives of Rotarians.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Chapter 3, as its title Driving the wheel: musings in the life of a Rotarian suggests, puts together real-life stories of Rotarians as they ”drive the wheel” of their respective clubs. The

Or, for the likes of Jocelyn, giving them the ability to take the first step in spreading peace and joy: to smile.

”wheel”—a prominent icon of Rotary’s logo—is used in this case to symbolize the different clubs featured in the articles. Although majority of the stories





experience in doing social service, some stories deal upon the fears, inhibitions and adventures of Rotarians. On the other hand, Chapter 4 touches upon the more amusing stories that will surely Its title, Club bites:

lighten up your day.

amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian, says it all. Hopefully, the reader would come up with the conclusion that although serving one’s fellow men/women requires effort, it is nonetheless fun and more so, fulfilling! The last article in the chapter—and of the book for that matter—was especially chosen to move the reader to give him/herself more in the service of humankind. It is both a ”musing” in the life of a Rotarian which is ”amusing” in its overall impact.


Yasin served as President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas for Rotary Year 2006-2007. He enjoys watching news and current affairs programs and is also an occasional bowler.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Together with the

 This is Rotary Service—touching, uplifting, and improving the quality of people’s lives 

other patient, the girl I met at the meat shop went to my office at my request. Immediately



But wait a minute. This book was not written for Rotarians alone.

Although the

principles that were expounded and the stories told were about Rotary and by Rotarians, any reader







them to the RC Parañaque

humankind will find some consolation in this

office for documentation

book—that there is hope to make this world

and scheduling. It was the

better! But it all depends on the effort of each

eve of Typhoon Milenyo, and the two girls seemed








to preempt the wet night ahead! Tears of joy welled

selflessly, in whatever endeavor he/she is

in their eyes as they were briefed of the assistance

personally engaged in—whether he/she is a

that would be given to them. Still they were in total

Rotarian or not!

disbelief of their fluke. A week later, the two girls were finally

R.A. (Butch) Francisco

operated on. Soon they were in their respective

July 1, 2007

homes and sent us text messages of their gratitude. Jocelyn, the shy and charming girl I met in a meat shop many weeks ago, now shows confidence: there’s warmth in her smile and glow in her eyes. She has a new leaf, so to speak. This is Rotary Service—touching, uplifting, and improving the quality of people’s lives.





Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

I introduced myself as the president of the Rotary Club of Las Pi単as and told her that I could help her correct her cleft lips at no cost. I gave her a brochure of the Cleft Lip and Palate Project of the Rotary Club of Para単aque. The brochure had pictures of smiling children who used to have cleft lips. The girl gave me an incredulous look. She could not understand why a foreigner like me would take time and effort to lend assistance to an ordinary girl like her. I asked for her contact numbers; hesitatingly, she gave them to me. I also gave her my business card and told her to call me. But the call never came. Days passed and our club had another patient to be referred to the Cleft Lip and Palate Project. I remembered the girl I met several days ago and called her. I asked her why she did not call. She politely answered that she went to the province. I requested her to call the other patient and convinced her that the Rotary was willing to help her. She did.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

A chance to smile Mohammad Badr T o


riving to work with a cup of tea beside me, I spotted a teenage girl inside a small

meat shop in Las Piùas. She was rather small and charming—except that she had a harelip, with parts of her gums and teeth jutting out of her mouth. I wanted to park and talk to the girl, but the traffic was jammed. Fearing that I might lose her, I rolled down my window and beckoned at her. Almost instinctively, the girl covered her mouth. Nevertheless, she approached me, thinking that I might be a customer.


a l l

m e n

o f

g o o d

w i l l



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

I had a stroke. But I was able to overcome it because of my will power to survive and my determination to serve. Now I can even dance the whole night. In the Rotary, there is no red light. We are always on the go. When you talk about service, the light is always green, 24/7. The limits of the terms of the officers are, for me, just imaginary. Whether or not you are the Governor, whether or not you are young or, well, aged—you continue to serve our less fortunate brothers and sisters the best way you can. That is and will always be the essence of Rotary: service.

Guiller Tumangan served as District Governor of RI District 3830 for Rotary Year 1999-2000. He has become a Training Leader of the Rotary International, training 530 incoming Governors from around the world.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

On a club medical mission to Mindoro, my fellow Rotarians and I had to ride a jeepney to


reach the place where we were to conduct the mission. It was especially windy that day. All of us held on to the rails of the public transportation. Except for one. One of the fellows held on to his well-kept hair, as if clinging to dear life. Like that fellow, I

 The lesson here is that people who really have it in their hearts to help will not mind the inconvenience 

can admit to being vain sometimes,




comes to our social outreach projects, we become simple people. The lesson here is that people who really have it in their hearts to help will not mind the inconvenience.

During that trip, we experienced things we weren’t use to doing in our everyday comfortable lives in the city. But I never heard a single complaint from any one. I forget to mention that prior to my assumption as Governor, seven months to be exact,


Back-to-Basics A fresh look into the Four-Way Test



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

important management conference to attend in Las Vegas. So please take charge of the visit.” I was taken aback. I am mentioning this anecdote because as much as I have experienced so many things already during that time, I still acquired an important lesson. Gov. Butch may not have been there, but before he left, he made sure everything was ready for the President’s arrival. In fact, he personally took care of the event’s logistics. His support was overwhelming. What was even more touching was that he came home immediately after his conference in order to be there during the last two days of President Wilkinson’s five-day visit. That event was a learning experience. It taught me true leadership. Gov. Butch had to attend an important business conference, but he never left his people behind. Finally, I’d like to end with a very short anecdote—one that I always find amusing.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

President over-all that year. We fast forward just a little bit more—it was 1997 and I was elected as the District Governor for the 1999-2000 term. Aided by the help and support of my fellow Rotarians, our District was able to put up the first Rotary Academy in the Philippines, which gears to educate Rotarians through training modules on leadership and

primarily due to a belief that I hold—that a trained


Rotarian can serve better.

in public squares that the Four-Way Test has

service. It had a structure and even its own roster of faculty. It is a legacy that my term has left

or many, the Four-Way Test is all they know about the Rotary. It is so ubiquitous

become its ”ingredient” if Rotary is to be In the recent term of Governor Butch

considered a brand name.

Francisco, I continued to help out. In fact, it was I who was assigned to coordinate the visit of an

But would you know that this code of ethics

important dignitary, no less than the Rotary

is not an original Rotary idea? But of a Rotarian, it

International President-Elect Wilfrid Wilkinson


himself. In






Weeks before President Wilkinson arrived,

formulated the Four-Way Test as a business ethics

all the preparations were polished. But four days

code for a company that was facing bankruptcy. It

before the arrival, Gov. Butch called me.

is a 24-word test for employees as a code of conduct for their business and professional lives.

“Classmate, I have bad news. I have a very


And it has been credited for the eventual survival


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

of the company.



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

Fast forward to 1993 and I became the President of my club, the Rotary Club of Makati

Today, the Four-Way Test is considered as

West. That was two years after Mount Pinatubo

one of the world’s most widely printed and quoted

erupted. The magnitude of the tragedy was such

code on business ethics. Adopted by the Rotary in

that we had to do something to help. Then and

1943, it has become the organization’s code of

there, I promised my members that for every peso


they raise for the victims of the tragedy, I will shell

It serves as a personal examination of

conscience among its members as it goes, "Of the things we think, say or do: 1.

Is it the TRUTH?

out a peso as well. It was a big risk for me and I knew that. But I stood by my word. It was a challenge, and they

2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?

responded—enthusiastically. They were able to

3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER

raise an awesome 450,000 pesos, at that time a


huge amount.

4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?"

As committed, I gave the same amount through the generosity of the company I was



working with. As a result, we were able to give

Like the four legs of a table, the Four-Way Test has

houses to 18 families in Pampanga. Giving shelter

become the ethical baseline of the Rotary for the

to people during that time of tragedy, I felt, was

past six decades. We can go as far as to say that the

not an extraordinary thing that we did. It was our

strength of the Rotary may be gauged according to

responsibility as Rotarians. Rotarians will give

the way each Rotarian lives his/her life according

wherever and whenever there is a need.

to this code. The icing on the cake was winning the Most A building is only as strong as its


Outstanding Club and Most Outstanding Club


BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

foundation—a table, its legs.

Hence, in this

chapter, we shall try to take a fresh look into this

No red light Guiller E. Tumangan

ethical code.

Let us assess, on a personal and

organizational level, on how we have been building our lives and clubs according to these principles. Why bother? It is because we want to avoid, paraphrasing the intellectual Augustine of Hippo, running very fast, but headlong to a deep cliff, or at the very least to the wrong destination. pursue




As we



organizational projects, it is always best to see t was between 1987 and 1988. So many friends

them in relation to the principles that are meant to

were asking me to join the Rotary. I hesitated.

provide their meaning and direction, which for the

After all, I was of the impression that the

Rotary are enshrined in the Four-Way Test.

organization was just focused on talk of who died And so, let’s go back-to-basics …

the day before or who was rushed to the hospital hours ago. It was, I thought, an association for the IS





It is very edifying to discover But I got tired of the pestering and eventually budged in September of 1988.

that at the very core of the principles of Rotary is the search and promotion of truth.

Boy, I am glad I did. My only regret today is the fact that I could have joined much earlier.

Because it can only tell us that Rotary has remained at the forefront in the promotion of



values instilled in the hearts and minds of people are necessary in nation building 

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

the right values essential for the ordering of society

so when we went out, we were ready once again to

towards the common good.


Right values instilled in the hearts and

In retrospect, I’d like to think that I gave

minds of people are necessary in nation building.

the club some significance. I worked hard to play

And these values will only be right if they are

my role well. In the end, I did not want to be

grounded in the truth. Truth about what? About

remembered merely as a good president, but as a

the very nature of things, of life, of relationships

committed Rotarian.

and of whatever have you. There were flaws, frustrations and even The way the first question is formulated in

lapses of judgment. But just like any other role that

the Four-Way Test—is it the TRUTH?—is very

one plays in life, they served well in making me a

telling. It is not the same question that has made a

more seasoned performer, a better person.

person famous or rather infamous for two millenia now: quid est veritas?, what is truth? We all know

Thank you, Rotary!

what he did after asking that question. The FourWay Test does not question the truth but asks if what is at hand is the truth. We can then say that at the very core of Rotary’s code of ethics is the constant search for the truth—the only stable foundation in building our personal and professional lives.

As the 17th

Century philosopher Francis Bacon puts it, “truth is that sovereign good of human nature.”


Lilibeth served as President of the Rotary Club of Parañaque Metro for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She has worked in the fields of Public Relations and Events Management.


BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

See, our objective is not merely to be rated

In adhering to those perennial truths that

10 in the things that we accomplish, but to promote

are true to all men and women of all times and

within the club the factors of T.E.N.: T for

ages, the perfection of our human nature, of our

Teamwork, where there is less of me and more of

capacity to love and be loved and of our effort to

we; E for Effectiveness, in order to achieve desired

build a better future is achieved.











Every human




recognizes these as belonging to the patrimony of

interconnections within the club.

humankind. Hence, we call them objective moral We also manifested the factor of T.E.N. in

principles or truths.

order to encourage creativity among our club’s members. For instance, we divided the club into

These truths are written in the tablets of

four teams, each tasked to plan, organize and host

our hearts and every human being recognizes them

club activities like our weekly meetings, special

as belonging to the natural law—that law which is

programs and workplace visits. Each team tried

built in the nature of humanity.








extraordinary for the club, resulting to a fun-filled, highly charged year for the Rotary Club.

 We proved that yes, we do service, but we also take time to enjoy doing what we do through these light moments 






principles and the natural law constitutes the basis of understanding and the fostering of peace among

We proved that yes, we

various cultures and peoples in whatever part of

do service, but we also take

the globe. History tells us that it is precisely when

time to enjoy doing what we do

man neglects or completely disregards these norms

through these light moments.

that human rights are trampled upon and one

We really worked hard—blood,

group of people lords it over another. This reality

sweat, tears, and empty pockets

was succinctly made into a fable by George Orwell

always beleaguered us. But

in his famous novel, the Animal Farm.

during meetings, we recharged



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

What sets apart the Four-Way Test is that

Moreover, in Rotary, commitment is spelled

its first way, i.e., is it the TRUTH?, constantly

as S- E- R- V- I- C- E, because it only knows one

challenges the now pervasive relativistic mentality

commitment and that is to serve; to serve no

among many people. By the very fact that it is first

matter what the trade-offs are.

among the other tests, not only signifies its primary importance but also it being the foundation of the other three.

I actually looked for Rotary, and not the other way around, as most Rotarians would tell you. I lived overseas for 12 years because of my

Should one fail in the first way, there is no

husband's profession and I remember frequenting

question that the other tests become irrelevant.

the Philippine Embassy to volunteer myself to do

When it is an untruth, a lie that we are talking

activities for the Filipino communities. Sometimes

about, it will never be fair to everyone, it will

I would visit the prison, or go and meet with

neither build goodwill nor friendship and it will

Overseas Filipino Workers, and organize activities

never be beneficial to anyone. That’s the reason

and shows for them.

why we always ask first, is it the TRUTH? When my husband and I came back in 2001, IS




I was looking for something worthwhile to do. A

The question of fairness leads us to justice, one of

friend invited me to attend a Rotary meeting and I

the four cardinal virtues recognized by ancient

enjoyed it so much that I just kept on coming back


after. On the 4th meeting, I was inducted. I never

We could say that fairness is an

aspect of the more encompassing virtue of justice.

stopped after that!

Justice reminds and exhorts us to render

And now, here I am, having a fruitful year

others their due. Rendering others their due is a

behind me after leading our club’s 10th year.

very basic requirement for the sustenance of

Looking back, it was apt to have “Perfect T.E.N.” as

mutual dealings among people within a social

our club’s theme during my term.



BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

I am really a reluctant president—in fact, I tried to talk my fellow Rotarians out of it. I even

group and among societies, or in short, among all the human beings in this planet.

invited the seven Past Presidents to my house for lunch. I cried in front of them and said, “I don’t

In his book, Heart of Virtue, Canadian

know how to use the computer! How am I going to

philosopher Donald DeMarco, comments that

make a newsletter every week?”

justice presupposes love. He argues that although we are bound together as human beings with the

At the same time, I was aware that all I

invisible cord of justice, our rendering of what is

really had to do was give the best that I can, and I

due to another only happens if we have at least

will be fine. I was on a stage where there were no

some regard for him or her in the first place.

second takes, no cuts and no directors to guide my every move. But I was determined to put my heart and soul in the job.

Moreover, DeMarco affirms that it is possible for us to love everyone justly, even strangers, albeit it may not be a passionate love as

It was three years ago when I decided to

we render to people who are closer to us.


join the Rotary. I can’t help but look back to those

defined justice as that rectitude of our love we owe

days when I was still a fledgling Rotarian who

to all men and women.

nonetheless felt enthusiastic to understand the Rotary, its objectives and its mission as a worldwide organization.

Only in this context can we possibly regard everyone




I was aware, however, that enthusiasm

some men as more equal



than others, extrapolating

Commitment was, is, and will always be the most

from the statement of one

important factor that makes one an effective

of the main characters of













 When we pose the question on fairness, what we ultimately ask is whether justice is accorded to everyone we deal with 


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

Farm. Even






Center stage

antiquity, Plato, could not resist expounding on

Ma. Rosario Elizabeth G. Dela Cruz

this subject which has become the central idea of his masterpiece, The Republic. When we pose the question on fairness, what we ultimately ask is whether justice is accorded to everyone we deal with.

Jesus Estanislao wrote, “In governance, the horizon


cannot be limited to the ‘here and now’ or the

women are merely players. All have their exits and

short-term; a strategic perspective is required so


That is fairness on a personal level. Meanwhile in organizations, governance laureate

illiam Shakespeare said that all the world is a stage, and all the men and

the long-term is given its due and much importance. The same strategic perspective extends

If I may add, essential too is what happens

the horizon way beyond merely narrow interests of

in between these exits and entrances, and how well

specific individuals or sub-groups within the bigger

the parts are played.

social group: it must cover the common interest and the general welfare of the bigger social body.”

I had mixed emotions the day I assumed the position of President of the Rotary Club of

The idea of the common good is then more

Parañaque Metro. I felt like I was on center stage—

understandable. It does not mean the good of the

all eyes were watching, all ears were listening. I was

majority but the good that stems from the common


patrimony of humankind. The former can justify

expectations were high.






(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

they were real.

I knew they would keep their

words. And they all did.

BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

mob rule while the latter exemplifies justice, which again is ultimately rooted in the truth about man, as have been demonstrated above.

From then on, I went all-out, realizing that what really counts in the Rotary is one’s willingness to grab the opportunity to serve.

W ILL IT BUILD GOODWILL AND BETTER FRIENDSHIPS? In the past years, there has been a proliferation of “Ambassadors of Goodwill.” These are individuals who are expected to bring the “message of goodness” to institutions or even to entire nations. But what is goodness all about? This virtue may be understood more clearly by elucidating on how it is lived. Goodwill is manifested when we pass on to someone the goodness of a cause we sincerely believe in—like building our lives and organizations on a sense of duty, virtue, and love for God or as concrete as a social project for the less fortunate. Goodness is a spiritual treasure. When you say that something is spiritual, in contrast with something material, you refer to a reality which

Donnies currently heads an auditing firm. He served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati North in Rotary Year 2003-2004 and District Treasurer in Rotary Year 2006-2007.


you do not see with your naked eye and is not made of parts.

Air, for example, is invisible but

science tells us that it is made of parts like oxygen.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

We can then say that air is material although we do

we achieved our goals because they saw that I was

not see it with our naked eye. Goodness on the

human too. I had my own share of strengths and

other hand, is neither visible nor material (i.e., not

weaknesses, and talents and limitations.

made of parts). Overall, things went way beyond anyone’s Following this reasoning, with goodness—

expectations. We gave so much support and

unlike with a material thing—you gain more of it

understanding to each other, it was astounding and

the more you share it with others. If you have 10

inspiring at the same time.

apples, and you give half of them to your friend, you will only have five apples left for yourself. But

I remember starting out my term as the

the ability to give requires and fosters the virtue of

Club President feeling extremely inferior to my

generosity—no matter how small—which adds to

fellow club mates, who were all CEOs and

your “goodness.” You may have five apples less, but

managers of their companies. I experienced

you have gained more generosity, more goodness!

sleepless nights and restless days for several months before my term even started.

How about the will? Philosophers describe the will as that human faculty that makes us choose




the good. And the constant process of choosing

noticed the sudden shift from

the good builds our freedom, i.e., our capacity to

my jolly, casual self to Mr.

choose the good. Some people regard freedom as

Rigid Perfectionist. But thanks

the capacity to do as what they damn please. But


this attitude is precarious for keeping the harmony

encouragement I got from my

in a society and among individuals.

club, I was able to balance



things out. One






understanding of the real meaning of freedom is


 “You can do it, we will help you.” I knew they were real. I knew they would keep their words. And they all did 

“You can do it, we will help you.” I knew


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

“Can you see me now?” I would ask.

when one disobeys the just laws of the land. One

Everyone would burst into laughter, and cameras

cannot insist on doing what he/she damn pleases

would start preserving the uproarious moment.

by not following the traffic rules, for example. If that person drives


They were also particularly fond of inviting

counter to the flow of traffic, he/

towering guest speakers and matching them with

she may end up killing him/

me in the program, to the enjoyment of everyone

herself in an accident. He may

present. These moments brought amusement and

end up not just destroying his/

delight to our meetings and as a result, broke the

her freedom but that of others as

friendships is very much grounded on having goodwill 

monotony and kept the members awake!


How do I feel about this? I honestly love it.

This leads us once again to the harmony

In fact, I laugh with them. Never did I feel insulted,

present in the Four-Way Test. Fairness, goodwill

always welcoming everyone with a big smile.

and freedom always take as their baseline the

Ironically, I discovered later on that this made me

upholding of the truth. In the previous example, it

even more credible to them, as I was perceived not

applies to the basics of traffic rules, or the just laws

merely as their president, but as their close buddy.

of the land in the general. As Dr Robert P. George of Princeton University affirms: “True freedom, the

The result? More people started enjoying attending our community projects, initiatives

freedom that liberates, is grounded in truth and ordered to truth and, therefore, to virtue.”

related to vocational work, youth activities and visits to sister clubs.

In the same manner, building friendships is very much grounded on having goodwill.


I would like to trace my term’s effectiveness

opposite of which is selfishness, an attitude that

with the good relationships that we fostered with

makes service almost impossible as we shall see in

one other. More than anything else, I believe that

Chapter 2.




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

It is friendship that makes the world go round as what a friend usually says. We can say that it is friendship that provides the human warmth in justice, in fostering those harmonious relationships

Short is beautiful: fun and service in the Rotary

among people.

Donnies T. Alas

In carrying out our projects in Rotary, we have to see our beneficiaries as our fellow men and women, not as our slaves or as people who are so poor and needy that all they need is material help, making our service devoid of human warmth, kindness and why not, friendship. After all these years of helping people, we could already come to the

 … more than material things, what makes our faces smile and our eyes look up to heaven is the love that goes with the help that is given to us, whether material or spiritual 

conclusion that more than material



makes our faces smile and our eyes look up to heaven is the love that goes with the help that is given to us, whether spiritual.



Only when we

see our fellowmen as we are—men and women who


was 28 years old when I started serving in the Rotary. My fellow Rotarians would jokingly

refer to me as the “baby Rotarian,” as I was then just 5’1” in height and 130 lbs. heavy. I am the one that they would always notice, the one they would always pick on, making fun of my short stature. During our weekly meetings, my club mates would ask me to stand up even if I was already standing. I would then play around with them by grabbing the nearest chair and standing up on top of it, with both hands held up high waving to all.

have inalienable rights and



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

did my best to implement our planned projects,

who have body and soul—shall we amplify the

and in the process, managed to even receive a Club

goodness that we aspire to create in our projects up

of Distinction Award during the District Awards

to the end of time.

Night for 2007! Truly, one can find great wisdom from I have to acknowledge the Rotary for

these words from the Holy Book: “No greater love

encouraging me to conquer my fear of speaking in

than this that a man lay down his life for his

front of crowds. I realized that there’s no use in

friends.” To love one’s friend is to want what is best

being afraid to step out of one’s comfort zone. The

for him or her. What is best for our friends—and to

lessons one will acquire will be truly priceless.

our fellow men and women in general—can never be evil. True friendship is always geared towards the truth and the good. W ILL IT BE BENEFICIAL TO ALL CONCERNED ? Beneficial, benefactor and beneficiary—terms that are often used when a social project is being carried out—can all be traced from two Latin words, bene and facere, which can be loosely translated to “good” and “to make.” In other words, we can say that these three terms all refer to the idea of “making good.” As we have noted above, this good that we try to achieve is always connected with the truth.

Letty served as President of the Rotary Club of Muntinlupa North for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She is a mother of five and a painting and bowling enthusiast.

Metaphysics actually considers both terms as



transcendentals of being, together with unity and

 A virtuous man will certainly be




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

In short, we can


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian



say that being is one, true,

proposed projects and plans

good and beautiful.

for the year.

It is

along these characteristics

beneficial to all

that we can measure the

Suddenly, my mind

and a project

effectiveness of all these

went blank. I opened my

built upon virtues

questions that form the

mouth and tried to proceed.

will definitely be

 I realized that there’s no use in being afraid to step out of one’s comfort zone 

Four-Way Test. “I … I …”

both beneficial and And

sustainable  only






when one struggles to live

I searched inside my head trying to find the words to say.

a life of virtue. Virtues, put simply, are those stable dispositions that make a person good or do good.

“Mmm … a …”

They are built from the constant practice of moral values.

But nothing came out of my mouth. In my mind I thought, “Oh my, I have got to finish this!” One acquires virtues as he or she constantly

practices a good act, up to a point that that act

Lost for words and hurrying to get out of

becomes part of him or her, that is, a second

the situation, I simply blurted out, “Well, actions

nature. In simple words, we call a virtue a good

speak louder than words. I promise there will be

habit, as opposed to vice as a bad habit.

plenty of worthwhile and meaningful projects during my term as President of the Rotary Club of

A virtuous man will certainly be beneficial

Muntinlupa North. Thank you.”

to all and a project built upon virtues will definitely be both beneficial and sustainable.


The rest is history. I have since moved on. I


BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

words to say. You see, words do not come easily to

Cultivating a life of virtue is a life-long

me. When I am in front of people, all the thoughts


I planned on articulating depart from me.

whether we are young or old. As we learn to act in

And the best time to start is now—

accord with objective moral norms and the natural I eventually had to face my worst fears

law, we learn to live these virtues in a constant and

when I was elected to be the President of my club. I

stable way. And that marks the start of living what

knew that as president, I was trapped in a corner—

is highly-regarded as a virtuous life which

I would be falling into a pit that I always tried to

consequently builds up our character and lifestyle

avoid. This time, there was no escape route for me.

of goodness.

Want it or not, I had to speak before an audience. And so goes that my most unforgettable



night as club president was during my induction

After having taken a fresh look into the Four-Way

night, when the time came for me to deliver my

Test, a fresh look into our own lives is but the

message. To this day, I can still remember that

logical consequence. Only then can we truly make

fateful moment.

a fresh look into the way we run our clubs and why not, our families as well.

I walked slowly to the podium and faced the audience. Gosh … I felt as though my heart

The Four-Way Test as a code of ethics may

stopped beating! I paused, took a deep breath and

sound as a tall order for each one of us. But it will

closed my eyes tight. I gathered the courage I

not be so if we take it first upon ourselves as our

needed and opened my eyes.

personal ethical code of assessing the way we live and build our lives. And then we can look at the

In front of everybody, I managed to go through my opening greetings with nary a glitch.

way we build our families, clubs and the society we live in.

Then, I succeeded in delivering three to four




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

Just like acquiring virtues, measuring our lives according to the standard of the Four-Way Test is a lifelong process. We grow in our ethical or really say that we are sufficiently formed, because

When words aren’t your forte

formation—that effort to improve on a regular

Letecia C. Rellera

moral life as we go through life. We can never

basis through personal struggle and external help—never ends. We can liken our struggle to be virtuous and ethical to a man pushing a big rock on an inclined plane. If the man stops pushing and stops striving to take the rock to the top, the rock will roll down with him, or worse, on him! But if he does his best—even if it is just a slow process, which the Japanese call

 Just like acquiring virtues, measuring our lives according to the


sk me to cook, to bake, to sew or to clean and rearrange the house, I will gladly do it.

Cooking is no fuss, sewing relaxes me.

kaizen—as long as it is a steady climb, that man will

But public speaking, well that’s a different

succeed in attaining his

story. I loathe speaking in front of people. For me,

ultimate goal.

it is dreadful, downright nerve-wrecking, and fearintensive. Whenever I encounter a situation where

standard of the Four-

All these call for a

Way Test is a lifelong

personal commitment. We


can begin with one good

I will be called upon to speak, I always make an excuse to get out of it.


My fear of speaking does not result from

matter how insignificant.

shyness, but the fear that I will lack the proper






(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

BACK-TO-BASICS | A fresh look into the Four-Way Test

pronounced when one considers my lady-like

It is actually in our small, daily efforts to improve

nickname “Ces.”

that eventually will make us comfortable later on in making those big leaps to be better. Even if we are not able to organize big projects ourselves, all of us can contribute in his or her own little way in building our societies by taking care of the little things. I would like to end this chapter with some words of wisdom taken from a modern sage and saint, which I hope can start a spark inside you that will make you commit once and for all to live your life







consequently help build our society, no matter how small your contribution be: “Have you seen how that imposing building was






Thousands. But, one by one. And bags and bags of cement, one by one. And stone upon stone, each of them insignificant compared with the massive whole. And beams of steel, and men working, hour after hour, day after day … Did you see how that Ces, a lawyer, served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati McKinley for Rotary Year 2006-2007. This Samar native, who once aspired to become a medical doctor, is the eldest of eight children.

imposing building was constructed? … By dint of



little things!”



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

come I was well known and popular with the group. One GSE team member said, “It’s because he has this (pointing to my chin).” “Oh, a beard!” said my classmate. So




discovered—my beard, which I cut just once in two weeks.

 Sure, there are many handsome, articulate and smartlydressed Rotarians, old and young, but none of them possessed a beard 

When I looked around, I noticed several hairless Rotarians. But their big number makes their baldness less striking. Being bald, I guess, is not enough to get noticed and to leave a lasting impression on the Koreans. Sure, there are many handsome,




Rotarians, old and young, but none of them possessed a beard. Indeed, among the presidents of RI District 3830, I stood out as the only club president who sported a beard. The branding becomes even more


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Initially, the Koreans were not scheduled to


be with us during our Christmas party. A Korean Rotarian, who was supposed to accompany them to go to some places, cancelled their appointment on the last minute. Luckily, our party fitted their schedule. The Koreans were bustling from one location to another that they were left tired and worn out. This is why they only managed to spend two hours with

Service Above Self


Leading the Rotary Way

 My position as president of the club required me to meet all the people present in the party 

But those two hours were more than enough for me to register in their memories. In truth, I only got to talk to them for just a few minutes. Obviously,

my position


president of the club required me to meet all the people present in the party. I was not a GSE superstar or a district officer in charge of the Koreans. And like I said, I was not able to spend a good deal of time with them. A lady Lead President even questioned how




Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

members of the inbound Korea Group Study Exchange (GSE) in December 2006. Our fellow Rotarians were surprised when all six of the GSE team members approached me one by one and shook my hands like long lost friends. Aks Sebial, the Rotarian in charged of the Koreans, was trying to introduce me to each one of the team members. He was surprised to hear the Koreans’ common response, “Yes, yes … we know him.” I met those Koreans only once before the party, so imagine my own surprise. What was in me that made a lasting impression on them? You see, a week or two before the farewell party, those Koreans were with us during our Christmas Party at the Rotary Club Makati McKinley. The Koreans had a dizzying schedule with quite a number of clubs both in Makati and Metro South arranging activities for them to attend. These clubs played home-stay hosts, or day hosts for a myriad of activities and tours in and outside the district.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Leading the Rotary Way

The beard of fame Cesar R. Singzon


t all started with a donation to a poor preacher in Chicago. His horse had died and he could

not replace it. Because of this, he was unable to never considered myself famous.








parishioners. Moved by compassion, the founding I am not the type who stands out among

the crowd. People seem to not even recall my name

members of Rotary decided to give him another horse.

a few minutes after I am introduced to them. I am used to being just another normal face to new acquaintances.

That was in 1907. A century later, in our own times, the word Rotary has been made akin to ”service.” From that single donation to a poor

But on a party hosted by the Rotary Metro South clubs, it all changed.

preacher, literally thousands of projects—from poverty


programs, For one night, I had a sudden change of fate … of fame.








eradication of polio, and the like—have now been carried out throughout the world by Rotarians.

It all happened in a farewell party for the


Hardly would you find a Rotary Club in any


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

part of the world that is not doing any type of

attend the next meeting of the Rotary Club of

service to its community. In this chapter, we shall

Makati Dasmariñas.

deal with the ideal of service as seen by Rotary as an organization. From this, we shall discuss some

See you there!

principles that are needed to do effective, efficient and sustainable service to our fellow men and women. M AIN


Rotary’s motto, ”Service Above Self,” was coined in 1911, a year after the first ever convention of the National Association of Rotary Clubs in the United States. They culled it from among the phrases used by the speakers in the convention, among which were: Service, Not Self and He Profits Most Who Serves Best. These phrases speak of Rotary’s deepseated desire to render service in the workplace, communities and the entire

 It has since been the ”Object of the Rotary” to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise 

world. It has since been the ”Object of the Rotary” to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise, and in particular, to encourage and


Inky served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati Dasmariñas for Rotary Year 2006-2007. Aside from his stint in Rotary, he is also a Governor in the Philippine National Red Cross.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

I looked at her sincerely in the eye and said,

Leading the Rotary Way

foster the following four aspects of service:

“Would you like to have it? I’d be more than willing to cede the prize to you!” With a big smile, Lulu gratefully accepted my offer, and hastily wrested the piece of paper with the black star from my fingers. Then, as sincerely as she was unaware of her fate, she looked at me and said, “You ’re such a nice guy for giving up your raffle prize for my sake.” (If you were Filipino,







conversation went as we were speaking in our native tongue.) Well, you should have seen her face when she found out what owning that piece of paper meant. When Rey called her to come to the front and bare her innermost secrets to the other members, she protested that the piece of paper actually belonged to me. Naturally, I denied her allegations. The rest is history. Lulu went up to the front of the room, and boldly answered all our questions. Now we know that … well, whatever it is we know, that’s for you to find out when you


First, the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service; second, high ethical standards in business and professions, the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations, and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society; third, the application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business and community life; and fourth, the advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service. From these four aspects of service arose Rotary’s philosophical cornerstone named as the Four Avenues of Service: Club service which focuses on strengthening fellowship and ensuring the effective functioning of the club; vocational service which encourages Rotarians to serve



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

others through their vocations and to practice high ethical standards; community service which covers the projects and activities the club undertakes to improve life in its community; and international service which encompasses actions taken to expand Rotary’s humanitarian reach around the globe and to promote world understanding and peace.


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

announced that an empty water glass containing pieces of paper would be passed around. The Rotarian who picked the one with a big black star drawn from it would be required to sit in a chair in front of the room and answer, as sincerely as possible, all questions posed to him/her, be they professional, personal, or super personal. When





guidelines, our dear Lulu was busy exchanging T HE


banter and the latest news in Metro Manila with

We could say that the aforementioned object and

the Rotarian seated next to her. She was totally

avenues of service are its ”technicalities.” But what

oblivious to the game mechanics, and the possible

is more crucial is each Rotarian’s conviction to

compromising situation the hapless owner of the

serve, based more or less on one’s understanding of

piece of paper with the black star would find

the true meaning of service.

himself or herself in.

 ... man is a gift—that his perfection consists in giving himself as a gift to another 

The great Pope John Paul II





Alas, I drew the piece of

Christians and non-Christians

paper with the black star.

alike used to say that man is a



seated next to me, noticed



The lots were drawn.





consists in giving him/herself as


a gift to another. Although the

unwanted piece of paper. She

ultimate expression of man’s

told me, "You’re so lucky to

perfection as a gift is when he/

have won the raffle prize!”







 I had drawn that unwanted piece of paper. She told me, "You’re so lucky to have won the raffle prize!” 

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Leading the Rotary Way

she offers his/her entire life to the Creator, his/her service





contributes to this perfection.

It pays to listen Rodolfo O. Reyes


And since the

perfection of man is intrinsically linked to his/her true happiness, only in this way—when man or woman gives himself or herself as a gift—can he she be truly happy. We express this ”self-giving” in a very concrete way in those acts of service we do at home to our family, in our work environment to our


colleagues, in our day-to-day life to those people t could never have happened to a more

we meet every day, and of course, in the social


outreach programs that we carry out in our





Rotarian. But it did—to a Charter Member of our

Is it not our personal experience to feel very

Club at that. Because she was not listening to the

happy everytime we see the smiles in the faces of

Rotarian speaking at the rostrum, Community

the people we serve? Are we then not moved to

Service Director Lulu Virata-Jorge paid a dear price.

forget all the arduous preparations we had to make? Moreover, doesn’t this inspire us to move on

Part of our program during our Club

with our next outreach project?

Assemblies is the “Hors d’oeuvres” where we entertain members and guests through parlor


games. That fateful day (for Ms. Lulu), President-

But how if people to whom we do service to do not

Nominee Rey Madrid was the game master. He

seem to appreciate our work and all the sacrifices





(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

we had to go through? And worse, how if they


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

Our club also conducts medical missions in the village three times a year. We also bought

misjudge our service as a propaganda?

sewing machines and trained the people to use We could say that only when these things happen in one’s effort to serve the others does

them. This helped them acquire additional income for their families.

one’s conviction to serve is proven authentic. All these projects in what used to be an This is where real charity—an essential part

unknown village fascinates me until now!

of service—comes to the fore. We are lucky to have in our times a person who has exemplified this type of service up to its deepest consequences and who should thereby inspire us to persevere in our efforts to serve the others, even those who may not be able to thank us: Mother Teresa of Calcutta, now named a Blessed. Blessed Mother Teresa once said that she has found a paradox: that if you love until it hurts, there will be no more hurt, only more love. We can develop practical lessons applicable to our clubs from this apparently

 ... if you love until it hurts, there will be no more hurt, only more love 

spiritual consideration. Love is true when it is continually not





Mel served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati Urdaneta for two years.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

It also made the parents more involved in their

adverse moments.

children's education. They used just to send off

example, the love of a

their children to school. Now they would even take

husband for his wife is

turns with the teachers in watching over the

tested when they are not


in good terms and when

Leading the Rotary Way


in these moments, they Also, the surrounding area's appearance improved

promise they made in

completed. Dilapidated buildings were repaired,

marriage to stay together

and even the residents nearby attempted to

through thick or thin, in health or sickness, for

improve the appearance of their homes. The well-

better or worse, until death parts their ways.





we stand above all these apparent difficulties will we understand what true service is all about 




continue to affirm the

 It is only when




instrumental in raising the standard of beauty and order in the community.

We can apply the same thing in carrying out our social projects. Sometimes perhaps we do not feel like doing them anymore because of the

Once, my husband and I donated a large world map to the school.

effort involved, the difficulties of soliciting funds,

It was so big that it

the apparent ingratitude of the people, or any other

covered one side of a classroom's wall. People say

hurdle that may arise. But it is only when we stand

that little San Isidro is the only nook in Rosario

above all these apparent—yes, I place emphasis on

that has one of these. Some would even take it

the word apparent—difficulties will we understand

further, saying that no map this vast can be found

what true service is all about.

in all of Batangas! The sustainability of a social outreach I recall that story with deep joy, because it

project or any humanitarian project for that matter

is indicative that San Isidro's people began to have

depends not so much on the availability of material

more sense of worth.

resources but on the spirit of the people behind the




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

project. That is like paraphrasing what a sage and

those days, books were things of

a saint used to say—that projects fail not so much

luxury. We did not even know

because of a lack of money but rather because of a

what a dictionary was!

lack of spirit. But San Isidro did not It is in the spirit of love and sacrifice—

stay that way for long.

touchstones of true service—can we persevere in doing these good works. We can then affirm that

One of our projects was

we should not allow difficulties, opposition and

the construction of a library for

ingratitude to dampen our willingness to serve. In




Elementary School. At least once

intention. It is only then can we truly say from the

a year, our club would visit the

bottom of our hearts that we are here to serve, as

place and bring new sets of

our motto says, above self!











 … in order to have something to read for an assignment given in school, my classmates and I would gather pieces of newspaper used to wrap tuyo (dried fish) 

Before refurbishing the library, we also provided amenities for the school's playground.

We were told that children would

often stay late in school to play, but now they stay late to consume book after book! The library also catalyzed unexpected changes in the town. For one, it bonded the community more, as the village folks themselves constructed the library.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

CHAPTER 3 San Isidro gem Mel Gimmi


Driving the wheel: t was back in 2004 when Marycris Oplas, my Immediate Past President, went looking for a

place to conduct our literacy, health and livelihood projects. I proposed at once my hometown, San Isidro. San Isidro is a small farming village in the municipality of Rosario, Batangas. It is poor and primitive in many ways. Back in the day, in order to have something to read for an assignment given in school, my classmates and I would gather pieces of newspaper used to wrap tuyo (dried fish). During


Musings in the life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

accommodate you. Don’t worry about it!” At the end of my term, I learned that more than anything else, there are hundreds of ways to serve our less-privileged countrymen. Similarly, there are equal number of ways to have fun while doing so. Sometimes,





unpleasant instances in the club, just like what would normally erupt in any organization or even household. But overall, I can say that the Rotary is one big happy family that I’m extremely proud to be part of.

Nonoy served as President of the Rotary Club of TaguigFort Bonifacio for Rotary Year 2006-2007. He does business development and advocacy work.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

In the district’s post-Valentine party sponsored by six clubs, I was asked to be the male emcee. This would be my second experience (after several years) to host a big party. I can live off on spontaneity and very little planning, so I gladly said “Yes, agree, olrayt!” On the night of the party, I realized that my role as emcee did not just entail spicing up the program with surprises and wacky punch lines. I


hat does it take to be a Rotarian?

also had to be ready to accommodate the

As the chapter title suggests, we are going

spontaneous requests and announcements from

to look into the life of a Rotarian and discover how






each one ponders upon his/her vocation— a word



that is commonly used in Rotary’s official website

classmates, the presidents of the

to describe the “calling” to be part of the Rotary

sponsoring Rotary Clubs.

and to live up to its principles.



 There are hundreds of ways to serve our lessprivileged countrymen. Similarly, there are equal number of ways to have fun while doing so 

the in

heads this

I thought to myself that

What is evident among the stories in this

one didn’t need Einstein’s brain

chapter is the idea of service being at the core of

or Mother Teresa’s heart to

the Rotary. One can not be said to be truly a

discern whether a request should

Rotarian unless he/she has served, whether as an

be accommodated or not. Even if

organizer or a participant, in any of the Rotary’s

this meant a possible extension

community service projects. Be it a medical

in the program, I told all those

mission, a fund raising event, a school construction

who requested, “Heck, sure, I’ll





somewhere out there has probably done it.





(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

And for good reasons. As one president


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

happy speaker … so this meeting is adjourned!”

would share, service is Rotary’s own way of deepening

the bond that exists among its

In our Yahoo! Group for all club presidents

members. It is an opportunity to meet like-minded


individuals, who don’t mind giving up a portion of

communication with my fellow presidents or my

their time, effort and resources to promote projects

“classmates.” Many of them really put a lot of effort

meant to uplift other people’s lives. Rotary, after

and dedication in their club projects, including

all, cannot be a club for its own sake. It must be a

joint ones with the district leadership or with other

club in the service of others.







We have expounded on the idea of service

Such dedication, warmth and sense of

in Chapter 2. Service, however, is better done than

humor deserve praises. In my case, I exaggerate my

said. Rotarians are all too aware of this. In this

way of praising them. For instance, instead of just

chapter, you will read some first-hand stories that

saying, “It was a fun-filled induction (or charter

may hopefully move you to do your part in

anniversary) party,” I’d write in my weekly

rendering service to others.

message, “It was a slam-dunkin-swayin-rockin-nrollin-evenin’ held by the club!”

Who knows how much the Rotary has done for the community? The smile on the lips, the

A number of my classmates and district

twinkle in the eyes, the tears on the cheeks, the joy

officers told me that they enjoyed reading my

in the hearts of those whose lives Rotarians have

postings, and they really flatter me! Well, these


guys are industrious, and I can only attempt to






volumes about just how much change a civic

level their efforts by being a hardworking writer!

organization can do. Being with the Rotary Club also helped me In this chapter, you will also find out how


to hone and showcase any talent that I have in me.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

some Rotarians discovered what it means to be one— sometimes the hard way! It will come as no surprise that quite a number of them, business and

From meetings to projects to parties—Rotary is lots of fun Bienvenido S. Oplas, Jr.

civic leaders at that, shy away from the presidency for various reasons. But for every nominee who declines, a brave soul steps forward and takes the cudgels for the club. A difficult task is what he/she will find, but one that is nevertheless enriching and fulfilling. In return, whether they are discovering


their vocation as Rotarians or are busy helping others, it is their lives that are changed—hopefully come from a small club that relatively does not

forever! The symbol of the Rotary being a wheel,

have much projects. However, this does not

stories on this chapter makes one realize how it

stop us in any way from turning our weekly

means to drive that wheel.

meetings into lively occasions. Let us now take a peek into the life of a For instance, whenever we had a joint


meeting with other clubs in the District, I opened the meeting by saying, “On behalf of my club and of our happiness, I call this meeting to order.” Or if we have a speaker, I would close the meeting by saying, “I am happy, you are happy, everybody is happy listening to the ideas of our





Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

And it's for the curious, the doubtful, and the indifferent to discover.

Rhoda served as Assistant Governor for service projects for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She was barely in her thirties when she was elected president of Rotary Club Makati Dasmari単as (1999-2000), becoming the youngest president in the district then.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

In retrospect, however,

 The fun is in the fact that after immeasurable amounts of sacrifice … there we were, celebrating service and friendship 

the fun was not really in the parties themselves or



First and last impressions

Rather, it was in the fact that as

Ignacio Pablo



we were enjoying the company of friends, we had, first and foremost, privileged






touching and improving their lives through our projects.









immeasurable amounts of sacrifice—be it time, effort, or money—there we were, celebrating service and friendship.


t was a story of first impressions that never lasted. In some odd way, I initially thought the

Rotary Club to be elitist, exclusive and eccentric. I

Today's young generation may perhaps view the Rotary as I did many years back. Two things are true, though. One: then and now, the Rotary Club enriches lives, both to those of the club members and the beneficiaries. And two: there is fun in the Rotary.


thought it was nothing but a group of people sharing stories and hearty chuckles over expensive cocktails in luxury hotels. I was held back by the impression and was reluctant to the invitation of my boss way back then. But after some more prodding, I indulged anyway, figuring it was the only way I would be able to confirm my thoughts. And I realized I was wrong.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

memory. It was there when some of our male Instead of being in the middle of useless

colleagues did the limbo rock, clad in their floral

chatter that I had rashly expected, I found myself

shirts and white pants, singing an old Davey

in a discussion of social projects instead. A feeding

Crocket song off-key. Everybody just went gaga

program for a community in Pateros was the object

over them.

of the discussion and, upon learning that I was into nutrition, they asked me if I could be of help.

There was also a parody of the then popular gag show segment Ang Dating Doon. With three of

I saw it was a noble cause and decided to

my fellow presidents acting as Brod Pete, Brod

say a quick yes. That yes led to another yes and

Basa, and Brod Tulog, everybody just died laughing

another yes and another yes. Soon, I decided to

at their witty question-and-answer portion, which

dedicate myself to the organization.

was mostly impromptu.

I soon led the setting up of a soup kitchen

Meanwhile, the girls, including me, just

for preschoolers, and, with my background, I led

opted to dance the Macarena on that night of

the project with a multidisciplinary approach.

cultural presentations. Had we recorded the program on video, it would have become an object

Small though our project was at first, our

for blackmail!

catchphrase was something more universal: “Feed the






And then came those somewhat indulgent

organizations believed in our aim to look after the

nights of inductions and conferences. Apparently,

health of schoolchildren and gave us funds to

the Rotary wasn't the killjoy organization I once

realize our goals.

had in my mind!

Aside from the feeding program, we formed

I’m actually having fun, I thought.

a Nutrition Information program to educate the



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

year 1999—I was inducted president of RC Makati

mothers of the school children we fed. We also had

Dasmariñas. My batch of presidents had a moniker

food production lessons and livelihood projects for

for us—“The Millennium Presidents or Mill P's"—

the families.

which gave us some kind of prestige unique among presidents the Rotary will ever have. Unique as we

We knew that a project should be

were, I believe we were a batch to remember as a

sustained, and this could be done by helping others

circle of friends one would find difficult to forget.

help themselves. We knew we had to go beyond giving our beneficiaries what they needed; we knew

It was during our Presidents-Elect Training Seminar (PETS) when I first met the 57 new

we had to provide them technical know-how to carry on with what we have given them.

additions to my treasure chest of pals and gals. Boy, did we have fun!

That project began a series of initiatives that sought to aid the poor in our communities:

At first, however, we were all so stiff and

teaching them to raise ducks, reaching out to Mt.

conscious, trying to feel our way amongst one

Pinatubo victims, ensuring ample water supply to

other. During the lectures, everyone was attentive

certain barangays.

and generally quiet. Some even took the effort of jotting down notes. Never did it occur to me that

In each of these projects,

this group of executives and professionals would

there had been doubts at the

 We came to

soon morph into a boisterous batch of club

back of our minds as to whether

presidents, the bane of any District Governor!

or not we could pull it off. But

Which was what exactly happened.

thanks to the Rotary Foundation

realize that money would never be a problem for noble goals and unselfish dreams 






In one of our official outings, we unleashed

supported it, we came to realize

a series of wacky events all for the sake of Rotary's

that money would never be a

spirit of fellowship. They are still fresh in my

problem for noble goals and



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

And the carefree girl that I was, it did feel

unselfish dreams.

nice inside to be able to alleviate some people's Still, it was not an easy path that we had to


tread. To achieve our goals of serving communities, we sacrificed time and capitalized on optimism and

As the years passed by, it was like that. My

our passion to help others. All this paid off, of

dad was active in Rotary projects, I in my studies.

course, just with all the grateful smiles we always

Then I moved to the States to work on my master's

saw in the faces of the people we have touched in


our own simple way. It was all rewarding. After several strenuously wonderful years Now, we are concentrating our efforts in

there, I came back to the Philippines. And guess

ensuring the continuity of the projects we have

what my father gave me as a welcome-home-hija

started, optimizing all the available resources and

gift—a proposal for me to join the Rotary!

training new leaders who can take over what we have begun—leaders who have compassion for

I was taken aback.

others, who think beyond themselves and believe in the nobility of losing oneself in the service of others.

Me, joining the Rotary? But, goodness gracious, it's for old people!

From my bad impressions that lasted so

After a period of hesitation, eventually I did

soon, it’s now a story of us trying to leave behind

join, but with flawed conviction. Little did I know

lasting good impressions in the name of service.

what marvelous surprises I would encounter there and how many myths about the Club I would soon

Nash served as District Committee Chairman of The Rotary Foundation for Rotary Year 2006-2007.

shatter. At the dawn of the third millennium—the




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

True rewards

Rotary is for oldies?

Doris E. Yu

Ma. Rhodora R. Salas









teenager—I would not associate the word


uring my term, I learned that for a person to be fully Rotarized, he or she has to be

“fun” with the boring noun that is spelled as “R-O-

President. Being the captain of the ship, I was able


to experience the wonderful world of service and fellowship.

No. Never. Fulfillment of having it done is just but a Well, perhaps it was fun for my dad and his

portion of the story. The true reward of service

fellow Rotarian friends (many of them I called

came with meeting the people I had the privilege of

"Tito"). I can still remember going out with them to


do community service projects like dental and for

One project closest to my heart was "Every

handicapped people—practically stuff generous old

Child, A Reader," a reading and feeding program

people do.

we did for an hour and a half every Saturday for six







(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

months. We had momentous times like when a



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

This question caught his

child would show progress, and depressing times



when we could not convince the parents to bring

unblinking eyes on me for 5.8

their child to the program.

seconds. Then he said, “I am the President One incident I will

 When we asked him why he was not eating, he said he was saving it for his family 







never forget for the rest of my life was when one particular child was not eating

My blood froze; I could barely breathe.

his food. When we asked him why he was not eating,

 How dare of me to forget that I could be rubbing elbows with… presidents or CEOs of large companies in Rotary activities 

How dare of me to forget

he said he was saving it for

that I could be rubbing elbows or sharing drinks

his family.

with or asking stupid questions to presidents or CEOs of large companies in Rotary activities!

My heart suddenly sank. Fortunately,




I could not help but think that it is in times

beautiful Teresita Sanchez of RC Makati Uptown,

like these when we should reflect on our personal

butted in and asked a question. I was immediately

issues to see just how small they are compared to

kicked out of the hot seat, thank God.

the issues being faced by other people in society. I was saved by the belle. It is also in times like these when I feel grateful for the opportunities that I have. That incident truly made me take another look at my life. It made me realize how much more I should help people like that child, and how I should stop com-


Julie served as President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She owns a catering business.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

presidents-elect were to have a meeting. Most of

plaining about problems in my life. After that ex-

my colleagues were already there when I arrived,

perience, I just had to be thankful for everything

chatting and bustling through tables and against

that I have.

each other. Soon someone directed me to the table where seated was a group of elected presidents

At the end of my term, my gratitude goes

from Makati. They were already talking to one

out to the people behind my being a Rotarian and

another like old friends.

President. Thank you for allowing me to have, not just the experience, but the realization of a lifetime.

I sat and began feeling rather out of place. Something urged me, however, to break the ice and talk to my seatmate, but I was at a loss for clues on how to start. Then I just went for it—I asked for his name and the club he represents. “Conrad Marty,” he said, “RC Makati.” I asked him what business he was involved in, and he quickly replied he was into “selling cars.” Meanwhile, the conversation around the table continued. I, however, was busy pondering what more I could say to that handsome salesman. So I asked again. “So, Conrad, aside from selling cars, what

Doris served as President of the Rotary Club Parañaque Southwest for Rotary Year 2006-2007.

do you do?”



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


The Reluctant President


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

The million-dollar question

Edwin Afzelius

Julie R. Rabe


t was a Thursday evening in July 1985 when a friend introduced me to the Rotary Club of Las

PiĂąas. Being a new resident of the city, I was in search for friends and a group to belong to. The Rotary, I saw, could provide me exactly that. Besides, doing community service has always been part of my life, even during my youth. It turned out that the Rotary would give me more than a sense of belonging: now I have a large circle of friends and have acquired invaluable lessons on life and leadership that I would never trade for anything.


aving just been elected president of my club, I had been feeling nervous and a bit

insecure about my leadership skills, especially that induction night was coming in fast. But thanks to the Presidents-Elect Training Seminar (PETS) during the summer of 2006, I soon became confident and quite sure of my plans for our club. But this was not after experiencing my life’s most embarrassing moment there. The April heat was negligible inside the room at the Makati Sports Club where we



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

became my inspiration in trying to propel my club

The years since I joined the Rotary gave me

to glory. It was little wonder that soon our club

opportunities to serve the club in different ways.

harvested eight district awards.

First, I assumed simple club assignments such as committee

Certainly, with a “locked in” commitment of the president and the support of the club





directorships, then the office of the club secretary for three straight years.

members, success is a piece of cake with a cherry Then the earth shook. I was elected

on top.

President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas in 1994. Faced with a club with only five (out of 20) members attending regular meetings, I was adamant in refusing to take the presidency. Club membership and attendance were awfully poor. I hesitated for the longest time, until the insistent prodding of Past District Governor Willy Segovia finally pushed me to take up the challenge and commit myself to reviving the club. I surmised that to put back life to the club, I knew I

 Change had

had to invest on my members,

to start from within 

especially Cora served as President of the Rotary Club of Parañaque Lakambini for Rotary Year 2004-2005. She is

an avid golfer and a watercolor painter.





Change had to start from within. Thus, with the handful of men that I had, I began to reinvent the club, partly by putting on


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

new people into the core group. I outlined to them

unwelcome burden for me.

the principles to which my administration would

Rather, it was my sweet

adhere: sincerity, transparency, dedication.

yoke, having to lead and serve my club, not so much

Soon enough, we began to see our phoenix

for our own good but for

of a club rise from its ashes. Membership began to


grow. First, we brought in our friends, most of


whom were business people. Then, these friends








 Certainly, with a “locked in” commitment ... success is a piece of cake with a cherry on top 

brought in their friends. The increase was almost exponential!

Being elected president was like being “locked in” because no matter what you do, you

Now the big challenge was how to keep the

just can’t get away from your duties and

members at it, how to keep their zeal to serve ever

responsibilities; otherwise your club dies, dishonor

ablaze. So we banked in on activities that fostered

haunts you, and other people suffer.

fellowship and genuine service to the youth and the poor. We strove to make everyone happy being a Rotarian.

My members who helped me “escape” also proved that members’ support for the president is crucial in running an effective club. My members’

Indeed, all these instances made the club take flight again, but not without costing us huge

summons for repairs people that night still resound in my head.

personal sacrifices. Do anything to break that door. Our Then, after my term as president of RC Las Piñas, I was assigned to several district-wide

president is locked in, and we can’t start anything without her!

positions throughout the rest of the '90s and the early 2000s. Those were tiring years.


Indeed, throughout my term, that incident



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

familiar voice, probably to a utility man. “Our

So when I moved to Alabang and joined the

president is locked in, and we can’t start anything

Rotary Club there, I thought it was finally time for

without her! Cora, don’t worry, we’ll get you out of

me to rest and cherish my family and friends 100


percent. I was wrong. Little did I know that this new club would again catapult me to the “Yes, thank you.”


Despite our helplessness, my hairdresser

This definitely gave me the chills, as I was

and I just stayed calm. Noticing my hairdresser’s

basically a new member and the legacy of its past

harassed look, however, I knew I was calmer than

presidents was rather demanding. How was a

he was. At the same time, I was beginning to

newcomer to lead such an already-prestigious

realize things.

club? Besides, assuming such a position was already the least of my priorities.

Meanwhile, the hubbub outside continued. I could hear my members asking the building’s

Yet again, after some coaxing from my

repairs personnel to destroy the lock at all cost. But

friends, I eventually took on the now-familiar yet

30 long minutes still had to pass before the lock

essentially different challenge.

was finally extricated.


I got out, I

immediately joined my members at the crowded

Before long we were already doing several

hall amid music and food, as if nothing happened.

projects, the flagship of which is the support we

Then the program started.

extended to the Tuloy sa Don Bosco Street Children Center under the care of the Tuloy Foundation.







Founded in 1993 by Fr. Rocky Evangelista, Tuloy

symbolized the absolute commitment demanded

houses hundreds of children aged 9-18 at a

on me as club president. That—for lack of a better

compound just across Alabang Town Center. Here

term—“imprisonment,” however, was in no way an

children are fed, clothed, sheltered, and educated,




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

preparing them to enter mainstream society

something wrong with its lock. We shouldn’t close

equipped with technical skills and sound values.

it; otherwise we might not be able to open it again, as it didn’t have keys.

Now, as I end my term in July, I look back Then one of my club members came in.

to a year full of discovery, joys, and pains. It has been worthwhile. Aside from family and friends, now I have Tuloy, a piece of heaven for street

“The governor is here!” she announced

children on earth. Retiring from the presidency, I

excitedly. “How much time do you need to be

plan to make Tuloy known abroad, primarily


through Rotary International, so more donations “Um, a few minutes,” I replied. “Oh, and

would pour in. We just can’t keep the Tuloy

please leave the door ajar; something’s wrong with

“magic” a secret!

it.” Twice have I hesitated to become club president and twice have I taken on the challenge

But, preoccupied with all the induction

armed only with a desire to serve. Thanks in most

jitters and excitement, she hurried out the door

part to generous and committed colleagues, the


clubs I headed (which I initially refused) came out


garnering many awards—credible proof of having served hundreds of people, making profound

door was shut, and now we were locked in!

changes in their lives.

 By having less, we ended up having more 

I gasped; my hairdresser screamed. The




Rotarians and I ended up with

I heard my members panicking outside. Some of them sounded hysterical.

less money, energy, and time for rest after carrying out all


“Do anything to break that door,” said a


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

those projects. But by having less, we ended up having more—friends, generosity, and shining

Open sesame!

legacies for generations to come.

Corazon E. Tan


LAM. Gasp. Scream. The thing I dreaded happened.

It was the night of my induction as president of the Rotary Club of Parañaque Lakambini. Fixing me up for the annual gala at one of Manila’s grandest halls, my hairdresser-cummakeup artist was carefully daubing rouge on my cheeks, making sure his mistress comes out as the night’s Helen of Troy. My mind, meanwhile, was on a totally different thing: the dressing room’s door. We were warned a few minutes ago that there was

Edwin served as President of The Rotary Club of Alabang for Rotary Year 2006-2007. He has been named Most Outstanding Club President.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

and fellowship. These folks will always be in my heart, for it is with them that I took my first steps into the world of Rotary.

Worth the sacrifice Noe B. Indonto


oining organizations was not new to me. I was active in different organizations even

during my teens. I also led a large organization called the Kabataang Barangay in my home city of Oroquieta. Even after my college days, I was active in other civic and community organizations. All of these experiences combined served as a very good baptism of fire in instilling the leadership qualities that I needed in a big position that I took on later in life. There is this innate character in me to


Rose served as President of the Rotary Club Makati Legaspi for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She plays the piano well, and cooks just as wonderfully.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

were not enough to carry it.



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

The people were

easily get involved in a group. So much so that

asked to line up, and as expected, some people fell

when a Rotarian business partner, Francis de

in line again after consuming their share. It didn’t

Guzman, invited me to join the Rotary Club of Las

matter much in the end though—it was a fiesta for

Piñas Camino Real, I did not hesitate to attend the

the whole barangay, and everyone was happy.


I’ve returned to Tuhian twice since then,

During that time, I had stopped becoming

but this time as President of the group that once

active in other organizations because of the

upon a time allowed me to tag along as a guest.

business problems experienced by our real estate company, Oroquieta Properties, during the Asian

Working with the Rotarians shattered my encompassing preconceptions about the club. Surely it deserves some flak at times, but Rotary, as I found out, is service at its best. As I led in the distribution of wheelchairs, the turning over of a new water well and a laundry facility, the inauguration of a hardwood seedling bank and the delivery of the first batch of books for the library for Tuhian Elementary School, every smile and every pat on the shoulder seemed to affirm that bond that has developed between myself and the people of Tuhian. Every trip back to Tuhian is a homecoming, a tribute to the sealing of a partnership with service


Financial Crisis. But my innate desire was too strong for me to resist the Rotary. Before long, I was already being inducted as our club’s 7th President! My election as President came as a surprise to me. I never saw it coming. I had only been with the club for less than a year at that time and so I felt that I was not qualified. I was also unprepared financially. I knew that my company’s unstable financial condition needed my full attention. But yet again, my personal instinct and my desire to be of service to others prevailed over my personal worries. I



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

I was up and running by 4:00 a.m. the next

accepted the position even with very limited

day, and I was able to watch the first batches of

personal resources.

people trickle into the site by 5:30. The first Despite the challenges that I had to face that time, it proved to be one of the best decisions I

patients were attended to half an hour later, and everything ran smoothly.

ever made in my life Being

 I learned … that as a Rotarian you should be willing to share your three T’s: time, talent and treasure 



Rotary teaches you a lot of things. On my part, I learned during the President Elect Training Seminar (PETS), an activity that prepares the future Rotary Club President for his job, that as a Rotarian

you should be willing to share your three T’s: time,

Things got more interesting as noon approached, with military vehicles bringing in more people to the site. I watched as little kids lined up to wait for their turn at the dentist’s chair, poker-faced, without worries. I contrasted this with memories of bribing my sons with ice cream just to make them undergo a simple prophylaxis. And here, these little kids open their mouths wide when they’re told to, awing me with their deportment.

talent and treasure. The

As the ranks of people in the site did not

instability of my business restricted

me from giving it all to the club. Nevertheless, my acceptance of the club’s presidency was anchored with the hope that, prior to assuming the position, my business would fully recover and be financiallysound again—-and it did. But I was still worried, knowing that my time, talent and treasure would be divided between the business and my club.


appear to thin out, what was scheduled to be a half-day affair loomed longer. Soon it became clear that I would have to prepare something for the people as well. I cooked such an amount of pancit




noodle dish) that five men


 Working with the Rotarians shattered my encompassing preconceptions about the club 

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

It was, after all, my friend’s birthday celebration, and we arrived a day early just for the occasion.



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

One of the most important lessons that I learned was that as the club’s president, I had to deal not only with my own problems but the club

Among Catanauan’s charms are its beaches,

members' as well.

and the medical mission camp was set near an especially pristine one in a Rotarian’s house in

In one instance, during a campaign for the

Barangay Tuhian. This barangay, for some reason,

members' perfect attendance to club meetings, a

did not enjoy the same advancements that the

Rotarian told me, “I am very sorry Mr. President. I

neighboring towns enjoyed. No signal reached our

cannot attend the meetings and the other activities

mobile phones. There was a dearth of potable

of the club anymore because I have problems with

water. Tuhian did have a well, but it was green with

my business.”

mosses and neglect. I asked him the extent of his problem and My pampered years in Manila made me

learned that his was just minuscule compared to

hesitant to dip my hands into the water, and the

mine. There were 29 members at that time and I

sight of carabaos contentedly basking in water

was not willing to lose any of them. That is why I

pools by the well did not help my imagination.

did not hesitate to reveal to him my personal problems with my business. Upon hearing it, he

Tuhian was also desolate in some places,

was taken aback.

such that distances signified by a local’s "diyan lang" (lit. just over there, i.e., it’s near) took twenty

I also gave him advice, telling him that the

minutes to cover. Dirt paths led to other dirt paths.

Rotary experience can aid him in finding solutions

I was thankful we were able to purchase everything

to his business problems. After that, he attended all

we needed in Manila, as there were no grocery

the meetings of the club.

stores nearby. Being with Rotary, I realized that having



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

 I believe it is far better to give and help when you have little because this shows true sacrifice 



Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

limited resources is not a



hindrance to helping people.

necessities like alcohol, cotton and drinking water.

I find it amusing sometimes.

I thought that the slippers were for us, and I

I've heard some Rotarians


say that one must have a lot

delegation members were already asked to bring

in order for him to give and

their own. She explained that the slippers were to


be given to the people. It was my first glimpse into










what we will find in Catanauan, that little But I believe it is far

better to give and help when you have little

municipality which would be the site of our mission.

because this shows true sacrifice. Sacrifice, for me, The day finally came when we left for

is the essence of service.

Catanauan. I fetched the military doctors from There were times during my term when I

Camp Aguinaldo at two in the morning, and a

had to sacrifice a part of the family budget in order

couple of hours later we transferred to a bus and

to give something to the ones in need. My four kids

went on our way. The delegation was rather large,

sometimes had to make do with their small

with Rotarians, doctors, dentists, and media men

allowances because I had to pay the dues of the

numbering about fifty in all.

club. There was even one family vacation that had to be postponed because a large amount was needed as contribution for a project.

I only had an idea of how far-flung Catanauan was after we passed by Lucena—where we entered stretches of unpaved roads rumored to

All these I did because of my belief in the Rotary motto of “service above self.”

be within NPA (New People’s Army) strongholds. We had few reasons to grumble, though, as the seemingly endless journey through ramshackle

It is quite heartening to see in the eyes of


roads finally led us to a welcome fiesta at the end.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

participate in a Rotary-organized medical mission

the people that we meet their realization that all is

in Quezon.

not hopeless, that there are still people who are willing to help them.

 I was

It happened back in

surprised when she told me that she will be celebrating her birthday during the medical mission! 

2002, when I was not yet a

This is the case with a community, whose

member of the club. I had

families are mostly informal settlers, that the Club

my own notions of the

adopted in Pilar, Las Piñas. We helped the

Rotary as a group of elitists

residents to put up their own cooperative by giving

who would not dare roll up

them funds to start a micro-financing endeavour.


We also tried to give them livelihood programs by




fingernails get dirty.

providing them skills training in making bags and operating a bakery.

On a personal note, I knew how much my friend was fond of throwing parties in upscale

Despite everything that I had to go

establishments. And so I was surprised when she







told me that she will be celebrating her birthday

fulfillment that I felt when I was serving others.


during the medical mission! I was resolved to decline the offer, until she assigned me to oversee

It was all worth the sacrifice.

the food preparation. The chance to feed a mission’s workforce was something I just could not refuse, and so I became a volunteer cook! A few days before we left for Quezon, my friend asked me to accompany her to go shopping for supplies that would be needed for the mission. I was a bit surprised to find ourselves hauling bags of


Nonoy served as President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas-Camino Real for Rotary Year 2006-2007. He lives with his wife Cherry and their four children, the youngest two of which are twins.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

Unusual birthday party

Little things, big discoveries

Ma. Rosario Acoba

Bernardita B. Rivadeneira


y Rotary story goes back to my high school days, when I became a part of


rowing up in the neighborhood of the nation’s most active volcano and the

Interact, a Rotary initiative for young students.

many nefarious storms that blast Albay annually

Eventually, I took part in the activities of Rotaract

accustomed me to the difficulties of assisting in

during college. Later on, I became the director of

relief operations.

these clubs for eight years. Aiding people in need, I learned, involved Rotary Osaka generously granted me a

sweat, toil and soreness of limb. All those summer

scholarship, which enabled me to study high

camps and outreaches I went to as a young lady

school and college. After I finished my degree and

made it clear to me that these undertakings spared

received my diploma, I worked as a telephone

no room for glittery things.

operator, earning 1,800 pesos a month. I wanted to join the Rotary that time, but felt like I won’t be able








This mindset probably explains my initial misgivings upon being invited by a friend to


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

development of acquaintances that bestows endless



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

organization’s projects.

opportunities for service. When I acquired the position of Manager in Because in the end, really, there are no losers.

2000, I decided to join. In the next five years, I was tasked to assume several positions in the club. And

Everyone who participated, everyone who exerted an effort, everyone who ran the race—they all came out of the marathon that is the Rotary with a brand new perspective in life: that service is not just about helping others in their material needs.

in the Rotary’s LEAD year, I became the President of my district. When I was elected as President, I had a lot of doubts and worries. I wondered if I was really ready to take on such a big responsibility. You see, the year before I became President was the year our

It is also about giving yourself: to be able to laugh with your peers, to be able to positively exchange anecdotes of joy, to be able to appreciate the color and diversity of the quirks and uniqueness of the people in your group. Rotary enables you to learn to be happy

club experienced turmoil. It was truly a big test—our club was on the brink of dissolving as members either left or were preparing to leave due to reasons I will no longer discuss. Also, I started my term five months earlier than scheduled, and this was very, very demanding.

with the simple joys in life. I inherited a bank account without money, In Chapter 3, we tackled some of the

plus a list of "payables." The club literally did not

discoveries of Rotarians on how it means to live up

have anything—we neither had bond paper to use,

to the demands of the club. On a lighter side, let us

nor a secretary to assist us.

now take a look into some of the amusing stories in the lives of Rotarians …

There was no momentum to build on, and



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

members were losing their

 I only had a

fire to join and serve in the

single objective, and that was to help ... I thought that if everyone kept this in mind, they can be happy without much complications 

club’s activities. During our weekly



three or four people would show





frustrating that I would have



thinking of the best remedy to empower my club.


ife in the Rotary is just like a marathon.

I began by looking at myself. I only had a

You give it your all, you perspire, you

single objective, and that was to help. It was that

thirst—all for the good of the ones sitting on the

simple. I thought that if everyone kept this in

stands: your peers, your supporters, your family.







much Your heart is not rooted on personal


triumph, but on service. You run tirelessly for the Within







sake of making the world a better place to live in.

connections by encouraging the members to treat would.

But you also grasp that building world

Friendships helped a lot in setting an excellent

fellowship, goodwill and peace entails not just your

mood in our club.

wisdom and courage, but also your sense of humor







that appreciates the little surprises that spring up. After a few months, the situation became better. People started seeing clearly the objective of

You see that making friends with your co-

each project that we initiated. On my part, I

runners is better than just running alone. It is the





Musings in the life of a Rotarian

followed up members, and offered to fetch and even feed them! Attendance in the weekly meetings grew up to 25! We were even recognized as having the highest membership growth among all 75 clubs in District 3830. Whenever I remember these experiences, I always think that dissolving the club was so easy to do back then—it only took a click on the Internet web page, in fact. But you know, the little things enabled me to continue. Our club founded the Samahan ng may Kapansanan (Group of Disabled) in order to help disabled people from Barangay Bangkal, Makati. We were able to lend a hand to 214 people of all ages by giving them a chance at livelihood projects, and a center with complete facilities. If we didn’t have this little treasure of a project, I would have closed the club. It touched me in ways I cannot explain.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

I can really say that the lessons that I acquired as President are truly, uniquely priceless.


Club bites: Amusing stories in the life of a Rotarian

Barbie served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati Buendia for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She is the President of an international freight forwarding company.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

felt that it was well worth it. I feel glad that I was given the chance to be a part of the mission. Hopefully this project will

Giving and living

continue, through the help of the club’s friends and

Jose G. Josol

donors. We want to share the feeling of fulfillment after helping other people. We want to share to others the feeling of putting a smile on a child’s face.


feel so lucky to have been given the chance to touch the lives of my fellowmen who are in dire

need of humble service. A year after I served as the Club President, I was granted the opportunity to become the Deputy District Committee Chair of the Interact Program and the District Coordinating Chair for the Service to Youth Groups. Handling the Youth Development Program

Fely served as President of Rotary Club Makati Rockwell for Rotary Year 2006-2007. She works in the fields of baking and public relations.

of the district for almost five years now has



enlivened my Rotary spirit and has enabled me to


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian









Musings in the life of a Rotarian





 When I was

Rotary International’s Youth

uncomfortable seeing a tiny tot being operated. I

young, I was told that young people are the hope of the nation. To this day, I still believe that 

Program. It also provided me a

could not look at her face due to the blood. If I


stayed any longer, I would have fainted.






Rotaract district.

Almost an hour later, her surgery ended.

Surrounded by teenagers and

Jonevie was rolled off the recovery room to the next



room. As she woke up from the anesthesia, she felt


confused and cried. Her mother came to comfort





adults I




young at heart!


When I was young, I was told that young


people are the hope of the nation. To this day, I

mother turned to see her

still believe that. It is this very belief that I try to

daughter, tears of joy fell from

instill in the minds of our Interactors and

her eyes. With the girl cradled

Rotaractors every time we organize activities for

in her lap, she wept as she


gazed at her daughter’s new

 With the girl cradled in her lap, she wept as she gazed at her daughter’s new face 

face. One







Generation Conference where we invited notable

I stayed in the hospital until all the kids

speakers who all shared their experiences and

were operated on just to make sure that everything

knowledge to some 500 young people of the

turned out fine. One by one, children placed in the

District. We initiated the event in the hope that the

arms of their joyful parents were brought out of the

speakers' insights would help the youth in living

surgery room with restored faces.

better lives. Despite the exhausting hours of waiting, I



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Rockwell and the Philippine Band of Mercy. The

Another activity of such nature is the Voice

messages that they wrote showed how thankful the

of the Youth Impromptu Speaking Competition

parents were.

where some 20 high school students from all over the country were invited to speak their minds on

At 10:00 a.m. that day, I talked to the head Surgeon Dr. Esquejo and the anesthesiologist Dr.

certain controversial topics that concern young people all over the world.

Casilang to ask how the operations would go. I also sought permission to enter the operating room to

Personally, the most memorable experience

observe. They gladly agreed. As a hospital routine, I


put on a green robe and covered my hair with the

International School students to the Elsie Garces

hospital cap. There I was, I thought, just like one of

Home for the Mentally Retarded for a Christmas

the medical team members.

party. The experience gave them the opportunity to







mingle with the residents. Inside the room, the mood was tense yet at the same time exciting.

At first, I noticed that the students were quite hesitant to approach the residents because of

The operating area was dimly lit with only a

their unusual behaviour. Some even hid behind

few lights on top of the operation table. The

their group mates so as not to be noticed by the

surgeon started to work on the youngest of them

residents. But eventually, after a few games and

all, Jonevie. Little Jonevie is eight months old and I

some snacks, the students eased up and felt

immediately felt attached to the child the first time

comfortable spending time with the residents.

I saw her. In fact, everyone she met turned out to

Some even insisted on extending their stay. They

be quite fond of her because the kid loves to smile

must have realized how fortunate they were to be

a lot.

living less-complicated lives. After fifteen minutes inside, I decided to




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

 Definitely, I have gained a lot by giving myself to others through Rotary 


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

It was inspiring for me

end of December, the line up was complete, and

to discover how a single club

the operations were scheduled on the 20th of


January with the help of the Philippine Band of





hundreds of other families. I learned







On the eve of January 20, fifteen kids were


admitted at the St. Jude Hospital. Two big wards

Manila. We never expected

were occupied by these children aged six months

conducted dental




that a huge crowd—around 600 families—would

and above for surgery the following day.

show up for the event. Our medical volunteers— assistants—admirably

Early morning of the next day, I was at the

attended to the patients who did not mind the long

hospital looking after the needs of the kids,

queue just to get their free check-ups.

coordinating with the hospital administrator, and





talking to the medical team. With me were Never did I felt bored in any of the Rotary’s activities. I especially enjoyed talking to my fellow

President-Elect Ellyn Gorra and Rotarian Kris Dancel.

Rotarians, and the young people of the Interactors and the Rotaractors. I did my best to inspire them

We took a few photos and gave some

with kind words. I also allowed them to inspire me

candies and toys to the kids. We also devoted time

with their enthusiasm and unselfish dedication and

in reassuring the parents of the children that their

commitment to the Rotary’s maxim: service above

kids will turn out fine after the operation.

self. I also brought with me a poster of the kids, Definitely, I have gained a lot by giving

where I asked the parents to write something to

myself to others through Rotary. Leading the way

their children’s benefactors, the Rotary Club of

in sharing our club's blessings to others in need

Tokyo Shinjuku, the Rotary Club of Makati




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Two years ago, the Rotary Club of Makati Rockwell led by my Immediate Past President


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

was extraordinary—their fulfilment for a better life became our fulfilment too.

Lucita Sanchez conducted “Operation Smile” in Tarlac with the support of the Rotary Club of Tokyo-Shinjuku. After seeing the joy in the faces of the children and adults that we were able to help, I was inspired to continue the same project during my term. I knew however that such an endeavor required sufficient funding and the consolidated efforts of the members of our club. When the






November 2006, the Rotary Club of Makati Rockwell took the opportunity to thank the Rotary Club of Tokyo-Shinjuku for the assistance they extended which paved the way for the successful surgery of several poor Filipino children in Tarlac. With the success of that outreach mission, RC Makati Rockwell brought up the idea of staging Operation Smile Part 2. And they agreed.

the list of children that we intended to help. By the

Jojo served as President of The Rotary Club of Las Piñas West for Rotary Year 2001-2002. A native of Bohol, he once considered entering the priesthood.



After that trip, I got myself busy finalizing

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Never too young


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Putting a smile on a child’s face

Ma. Criselda Oplas

Felisa B. Rosales


hen I was assigned as the District Secretary, people were saying that I

was too young for the job. They’re right—I was only a Junior Rotarian back then. A big challenge was posed to me—I had to show everyone that I honestly do not have hidden motives or ambitions like holding a high position in the Rotary. I accepted the position in order to serve the Rotary the best way I knew how. There was that willingness inside me to accompany the new Governor in the challenging voyage of leading the District.


he birth of a child is a joyous event.

But for Edna and Carlos that joy was shattered the moment they saw their daughter's face. Josefina's heart was filled with pain when she saw her little daughter was disfigured. Little Jonevie’s upper lip was distorted. Lip and Clef Palate are among the most common birth defects in the world. In the Philippines, the cases of oral clefts are estimated two in every 1,000 live births. People with these defects experience emotional, psychological and social trauma.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

undertaking. Legacies stand because of passion,





Musings in the life of a Rotarian







hard work and dedication. These are what make



your “time of service the most fulfilling moment of

matters, were put to good use especially on those

your life.”

rare occasions when disagreements can not be avoided. The extensive auditing training helped me to get by in terms of work pressure. The first three months were the most challenging, yet it would be an understatement to say that the subsequent months were “lean” ones. I experienced first-hand what many would call the “Rotary Syndrome.” I could not sleep because of the anxiety and pressure! I was adjusting to the workload

demanded by


position. At the same time, I was doing my best in fulfilling my obligations as a mother and as a professional.

 I was doing my best in fulfilling my obligations as a mother and as a professional 

Very often, when club presidents or other Rotarians would like to talk to our District Patti, is from the Rotary Club Makati Jose P. Rizal She headed the Rotary International Annual Convention Promotion Committee for Rotary year 2006-2007.


Governor to, say, invite him to an important clubsponsored District activity, many of them would call me first to ask for the Governor’s whereabouts.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

It is amusing sometimes because some assume that

The Bahile Housing Project has turned out

my position enabled me to know Governor Butch’s

to give a hundred shelters in the capital of Palawan,

whereabouts 24 hours a day!

changing thousands of lives in the process. It was fulfilling in the most inexplicable way, and the

Working with the Governor was extremely

project being recognized as the “Most Unique

enriching. I especially look up to his independent

Shelter Project” was merely icing on the cake, so to

decision-making. He proved that he was not a


District Governor of only a few, but of the whole I could not have

district. I saw this first-hand through the choices that he made during his term.




without the support of my

 I say no to politics, and yes to policy and procedure; no to popularity, yes to what is right 


From the very beginning



 No leader can accomplish things on his own 


of my term, the District knew

and I guess the people who will come after us will


have to learn that no leader can accomplish things




straightforward—I say no to

on his or her own.

politics, and yes to policy and procedure; no to popularity, yes to what is right.

Yes, I gave up many things—even my hobbies for some time—to be able to carry these things out. But I have no regrets, knowing our

In the end, after months and months of

group has changed lives for the better.

tough work, people were telling us that they supported us amidst everything. Here I learned

Once in a while, I get asked what the secret

that credibility can never be bought or be replaced

to success is, what one needs to achieve great

by anything.

things. If there is something I would like to impart to those who will come after us, it is the fact that a

As I look back at all my experiences in the


bright idea can only take you so far in any


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

venture in the organization.



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Rotary, I see that everything has been worth it. Every day of my term, I got to meet wonderful

Another project my team was involved in was the Bahile Housing Project in Puerto Prinsesa.

people. Each day gave me a chance to grow to become a better person.

I was still president of the Women in Travel Club of Manila when, after a seminar, Mayor Edward Hagedorn showed up in our hotel to meet with our group to share with us his vision of the city. The man was serious. He offered to donate a huge tract of land if we could initiate a mechanism to facilitate a housing project for the poor people of Palawan. My friend, Helen Bartholomew, and I accepted his offer and when I assumed the presidency, the offer of donation became a reality, all 13.7 hectares of it. This time, our group worked closely with the Habitat for Humanity, the prime mover of building homes. Additional financial support poured into the project, prompting me to always believe that money and support will never be a problem to a worthwhile cause.


Marycris was the Assistant Governor for Administration for Rotary Year 2006-2007 of RI District 3830. She served as the Assistant District Treasurer in 2005-2006 and as President of RC Makati Urdaneta in 2004-2005.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

intergovernmental organization. Participants do research work on the problems of countries, take

Going once, going twice, going ...

on roles as diplomats, investigate international issues, debate, consult, and come up with possible solutions to problems.

Estelita F. Bunye It was a grand idea, to say the least. And when Sydney proposed it, I knew it would be an enduring youth and international service project. At once, we worked with the International


School, which gave us an idea on how to carry out can’t blame anyone for being awed with firsts.

the project. For the venue, we had to establish our contact with the World Health Organization,

It may not seem much when all you have is

which, after a short explanation, believed in the

a tenth of a second, but that is really all you need

project we were starting and offered the venue for

to go from obscurity to immortality. Nobody


teaches schoolchildren the names of people who created the second telephone, the second Post-it,

The Equitable Group, one of my suppliers,

or the second polio vaccine. Nobody publishes a

also pledged to lend us computers and printers for

Guinness Book of the World’s Second-Placers.

the first MUN conference we were holding. With the support of our friends, we were able to pull it

It’s even been said that bronze medalists

off with little, nay nil, seed money.

feel better than silver laureates, for as the former rejoices in snatching the last plum, the latter

This year, MUN is holding its 10th year, and

languishes in the thought of what could have been.

the project is being contemplated as a compulsory




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

 We knew how projects abound here and there, but it was continuity and stability that our team was set to achieve 


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

person being groomed to

Records are prerequisites for recognition, if you go

be the next leader suddenly

by the rules of the world.

resigned. Coming from an embattled group, I had

Towards the end of my second stint as the

nothing in mind but to

President of my club, I was offered to man the

finish my term right away.

helm again for the following Rotary year. A third straight term, said some of my friends, has never




been held by any Rotary club president. They even




cited their research, mostly from Internet sources,


dedication Rotary Club espouses, I wanted to finish

to back up their claim.

my term with concrete projects that can be carried on by future generations. We knew how projects

And it would have been

abound here and there, but it was continuity and

a record, they said. A first, and

 Being club

stability that our team was set to achieve.

not a bad one too. Being club

president requires at the very least a commitment to hard work 

president requires at the very I was fortunate to have good friends to help

least a commitment to hard

me out during my term. Sydney Bates, who would

work, which is why to do that

later become president herself, had this consuming

for three straight years is a

passion to institute the Model United Nations

legitimate claim to fame.

project, whose potentials I saw. But for some reason it didn’t sound like an Model United Nations or Model UN

incentive to me.

simulates the United Nations, aiming to educate student-participants about global issues. Here,

I joined the Rotary Club of Muntinlupa in

students take on roles as foreign diplomats and

August 2000, and as a regular member I enjoyed


the club’s fellowships the most. It did not matter










(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

that most of the other members were a lot older than I was.

Passion, Hard Work and Dedication

Looking back, however, I realized that my first three years in the club were rather uneventful. But things did not remain dormant for long. After

Ma. Paz King

my third year, some of our members decided to break away from our group to form a new one. This state of affairs marked the year when, beyond my wildest dreams, I was elected President of my club for the year 2004-2005—Rotary’s centennial. I thought the challenge daunting, but I took solace in Past President Becky Intal who advised me to just enjoy my term.

first step, and for me it was our President Elect Training Seminar (PETS). I walked into the PETS conference hall to find myself immersed with executives,


most fulfilling moment of your


They say that every journey begins with the



hen your time comes, it will be the


community leaders, and I wondered where a financial planner and a cook like me could fit in.

These were the words our Charter President told me before I assumed my first major post in the Rotary Club. Those were encouraging words, I thought, from someone who had proved a lot to someone who had just begun her journey in serving.

And you would be wrong if you thought

I was not expecting the assignment. After

that seminars for people like these involved

all, I was merely a fallback president because the



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

sophisticated case studies and high-end things like


that. At this point, it is continuity that we are trying to push for, by molding new leaders who

In the PETS, the first thing the facilitators

believe in what a genuine spirit of service can

did was to divide us into teams. We did have case


I am happy that my two grown-up

studies, but we had to do it in the form of

children, who I used to bring to sites of the projects

preparing short skits, much like grade school class

of the organization when they were younger, have

sketches. We were also asked to speak before the

causes to support and are now volunteers

whole delegation, and this was something I was not


very comfortable with. Working in the insurance business trains you to deal with people one on one,

And if there is anything the next leaders can learn from us, I guess it is to serve with

and I found myself agonizing every time I had to take the floor.

humility, learning how to listen and understand and being a good example. It is through effective

But eventually I got used to it, and there

dialogue and good example that a true leader can

would even be times when I volunteered to do

lead the way, shift views when the truth is at stake,

introductions or narrations myself. The PETS

change the lives of many people and yes, leave a

worked wonders, especially in bonding the club

lasting legacy.

presidents for the centennial year—the centennial “classmates,” as Rotary jargon would put it. At the end of the seminar, the division into teams were merely for formality. The classmates

Jun Perez is from the Rotary Club of Parañaque Central.

were not divided in any way. We were just one

He served as District Governor of RI District 3830 for

group, a bit more ready to put ourselves at the

Rotary Year 2000-2001.

service of our clubs.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Amidst all the hard work I had to put in, I

appreciate the Rotary Club’s

really enjoyed my centennial year. But as the end of

exchange program, where I

my first term drew near, I realized that I could use

acquired a lot of knowledge

some time out. I was about to step down when it

on how to work effectively

became clear that nobody in our club wanted to

with my team.

handle all the responsibilities that came with being Knowing

president. I couldn’t bear to leave the club hanging just like that so I became serving president for the st


 Knowing the importance of molding the youth, my team focused on youth-related projects ... 

importance of molding the

Rotary’s 101 year—an SP101 if you’re starting to like

youth, my team focused on youth-related projects

Rotarized terms.







involving them. We also conducted medical and Jimmy Cura was the Governor then, and he

dental missions and hosted competitions that

was the same person who made my terms more

aimed to tap the talents of the young ones. This is

challenging by convincing me to be active even in

because we realized that it is through these crucial

district activities. He once said that if you become a

years of our children that the zeal for service is

Rotarian, you gain fifty friends. If you become club

assimilated well.

president, you gain 250. A district officer gains 500. Just imagine how many friends a governor would have!

My active involvement with the Rotary Club was not without sacrifice. As a businessman, there were times when I had to put the things of

I believed him. And I still do until now.

the organization before my own interests, and I

During my two years as president of my club, I did

must say I had no regrets at all, what with the sense

become rich with friends. As time went on, I found

of fulfillment one gets from giving without asking

our projects easier to do, thanks in large part to

anything in return. In fact, there have been many

these friends of mine who supported us.

instances when I get approached by a grateful stranger for the projects our team pushed in our



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

organizing church activities and heading volunteer

Governor Cura did give me some minor

groups myself. At an early age, I learned how

headaches by making me a little bit busier during

fulfilling it was to give oneself to others.

my second term, but he made up for that. At the end of my stint as SP101, he convinced our charter

I therefore had no second thoughts when a

president Resty Santos to take over.

good friend talked to me about joining the Rotary Club, explaining it as a means to reach out to the

No records were set after all. I did not set

disadvantaged. It was what I had been doing all

out to establish any. I did all I could for my club

along, I thought, and the only logical thing to do

and hopefully, I’ve set a good example for the other

was to continue it.


The Rotary Club was the venue, I realized, when I went to attend one meeting. Suffice it to say that in that meeting, where social projects were on top of the agenda, I instantly felt I belonged. Soon, I found myself visiting the sites of the projects and getting myself involved in the details and not long after, I went to assume the presidency of our club. While I had been into social service practically all my life, assuming the presidency was

sustaining my members’ drive. That is why I really

Baby served two terms as President of the Rotary Club of Muntinlupa. She was also the District Committee Chairperson for Social Fellowships for Rotary Year 20062007.



a different thing altogether. As president, I had the burden of coordination with other clubs and


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Public service the Rotary way

Estelita Ferrera-Brunner

Hugo Perez


t all started when the club I chartered on May 24, 2004, the Rotary Club of Makati Rockwell,

was presented at the ballroom of the Westin Philippine Plaza.

politician-father who would unhesitatingly







community. Someone crying for help in an ungodly

Masato Kaneko was in the audience as part of the World Community Service Team from Japan. We were not introduced to each other yet at that time.

hour, rousing us from deep sleep, was a common occasion. As a public servant, my father would attend to anyone and every attended case was aweinspiring, a lesson that taught me the meaning of passion for service.

The following day, I was en route to Hong Kong while their World Community Service Team was on their way back to Japan. Fate must have worked


s a child, I grew up admiring my







I cherish those lessons as among the most important legacies of my father to me. Growing up with such a great model, I ended up getting involved in community work even in my youth,


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

despite her hectic schedule.



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

accidentally met at the airport.

At the end of the day, we were able to

Masato told me that he recognized me as a

gather 46 bags of blood and served 256 patients

Rotarian. He said the he could not forget my face

with free testing of cholesterol and blood sugar.

when he saw me on stage during the ceremonies,

Because of the success of the project, we are

due largely to the distinct design of our club

planning to conduct it annually and achieve our

uniform. We exchanged pleasantries and calling

vision of a healthy community.

cards and said goodbye.

We know that we can realize our goal by tapping the sense of service of the common folk,

I thought that I would never be able to see Masato again.

the same sense of service that the Rotary Club espouses among its members to push for positive







Presidents were asked to submit a project proposal

change in communities.

for the World Community Service project of Japan. Fortunately, our club’s proposal was one of those approved. We were overjoyed since our club has just been chartered that time. This shall fund our very first big project, we agreed. When Hiro Oba, the coordinator of Japan projects in our District, presented to me the Memorandum of Agreement for the project, I told Lyn served as President of the Rotary Club of Narra Central. She works as a government municipal officer at the Narra Municipal Hospital in Palawan.

him that the signatory’s name on the MOA looked



very familiar. So I checked all my calling cards. To my surprise, the signature belonged to the Japanese


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Gymnasium, where we held the project. There, we

who I met at the airport.

saw uniformed soldiers, police, local government I was finally able to meet once more with

employees and civilians in one venue getting along

WCS representative, Masato Kaneko, when the

well with one another for the common objective of

sponsoring Japanese Rotary Club of Noogata visited

donating blood and in the rather literal sense,

to sign the MOA and to check the project site.

share one’s life.

He expressed to me his happiness, saying that of all the project proposals he received, he had quite an affinity with our project called “Water for Life,” which gears to construct water systems in three locations in Tarlac. He said that he was not aware that I was the one who submitted the proposal that their club approved.

 … we tell people our story… how two Rotary Clubs love and care for each other as friends, despite the distance, language barrier, and cultural differences 





Masato told me that he always gets teary-eyed when he recalls the serendipity of how we met and what transpired after. Since then, the Rotary Club of Noogata has been helping


the same venue, a symposium on lifestyle diseases was also conducted to promote right living among the participants. A healthy lunch was also served for everyone to set off resolutions of participants


award for “Innovativeness and Impact

free cholesterol count and blood sugar testing. In

about eating a balanced diet.

year, our joint project won an High

Aside from the bloodletting, we also had

The response of the people to our project was overwhelming. We even had to extend our activity for hours



everyone. We also had the local government to thank for its full support of the project. Our very own mayor Lucy Demaala, a Rotarian herself, also came to donate blood


 We know that we can realize our goal by tapping the sense of service of the common folk ... 

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Right from the start, I have been nurturing a great faith to the values espoused by the Rotary



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

us. We have built two Gawad Kalinga houses last year and held medical missions together.

Club among its members—values that can be On

summed up with the slogan, Service above Self.









When I was assigned to be lead president of

Members of the Rotary Club of Makati Rockwell

our chapter in Narra, Palawan, I immediately

attended Noogata club’s 50th Charter anniversary in

proposed projects that would focus on public

Japan, where we were treated like royalties. We will

health. And after many sessions of planning and

never forget that day when they brought us to the

studying of possible activities, our chapter finally

train station as we were en route to Tokyo. They

came up with a day of bloodletting and free

made sure that we had food while in transit and

medical tests under the program we dubbed as

they even brought our heavy bags. We all could not

“Dugo Ko, Puso Mo, Sagip Buhay Project” last

help but shed tears as we left.

August 29, 2006.


We began the day with “Takbo para Makalingap ng Dugo para sa Tao,” a 200-meter fun run participated in by 30 members of the Interact Club of RC Narra Central. It was a great start to set

campaign. We mobilized physicians and Red Cross volunteers to join us with our objective and people





we tell people our story—how two Rotary Clubs love and care for each other as friends, despite the distance, language barrier, and cultural differences. We never forget to say that it all started in Rotary. Litay served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati Rockwell for Rotary Year 2004-2005. In Rotary Year 2006-2007, she was the Chairperson of the Group Study Exchange Inbound Housing from California.

from all walks of life trooped to the RVM



experience but whenever there is an opportunity,

the atmosphere of healthy living we were trying to promote in our community, serving as a powerful




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Extra small club, extra big hearts

Sharing blood, saving lives

Yolanda C. Tan


ust like any organization, our club has had its share of ups and downs.

Ma. Arlin Josue


s a physician working in the public sector, I have developed a soft spot for issues that

relate to community health. After all, saving lives is What amazes me until now was how the remaining





what doctors do for a living. Social concern comes from within us in a rather natural way.

collectively agreed upon one thing: there was a need to strengthen the club and to show the

While that is a great outlook in itself, I

District, if not Rotary International, that together

knew it was not enough because I realized I had to

we can withstand anything.

channel this social concern to concrete efforts to positively affect my community in any way

This incident gave me the courage and strength to know that whatever happens, we can

possible. That was why I eventually joined the Rotary Club.

weather it out.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

solicit donations for the school’s Internet access

It still amazes me to look back on how we

and computer equipment. Moreover, we also held

were able to pool together whatever resources we

medical missions and health awareness programs.

had to reach out to our brothers and sisters in need. This became apparent with the series of

In the short period that I have been in the organization, it has been easy to see what brings

calamities which greatly affected several parts of our country in 2006.

together people from all walks of life and professions in the Rotary Club. It is love for service.

I can still vividly recall those moments

It is about changing the lives of other people for

when I asked the members for contributions that

the better. It is about making a dent in society. All

will be used to help the victims. I was so moved by

of these things, without expecting anything in

their generosity. We acquired 100 blankets and


some tarpaulin banners that were to be converted into roofs of tents. We had these materials shipped to Bicol through a classmate involved in bus operations. It was the least we could do for the victims. The spirit of service also drove the club to reach out to a school that badly needed help with its potable water supply. Pilar Village School, which is near our club, has for some time then experienced a discoloration in the water that comes out from its pumps. No disease has been

Alice is with the Rotary Club of Taguig West. She serves as one of the vocational service directors, in which capacity, she organized a number of literacy projects.

reported since the appearance of the discoloration



but students were still wary of it. This is why students had to buy treated water, which is quite

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

costly for them, whenever they got thirsty during

age,” so to speak, having my turn at inviting a

school hours.

friend to join a noble cause.

We decided that there was a need to install

When the term of the year’s officers came

a water filtration system inside the school. I was

to a close, I was overwhelmed with being awarded

the club’s treasurer before so I knew that such

as the “Rookie of the Year.” And as the new set of

proposition would require a large investment.

officers was inducted for the coming year, I became one of the directors assigned in the Vocational

But I did not mind that problem. I knew

Service working as its Program Chairman. It was a

that the benefits of the project will outweigh all the

tall order, and while I had my share of anxieties as

headaches that we had to endure in order to get it

to how I would be able to pull it off, I knew

going. With some luck, we were able to get the

everything would be all right especially because I

needed money to put up the system.

was working with a reliable team.

Right now, students of the school need not

As Vocational Service Director, I became on

spend money in order to have safe drinking water.

top of several literacy programs, the most

As the saying goes, "Safe water saves young lives,"

memorable of which was the Adopt-a-School

and these lives include the 2500

project that sought to aid slow learners at the

 I have

students of Pilar Village School.

Western Bicutan National High School. We held

always believed that doing service for others makes one feel young 

Knowing that our club had done

free tutorials and while we realized that the

this gives us incomparable joy.






complicated than we thought, we were happy to be I have always believed that

doing something about it in our own little way.

doing service for others makes one feel young. I admit that there may

Aside from the tutorials, we also looked for

be stress, but the help we gave to

funding of scholarships for deserving students and




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

 I realized how people with a passion to serve really find themselves flocking together 

I soon found myself


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Pilar Village School was really a different story. The


stress I felt was the result of the club's desire for

and meetings until finally

the betterment of others and not for the pursuit of

being inducted in January

my own interests. I learned that when I forget

2006. I remember very well

about myself for other people, I gain more out of

how as “young” as I was in the




organization, I was assigned to remind fellow members of

I try to share this learning with my club

their attendance, a task I earned most probably

members. The bond that we share keeps growing

because despite my busy schedule, I myself did not

with each passing day. No task or challenge is ever

miss any meeting.

too little or too great that collectively we cannot overcome together. Despite the limited resources

While I was just practically “new,” I never had a problem dealing with my fellow members

we have, we can consider ourselves at par, if not better, than the other clubs in the district.

because of their warm welcome. Moreover, I have had the chance to work with many of them in some

Our club may be considered extra small in

social outreach projects. In a special kind of way,

size, but we more than make up for it with our

too, I realized how people with a passion to serve

extra big hearts.

really find themselves flocking together—and in the Rotary Club. Came March 2006, I was surprised to be assigned to be a part of a major activity as a

someone to join the club. It was my “coming of

Yolly served as President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas West for Rotary Year 2006-2007. The youngest of seven children, she once dreamed of becoming a Filipino teacher.



marshal. I gained new friends in the major event we hosted and was also soon able to sponsor

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian




Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Of treasures

The rookie

Jaime A. Cura

Alice Lucas

rdinary people like me are sometimes awed by the amount of money that


have only been in the Rotary Club for barely two years now, but I always find myself

Rotary is able to tap for its projects. One of my first

struggling for the right terms to describe how

impressions was that Rotarians are generally

fulfilling such a short period has been.

expected to dip into their pockets for just about every activity or project they undertake. For people

It was November 2005 when a friend of a

who don’t have deep pockets or fat bankbooks, this

friend talked to me about joining the organization.

could be worrisome. They are impressed by what

The person who invited me was assertive with what

Rotary does, but feel inadequate about being part

he was offering to me, knowing it was a noble

of it. Thus, they shy away from joining Rotary.

undertaking he was giving me a chance to be a part of. While I had my doubts about committing

But treasure need not consist only of

myself to the club at first, I could not deny the fact

money. Time is also treasure. So, too, is talent.

that over such a small talk, I sensed his earnestness

When combined and used well, these forms of

and was impressed by it.




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

easy, and it may even hurt. But I have seen this in

treasure can produce powerful networks of friends

many Rotarians, and I wish to see it in many

that can get the job done without necessarily

others. To be a Rotarian is to be a role model of

tagging each friend with monetary contributions.


When we pool our resources, the synergy is







I discovered this when I was Club President some 22 years ago. My club was doing youth service in a public school which was housed in a cramped tenement building. The scarce classrooms were hot and noisy with more than a hundred students each. Many students literally waited under the shade of a clump of trees just outside the building for their turn to sit inside the classrooms. When it rained, they had to scamper somewhere else and miss their classes for the day. Surely, not much learning could take place in such circumstances. Not too far away from the tenement building was a sprawling public food terminal complex. It contained rows and rows of large stalls Carmen is currently in the Philippine Senate as DirectorGeneral of the Office of International Relations and Protocol. She was President of the Rotary Club of Makati EDSA for Rotary Year 2006-2007.

industrial tenants. Huge catwalks interconnected



which were leased as factories by agribusiness and these rows of stalls. The catwalks were as large as


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

entire hallways of average-sized buildings. These

vehicle for a person to fulfill his or her social

were usually empty or merely used as storage for

responsibilities. Its members were part of a good

discarded office paraphernalia and other forms of

network, and it really was just a matter of taking


the club’s mission to heart. We befriended the administrators of the

I had to become president before I

complex. We talked to them about our youth

understood the Four-Way Test.

service plans and projects. We called their

disappointment I also realized that not all

attention to the deplorable situation of the public

Rotarians practice it. Rotarians often use the term

high school nearby. We suggested a partnership.

“rotarized” to describe that process of a member’s

We could clean up the catwalks and the premises

integration into the Rotary. Many people I know

for free and build temporary classrooms and offices

would use it as casually as you and I would

at no cost to them. Would they lease the catwalks

mention cars. But when I ask what they mean

to us at a friendly price?






And to my



“rotarized,” I am usually met with silence. Is one They did at one peso a year.







established connections for his/her respective We mobilized volunteer work groups of Rotarians, students, and faculty. We solicited

businesses, or when he/she has made enough friends?

 I believe that

donations of plywood, varnish, paint, second-hand furniture, books, and other items that could be

We should not forget

useful to the students and teachers. From late

that the spirit of the Rotary

August to early November, volunteers quietly


worked on the project well into the night. By mid-

believe that serving above

November, neat-looking classrooms had taken

oneself can only be achieved

shape, the principal got a new office, the faculty

by giving oneself. It is not







serving above oneself can only be achieved by giving oneself. It is not easy, and it may even hurt 


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

 I had to reassess my priorities and invest time into my new task. I had to fashion a new brand of activism 


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

I have always been an activist,

their own faculty lounge, and the librarian a more


spacious library.




responsibility each human being should have. I had unforgettable

On the 8th of December, the students and

memories as an activist but all of

faculty, with everyone in attendance, took part in a

it is nothing compared to being

touching early morning flag-raising ceremony on

president of a club of which I

their new but temporary campus. Not a few were in



tears as they sang the national anthem. The

member. And so, I had to

principal broke down when she delivered her brief

reassess my priorities and invest

address of welcome to the students.




time into my new task. I had to fashion a new The school did not have to stay too long in

brand of activism.

the temporary, makeshift, but livable and new I was determined not to let the club’s

campus building. The project got the attention of

projects deteriorate into cosmetics, so I resolved to

the Department of Education. Not long after, the

make time for the Rotary’s activities. When I had to

high school was finally transferred to a permanent

go abroad, I would spend an extra couple of hours

campus of its own, with new

every night to set straight the club’s agenda for the


meetings I could not attend. I would also include

and healthier surroundings.



pertinent information regarding the activities of How

the district to which our club belongs, especially those of greatest concern for our club.




project cost the Rotary club? Not even a tenth of a million

Being president did demand sacrifice, but


after a while I began to enjoy it, mainly because I realized that the Rotary is indeed an excellent


After 28 years in the


 The secret is being personally involved, and realizing that no matter how small you are, you can help change the world one step at a time 

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Rotary, I sometimes ask myself, why do we meet

But I soon realized that prying into the

every week? Why do we go to poor towns? Why do

Four-Way Test involved hours of meetings and

we donate to Africa? Why do the rich countries

getting acquainted with your club mates, of going

keep on helping us?

out of your way and redesigning an already hectic schedule. I was simply too busy to invest time into

After 28 years, I have never missed a single

it, and I didn’t get immersed that soon.

Rotary weekly meeting. It has been, and still is, a gradual discovery of my self and others. The secret,

That was my story until one day in April

as I later found out in my Rotary service, is being

2005. Ms. Malou Maligaya, the President Elect of

personally involved, and realizing that no matter

Makati EDSA for that year, invited me to discuss

how small you are, you can help change the world

matters related to the Inner Wheel Club, a group

one step at a time.

composed of the wives of the male Rotarians– “Rotary-Annes” as Rotary jargon would put it. As we met at the venue, I noticed that there were far more people attending than I expected. It was only after we had all settled down when I was told the real purpose of the gathering: they wanted me to be president for the Rotary Year 2006-2007. And so I became President Elect of the Rotary Club of Makati EDSA in 2006. Since then, I knew that I had to change the way I have been living as a Rotarian.

Jimmy Cura is from the Rotary Club of Rizal West. He served as District Governor of RI District 3830 for Rotary Year 2005-2006.


I was an UPSCAn (University of


Philippines Student Catholic Action) in college, but


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

One wheelchair, one life, one perspective

Caught by the Four-Way Test

Federico P. Sapitan

Carmen Razon-Arceno


joined the Rotary in 2000, though I hardly knew the club. It was mainly to honor the

persistent invitation of a good friend, and to satisfy a curiosity that has been growing in me ever since I first took notice of the organization’s Four-Way Test.


he look on the face of each member of our delegation was very revealing.

The airport in Vancouver was but an eighteen-hour old memory in our minds, and so were the comforts and conveniences of first-world

My work demanded that I travel around the country, and during my trips I would see these examining questions painted everywhere: on a street sign, or on the railings of a footbridge perhaps. I wondered what they meant, and joining the group seemed to be a good way of finding out.

living. But a mild culture shock still dowsed us out of our long, cold sleep. It was 5:30 in the morning, and the twelvemember team from Red Deer East had just landed in Manila. Proceeding







(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Immigration, we were led to a warm reception



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

the club.

from a contingent of Rotarians from Las Piñas Camino Real, Red Deer East’s sister club.

Because in the end, people may not remember me as president, but they certainly will

Handshakes, introductions, photographs—

remember the Rotary.

euphoria was the order of the day, and the brightly emblazoned banner that welcomed us marked off an island of excited Rotarians from the rest of the people in the airport lobby. It took us an hour to get ourselves harnessed to vehicles that drove us to Las Piñas, some twelve kilometers south of the airport. Normally, a trip that covered such a distance was over in a few dozen blinks, but that one was a onehour cariñosa with bad traffic. It became obvious that most of us weren’t used to driving through streets that betrayed the millions going hungry, and the multitudes writhing for life every day. Amazement clutched our faces as the city embraced our convoy in her frayed arms. The Rotarians from Red Deer East went all this way to the Philippines to complete the Filipino-Canadian team that would personally


Bing served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati Jose P. Rizal for Rotary Year 2006-2007. As her term ends, she looks forward to going back to playing badminton, walking and shopping, and more time for her company and her ministry work.



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

Each time, he dragged

 … giving up was never on my agenda ... I wanted to finish my term and carry the flag of the club, come what may 

himself up and continued to




Musings in the life of a Rotarian






wheelchairs to those in need of mobility.

run, bleeding and grimacing in agony. His feat dazzled the

As sister clubs, Red Deer East and Las Piñas

audience who then started to

Camino Real often had joint programs like this one.



These projects include the beginnings of a micro-

Despite knowing that he won’t

credit financing establishment in the clubs’

be able to beat the other

adopted community, and a bakery that the people

sprinters, Akwari still went on

themselves will run.




to reach the finish line. He got a well-deserved applause from

The wheelchair distribution project took place in March 2006, and lasted for two and a half

the crowd.

weeks, which became more taxing—and more When

asked by the media why he

rewarding—toward the final stretches.

continued the race, he humbly replied, “My country did not send me 9,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 9,000 miles to finish the race.”

The first round of wheelchair distributions began after five days of cultural tours and club visits. About five wheelchairs were given out. We

Like Akwari, giving up was never on my

started questioning ourselves if we would really see

agenda. You only become president once, as they

the faces of the recipients and share in their joy as

all say, so why give up? I wanted to finish my term

we lift them onto their new wheelchairs.

and carry the flag of the club, come what may. But the whole thing did gain momentum, of

and after some time we found ourselves working

achievement and fulfillment after all these are

16-hour days. A typical day involved making brief

through, what matters foremost is the interest of

speeches, unpacking and assembling, putting up









(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

banners, writing out placards, calling the names of As President, I focused on the goal, on

the recipients and so on.

getting things done, despite the odds. Pleasing There were just so many things that had to

everyone simply wasn’t an option. Individual desires had to be subsumed under the interest of

be attended to.

the club. And even if it meant personally doing the tasks of those not around just to get the job done,

"Who has the box cutter?"

that’s exactly what I did. I ran the extra mile. "The media people would like to talk with Service in the Rotary did take its toll on my


own personal and professional life. Since I had to be present whenever a Rotary activity is held, that

"Are there 18-inch wheelchairs left?"

meant less time for my company. I also didn’t have Activity disguises chaos, and the racket

time for the things I usually do, such as badminton and walking.

scatters everyone. But then something made


time stop during that work hour.

looked up at us as we sidled up to her. She said thank you 

The clamor halted and the din

Sometimes I wonder, why am I doing all these?

was hushed. Then I remember John Stephen Akwari, a their

Tanzanian athlete who joined the Olympic Games

attention focused on an elderly

held in Mexico in 1968. While all spectators were

lady, dressed in pink and white. She was crying. In

cheering, looking at the finish line as almost every

the midst of all the commotion, she was trying to

athlete had passed, there was this guy who fell to

thank her benefactors for her new bright red

the ground many times.



wheelchair. She looked up at us as we sidled up to




(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

This figuratively and aptly describes my


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

her. She said thank you.

term as President in the Rotary Club of Makati Jose P. Rizal. After fourteen years as a member, nothing prepared me for the job.

Someone had to translate the other things she was saying. The lady, as it turned out, had not been out of her home for over a year because she's

Becoming President, to begin with, was

crippled. The moment brought tears to many, and

never on my mind when I first joined the club.

reminded us of what our work meant as we went

Invited by my best friend, I was there for

back into minding the mechanical and repetitive

fellowship. I looked forward to spending dinners

little jobs that the whole project demanded of each

and lunches with new-found friends, with whom I

of us.

can hopefully develop lasting ties. Once, in front of a large crowd, we told the But I would later learn that one way of

recipients and their caregivers that the wheelchairs

deepening my bond with my friends in the Rotary

were “a gift from God and from our hearts.” Within



the next two days we would hear the following

nominations to become President year in year out,

story, and we would realize the full extent of what

I finally obliged, seeing that I was the last in my

we had just said.







generation who had yet to serve. On that same day a Running a club, however, turned out to be

member of our team delivered

far more challenging than running my own

a wheelchair to the house of a

company. Since Rotary members are essentially


volunteers, compulsion is out of the picture. There

been confined to her bed for

are times when some members wanted things done

over three years.


She had

their way. There are also times when, despite well laid-out plans, those in charge didn’t show up.


The next day, which


since her confinement she had wanted to attend Mass, but was not able to. Finally her dreams had turned into reality ... 

(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

was a Sunday, she was lifted onto her new wheelchair, enabling her to fulfill a dream, a dream she had pondered over for three long years.

Race to the finish Elvira H. Villania

Ever since her confinement she had wanted to attend Mass, but was not able to. Finally her dreams had turned into reality, simply because someone cared enough to obtain a wheelchair for her, deliver it to her, look into her eyes and tell her that she is valued as a person. After the celebration, she went back home, and into her bed, perhaps at peace. She died the following day.


othing is as spectacular and breath-taking as the quest for the track and field gold in

the Olympics.

*** Las Piñas Camino Real belongs to District

With the level of competition at its peak,

3830 of Rotary, which encompasses a large part of

each athlete must undergo a series of rigorous and

Metro Manila. It also has jurisdiction over Rotary


activities in Palawan, some 500 miles south of

psychological and even spiritual conditioning—all


these are crucial in bringing out the best




performance in any type of sports competition. As After some days of working in Manila, we were asked if we wanted to go to Boracay (a famous

the pressure heats up, stability and endurance are put to the final test—on the day of the event.

tourist attraction) to relax, but all of us chose to go



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

misfortune, you meet an accident (God forbid), you

to Palawan, where we could distribute more

know whom to call. In my case, unfortunately, it

wheelchairs, particularly in the more remote

was an accident not even Dr. Rotary can remedy.

corners of the island.

But what a fortunate accident it turned out to be. I think that most of us thought that we were making some sort of heroic sacrifice, but Palawan turned out to be every bit of a paradise as Boracay, with its beaches of white sand and its many nature parks. Of course, we were all aware that helping people was our priority. We started distributing wheelchairs as soon as we got there. An 11-year old boy with no control of his arms or legs was lifted into his new wheelchair. His name was Romanez, and he has spent most of his life lying on the floor on a bright blue plastic mattress. But now he was free to be taken to church, or to the town center, or to somewhere else on this beautiful island!

Ric served as President of the Rotary Club of ParaĂąaque East for Rotary Year 2006-2007. He and his wife, Techie, are expecting their third child by Christmas 2007.


*** Political turmoil is prevalent in this nation. The traffic is one of the world’s worst. Almost every


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

body of water within and around Metro Manila is

In our own community in Parañaque, Dr.

already polluted. Some people live in the most

Rotary has created a tremendous impact. Aside

inhuman conditions—under bridges, tucked into

from a stationary clinic that we set up in our

street corners, on the railway tracks, in garbage

community center in Barangay Moonwalk, Dr.

dumps. There are waiting lists for children to

Rotary was envisioned to be a mobile medical van

attend school. Most will never attend.

with basic medical equipment for x-ray, ECG, dental check-up and a laboratory for blood, urine,

Why would anyone return to a country

stool and other tests.

where hardship is so widespread? We have so far generated critical start-up The answer would be the Filipino people.

support from Governor Butch Francisco who

They are men and women who do not give up

donated an ambulance. We also teamed up with

hope, who do not quit trying, who accept each day

RC Makati to purchase an ECG machine and some

as it comes, who never quit smiling, and who will

laboratory accessories.

do everything for the people they love. A lot more needs to be done and even more They are people who say things and mean

can be done by Dr. Rotary. I can only hope that the

it. “Please come back” means “please come back.”

enthusiasm for this project will continue to

“What can I do for you?” means “what can I do for


you?” “Can I help you?” means “can I help you?” Dr. Rotary is one project I am truly proud Most of all, we have learned a lot from these wonderful people. They hope and carry on

of. It is one of the things that fuel my desire to serve, despite the difficulties.

because they stick together, and support one another.

So if you happen to be sick or, by some



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian

around the world.



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Their smiles are a sight to behold. It is inspiring to know that their faith and their loved

The object of the ascribing the name Dr. Rotary is to command recall, permanency and

ones are all that they may have, and yet they still remain happy.

continuity. It would serve as a rallying point or a battle cry, and would do well as a marketing tool. It follows a triangular approach in community service: the Rotary Club as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)—convenor and propagator of community works; the Local Government Unit (LGU)—as logistical partner; and the Private

The story comes from an account by Neil Swensrude, Past President of the Rotary Club of Red Deer East of Calgary, Canada, and from details supplied by Fed Sapitan, Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas Camino Real at the time of this joint project between the sister clubs.

Sector—private businesses partnering their own brand to complement Dr. Rotary events in the service of the community. To date, Dr. Rotary has attracted a lot of attention not only in District 3830 and other districts in the Philippines but also in Rotary International and other Rotary Districts abroad. A Rotary Club in Alaska at Homer-Kachemak Bay District is trying to lobby Rotary International to recognize Dr. Rotary internationally through its Rotary Action Group (RAG) Health Fair Project (HFP). This is being spearheaded by Past District Governor Steve Yoshida.


Fed served as President of the Rotary Club of Las Piñas Camino Real. He was District Coordinator for Operations in Metro South and for Membership for Rotary Year 2006-2007.


(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

Rotary Club of Parañaque East. There was no turning back.

Beyond borders Ma. Adelica B. Villavicencio

Aware of the enormity of the challenges facing the presidency, I started preparing for the job early. I formed my planning team eight months before my term. I presented my general program concept seven months before, had my eight-page glossy flagship project brochure printed six months before, had fund raising five months before, and


had my team building two months before my t started as a simple idea, from thousands of miles away.

presidency. I thought I couldn’t be more prepared. Was I wrong! When my term started, I

In October 1990, Tony Quinlivan, then an incoming President of the Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga-Kooringal in New South Wales, Australia, thought of putting up a cross in towns and cities across the globe to serve as a reminder of the importance of peace in today’s troubled world. With the help of Rotary International, the support of world leaders and the inspiration of the late Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, the idea caught on. From a cross, the symbol evolved to that


found it really hard and emotionally-wrecking. I should say that the saving grace of the presidency is the presence of warm bodies of fellow Rotarians during each event, fellowship and meeting; plus, the opportunity to introduce projects that could help improve other people’s lives. One of the projects I was fortunate to introduce is Dr. Rotary. It was the first time in the world of Rotary that a community medical program would have a human face as well as a brand name that shall carry all and future medical programs



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

series of meetings with the council, the two

of a dove on top of the world, to signify that the

gentlemen agreed to simultaneously withdraw


from the nomination. The

 It was as

council was thus given a free

if they were saying: “No, we are not asking you to accept it, we are vesting you with the pride and honor of serving…” 

hand in choosing the next






boundaries. On February 23, 1993, on the occasion of the Rotary World Understanding and Peace Day,

president nominee.

the first Peace Monument was unveiled and Wagga And so the next honored nominee everyone’s





Wagga was declared the first Peace City in the World.


president received from him

I came across this project while searching


on the Internet for worthwhile activities for our

nominee then rattled off a

club. The year was 1998 and I was then the

million reasons: from time to

President of the Rotary Club of Makati San




business to family, to family to business to time.

Lorenzo. The moment I saw it, I just knew this was one initiative too good to pass upon.

But to the horror of the nominee, his “No” was drowned out by a resounding “Yes!” Each

I communicated with Past President George

council member confirmed that “Yes! You are the

Little, Ambassador for Promotion of Peace City all

new President Nominee, the time for you to serve

over the world, and I was given all the necessary

the community has come!” It was as if they were

information about it. I then discussed it with my

saying: “No, we are not asking you to accept it, we

Governor, Sonny Coloma, and the rest, as they say,

are vesting you with the pride and honor of serving

is history.

others, period.” The Makati Park and Garden is the site Suddenly, I found myself heading the


where we built the Peace Monument. On February



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian


Musings in the life of a Rotarian

23, 1999, Makati was declared a Rotary Peace City, the third such city in the Philippines. Today, Makati is among sixty cities worldwide who are part of this project.

Dr. Rotary is in Ricardo L. Santiago

PEACE is actually an acronym for the five sectors in society whose good work the initiative intends to support. P is for police, city officials and government. E stands for educators. A is for Armed Forces of the Philippines while C is for civic communities, and E for environmentalists. As an innovation, our club introduced the awarding of the annual Rotary Peace Award to


became president by accident.

ardent advocates of peace and unity in our country.

A miscommunication took place in the

Our very first awardee was President Corazon C.

choice of a president-nominee in our club. As was

Aquino in 1999 followed by President Fidel V.

the tradition, the council of Past Presidents was

Ramos and Jaime Cardinal Sin in 2000 and 2001

supposed to honor the future president by offering



him/her a nomination. In this case, as if indicative

contributions in the 1986 EDSA People Power

of the gravity of the job that lay ahead, a

Revolution which restored democracy in the

nomination was offered not just to one but to two


potential honorees!





General Angelo Reyes and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal








In the interest of preserving the dignity, friendship and harmony in the club, and after a

environmental initiatives, Ms. Gina Lopez was



(A)MUSINGS in the Life of a Rotarian



Musings in the life of a Rotarian

boundaries, reaching out, touching and inspiring

given the award in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, we


recognized Fr. James Reuter's accomplishments as an educator and Ms. Rosa Rosal’s contributions in the Red Cross. Other





Evangelista in 2006, for his work in Tulay sa Don Bosco Street Children Foundation, which aims to uplift the lives of children. Most recently, we gave the award to Sr. Pilar Versoza for her work in ProLife. What struck me and what continues to amaze me to this day is the universality of the aspiration to achieve peace and unity. People from different



hundreds of miles apart,

 It is


heartwarming to be able to share ... It transcends all barriers ... 




promotion of lasting peace through


international understanding and goodwill. Maridel served as President of the Rotary Club of Makati San Lorenzo for Rotary Year 1998-1999. She has relinquished the management of her food business to her children and now spends most of her time on volunteer work in Rotary.


It is heartwarming to be able to share and spread the light of peace not only in our country but globally. It transcends all barriers and


Amusings in the Life of a Rotarian  

Rafael A. Francisco served as District Governor of Rotary International District 3830 Philippines for 2006-2007. Known as Butch by his famil...

Amusings in the Life of a Rotarian  

Rafael A. Francisco served as District Governor of Rotary International District 3830 Philippines for 2006-2007. Known as Butch by his famil...