Consider this situation: Some 500 people are assembled in a big room in a big hotel. The men are in their flashy coats with red tie or red polo shirts, the ladies in their red dresses or red shawls or scarves. Some of the guys have red faces too, maybe after a glass or two of beer or red wine. The food are a plenty and there’s extra drink for everybody. Then a phalanx of top singers, bands and dancers in the country provide top caliber entertainment. Then a series of certificates, small trophies and sculptural masterpieces are given away to some guys who sweated it out for a year of organizational and community projects. And everything is free! One or a few rich guy/s paid for everything.
So what have you got? A Valentines party in June? A victory party by the topnotcher of the recent Senatorial elections? A thanksgiving party by a super-athlete who won the F1, the Tour de France, the US Open and Wimbledon, and golf grand slam, all at the same time in 1 year?
Nope man, not a bit of those. It’s the District Awards night of D3830! Yeah man, the night of all nights of the District under Governor Butch Francisco!
The food, how’s the food? Oh I don’t know. I arrived late and I knew that there won’t be any if you arrive past 7pm. So before going to the venue, I grabbed a stick of banana-q topped with balut-de-calamansi and kinilaw-de-manga-que-bagoong, plus a shot of beer-de-lambanog to flush down the belly said organic concoction. Que barbaridad, santa banana! What a life! Hehehe, what a joke.
By the time I stepped into Manila Pen hotel, all the (RI) Presidential Citations have been distributed already. I saw classmate Tyrone Paynor on stage announcing the clubs who got certain awards. Then la-vida-loca dancer Regine Tolentino and her gang came up stage to give some eye-popping dance gyrations, Oh-lala, yeah man!
A few minutes later, Regine is back on stage, not as a dancer, but as a female MC along with classmate Jay Tambunting. Seemed that Jay was either electrified or agitated to be standing aside a shapely and articulate lady like Regine. But Jay managed to deliver some anecdotes to help spice up the night. More awards to hard-working clubs and their respective Presidents followed.
Then bella-donna-singer Eileen Sison (?) came up stage to show her artistic prowess. After a song or two, 5 shapely and leggy ladies in Brazilian mardi-gras costumes came up to show another batch of belly gyrations. Another oh-lala sights for the men J
Then a group of about 8 men in various drums and musical instruments came up to play some Brazilian or Latino music. My barbarian ear not trained and educated to such kind of music except rock n roll and the blues had a hard time appreciating the music, but my eyes somehow managed to be civilized enough to enjoy the sight of said band.
Later, a classmate with the looks of Chinese karate star Samo Hung or chubby and head-shaven Chow Yun Fat came up to be the next male MC – it was Inky Reyes! This time it was Regine Tolentino I think who was somehow stirred or electrified to be standing beside a witty and articulate male MC. And the awards went on.
Then Eileen once again came up for another set of intermission and entertainment. This time, the Latino music drums group + the Mardi-gras ladies + Eileen mixed it up. Later on, some Rotarians were pulled from the audience and invited to join them for a number of short dance lessons with Eileen and the Mardi-gras ladies. One really eye-popping sight was this. All of them on stage turned their backs, bent their bodies a little to make their butts more prominent, then a sloooowww dance, suddenly turned to a reeaaalllly fast beat so that your butt should be swinging and gyrating at 100 kph!
The Mardi-gras ladies did it. One of them in white shorts made it at perhaps 105 kph, while Gov. Butch, Gov. Jimmy, and the other guys from the audience could only manage 20 to 40 kph perhaps. Hey, some of you may be wondering, how could butt-swing speed be measured in kph? Oh, I don’t know too, I just coined that speed to approximate the speed of sound traveling in a vacuum. ?????? Har har har!
Then the awards became more and more exciting. Awards for clubs best in the 4 avenues of service, for (small) clubs with 25 members and below, (medium) clubs with 26-60 members, and for (large) clubs with 61 or more members.
Those clubs with plenty of awards that I could remember were RCs Paranaque Metro, Alabang, Muntinlupa Filinvest, P’que Palanyag, Rizal West, Makati Legazpi, Makati Uptown, others. But the club with the “least” awards, meaning the least categories where it got no awards, was RC Makati. For it practically got all awards for the large-club category. It sure was a good evening walking exercise for classmate Conrad Marty, going up the stage and down, then up and down again, many times.
And now, for the most awaited award – the best club overall (out of 79 clubs in the District), and the best club President! I think the ratio of drum rolls for each of these 2 awards was perhaps 1M:1 J
But before that, it was bossa nova (not liches-Nova, hehehe) songbird Sitti Navarro who turned to serenade the audience with 2 of her famous songs. And on her 2nd song, she got Fritz Ocampo (RCRW) to sing and dance with her. And Fritz showed how to gyrate with class and finesse if the wife is not watching!
Back to the most awaited awards. From the number of awards that have been previously received, guessing the “Best Club” was easy. It was the RC Makati! And for the last time, Conrad walked up the stage again, had his photos in blaring camera flashes with Gov. Butch. But this time, his walk down the stage was slower and longer – for he was swarmed with lots of congratulatory handshakes and hugs by many Rotarians, especially from among his classmates. I was one of them, and I whispered to him, “Conrad, it’s my birthday today! Can you give me that glass sculpture as your bday gift?” And to the shock of my life, he only laughed and did not give that all-important award to me! Yeah, happy for you classmate, despite your snub to my very simple request.
And now, to cap the evening, the more difficult question – who among the 79 Club Presidents is THE BEST? Will it be Conrad Marty again? Or will it be Nonoy Oplas? Or Ricky Espiritu, or Ric Santiago, or Mertz Jayco, or Noy Indonto, or Rey Alas, or Boboy Intal, or Charlie Fuentes, or Efren Rodriguez, or Ces Singzon, or Palmy Layug, or Fidel Yuboco, or Ferdie Saputil or many others? I hazard to mention these names including mine, because I have hypothesized, even theorized, that at the end of the day, it will be good looks and handsomeness that will spell the difference. Or at least steal the eyes and hearts of the judges, whoever they are.
But que barbaridad! My theory was wrong, as in 99 percent wrong! Because the judges thought that the Best President should be the most hard-working, the most dedicated, the most efficient, the mostest President. And you have heard or read who it was – Pres. Edwin Afzelius of RC Alabang!
Classmate Edwin got a standing ovation, a nod of approval and respect, from the many Rotarians who remained at that rather late evening. So, after the flashes of cameras on stage, Edwin was equally swarmed by people when he came down the stage. And again, I was one of them. And again, I whispered to him, “Edwin, it’s my birthday today. Will you give me that precious glass sculpture as your bday gift to me?” And for the 2nd shock of my life, Edwin also laughed and didn’t give in to my simple request! My oh my! Well, I just consoled myself that my theory was somehow right after all, at least 1% correct. Because Edwin got not only good looks but also good height!
For the last part of the program before more singing and dancing, Gov. Butch spoke on stage. It was a simple and very sincere message: Rotary is building lives. And it is best achieved through dedicated clubs and Rotarians, united by friendship and dedication to service. The clubs so awarded were the examples. Amen to that, Gov!
At the end of the day, or the night, the Governor is still highly respected. Unity of the District still revolves around him. I and many Rotarians, especially those in the Awards night, are grateful to him, not only for the free evening of awards and entertainment, but for his leadership for this rotary year.
Last but not the least, RC Paranaque Metro and classmate Lilibeth dela Cruz, are heroes being the lead club for this very important and star-studded event. Credit also goes to the District Secretariat. Attendance was high, stage so well and brightly designed, almost everything perfect – except that Conrad and Edwin snubbed my request to give me their very special award as their bday gift to me! Well, lucky for them because my real bday is still on October. Hehehehe.