Monday, July 01, 2013

Moments 4: Al Orolfo

Another early draft that I sent to the editorial team of ROTARY MOMENTS before it was finally decided that all papers should be in first person, not third person, narrative. So this is not the one that was published there, but am posting this nonetheless because of some unique stories that this Peace President has to share.

Al Orolfo, Ph. D.
RC Makati Rockwell

Either circumstances push some hesitant Rotarians to Club leadership, or such leadership is circumvented by circumstances. Or both can happen at the same time to the same person.

Al Orolfo has experienced both. He was just a club President-Nominee when the President-Elect begged off due to personal reasons and so he was suddenly thrust into the limelight to become the next Club President. That is why he called his leadership as “President by accident.” Sometimes things that happen in our life are purely unplanned and we just have to embrace them and be open to more possibilities.

And just when he became Club President, he was appointed as a Regional Technical Director of the DENR in Region 7, based in Cebu City. He could not back off from either position, he has to do both jobs. There he goes from Makati Rockwell to Cebu and vice versa. Lucky and hard working guy.

Like the other “accidental Presidents”, he was hesitant and doubtful of his capacity to lead the club when he attended the President-Elects Training Seminar (PETS). But upon meeting his classmates and the District Officials led by then District Governor Elect (DGE) Sue Sta. Maria, having instant friendship with other professionals and businessmen in the District, the doubts were greatly diminished.  The motivational speeches of DG Sue nailed further his commitment as Club President. Then the encouraging words and equal commitment showed by his club officers and members made him decide to fully accept the duties and responsibilities thrust upon him. From there, he just “enjoyed the ride.”

During his term, the club’s main activities were promoting Reproductive Health (RH) and sustainable environmental management . The club held several talks and seminars about the RH bill, that became a law last December 2012. And his being a DENR official naturally prodded him and the club to engage in various environmental advocacies, like their annual tree planting project along the South Luzon Expressway which mobilizes government, NGOs and other private organizations to join hands in establishing a Green and Litter-Free Highway.

Then the partnership with other clubs in promoting  solid waste management, biodiversity conservation, and coral reef restoration through seminars. Community outreach activities included scholarship program, health and sanitation project and support to risk and disaster management. Of course they also fund-raising activities to make the incoming President comfortable in financing his initial club projects.

Another community of the club is the pencil-drive for Aeta children in Zambales, in partnership with Carl Duisberg Association of the Philippines, a group of former scholars in Germany that share the same advocacy on literacy for the marginalized school children.  This activity became his swan-song  highlighted by the Club  visit of the Aeta children, punctuated by a post-summer club outing in Zambales.

So how did  he juggle his time between his work assignment in Cebu and Club duties in Manila, with travels out of the country in between? Not easy but not too hard either. First and foremost, he was backed up and supported by his clubmates, they told him that they will adjust to his new work assignment. Strong Club members’ commitment was something that really inspired and energized him. Second, modern technology has erased many boundaries of geography. Members who did not even hear yet Skype and Facebook became instant converts. Third, he flies to Manila twice a month on average so he can attend important Club and District activities.
He has at least two unforgettable moments in Rotary. One was his Club Induction where his classmates and some key District Officers trooped to his oath-taking . He saw and felt the value of Rotary family. It was an overwhelming moment for him to see his PETS classmates gracing the occasion even though he could not attend to his classmates’ major activities.

The other was when the club held its strategic planning in an island in Cebu that his clubmates along with their families, enjoyed a lot. They marooned themselves in the island for the planning and the formulation of their Club’s Vision and Mission, doing the SWOT analysis and identifying the most urgent and important activities for the next three years. Serious club activity will not be memorable without them doing island hopping, feasting on local foods and snorkelling in the marine sanctuaries of Mactan seascape after.

Al has special thanks to Governor Sue. Her encouraging and inspiring words and support were a big factor in his club leadership. His Club for instance was the first to be visited by the Governor last January 7, 2013. Instant bonding between them was made easier since both are human resource management practitioners.

Hats off to both President Al and Governor Sue.

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