Monday, July 31, 2006

Club inductions

Club induction is one of those “big events”, if not the biggest event, in a club’s life where the club president and his/her club officers and directors show off what they got, and what kind of stuff they’re made of. Sort of some may be made of steel, some of wood, some of bamboo, some of dollars J. But overall, a club induction is a combination of solemnity and fun, of stress and laughter, of food and drinks, sometimes of music and dancing, of rockin’ and rollin’.

Although coming from a small club, some of my classmates who are blessed with steel and dollars really go out of their way to invite all of their classmates and a number of district officials to witness their club’s big event. If I was still a bachelor like 9 months ago, I would be tempted to attend each and every open-to-all invitation that will be thrown my way by my generous classmates. But with a working wife who is 6-7 months preggy, no driver and maid to help in the house, plus other personal constraints, not to mention some heavy rains, my time to attend those mouth-watering invitations would naturally be limited.

So I really feel bad that I have to pass on those kind invitations made by some classmates to attend their club inductions, some really grand, some really modest. Like the inductions of Jay Tambunting (Makati West), Allen Embuscado (Muntinlupa South), Ana Cawaling (Taguig West), Joey Lina (Makati Central), Tony Abella (Muntinlupa Central), and many others. There are other invitations along the line for the months of August and September, with a 50-50 chance that I will be able to attend.

Some days where my wife is feeling alive and kicking and well, and the venues are not far from our house, or the rains are more forgiving if not absent, that I get to attend some inductions. Like those of Ces Singson (Makati McKinley), Inky Reyes (Makati Dasmarias), and Boboy Intal (Rizal West). In Ces’ event, I was able to stay long in his grand party, joined the dancin’ and rollin’ on the floor. One of the female dance instructors that Ces got was good, and she also looked fantabulous. I asked her name, she said she’s “Bambi”. I quickly introduced myself as “Bamboo”, but she countered, “Eh sir, Nonoy pangalan nyo eh, nasa name nyo o!” Oo nga naman ano, hehehe.

At Inky’s induction, it was also grand, with lots of interviews and testaments from his friends shown on the projector how naughty and conspiratorial the man is. Err, I mean, how hard-working, witty and trying-hard singer he is. At Boboy’s party, equally grand and lots of familiar faces as Boboy’s club is the one which sponsored our club 6 years ago, and some of their club members would pay us a visit from time to time, cool guys like Fred Fortich and Nash Pablo.

When you attend those grand and big parties and your club membership is small and resources are so little, sometimes you feel intimidated. I thought those guys should have prepared their induction parties months in advance and contributed a fortune. While I only have a few weeks preparation. So I need to think of something new and different, that Gov. Butch, wife Maling, and a few friends can possibly remember as “Eureka! That was a slam-dunkin’ hell of a party!” Maybe a “minimalist party” where coats will be disallowed, and people come in sleeveless shirts with tie and jeans? Or a “world cup legend party” where people come in soccer shirts of Pele, Maradona, Kahn and Zidane? Or a “poetic party” where all speeches will be in the form of poetry, delivered sloooowwllyy but oratorically? Ahh, I haven’t decided on it yet. Maybe a few days before our induction party, hehehe.

District Award & Handover, 2006

June 28, 2006

The day started with a friend who texted me that he saw me in the newspaper, along with other rotary club presidents and officers of District 3830. I immediately sought Business Mirror, the paper where our pictures and names were boldly displayed in its center 2 pages. It was good not only to see your handsome or beautiful face in the papers (hehehe), but also to remember again the names and faces of some of your classmates that escape your memory.

I have never attended a district awards and handover ceremony before. My idea was that it will mainly be a formal “turn-over of command” between the outgoing governor to the incoming governor, and both will be surrounded by a phalanx of happy and unburdened outgoing club presidents and district officers on the one hand, and “hot-and-raring-for-action” incoming club presidents and district officers on the other. So I was curious what it really looks like.

The main ballroom of Manila Polo Club was already teeming with people when I registered before 6pm. The main ballroom was elaborately and colorfully decorated, from the ceiling down the stage. It was announced later that district fantastic lady Lita Wells was responsible for such an imaginative task. The “outgoing” guys, club presidents, club and district officers, on the right side (the “rightists” :-)), the “incoming" guys on the left side (the “leftists” :-0).

Of course it’s nice to see again many of my classmates. Some even brought a number of their club officers. A gathering is also never complete without picture taking with your favorite friends and famous district leaders.

Program started shortly after 7pm, with opening videos of F1 cars slamming the racetracks at nearly 300 kph average speed, signaling perhaps faster and more daring district and clubs performance for the past rotary year. The MCs for that evening were Rotarians showbiz lady Ms. Cory Quirino and flamboyant guy Mr. Rene Aquino.

And so, a District Awards night is a long list of good and outstanding clubs and club presidents in various categories and services. I thought that perhaps outgoing Gov. Jimmy Cura must have brought a van full of plaques, framed certificates and recognitions. Among the great achievements I could remember, were clubs who were able to retain 100% all of their 60+ members, like Sonny Tambunting’s RC Makati. And there was a club who was able to increase its net membership by 20+ people.

There was one part of the Awarding just for selected and outstanding district officials who gave lots of “wind beneath my wings” push for Gov. Jimmy and the various clubs. I wholeheartedly agree with the Gov. with the names that he chose – past district governors Willy Segovia and Sonny Coloma, Nash Pablo, Fed Sapitan, Fritz Ocampo, Lita Wells, Sue Sta. Maria, Al Montecilio, and another 1 or 2 whose names I forgot. For me, they are among the intellectual giants, and/or administrative giants, of the district.

And the much-awaited part of the program, the formal hand-over of leadership from ever-articulate Gov. Jimmy to ever-smiling and respected Gov. Butch Francisco, came. It was a really solemn, if not emotional, part. Gov. Butch came up stage with beautiful wife Maling and their only child Rafa. I could sense paused breath, awe and excitement amidst the silence of the crowd as they stood and watched every second and minute of that moment. It was like the crowd was treated to that scene where Frodo and Sam were approaching that narrow corridor of the Temple of Doom for Frodo to throw the “lord of the rings” into a valley of fire below, as treacherous Smeagol attempts his last hurrah to steal the ring from Frodo.

A number of really good singers were also invited to give a song or 2 in between the programs. I remember 2 professional singers there, lean and model-like Ms. Chanda and Jed Madela. My gosh, those guys really sing well live on stage than on tv. Jed sang “bridge over troubled waters” as videos and photos of selected community projects by some clubs in the district were shown on the projector, before Gov. made his acceptance speech.

The program ended around 11:30pm. No fireworks display outside; only happy faces to those club members and presidents whose efforts in the past rotary year have been recognized.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Recruit, recruit...

Retention and recruitment (of members), two concepts that are supposed to be "natural" trajectories of rotary clubs, but have become sort of "elusive" for a number of clubs from many districts, both big and small clubs. This is particuarly true for our club with only 10 members.

So, during the official visit of our incoming Assistant Governor for the cluster, Edgar Castillo, middle of last month, this thing naturally cropped up. AG Edgar was accompanied by incoming District Membership Committee Chairman and PP Fed Sapitan. These 2 guys are cool. AG Edgar scoured through the series of questions (ala-multiple choice) in the "Planning Guide for Effective Rotary Clubs", discussed the answers that I gave, from target membership by the end of my term, community projects, and so on. While PP Fed focused on his field: membership expansion. Fed even addressed the past presidents (PPs), pointed out that "Somehow, PPs have bigger responsibility in recruitment than the current President because if membership will fall and the club is delisted from RI, you become a PP of a non-existence club."

We've had several discussions in the club in the past why we couldn't make those who have come once to come back. One of the reasons that we identified was our meeting place, which may not be so impressive for our recruits; so we changed venues. Another reason we identified was we did not have a regular series of talks that can attract people, so we planned on a number of talks and speakers. For some reasons we did not push this, partly because we don't have enough warm bodies to fill the room and give our proposed speakers a good number of audience.
Personally, I went through a list of my friends whom I should recruit. I have three criteria in selecting my potential recruits from among my friends. First, they preferably be males, since our meetings are on (Monday) evenings. Second, their office or residence should be not far from Fort Bonifacio, so they can either come quicker, or go home quicker. And third, they do not have family time constraints (like the wife is pregnant, or having months-old baby), or do not belong to other organizations that also require their weekly presence.

I realized later that I may have made my criteria rather strict, because from among my friends, I was able to identify only about 7, and 4 of them have immediately expressed regrets when I talked to them due to other commitment (work, family, church). So I am down to following up with only 3 among my male friends. So far, 2 of them have come at least once, and I just hope that they will ultimately join our club.

So, I will have to relax my personal criteria in inviting from among my friends. Meanwhile, other members of my club have started bringing in their own recruits. Two new recruits are "inductible", we'll do it during our club hand-over ceremony early next month. A member that has been inactive for the past 3 or 4 years suddenly called up and said he'll be active again, so that's another good news for us. We are waiting for other recruits of other members to show up in the coming weeks.

Slowly, patience and perseverance should work in our favor.

Distass, May 6

Last May 6, we attended the 2nd and last required training seminars for PEs, the District Assembly or Distass (the first was the PETS, last March). Host club here was the RC of Makati Center, under Serving President Leonardo "Nards" Tanlu. The activity was held in Canyon Woods Resort Club, in Laurel, Batangas.

Like the PETS, I again hitched with classmate Rey Alas (hey, we're neighbor), PE of RC Makati-Nielsen, along with Joel Ciron, PP of our club.

Several times in the past, I have passed by Canyon Woods (between Tagaytay and Lemery) and I was always curious how it looks inside. So the Distas was my first opportunity to finally enter the resort. And wow, it's really grand! The clubhouse is huge, and the posts, huge and rounded cement posts, they look like giant wood trunks.

Before the program proper, PEs have again posed for a group picture with Gov-Elect Butch Francisco and wife Maling. As usual, people have good smiles whenever you lump them in a big group and lots of cameras clicking and flashing in front of them.

Gov. Jimmy Cura was in his usual stance -- delivering eloquent, extemporaneous (no notes) and inspiring opening address. Gov-Elect Butch is also in his usual poise -- always smiling, and doesn't talk long.

Our main resource speaker that day was PDG Bill Dethlefs from Australia, who spoke on "To serve we must grow", showing some numbers about membership, and emphasizing the need to retain and develop current members and recruit new ones.

The luncheon plenary was rather long. There were 5 topics delivered by 5 panelists: DSWD Sec. Esperanza Cabral on Hunger, RC Makati PP Puno Pena on Health, RC Makati JPRizal PP Lita Wells on Literacy, RC Makati PP Tito Panlilio, and RC Makati Dasmarinas PP Ding Dizon on Family of Rotary.

But what made things bad, even intolerable for others, was the delayed serving of lunch! I was able to finish my lunch about 1:45pm; somehow I was lucky because others haven't eaten until past 2:30pm.

The afternoon group sessions was more dynamic. District officials on one group, club secretaries and other club officers on another group, spouses on another group, and our group, the PEs, on another. Naturally, DGE Butch was our main panel speaker. I still cannot remember the names of many of my classmates, but many dished out valid issues and questions. One of them suggested that instead of a scheme where clubs compete with each other for points to get awards, the system be changed to non-competitive point system where some clubs would earn sort of "summa cum laude", others "cum laude", and so on. This way, clubs will be competing not against each other, but within themselves how much work they can accomplish, from membership expansion to having Paul Harris fellows to community/youth/international services.

Classmate Inky Reyes voiced out his members' concerns that although DGE Butch wants club inductions to be as simple and austere as much as possible to earn points, his members want to have a grand party at a grand place, and he's going to invite all of us, fellow Presidents, to witness that big event in their club. We applauded the man of course, for that very early invitation. I even suggested to Gov. Butch that we better do away with the points system for the club induction because while Inky will not get points, he will make us happy with a sumptuous food and drinks treat! But Gov. Butch replied that he'll keep the said points system for club inductions. If some guys would throw a lavish party, no problem; if others will be austere about it, no problem either.

Then another session on same groupings. Our session was "Using new technology", led by PDG Willy Segovia and PP Fritz Ocampo. They talk about using the web for our education on RI matters, how to use web-based texting, and so on. Gov. Willy even gave away 2 discs, one on downloaded important RI materials especially on TRF, and another on Powertext software.

The program was ended with a group singing of "Lead the way" (tune of "happy heart") with classmate Joey Lina as lead singer.

We left Canyon Woods rather dark, past 7pm. This time, Joel and I hitched with PP Herman Gapac on our way back to Makati as Rey Alas has to go to Alabang for some business meeting.

Whew, formal district trainings are over. The challenge of actual club work and trainings still beckoning...

Monday, March 27, 2006

PETS, Day 2

Day 2, March 19

The day is mainly for team-building exercises. The district hired again the services of Convergent consulting, headed by Buneeh (pronounced "ba-nee"), a dynamic and cheerful lady, as chief training leader. PEs went to Tribal camp wearing their respective team color shirts.

The first team-building exercise was for people (from different color teams) to group themselves according to a song title that they will have to swing out and sing at the same. 5 minutes for each group to plan, then showing each group's wares. My group then will sing and dance Hagibis' song, "Katawan". Since I was the one who more or less memorized a big portion of the song, I was instantly made the group dance-leader (hehehe). To the tune of "mahilig kami sa magaganda, katawan lang aming nakikita, lalo na yong kaakit-akit pa", I gyrated like a frustrated macho dancer, ouch! Well, at least I made my co-groupmates happy :-)

Second exercise was for everyone to write a one-word adjective (English or Filipino) on a piece of paper to describe that person; the paper is clipped at the back of each one of us. Well, we were 60+ then and only 3 minutes to do the job. On average, one person will get about 15-25 adjectives and descriptions from the same number of persons who wrote on the paper on his/her back. Buneeh asked for volunteers who will share which of the words and impressions written about you that strikes you most. I was among the early volunteers, I said, "they say i'm a 'sex maniac'!" Of course this sent a riotous laughter among many of them, hehehe. And of course, I was joking, because I was happy with what many of them wrote about me -- "nice, jolly, ok, happy, extrovert,..." Buneeh followed the sharing later with a discussion about "first impression", and how to change it if the impression is not reflective of your real character.

Third and "main event" exercise was the "Amazing race". This time, we'll be working as a team under our shirts' color. Seven (7) activities and obstacles to hurdle and finish to get 1 flag in each activity, to be finished in 60 minutes or less. The yellow team was the fastest, finishing everything in 45 minutes; our red team followed after 2 minutes, the green and all-male, all-enjoyable guys followed us after about 4 minutes, and so on. It was one of the most enjoyable team exercises I've ever participated in my life!

After the late morning break, there were discussions and assessments for each team, what were the factors that helped the team achieve its goals, the factors that destructed and weakened them, lessons learned, etc.

Last exercise before lunch was a relay with a live catfish ("hito") instead of batton, that each runner will pick up from a container, run to a post and back, return the fish, and tag the next runner. This time, our team was first, hoorraayyyy!!!

Lunch time was capped by a very inspiration speech by PRID Paing Hechanova as our luncheon speaker. He talked about vocational training and the importance of ensuring honesty and dignity in the practice of our profession and vocation. Again, I another bright mind speaking in front of us, sharing bits and paragraphs of wisdom that should guide us how to conduct our lives, our work, our households and our community.

Before we broke up to go back to the lecture hall, Buneeh went to the front again to give the last exercise for the day -- a charade contest, a forgettable one as our team got zero point, argghh!!

The last activity was a planning session, with our respective assistant governors for our clusters sitting with us to plan activities and member retention and recruitment programs.

So, what have I learned and observed in the past 2 days of PETS?
The lessons are very clear to me, as follows:

(1) I noticed and observed not a single instance of bragging or "payabangan" among us PEs, and among district officials. Instead, almost everyone was blurting out (or attempting to blurt out)lots of funny and humoruous stories, one-liners and jokes! This is Rotary, one happy family!

(2) Lots of brainy and service-oriented leaders, especially among PDGs and PRIDs, as well as current and in-coming AGs.

(3) Finally, Rotary is indeed an organization of volunteers, of people who come for a common purpose of helping themselves and their communities, not an organization based on coercion and multiple-level bureaucracies, like governments in many parts of the world. And this is one thing that I will tell my prospective recruits from among my friends.

Friday, March 24, 2006

PETS, Day 1

Day 1, March 18.

MMLDC (Manolo M. Lopez Devt. Center, or Meralco Management Leadership and Devt. Center) in Antipolo City was a good venue for the training. It's my first time to visit this place. I brought my wife, Ella, to attend the first day activity as there is a separate program for spouses. A classmate and good friend PE Rey Alas of RC Nielsen, gave us a ride as his condo is just 4 blocks from our apartment in Makati.

Being a newly-chosen PE (in fact, just a few days before the PETS since the original PE, Jena Padilla, asked to be replaced), the only classmate that I knew in the batch was Rey Alas. I didn't mix up with new comers who were my fellow PEs then, just stayed on a corner sipping coffee and skimming through the thick manual and district materials.

The program started shortly after 9am. Bright minds of Rotary leadership began unfurling. Our guest speaker that morning, PRID Benny Santos, was a picture of a blessed man who has equally shared his blessings to many other people, from rich and non-rich Rotarians to ordinary and poor people who have benefitted from a number of community projects conducted by various RCs.

DGE Butch Francisco was wittily introduced by PP Sid Garcia. Gov-Elect Butch's address, "Our purpose, our goals and RI theme" was clear and easily understandable for us PEs because he sounded very honest and sincere.

It was only during the break time that I got to meet my teammates in the Red team. The color-coded teams will show their wares in the evening presentation and the team-building exercises the following day. Joey Lina, PE of RC Makati Central, was our team leader. I have thought that Joey being an ex-Governor, ex-Senator, ex-DILG Secretary, and now Manila Hotel President, could be a bit "hard to approach" considering his high achievements. I was flatly wrong. Joey gamely gathered us members of the Red team, explained to us what will be our presentation that evening, how we'll do it (or sing it), etc. By lunchtime, our team has already cohered, we occupied one long table, shared stories and exchanged jokes.

Gov Jimmy Cura was the luncheon speaker. His topic was "Motivating Rotarians". As usual, the Governor gave an extemporaneous, articulate, and very inspiring message. The guy really got the brains and passion to say the things that he believes and have done. He has walked the talk, and the aura of sincerity is very evident in his face and his voice.

After lunch, session 1, "Roles and responsibilities of Club Presidents" started with PDG Joey Benedicto as main speaker. Gov Joey is a man of brains and humor. Loud and emphatic voice, lots of Latin quotes and verses, and injecting humor every now and then in the middle of his speech. His last 2 sentences was among the funniest: he was chanting some Latin phrases, and ended, "Sa Filipino pa, tapos na po ang aking pananalita, maaari na po kayong pumalakpak." Which we did! Alright man!

Session 2, "Resources, goal setting... and Rotary Academy" was led by IPDG Tony Quila. Gov Tony is more of an organization man; yes, with brains of course. I only find the issue on point system in the district awards that he presented as too bureaucratic. Too many activities to watch and tally points, I feel that the District will need a phalanx of watchers and tally guys, to fully and carefully record the points. Will the District spend big money for the salaries or allowances of these watchers and tally kids?

Session 3, on "Club leadership and administration" led by PDG Herman Gamboa, I find the subject a bit boring. Maybe because the meat of this subject has been touched several times on several occasions by earlier speakers.

Session 4, "Membership development, recruitment and retention", was led by Gov. Tony Quila. But the guy who woke up the sleepy, envigorated the tired, and sent riotous laughter to the group, was Pres. Sonny Tambunting of RC Makati. A rare, frank and special character, I should say. His opening sentence: "I want you all to stand up, and applaud the greatest speaker in this training, that's me!" Who can beat that? Nothing but himself, as he followed it up with more witty intros before he pounced on his proposal of a "Kuya system" where big and stronger clubs will adopt the small and weaker clubs for a while until such time that the latter will get the idea, the "hung" of how to maintain a strong and dynamic organization.

Session 5, "The Rotary Foundation", was led by PDG Willy Segovia. Gov Willy to me, is one of the District's really cerebral-brainy leaders. His presentation of what the Foundation is all about, how it's funded and how it funds projects, was as clear as a 7am sun: bright and clear and will not burn your skin and head. Now, Gov. Willy was backed up by 3 bright minds, all past presidents (PP): the ever-enthusastic Dr. Nash Pablo, my brother in law and frank guy Donnies Alas, and young banker Fritz Ocampo.

After the fellowship dinner, team presentations started. Our team will be the 5th group to present that night. After seeing the first 3 teams, I have concluded that we were already in the top 3, even before we will show our talents! hehehe. Well, even the gods make mistakes sometimes, and so I also made that mistake. Two other teams really beat us to a better presentation. Anyway...

The later part of that evening was full of energy and vitality. Just when most of the guys left after the program proper has ended, the non-stop dancing and singing with the live band started! I showed my young John Lennon-like energy when I grabbed the mike from the lady lead singer and sang The Beatles' "Twist and Shout", alright! Then other singers, more jolly and energetic, both from our Red team and the riotous Green team, went up the stage and sang with the band. When the band got tired and folded their instruments, the karaoke session started. It was almost 12 midnight when I left as my wife was still waiting for my "good night, tsup!" text.

Day 2 (to be continued...)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Hi, Welcome!

Hello friends,

Welcome to my new blog, my 5th blog actually on 5 different subjects and concerns, on a single account. (I might add a 6th blog later :-))

I have been chosen by my clubmates in RC Taguig-Fort Bonifacio (RCTFB) to be the club President-Elect (PE) for RY 2006-2007. I was really hesitant to accept the job because of a number of personal limitations, from financial to time constraint as my wife will give birth to our first child this coming October! But PP Jed Inciong, IPP Joel Ciron, and current Serving President Glenn Inciong, urged me to accept the challenge. The also gave a modest contribution and a portion of club money to help me pay the training fee. They also brought in AG Tony Chiong to help in convincing me. With enough assurance of various forms of support from these guys, I said Yes!

So, last weekend, March 18-19, I joined District 3830's Presidents-Elect Training Seminar (PETS) held in MMLDC, Antipolo City. It was a training that I really enjoyed a lot, as I got to meet and shared sweat and laughter with many classmates (we were about 70 PEs there) who will become their respective club Presidents starting this coming July 1, as well as district officials and leaders.

Gov. Jimmy Cura, you never cease to amaze me with your very articulate and inspiring speeches! Governor-Elect Butch Francisco, your always smiling face assures me that we'll have lots of fun amidst some hardships in springing our clubs to good leadership. IPG Tony Quila, your presence and leadership in those 2 days and 1 night of training and fun was very reaassuring. And to my sister, incoming AG for administration, Marycris Oplas, your dynamism and casualness in dealing with us new blood of leaders, is very inspiring. Hats off to you and other district guys!

My succeeding posts on my notes and observations about the PETS...