Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Last club meeting this RY

Our last club meeting for this Rotary Year 2006-07 was a slam-dunkin entertaining one! No fireworks, yes, but there were lots of friends and guests, food and pulutan, beer and serbesa, red wines and giant wine glasses!

Last Monday, we had a joint meeting with RC Rizal South-west. Our classmate and my Red Teammate, Pres. Toni Francisco of RCRSW, was our guest speaker. She's our only classmate that I know who entered politics by running as congresswoman in the Malabon-Navotas district last May. Luck, or better, the politics of money and explicit cheating was not on her side though (she ran under the opposition) and she “lost”. So I asked her to speak about her experience and insights about Philippine politics.

Toni narrated why she suddenly decided to run for Congress, as late as last February only. Despite zero experience as a politician, and her family has never been directly into politics, circumstances compelled her to try her luck. Her main rivals are never from Malabon-Navotas, one is from Cebu , the other from Paranaque, suddenly went to Malabon-Navotas, mainly to protect their entrenched political interests there. The incumbent Congressman, a 3-termer and brother of her rival, was a cute Malacanang boy in Congress but was never cute in real performance in his geographical constitutency.

She mentioned that some community organizations that she's involved with, like the Kalipunan ng mga Kooperatiba sa Malabon (KAKOMA), asked her to run. The campaign period was a very exhausting activity. For instance, she'd go house-to-house campaign from 8 - 11:30am, 7 days a week, then caucuses and meetings in the afternoon until evening. But she noticed that about 2 weeks before the election day, she was the only congressional candidate doing the house-to-house campaign. The others have stopped doing this and reserved their energy and money in what’s more “crucial” – vote buying!

During election day, many of her supporters from poor neighborhood never got to vote for her. At P500 per voter in Malabon and up to P1,500 per voter in Navotas, some of her supporters received the money from her rivals, their fingers marked with indelible ink, meaning they cannot vote anymore and just stayed home. Those are several thousand votes for her that failed to materialize.

On “dagdag-bawas” (or vote shaving), Toni showed us pictures of 2 election returns (ERs) from 2 precincts. In one ER, the tally showed she got 55 votes; but just about 8 inches to the right of the same wide paper, her vote, the one signed by the election inspectors (the teachers), was only 5, her 50 votes went to the proclaimed “winner”. In another ER, her 32 votes in the tally became 12, her 20 votes went to another moneyed rival who also lost. So, what’s one lesson here? If you want to win in an election, spend on winning the hearts of voters, but spend MORE on bribing election officials!

After Toni’s talk, an open forum followed. One question was: if you want to change things in society, would it be better to bribe and cheat your way to victory, then change things using your political power; or run fair and clean, hope to win, then change things with little or no political and moral baggage? Toni replied that if she’ll ever run again, she’ll still choose the latter. Only that she’ll run wiser and experienced to guard her weak points. Now, that’s a true Rotarian, passing all the 4-way test! I also asked her if she has any regrets going through those hassles and still lost, she said No. For her it was a very educating and eye-opening experience, a very expensive one though.

After the adjournment around 9pm, that's where a riotous fellowships among members of the 2 clubs began. People exchanged more discussions, or exchanged calling cards and talked about business, or simply exchanged jokes. Toni brought red wines, my clubmates paid for the corkage, the waiters brought giant wine glasses, and we gulped the wines!

Our cluster AG, Edgar Castillo was laughing loudly; our respective PEs (and President by Sunday), Owe Lozada and Jorge Carmona, were discussing plans for more joint meetings during their term.

With that, my term, our term, is ending. Bonding with some classmates is always a very rewarding activity. I only regret that an evening where I also asked classmate Ces Singson to be our guest speaker a few months ago, did not materialize. I bragged to my clubmates that Ces is the most "gallant" president of our District this RY. It's just that some things in our club did not work right that evening.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

More about Pres. Edwin Afzelius

Below is a portion of a paper written by Past Gov. Sonny Coloma, a clubmate of Pres. Edwin Afzelius. Sonny is among the past Governors of our District that I highly respect.

For The Alabang Scoresheet – 7 June 2007
PDG Sonny Coloma

President Edwin’s Will to Serve

... An overall Most Outstanding Club award was also given to Rotary Club of Makati, the second to the last award to be given out by Governor Rafael “Butch” Francisco in the Awards Night held last Friday, 1 June, at the Manila Peninsula. But it was only the second most applauded award.

The night belonged to Pres. Edwin Afzelius. When his name was announced as Most Outstanding Club President, a roar issued from the crowd. A loud standing ovation ensued. Then his fellow Lead Presidents swarmed all over him to offer him handshakes, hugs, kisses and effusive best wishes....

What’s the secret behind the Club’s success under Pres. Edwin’s dynamic leadership? There is no secret. Hard work, determination, and the will to serve were the key success factors.

I happen to be a believer in the Aruego principle enunciated by Past District Governor Johnny Aruego: “There is no such thing as strong clubs or weak clubs, only strong Club Presidents and weak Club Presidents.” I have framed a corollary principle: “Strong clubs led by strong Presidents become effective because these are powered by strongly committed Rotarians.”

Pres. Edwin was definitely hard working. As a founder-owner- CEO of a well-performing business enterprise, he dedicated more than ample stores of time to being Club President. His determination was evident. He was always an ardent promoter of club projects and he sought out the participation of each and every Rotarian and spouse. He also networked with community leaders and organizations to ensure that our projects would have wide-ranging impact. He did a lot to project a positive public image for the club, thereby attracting community support and garnering a good number of new members.

Above all, he had the will to serve. He stepped up and stood out. He embraced the responsibility of leading our club, even if he had already served previously (in RY 1994-1995 under then Governor Romy del Rosario) as President of RC Las Pinas. His enthusiasm infected us all, and his go-getting style was contagious.

Above all, Pres. Edwin demonstrated generosity of spirit and genuine compassion. He shared his time, talents and resources selflessly --- and his generosity returned to him in manifold ways. He had an abundance mindset, so his actions brought forth an abundance of productive and beneficial results.

Many months before his term began, I was with then President-elect Edwin and spouse Panggay, and Past Presidents Polie de los Santos and Jun Manas with their spouses Bubut and Cely at a social event in a Makati hotel. In jest, I told Edwin, “The real reason why we elected you Club President is not that we wanted you to be President. We really want Panggay to be first Lady of RC Alabang!”

In good humor, Edwin took that in stride. But that was really meant to be an indirect compliment. Edwin Afzelius resolved and committed to serve RC Alabang as Club President at a time when there was great reluctance among many of our colleagues to take on the mantle of Club leadership. He did not just accept the responsibility. He heeded the call to serve, embraced the challenge, led the way and made a great difference.

Best talk by the Best President

Pres. Edwin Afzelius of RC Alabang, judged the "best president" of D3830 this RY, obliged to my request to be our club speaker. Last night, he came to our modest but wacky club.

Before I will share with you what classmate Edwin talked about, lemme ask you a little quezzion:
Is there a relationship between height and size of brain?
If so, what's that relationship -- directly proportional, inversely proportional, or tangentally disproportional?

Hah, I gotcha!
Now read on, and see the answer to the above quezzzion :-)

Edwin came around 7pm, and he blended well with my clubmates, especially with our PE Owe Lozada, in a fellowships that lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. Then I formally introduced him and asked him to talk what I asked him to speak -- about "club leadership".

Edwin has been a Rotarian for 20 years now. He's been a PP of RC Las Pinas, then moved to RC Alabang, and his fate being designed by the Gods elsewhere, he's been elected again to be a club President once more.

Before talking or revealing his "secret" to become the most outstanding club leader of our district this year, Edwin painstakingly narrated his experience how he transformed his past club with only 4 or 5 active members to one that reached 50+ members. The lesson shared with us by some of our past club speakers this RY, including our cluster AG Edgar Castillo and past Gov. Jimmy Cura, Edwin re-emphasized -- with plenty of members, things just fall into their places: projects, money, people attending district activities, etc. And if you have a club with a big membership base (RC Alabang has 62 members), how to get the most out of the talent and resources of each and every club member.

So, what's Edwin's "secret"?
Man, the guy talked for about 1 1/2 hours, and if I narrate to you what he talked, it should be about 5 pages long! But I have a short-cut and one-sentence answer to that question:
Invite Edwin to be your club speaker!

I think what separated Edwin from me and many other club Presidents, whether this RY or in other RYs, is his patience for DOCUMENTATION. He showed to our club his "Final Report" -- a 3 inches-thick (I think) folder that details each and every activity that he and his club participated, each and every contributions and funds raised by the club, complete with pictures, tables, and attachments!

I tell you guys, each one of us in our club who were listening to Edwin last night were shaking our heads wondering and admiring at the patience and amount of efforts made to compile such kind of report! For instance, in the first part of the report, is a table that looks like this:
Date on column 1; Activity on column 2; and Picture in column 3.
And there seems to be activities and pictures sometimes 6-7 days a week!
And that's only for the summary table.
In the succeeding parts or chapters of the Report, are more details, more descriptions, and more photos, of the projects that he and his club have undertaken, or participated along with other clubs.

And here's another gem of "secret" that Edwin shared: he participated ALL invitations by other clubs for joint activities! He never turned down a single invitation, whether it's golf tournament or Gawad Kalinga or anti-TB projects or plain joint meetings. Hah, had I known this, I would have asked him that his talk last night be a joint meeting between our club and his club, hahaha!

Edwin mentioned that there are some Presidents who claim to have undertaken lots of activities, but failed to document those, either in written reports or pictures. The claim could be true, but unless you have documented said activities, then proving that you indeed undertook such activity or project can be difficult. I was tempted to crack that in my case, I have lots of pictures but little projects! How come? Ahh, pictures of sexy babes, pictures of F1, tour de france, beaches, mountains and waterfalls, my baby and my wife, etc. Hehehehe.

So guys, have you figured out the answer to my simple quiz above?
Yeah, I guess so. And the answer iz....
height and size of brains, in Edwin's case, is directly proportional!
Yeah man!

My clubmates were very happy and very enlightened that Edwin shared those and many other thoughts with them last night. Salamat ulit, classmate!

Monday, June 04, 2007

District Awards 2007

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.