Tuesday, May 11, 2010


I attended the RI 3830 District Assembly (DISTAS) 2010 last Saturday, May 8, 2010, held at the AIM Conference Center, Makati City. I arrived later as I woke up late because I was watching my daughter who has a fever the night before. When I woke up, her fever was gone but it was already 9 am!

After registration, the first speaker I caught was PDG Sonny Coloma and he was introducing the guest speaker that day, his fellow AIM Professor and head of the AIM Policy Center, Dr. Poch Macaranas, an economist. Although I have heard Dr. Macaranas spoke in the past, recently I haven’t heard much from him, so I was curious what he would say to the probably 300+ Rotarians from D3830 that day.

Judging from the first 3 minutes of his talk, I figured that it was the usual pessimistic viewpoint of the world and the country in general. Among Dr. Macaranas’ points that day that he wanted Rotarians to realize were the following:

1. The Philippines will slowly be overtaken economically by Vietnam and Cambodia.
2. The world is getting more interdependently chaotic, the level of globalization in all aspects of our lives is now high.
3. Climate change is here and the Philippines is among the most susceptible to its negative effects.

There were other points but I could not remember them now. Those 4 points are still fresh in my mind.

When it comes to private enterprises and voluntary civil society organizations like Rotary, I am generally more optimistic. When it comes to governments – local, national and multilateral/foreign aid – I am more pessimistic. The main reason is that private enterprises and civil society organizations like Rotary rest on voluntary exchange and support from their customers and supporters. There is always pressure to be results-oriented and be more accountable to their customers and supporters, otherwise said people will simply stop supporting them anytime, anywhere. In contrast, governments rest on mandatory and forcible exchange. Whether we like the plans and programs of the politicians and the various bureaucracies and agencies that implement them or not, we ordinary citizens are forced to support them with our tax money and compliance with their regulations.

So when Dr. Macaranas emphasized the growing chaos and instability (political, economic, social and cultural) around the world, I don’t agree with this view. To me, there is more chaos around the world as governments and multilaterals become bigger and enforce more mandatory social entitlements. While there is improvement in human conditions as private enterprises and civil society groups like Rotary go on with their lives.

Many may not also agree with me on this, but just look around if we’re indeed getting more miserable with the products and services by private enterprises and our civic organizations: cell phones, laptops, televisions, internet connection, cars, air travel, other transportation-telecommunications goods and services are becoming more affordable to more people, becoming more modern, and inter-connectivity among people across countries and continents are getting faster and quicker.

The opportunity to acquire and train on new skills are now higher, so long as an individual has some ambition and has patience for hard work.

And my favorite punching bag: climate alarmism. Climate change (global warming and global cooling) is natural, is cyclical and is continuous. It is never man-made and is never “unprecedented” in human history. Recent “wild weather” like typhoons “Ondoy” and “Pepeng” last September and October 2009, respectively, were not exactly “unprecedented”. More of this in my various papers and presentation materials, available at our website, www.minimalgovernment.net

Although I noticed that many Rotarians that day nodded their heads in agreement with Dr. Macaranas, I do not think that such generally pessimistic viewpoint of the world is a good way to start a training seminar for the key officers of the 80+ rotary clubs of the District in the coming Rotary year.

In the service-oriented movement of the Rotary International, rotarians around the world can somehow be considered among the “social warriors”. Juggling their time with work and business, family, other social and family network, and the high expectations of voluntary service to the less-fortunate members of society is not easy.

I believe, therefore, that Rotarians in an important training seminar deserve a message of more optimism and more encouragement. Again, mainly because many governments, from the Philippines to other countries, are the main source of pessimism and complaints of many people around the world.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Classmate Ces Singson's birthday party

The other night, classmate Cesar Singson -- in photo with me -- past president of Rotary Club of Makati McKinley, celebrated his birthday party with his clubmates, some classmates, his law office and other family friends. It was held at the Philippine Columbian Assn. in Paco, Manila.

Ces is perhaps the most gallant classmate in our batch. During our term, Rotary year 2008-2007 with RI's theme of "Lead the way", there were about 77 clubs in the District. It was standard practice for some richer clubs and/or richer club President, to invite all of their "classmates" club President from other clubs in the district, to attend their club induction ceremony. Ces did that. During that rotary year too, when Ces celebrated his birthday, he again invited all of his classmates to a festive party. And in that same year, he celebrated his silver (25 years) wedding anniversary and again, invited all his classmates! What a guy.

Below are some of the food on the table. My favorite was the "kalderetang kambing", so deliciously prepared, perfect with cold beer. Then sashimi and balut. I did not bother eating the litson, lumpia, pansit, rice, siopao, etc.

The whole evening was full of fellowship, eating and singing! So many singers and entertainers from the guests. Some sang the classic 60s and 70s songs, the younger singers belted out some current hit songs and ballads. I sang, of course, the Beatles' "twist and shout" and "hey jude", rock version :-)

Below are some of the singers and drummers, and Ces wife, Mel Singson. Mel is a very mild-mannered and friendly lady. No wonder they kept their marriage entering the 30th year soon.

Other classmates who came were Inky Reyes, Tess Sanchez, and Rey Alas. Inky sang, of course. Other classmates who confirmed failed to show up though.

The trouble with attending such a festive party is... the hang-over the following day. But then again, it's the festivity, the fellowships and singing, that mattered.

Classmate Ces, advance happy birthday for January 2011! hehehe.

Tuloy sa Don Bosco

The Tuloy sa Don Bosco project in Alabang is among the biggest projects being helped sustained year after year, by many Rotary Clubs of RI Disrict 3830, especially by the Rotary Club of Alabang. It is a project to help hundreds of street children recover their soul and dignity, giving them hope and inspiration.

Those previously street children are housed, schooled and trained in some particular skills, and after a certain age or training, when they are confiden and productive enough, are "released" to the outside world to be on their own. And the project takes in new batches of street children, and the cycle continues.

The facilities in Tuloy are beautiful, you wouldn't think they are for street children. Below are some young children, elementary school age perhaps, on a recess. They have uniforms and ID.

Last August, I joined the District Governor's lunch at Tuloy. It is an annual event being spearheaded by RC Alabang and other clubs in the south. It's a big fund-raising event where individual Rotarians or clubs from the District make pledges. Participants also give a donation. There are some health products being displayed (those firms are owned by some Rotarians) where a certain profit margin, or donations in cash or in kind, are also donated to Tuloy.

That afternoon, I was impressed by the huge donation, a total of something like half a million pesos. That's for a one-day event only. There are other clubs and Rotarians that donate in cash or in kind at any day of the year.

It's fascinating how "service above self" is working. Selfless charity project, volunteerism, zero coercion and taxation, to pursue a down to earth project of helping the poor and needy. Another reason why I remain being a Rotarian.