Sunday, June 17, 2012

TRF Seminar on Future Vision Plan and Global Grants

Here are the photos that I took during the seminar on "Transitioning to the Future Vision Plan" last June 09, 2012, held at the Session Hall, 22/F, Makati City Hall. The event was sponsored by the RC Makati Poblacion. It was the first time that I entered the session hall of Makati CH.

I think about 70 people attended that afternoon, including speakers and past District Governors of D3830 like Jimmy Cura, Guiller Tumangan and Ed Alvarez. Of course incoming District Governor Sue Sta. Maria was there.

The first speaker who spoke about the Global Grants was D3810 Immediate Past District Governor (IPDG) Tranquil S. Salvador III, a young and articulate guy. Well, I would say that almost all District Governors, past, present and future, are articulate.

Upper right photo below, he was given a plaque of appreciation by PDG Guiller Tumangan and DGE Sue Sta. Maria. PDG Guiller was also the second speaker, he briefly spoke about The Rotary Foundation (TRF) policies and programs, and preparing for Matching Grant (MG) application. The third speaker was D3810 PDG Josefina Ang, lower right photo. Another articulate speaker.

Nice venue, attentive participants.

Below, more photos with D3810's PDG Josefina Ang, between PDG Guiller and DGE Sue. The activity started around 1:15pm and ended around 5:45pm, covered all the agenda. About one-fourth or one-third of the participants left before the official closing.

Among my classmates in RY 2006-07 who attended that afternoon were Rose Acoba, Jay Tambunting, Rene Co, Techie Cruz, Julie Rabe, hmmm, did I forget someone.

I really enjoyed that seminar, I learned many things. One of the good things at being a Rotarian, learning more things at minimum cost. Seminar fee was only P400 including heavy afternoon snacks. I liked the food prepared by the host club, thanks RC Makati Poblacion.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Global Grants, Rotary and Civil Society

This is my article today in an online magazine where I contribute a weekly paper.

Nonoy Oplas
Providing wide and sustainable humanitarian projects to the poor and needy via civil society and voluntary organizations with zero government support is highly possible. It has happened, it is happening and will continue to happen.
Such civil society organizations (CSOs) range from civic groups like Gawad Kalinga and Rotary Clubs, religious and church groups, villages, business and professional associations, corporate foundations, sports clubs, and so on.

I will give examples from Rotary because there are really huge projects going on there. I am referring to the new initiative of the Rotary International (RI), the Global Grants (GG). This is a new initiative, taking lessons from thousands of humanitarian projects in the past from many rotary clubs from many countries.

GGs’ general characteristics are. One, they are meant to finance sustainable projects for the needy people, meaning after the term of the Club President who initiated the project has ended, the project is still there and is able to generate certain funds for its continuation year after year.

Two, minimum project cost is US$30,000, no more projects worth $5,000 or $20,000. A club in a poor country finds a partner club/s in a rich country, their respective RI Districts pouring additional funding, and a worthwhile project involving public health, water and sanitation, education and literacy, economic livelihood, peace and conflict resolution, will get at least $30,000 of funding that are quickly paid so long as all the requirements are complied with.

In a training seminar last June 09, 2012 on “The Future Vision Plan” by RI District 3830, the first speaker, Immediate Past District Governor (IPDG) of RI District 3810, Tranquil Salvador III, gave several success stories in the Global Grants (GG) in his District, comprising Rotary Clubs in Manila, Pasay, Cavite, Mindoro, other nearby provinces.

1. GG #25075, “Philippine Medical Mission”, $37,500.00.

Project components: (a) Maternal and child health, (b) disease prevention and treatment, (c) basic education and literacy. A club to club partnership between RCs Cavite and Louisiana, USA. The local club gave only $100, the minimum club counterpart, the respective districts where the two clubs belonged gave their respective DDF, plus donations from other Rotarians. Status: Paid and closed.

2. GG #25199, “School Renovation at Calabarzon”, $44,696.00.

Project components: (a) basic education and literacy, (b) water and sanitation, (c) disease prevention and treatment.  The local club, RC Cavite Ecozone gave only $100, but its partner RC abroad, plus the DDF of both districts gave a lot. Status: Paid and closed.

3. GG #25761, “Donation of Mobile X-Ray Machines”, $85,000.00.

The project is mainly for disease prevention and treatment in poor communities, hence mobile machines and clinic. The main recipients are the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) and the Baguio General Hospital (BGH).

4. GG #25040, “Supporting Health of Needy People in the Philippines”, $143,000.00.

The project addresses (a) disease prevention and treatment, (b) maternal and child health, among others. It is a multi-year, on-going project.

There are many other success stories of wonderful projects funded by GGs in each district (there are 500+ RI Districts worldwide). I only mentioned a few above. The impact on the poor, the less or un-educated, the sick, the old, etc., is huge. Project implementation is direct people to people, no government bureaucracies in the middle (barangay to municipal/city to province/congressional politicians and bureaurats) that can hijack such projects towards their personal political interests. There are also no additional taxes, mandatory fees and contribution from the citizens, rich or poor, to be coercively collected as all funding come from voluntary donations and various fund raising activities.

GG funds, $30,000 to $143,000 or more, are quickly released if all the requirements are complied with. Project and fund management is made more transparent, all transactions and proof are paperless and visible on the web, an external auditor aside from internal monitoring will be needed. Any irregularities can easily be checked due to both internal and external controls.

How about those found mishandling or stealing the money? Will they go to prison? Possibly yes, if criminal charges will be filed against them. But normally, just exposing the names, faces and club affiliation of those people is enough punishment. Rotary is a voluntary organization of relatively successful professionals and businessmen. No one put a gun on members’  heads to join it, pay annual dues, attend regular meetings and spend extra for the meals, attend club projects and district activities. Members came and joined on their own, voluntarily. So it is a highly collegial, peer system of camaraderie. If one will commit fraudulent acts on money that are voluntarily donated, the idea of losing one’s face, of losing professional and business integrity and network in such a big and international organization, is a severe form of punishment.

And this is one beauty of voluntary, civil society organizations. The traditional schemes of reward and punishment under the government system of coercion and politics, like sending people to jails if they are not politically connected, or getting scot free if they have wide political connections even if they are outright thieves, does not strictly apply.

The state of civil society, being largely a voluntary action and organization of mature and responsible citizens, is the path that we should take, not the state of more government coercion and politics.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Andres Bonifacio, Phillippine Independence and Rotary

Today is Philippine Independence Day, June 12 each year. A national holiday to celebrate the Philippines' independence from Spain on June 12, 1898. Of course we never really got independence from the Spaniards as the Americans immediately took over as the new colonizers in 1898.

Below, the three key personalities. Top row, Andres Bonifacio, the father of the Philippine revolutionary movement against Spain, Supremo of the Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK) or simply the Katipunan.

Second row, Jose Rizal, the national hero. An intellectual, physician, wrote two books sarcastic to the Spanish colonizers, "El Filibusterismo" and "Noli me Tanghere", executed by the Spaniards.

Third row, Emilio Aguinaldo, considered the first Philippine President in 1898 in a declaration of Independence from Spain, made in Kawit, Cavite. He ordered the execution of Andres Bonifacio in May 1897.

Last June 01, 2012, Prof. Michael Charlestone "Xiao" Chua of De La Salle University (DLSU) History Department gave a talk to the club on "Undress Bonifacio: Paghubad sa Mito ng Bobong Supremo" (Undress Bonifacio: Exposing myths of a stupid supreme leader), held at Metro Club, Rockwell, Makati.

I thought that Michael would look down on Andres Bonifacio, he did the opposite. He said that unlike common conceptions (or misconceptions) and beliefs about the man, Andres Bonifacio was:

1. Not the typical bolo-wielding leader in many monuments around the country. Rather, the person there was a typical Katipunan rebel who revolted against Spain.
2. No ordinary worker-leader, he was a middle class worker in an British company and could speak, read and write English;
3. Was an intellectual, he read many books about the French Revolution, Napoleon, American Revolution, Rizal's two books, other literatures.
4. The first Philippine President when he reorganized the Katipunan from a secret rebel group to an open revolutionary government with himself as the Supremo, set the date of simultaneous armed uprising against Spanish forces. This was around August 28, 1896. 

I learned many things from Prof. Chua's talk. It so happened that our club's name is RC Taguig Fort Bonifacio, a former AFP camp called Fort (Andres) Bonifacio. From his talk, I was convinced that Bonifacio was indeed the first President of the Philippines and not Emilio Aguinaldo.

Group photo after his talk. Standing, from left to right: me, PP Niel Antonio, President Norlan de Leon, Prof. Chua, PN Eric Lucero, Basil Semilla and Prof. Chua's colleague at DLSU.
Sitting, from left: Secretary Meann de Leon, PE Rose Antonio, Prof. Chua's staff.

Prof. Chua also showed various writings by Andres Bonifacio that were relegated by mainstream education about the Philippine Revolution. For instance, for Bonifacio, to love the country, the community, oneself, is not so much to launch a revolution, but in doing one's work with honor and dignity. Honesty, dignity, integrity, these were some of the central teachings of Bonifacio and other Katipunan leaders then. These could be traced to their being FreeMasons. My Mason friend, Ozone Azanza, says that it is very basic and simple to become a Mason -- be a responsible father and husband, able to provide the needs of the family, has humility and personal integrity. Amen to that, and I would add that somehow these are also among the important teachings in Rotary although following the "Four Way Test" remains the prominent teachings and motto of Rotarians.

Thanks Prof. Chua, thanks President Norlan, for such a wonderful and educational evening.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Club Officers, RY 2012-2013

A new club newsletter, courtesy of President-Elect Rose Antonio. Thanks PE.

There are now four pairs of husband-wife members of our club. PP Niel Antonio and PE Rose Antonio, President Norlan de Leon and Secretary Meann de Leon, Basil and Amy Semilla, me and my wife Ella.