Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moments 2: Mache Torres

The first Peace President that I interviewed was Mache Torres sometime in March 2013. The plan at that time was a flashy magazine called LEADERS and feature some business and political leaders who are also Rotarians in RI District 3830 initially. When it was decided by Gov. Sue and her editorial team to produce a yearbook, this is what I submitted to the team. I am sure this draft is not the one that was published because all papers are in first person, not third person, narrative. I was impressed by Mache’s story, hence, I am posting this.

Marichelle “Mache” Torres

Rotary Club of Makati Uptown

Helping women prisoners, not on legal counseling but via hypnotherapy, is a new and novel community service for Rotarians. There are plenty of depressed women inmates and there is deep need for more therapists there. Women who already regretted the wrong acts they have done, or were unjustly accused and detained, or have already served their sentence but cannot leave on time due to certain bureaucracies.

This is the path taken by Peace President Marichelle “Mache” Torres. The Rotary Club of Makati Uptown has adopted the Correctional Institute for Women (CIW) in Mandaluyong City as their main community service area. Mache goes there at least once a week to give free services to women inmates. She has also developed a special program for inmates who will be released within six months.

There was this lady prisoner that Mache has helped for many months until she got out of prison. She was good, was jolly and not doing drugs inside. When she got out, she turned to drugs due to depression. Her family has rejected her and did not welcome her back in the house. Mache felt bad that this happened to one of her favorite and joyful patients at the Correctional.

Mache held her club induction at the Correctional – the first rotary club induction in that institution ever. The Governor’s Visit to her club was also held there. This should be a record in the history of both Philippine Rotary and the CIW.

And there’s more. Mache also visits the maximum penitentiary at Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa and  do therapy sessions to some male prisoners, again for free.  And she also helps some returning women OFWs who were traumatized with bad work experience or been sexually abused abroad, also for free.

Mache is a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, specializing in 5th Path Hypnotherapy, and a 7th Path Self-Hypnosis teacher She is the Founder and President of the Mache Torres Advocacy & Leadership Programs, Inc. (MTALPI, see, an academy that focuses on self-leadership, as well as the Founder/President of the Transformational Advocacy thru Self-Awareness (TASA).

So what is hypnotherapy? It is the science of applying hypnosis or focused consciousness to move a person towards good health and wellness. So a hypnotherapist like Mache is often called a “life teacher”. They help troubled, depressed, or simply confused people unload some personal baggage so they can move on with their lives. Towards unbound potentials and possibilities. Cool career, isn’t it?

Mache says that troubled and unhappy people carry any or all of these three enemies within them: anger, guilt and fear. So to fight such depression and confusion, one must unload all of them. Not just one or two but the three of them, and inner peace can be attained.

She used to be a depressed and confused woman herself after a failed marriage with four daughters to raise. She tried escapism and travels but the pain and anger were still inside her. In one of her trips to the US, she stumbled upon some professionals in hypnotherapy. She was once a patient of this science, she got well.

Happy with the result, she went back to the US and took basic and advance courses in Clinical Hypnotherapy at the Banyan Hypnosis Center, in Orange County, California. And that is where she got her degree as a certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. She can practice in the US if she wants to.

She published her first book with an attractive and self-explanatory title, "Learn to Live Life. Passionately, with No Bounds!",

Mache belongs to, or has headed, several NGOs. Like the Zonta International, the Jaime Torres Educational Foundation, a church group and Rotary. Where does she enjoy the most?

Without batting an eyelash or even thinking deep, her quick answer was Rotary. She says that  “Rotary has a more wholistic approach to serving other people. Zonta helps only women and children. The Torres Foundation helps student scholars, the church group focuses mainly on spiritual affairs. In Rotary, there are many avenues of service – the youth, the community, the club, career and vocation, and foreign and international partners. And there are the six Areas of Focus. Rending meaningful community service is a lot more systematic, coordinated and wholistic in Rotary.”

This is one of the perks of interviewing highly energetic, positive and forward looking people. They send some sort of electrical energy, positive karma and similar mantra of cheerfulness and positivism from them to the interviewer.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moments 1: Rose Antonio

In this outgoing rotary year 2012-2013, the Peace Presidents and Peace Governor Sue Sta. Maria produced a yearbook called ROTARY MOMENTS which was published during the District Handover last June 08, 2013. The club Presidents themselves should write their own memoir of some of their unforgettable moments as a club leader.

Some Peace Presidents could not write their own piece for various reasons. So I was asked by Gov. Sue to help by interviewing then writing an article for some Presidents assigned to me. I was asked to interview many Peace Presidents actually, at first I thought it was an easy task, but then my own work caught up with me too and I interviewed only a few of them. Some wrote their own papers and just asked me to suggest revisions and refinements to their papers.

I will post in this blog the stories of those Presidents and a few District officials who helped the District whom I have interviewed, or at least suggested revisions to their own papers. Each of these Peace Presidents and Past Presidents have wonderful stories to share, I admire their stories, and I think I should help publicize those wonderful stories and MOMENTS in my own little way.

I will start with our own club President.

Rosemarie “Rose” Antonio
Rotary Club of Taguig Fort Bonifacio

Leading a small but compact club is both a challenge and a blessing at the same time. A challenge because I could count on not too many members to be involved in our various community service projects. But also a blessing because club leadership succession is not a problem and securing members’ support is easy.

My Presidency came as a surprise for me. Way back in 2011, I was just a “baby Rotarian”. My presence in previous club meetings was mainly to accompany my husband, Niel Antonio, who was the Club’s Immediate Past President at that time. Few months after I was inducted as a new member, I was groomed to be a President Elect, a big surprise for me as I was not even expecting to be a Club Officer. I thought that my clubmates were just kidding me. Then I realized that it was the real thing when I was later officially announced as the club PE.

I was a bit nervous when I joined the PETS as the thought of being a new or “baby Rotarian” was still heavy in my mind. But when I met my would-be classmates, so many of them, plus the incoming District officers led by then Governor-Elect Sue Sta. Maria, most if not all of those doubts have been replaced by enthusiasm and friendship.

Club Presidency for me means responsibilities, commitment and fulfillment.  Sometimes it can be overwhelming and definitely, it really is.  Stressful, lots of work load, but it’s all worth it.  The reward is the feeling of accomplishment and fulfillment, friendship and the joy that I have done my best for my club and the communities where we have rendered various service projects.

Rotary for me is a catalyst for people to give community service on their own, willingly and voluntarily, without compensation and even digging from their own pockets, and still enjoy it. The friendship and fellowship with other people who hold the same ideals, and service orientation makes the work even more enjoyable.

For one year, I have seen many inspirational and heart-warming stories and community services. But the most unforgettable moment for me was when we visited the Philippine Cerebral Palsy, Inc. office in Makati.  I and my clubmates went there thinking that it could be a nice project to submit for our Global Grant application.  But when we were already touring the facilities and different therapy sessions, I felt like I was on the verge of tears just by looking at all those special kids with disabilities, mostly wheelchair bound. 

I always have a soft heart to children especially those who are somehow deprived of a normal life and physical well being.  Life can be perplexingly complicated sometimes. Lots of questions bombarded my mind then.  Why does it have to happen to those innocent juveniles?  Why are they almost incapacitated for life?  Will they ever cope up and have the chance to live a normal life?  They are so young and yet so helpless.

The past 12 months have been a tiring but fulfilling experience for me. I want to share these thoughts to my friends and readers. I swear that if I did not become a Club President, my appreciation for these thoughts would not be so  deep.

Be prepared always. Be flexible and have back up plans when the original plans and strategies do not work. Know as many details as possible, be immersed with the situation. Practice the  “Art of War Principle” – know yourself, know your enemy, and know your terrain.

Empowerment comes not with pride but with humility and reason.  Learn to utilize and share it.  A true leader inspires values in action. A great thought is geared towards realization.  An untainted principle and honest life is a noble life. 

It is easy to ignore and social indifference is everywhere, but a life lived with fulfillment and  responsibility is a big achievement.

I take pride in my unrecognized contribution, however small. For without it, I may not have given my best effort.

I may not be the best among my peers but definitely, I have somehow touched the lives of some deprived people.  And, that makes me happy and contented. 

Commitment is something that I always regard highly, a kin to responsibility.  If combined with truthfulness, they are definitely a perfect team.

Being a leader requires a lot of dedication. Combined with strategy and planning, it can lead to a  path of unknown adventures.

The greatest legacy that parents can give their children is to raise them properly and independently, prepare them for uncertainties in life and ensure that they can survive and thrive. 

See also: 
Club Planning Workshop, March 2012, April 02, 2012 
Club Officers, RY 2012-2013, June 01, 2012 
Club Relief Operations After the Manila Flooding, August 13, 2012

Art Peace 2013, April 24, 2013 
Peace President Rose Antonio, May 23, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Club Handover, June 24, 2013

Last night, the Rotary Club of Taguig Fort Bonifacio held its handover ceremony, between outgoing Peace President Rosemarie "Rose" Antonio and incoming First Class President Maryann "Meann" de Leon.

Photo below, from left: Era Eguia, being groomed as potential club PE, incoming President Meann de Leon, and outgoing Pres. Rose Antonio. The last two are the first two female Presidents of our club since it was chartered in March 29, 2000.

Pres. Rose first showed an audiovisual presentation of the club's achievements the past year, then gave a few pointers and reminders to Meann on what to expect as a Club President. Meann made a short acceptance speech, reminding members that she needs the support of everyone as she has several community and youth projects to roll out.

The event was held at Metro Club, Rockwell, Makati. Past President Norlan de Leon and husband of incoming Pres. Meann, gave us a surprise gift -- a new club shirt with collar. Thanks, Lan.

Our guest speaker was Assistant Governor Chary Misa from our mother club, the Rotary Club of Rizal West. PP Chary has been a rotarian for more than two decades now, her passion for community and district service has not waned until now, thanks AG Chary.

Group photo. We were 15 last night + Chary. New members Daryl Cabato (red shirt) and Mike Michener (dark polo, sitting, our first American club member) did not put on the new club shirt but they were happy to receive it.

What was notable last night was the high attendance of club Past Presidents (PPs). From left: me (RY 2006-07), Niel Antonio (RY 2010-11), Romel Villegas (RY 2008-09), Rose Antonio (RY 2012-13), Jed Inciong (RY 2001-02), Glenn Inciong (RY 2005-06) and Norlan de Leon (RY 2011-12). I like this photo :-) We are a small club but so far, not a single PP has repeated.

The tickets for the fund raising project, Side A concert at Music Museum on August 23, Tuesday at 8:30pm, were also distributed to us. Tickets are at P1,900 each. Proceeds will benefit some of our community projects. One of which is to improve a dilapidated public school building in Capiz, in partnership with iHelp Foundation where Daryl is an active officer, and a few local businessmen who will donate some construction materials for free.

Before we left the meeting room.

I told Pres. Rose once again last night that she has done a great job the past year. Now we have a modest number of club members, many Past Presidents are coming back, and lots of community projects are waiting to be started and implemented.

Fun and lively evening last night.

See also: 
Club Relief Operations After the Manila Flooding, August 13, 2012 
Peace President Rose Antonio, May 23, 2013 
Charter President Bobby Dimayuga, May 26, 2013

Monday, June 24, 2013

District Secretary Marycris Oplas

We are five siblings in the family, all born in Cadiz City, Negros Occidental. Our eldest, Atty. Nestor Oplas, was a Chemical Engineer, then a lawyer, was a three-term City Councilor then a City Administrator. He was victimized by prostate cancer and rested about eight years ago. The second, Lilibeth Oplas, is a chemist and worked in Manila for several years, later went home and now working in Cadiz City Hall. Our youngest, Bonifacio Oplas, is also an Engineer and also working at the City Hall.

I am the fourth in the family, and the third is Marycris Oplas, the most financially successful among us all. Papa Bienvenido Oplas, Sr. is 84 years old and Mama Consuelo is 79, both are weak and often sickly, but still hanging on.

Everyone calls her Marycris but in the family we call her Neneng. She likes power dressing, to match her corporate work and frequent meeting with CEOs and Presidents of medium to big companies, the clients of their auditing firm, Alas Oplas and Co. CPAs, an affiliate of RSM International.

My sister has been a Rotarian for more than a decade now. She became a Centennial President of the Rotary Club of Makati Urdaneta in RY 2004-05, the year Rotary International celebrated its Centennial year. Gov. Sue Sta. Maria is her clubmate, the first female Governor of RI District 3830.

In RY 2006-2007, she was appointed as District Secretary (DS, aka “little governor”) by then Governor Raphael “Butch” Francisco, who was the PAGCOR President and CEO until mid-2010. They were not clubmates as Past District Governor (PDG) Butch belonged to the Rotary Club of Makati Central. Gov. Butch’s private company before he joined PAGCOR was a client of my sister’s auditing firm for many years, and that’s how they knew each other.

Also that RY, I was an “accidental President” of the Rotary Club of Taguig Fort Bonifacio.  Our President Elect suddenly begged off and none of the Past Presidents would want to become President again. Being the more active among the new members, I reluctantly accepted the challenge of leading our club that year.

When her term ended in 2007, my sister became an ordinary Rotarian who was active in her club. When Gov. Sue Sta. Maria was proclaimed as District Governor Nominee Designate (DGND) in RY 2009-2010, she appointed my sister as District Conference (DisCon)  2013 Chairperson. It was a big challenge that she happily accepted.

When Gov.Sue’s term started, her DS begged off, it was good that the various Assistant Governors and Committee Chairpersons were already working well and efficiently. She later appointed Marycris as her DS. So my sister was a DS twice. I think she is the only Rotarian in the District who assumed that office twice.

The highlight of her position as DS was the District Conference (Discon) 2013 last March held at the Manila Hotel. The big event went well,  with great support by the Hotel President, Joey Lina. Aside from being a former Governor of Laguna and a former Senator of the country, Joey is also a Past President of the Rotary Club of Makati Central, a clubmate of Gov. Butch, and my classmate in RY 2006-07.

My sister says the support given to her by the Discon Committee members, the hands-on involvement of Governor Sue, the excitement and some disappointments in the preparations and actual conference, the memories are still fresh in her mind until now.

One important lesson in Rotary that my sister holds is that if a Rotarian is being asked by the District Governor to help him/her serve the District and its  many Rotary Clubs, that Rotarian is obliged to help in whatever capacity that his/her time and resources  would allow. Especially if the Governor is a close friend, and a clubmate.

I could see that when Neneng was DS twice, she could hardly attend some office or work meetings, and coming home early or sleeping early is sometimes a luxury. It’s good that her two kids are big already.

Among the hard and discomforting situations being a DS was the holding of election of a DGND for RY 2015-2016. It was a three-way contest from three prominent Past Presidents, also Past District Officers, from three clubs. She remembers that her moves related to the selection process were being watched by one or more camps, with a mixed notes of positive and negative comments. What she did, she just focused on the formal procedures, to make sure that an honest and transparent selection process would be observed, and the result should be credible so that whoever wins will be respected and supported by the Rotarians in the District  three years from now.

If there are hard and high expectations associated with her work as DS and DisCon Chair, there are also some perks.

One is the high esteem given to her by the Club Presidents and other senior District officials. She is thankful to all of them. One time there was a dispute between two clubs and their leaders and Gov. Sue tasked her to solve the dispute. After listening to both sides, she made a decision and the two club leaders simply respected her decision.

Two is being a confidante of the Governor. While Gov. Sue is mostly jolly and cheerful and simply working continuously, there were a few times and occasions that she would be disappointed and sad, and Neneng is with her, listen to the stories and circumstances, help find solutions.

Beyond Rotary, I am forever indebted to my sister. My think tank, Minimal Government Thinkers, Inc., has weak financial condition. Neneng has given me free office space (and free internet, free electricity) all these years.

Thanks a lot, ‘tol.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Peace Governor Sue Sta. Maria

This is an Accomplishment Report by District Governor Sue Sta. Maria of RI District 3830. She posted this today in her facebook page, reposting here. I made this small compilation of photos. First row, with incoming District Governor Robert Kuan. Second row, with District Governor Nominee (DGN, after Gov. Robert's term) Lito Colona. Regular Governor's Aide Paul Chang behind Gov. Sue. With Past District Governor Sonny Coloma.

Third row, with my sister Marycris Oplas, who is the District Secretary, DisCon 2013 Chairperson, clubmate and close friend of Gov. Sue. And with Techie de la Cruz, my classmate as Lead President in RY 2006-07 and Governor's Aide this year, and Past President Baby Bunye.

Compact and well-written report, Gov. Sue. Congratulations for a dynamic and productive Rotary Year, cheers.


“… as vintage wine
From fine old kegs
From the brim to the dregs
It poured sweet and clear
It was a very good year”

-Ervin Drake

On June 8, 2013, I handed over the mantle of leadership of Rotary International District 3830 (Makati, Paranaque, Taguig, Pateros, Muntinlupa, Las Pinas and Palawan) to District Governor-Elect Robert Kuan in accordance with the traditions of our great district. By now almost all of our Peace Presidents would have turned over their presidential responsibilities to the club presidents of RY 2013-2014.

Many of our Peace Presidents became Rotary Club President “by accident”, or were hesitant to be one because of the daunting challenges that usually come with the position. Today, not one of them regrets to have accepted the position. The sacrifices were great, but the Peace Presidents left a good year of memories for the clubs they led.

It was a very good year.

As I always say, the Peace Presidents are a beautiful breed of Rotarians who were ready to take on new challenges. They are intelligent, responsible, committed, hardworking, resilient and competent. They are sincere, candid and straightforward. They inspire, nurture and deserve trust. They are creative and imaginative. They are go-getters and trend-setters. They are affectionate and warm. They have big hearts and have transformed the lives of many individuals and communities through their service. They work seriously but they are fun to be with. Laughter comes easily to this group.

If it is of any comfort to the club presidents, a governor goes through the same apprehensions than any club president goes through. Plans and preparations are made, without the assurance that things will turn out as dreamed or planned. Thankfully, all except one district event came through with great success.

Here are some of the accomplishments in Rotary Year 2012-2013, grouped in two categories: 1) new accomplishments, and 2) initiatives that are not new in the district but performed significantly well.

New accomplishments:

1. Three-Year Strategic Plan: We initiated the installation of Three-Year Strategic Plans in the clubs in accordance with the RI Strategic Plan. These are in place in more than 90% of the clubs. The strategic plan required the clubs to think long-term and create a vision for the future of the club. For this, I thank Rennie Andrews who led the Club Strategic Planning Committee and her deputies Mon Escueta and Dennis Decena. I also thank our fourteen (14) Assistant Governors for their commitment to see this through: Cynthia Reyes, Ace Tolentino, Jaz Rodriguez, Ricky Santos, Manny David, Junjun Abcede, Bobot Ramos, Mayet Ramos, Baby Vale, Danny Abinoja, Sonny Tambunting Sr., Jojo Josol, Art Israel and Rohina Sarra. I thank AG Danny Abinoja for creating the template that most clubs used.

2. Guiding Principles of Rotary: We espoused a return to the Guiding Principles of Rotary, as we felt that the clubs had become activity-driven and many recruits in the past years had not been made aware of the advocacies for which Rotary stands. Club-level training initiatives on the Guiding Principles were amazingly creative. For this I thank the Club Trainers, Rotary Academy Executive Director Rennie Andrews and her Rotary Academy team, in particular Marge Lamberte for her well-thought-out training modules. I also thank Recognition Programs Chair EAG Chochit Tobias and his team.