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.

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