My Rotaractor-Rotarian Journey

A light moment of Aya with a student during an outreach project at APRRC Thailand

My Rotary journey started on my first few weeks as a freshman at the University of Santo Tomas (UST). In a quandary on what organization I was going to join, I espied a sign that read, Rotaract Club of UST. It sounded very much like Rotary, the organization my parents, the old man and the fat lady, had just joined.

I called up the old man and asked him if it was alright for me to join the Rotaract Club of UST, and he told me to defer the decision for a couple of days.

Without me knowing it, he consulted the Charter President of the Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo, the psychic, Tita Fe Pecision. She invited to me attend the next club meeting. Before that meeting adjourned, Tita Fe told me that the club will be putting up the Rotaract Club of Camp Aguinaldo with me as the Charter President. She then recruited the children, nephews and nieces of the other club members to form the nucleus of the club. (When I asked the psychic, CP Fe, why she chose me, as the Charter President? Her reply would warrant a different story, probably, to be related later on.)

The club was chartered in 2009. I attended the monthly District Rotaract meetings at first a bit embarrassed as I was the youngest amongst them. But I assimilated, as advised by the old man, and talked to everyone. I easily made friends with my seniors. And I was made a District Secretary of District Rotaract Representative (DRR) Marby Montellano. I started attending national and international Rotaract events, and made a lot of friends. By the grace of God I won unopposed when I ran for DRR.

In 2009, I joined the Asia Pacific Regional Rotaract Conference (APRRC) in Singapore, then the APRRC in Sydney in 2010. I represented the country in the Ms. APRRC Pageant in Taiwan.

I served as the District Rotaract Representative in 2012-2013, the Peace Year of D3780 Governor, lawyer Rufino 'Penny' Policarpio (with whom I shared the same birthday). Our district successfully hosted the Pilipinas Rotaract Convention during my watch.

Packing of relief goods for victims of the 2012 Habagat

I was asked to make the State of the Rotaract Address in the 2012 District Conference, on Governor Penny's and my birthday. This would be my first time to speak in front of a big audience of Rotarians.

In 2012, I was invited to be one of the hosts of UNTV’s Rotary in Action program as well as a similar program at UNTV's Radio La Verdad.

Four years later on the request of then District Governor Rey David, I chartered the Rotary Club of West Central, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Camp Aguinaldo, my mother club. Gov. Rey David’s daughter, Dr. Kat, was one of the club's charter members. The charter documents came out on June 22 shortly before Gov. Rey’s term came to a close. I became a dual member: a Rotaractor and a Rotarian - a dream come true.

Oath-taking of Rotary Club of West Central Quezon City

Meantime, I became an English teacher at De La Salle University (DLSU) Integrated School's Laguna campus. In 2018, I completed my master's degree (M.A.) in the English language on a full scholarship.

With Past RI President Mark Maloney

In that same year, I was invited by Rotary International President Barry Rassin, whom I first met at the APRRC held in Manila, to join the Rotaract Preconvention in Toronto, Canada.

Then Rotary International President Mark Maloney invited me to attend, all expenses paid, the 2019 International Assembly in San Diego, California, where I rubbed elbows with future District Governors, Past District Governors and distinguished luminaries of the Rotary world.

I found myself seated in the same table with then DGE Philip Tan of District 3860 who invited me to be the keynote speaker of his District Assembly in March 2019 in Davao.

At the Davao Airport, I was met by an entourage of Rotarians who brought me to my hotel, checked me in and ushered me to my room. I was accorded VIP treatment: always ahead of a queue during meal times or at entrances to the venue.

I was asked to talk about Connecting the World and [the] Empowerment of the Youth. I appreciated the attentive audience who were all ears sans the usual pocket meetings. After my spiel, since I had a flight to catch, I was chauffeured to the Davao airport to get my plane ride back to the big city, back into the arms of the old man and the fat lady.

That same year I was invited to join the RI Strategic Planning Committee as an ambassador, then to be part of the Rotaract Preconvention in Hamburg, Germany as a panelist. Unfortunately, I had to miss that, because my eldest brother was getting married in California at around that time.

With Rotaract delegates during the International Assembly in San Diego

Most recently, I received an invitation from RI President Holger Knack to serve as an Adviser of the Shaping Rotary’s Future Committee. It looks like I will be one of the youngest members.

On Friday, 11 September 2020, I was oriented by Past District Governor Tom Thorfinnson about what the committee is all about, how I was chosen and the work that we will be doing.

He said we are expected to help Rotary become more relevant by providing new perspectives on the following: regional leadership and structure; effectiveness of institutes, presidents’ representatives and regional leaders, plus a study of regionalization model; volunteer leadership layers between directors and the districts; and on districts - their number, size, leadership, duties of the governor, and the value and effectiveness of district conferences. In addition, the committee will [be] considering strategic alliances with other organizations.

Thank you Rotary for the trust! I will endeavor to serve you well - always.

The author is the Charter President of the Rotaract Club of Camp Aguinaldo and of the Rotary Club of West Central Quezon City, D3780.

This article was featured in the September 2020 issue of the Philippine Rotary Magazine as seen below.

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