Wake Up, Philippines!

Another Rotary milestone

Posted in Angat Pinoy by Erineus on March 21, 2009

A LAW EACH DAY (Keeps Trouble Away) By Jose C. Sison Updated March 13, 2009 12:00 AM

Amidst all the depressing bad news about corruption and scams pervading business and government in our country today is this piece of good news about an organization that continues to have a vision undistracted by politics and carries out its mission with positive outlook and buoyant spirit. This is the well known and highly reputed international civic club founded more than 100 years ago, universally recognized under the now famous name of “Rotary”.

Rotary has acquired a reputation as the largest worldwide service organization because their members actually practice and live the Rotary ideal of “service above self”. Rotarians of any race, color, or creed indeed perform their tasks not by artificial allegiance to this principle but by taking concrete actions in its fulfillment.

And one of the basic sources of strength that enables the organization and its members to carry out this mission of serving others locally and globally is the fellowship and close personal relationship developed among them that inspire mutual confidence. Amazingly this fellowship is not confined within the Rotary clubs, districts and regions but has spread globally resulting in the promotion of world peace, friendship and understanding.

The fellowship in Rotary is usually founded on the common likes and dislikes of the members that are related to their business or profession or even their pastimes and hobbies that have universal appeal. This is what Jesus ‘Jun’ Avecilla Jr., the incoming president of the Rotary Club (RC) of Cubao West found out when he attended the Rotary International (RI) Convention in Chicago on its 100th anniversary and was attracted into a booth promoting International Yachting Fellowship of Rotarians (IYFR).

Jun Avecilla immediately got interested because he has a passion for sailing and simply loves the sea and its exhilarating breeze as well as the exciting sounds of its roaring waves. To be sure, Jun is an avid yachtsman who loves the adrenalin rush of competition, having participated and won international yachting events and regattas in his maiden try, like the Singapore Straits Regatta in 2006 and the Manila to Boracay Races in 2006 and 2008. In these competitions he piloted his own 36 footer yacht “Selma Star” named after his shipping company, Selma Shipping Ltd. Aptly emblazoned on each side of the yacht are the words “purpose driven”, obviously inspired by Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”, a clear sign of his deep Christian faith. To complement the sluggishness of his yacht, Jun also acquired a speed boat for the more thrilling rides on the seas.

At first he hesitated to introduce IYFR because he thought it would not click in the Philippines, much less in his club where nobody owns a yacht like him. But he changed his mind upon learning that IYFR is not so much about owning a yacht than about having a passion for sailing and love for activities on water; nor is it so much about knowing which is the starboard or port side of a boat than about having common vision and passion for humanitarian and community service with emphasis on the sea and its environs. Thus when he broached the idea to his club in June 2008, 18 members immediately and readily expressed enthusiasm and willingness to form and join a yachting fellowship. And as they say, the rest is history. Two years after the Chicago Convention or on September 15, 2008, the IYFR, Philippine Fleet was born, spearheaded by RC Cubao West.

The formation of Philippine fleet of IYFR is a “nautical” milestone in the history of Rotary District 3780 under district governor (DG) Alex Cureg who actively supported the project. It will be the only existing IYFR fleet in the Philippines. Its core group of 18 members of the Rotary Club of Cubao West has now grown to 30 members with 7 more Rotarians from RC Cubao West and 5 more from other Rotary Clubs joining, particularly the following; Rotary Mariner (RM) from Mactan, past president (PP) Sven Olof Tengelin who owns a 60-footer dive boat “MB Goteborg”, Rotary Mariner from Makati Central, past district governor (PDG) and Pagcor COO and president Butch Francisco who owns the 48-footer yacht “Selina”, Rotary Mariner from Cubao, PP Mar Cancio and Rotary Mariner from Paranaque South, president-elect Chito Avecilla. PDG Butch Francisco even commits the support not only of Pagcor but his own NGO, the Francisco Study Center, to all the projects of the fellowship.

March 18, 2009, Wednesday is the historical chartering of the Philippine fleet, a first in Philippine Rotary. The fleet will thus become part of oldest and largest Rotary Fellowship that has about 100 active Rotary fleets with 2,600 members in 21 countries all over the world. The Fleet Chartering Ceremony will be held at the Manila Yacht Club (MYC), Roxas Blvd. starting at 6 p.m., Area 3 (Asia, Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific) Commodore and International Vice Commodore Terry and First Mate Meryl Stretton will fly in from Auckland to lead the affair and officiate the chartering of the new fleet with DG Alex Cureg as the Chartering and Induction Guest of Honor and Speaker.

To be inducted as fleet officers, or the “fleet bridge” are Jun Avecilla, Fleet Commodore, Max Tan, Fleet Vice Commodore, Joe Ragos, Fleet Rear Commodore, Obet Del Rosario, Fleet secretary, Alex Bernales, Fleet treasurer, Mel Velasco Fleet PRO, Ping Sison, Fleet legal officer and Joel Sarmiento, Fleet Captain. Fleet Commodore Jun Avecilla in turn will induct the fleet members composed mostly of RC Cubao West Rotarians notably PDG Bobby Viray, incumbent president Norman Verzosa, past presidents Dr. Rommel Carino, Ayie Gonzales, Manoucher Khaledi, Freddie Reyes, Dr. Santi Rodriguez, Adonis Samson, Tito Yuquimpo and Rotarian Nestor Atienza the incumbent Prime Minister of the Jaycee Senate.

As proof that IYFR is not purely for yachting and sailing, the chartering will be commemorated with a community service initiated by Rotary Mariner and PDG Butch Francisco consisting of Anti-Flu, Tetanus and Diphtheria vaccination of the MYC’s yard workers, boat boys, employees and their immediate families at the dockyard immediately before the chartering. The vaccines will be supplied by Global Vaccine Express of Giovanni Alingog, PP of Pasay North Rotary Club, District 3810. Indeed the long range plan of the IYFR Philippine fleet according to Fleet Commodore Jun Avecilla involves the advocacy, education and implementation of a moral code against marine pollution by making people aware of its magnitude, impact and horrible effects on marine life and all life; and by a campaign to clean up our bays, rivers and seas especially of littered non-biodegradable plastics and other garbage by cleaning first where they come from — the creeks and esteros.

With these men of vision and dedication, the IYFR, Philippine Fleet seems to be on its way to greater heights of success in its mission.

* *      *

E-mail at: jcson@pldtdsl.net
View previous articles of this column.

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