"It has been a journey of touching lives."
For banker and socio-civic leader Jesus “Susing” M. Pineda, the first 100 years of the by-invitation-only Rotary Club of Manila are about a journey of touching lives.
After all, Rotary’s motto has always been service to humanity.
“This makes the Rotary Club of Manila far from obsolete or irrelevant,” says the centennial president of the Rotary Club of Manila. “We must keep moving forward to keep our balance if we are to continue to lead the way and for us to leave a legacy that will create sustainable change in the next 100 years as One Rotary,” declares the Tarlac native.
“As technology becomes an integral part of our daily lives in an interactive environment, we must be reminded that these are merely tools for us to use in our service to humanity. With Rotary as a catalyst, we can create programs and projects that touch the heart, mind, and spirit of humanity.”
RCM, Pineda points out, established institutions which helped shaped the course of history: the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Philippine Cancer Society, Philippine Band of Mercy, Gaches Village for the homeless, and many more humanitarian projects.
Pineda feels mighty proud that “many distinguished and outstanding leaders have led Asia’s First Rotary Club. Captains of industry and stalwarts of their professions all have visions of a better life for people who have less in life. This has become their mantra, as they share their time, talent, and resources toward creating an environment for the marginalized in order to make a difference in their communities through Rotary.” Among distinguished members: the late Carlos P. Romulo, Henry Sy Sr., Andrew Gotianun, Gil Puyat, Al Yuchengco, Charlie Palanca, Juan and Ramon Cojuangco, President Fidel V. Ramos, tycoons John Gokongwei Jr., Butch Campos, Paqui Ortigas, Abraham Pascual, Justo Ortiz, George Yang, and indeed many builders of business and movers in the professions.
Says Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno, himself a Manila Rotarian: “Not many organizations have the distinction of reaching the all-important ‘century’ milestone. That the RCM have lasted this long is a reflection not only of its long-standing commitment to its ideals and goals, but also of its dynamism, relevance, and influence to the community it serves.”
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte signed Presidential Proclamation No. 413 declaring July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 as the Year for the Celebration of the Centennial Anniversary of the Rotary Club of Manila and the Rotary Movement in the Philippines and Asia.
“This proclamation will open new doors for Rotary Club of Manila. I look forward to the many new opportunities this will bring to our Club and the many Rotary Clubs in the Philippines—for support, partnerships and cooperative endeavors with government Institutions and local government units, and the ability to help as long as they are aligned with Rotary’s different noble advocacies for service to the Filipino people,” says Pineda.
Rotary’s motto, “Service Above Self—has endured for a reason—there will always be people who have less in life. The values that Rotarians have exemplified as members in fellowship, global understanding, ethics, integrity, diversity, leadership, and service—will be essential to paving the way forward to the next century,” he says.
The Rotary Club of Manila was officially chartered on June 1, 1919. The first officers were: Leon J. Lambert, president, Alfonso Sycip, as vice president; E. E. Elser, secretary, Walter A. Beam, treasurer. The 38 charter members included three Filipinos—Alfonso SyCip, a rice importer; Gabriel Lao, a lawyer; and G. Nieva who was in warehousing. The alien members were mostly business leaders of the largest corporations of the day.
Relates Rafael “Raffy” Garcia III, Rotary International director, 2018-2020: “The Rotary Club of Manila has always held the reputation of being not only the first and the largest Rotary Club in the Philippines, but also the Club with the most distinguished Rotarians. Its membership has always been the crème de la crème of Philippine society and industry, including many of the government officials who have crafted the direction of our democracy.
RCM was home to MAT Caparas when he was elected as the first and only Filipino to become president of Rotary International in 1986-1987.
“It is awe-inspiring to look back that many great leaders of the club have contributed immensely to our communities,” gapes Rudy B. Bediones, district governor Rotary International District 3810, 2018-2019 and RCM president in 2013-2014.
Bediones says RCM put up the Boy Scout movement, Community Chest Foundation, Philippine Band of Mercy, the Safety Organization of the Philippines, Philippine Cancer Society, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Philippine Tourism Association, Welfareville, TOWER (The Outstanding Workers of the Republic) Awards Foundation, RC Manila Foundation, RCM Medico-Surgical Missions Foundation, Philippine Rotary Pacemaker Bank Foundation, Sagip-Kabataan (Save the Children) Foundation, RCM Eyebank Foundation.
RCM regularly sends medical and surgical missions to depressed areas, and sponsors programs in sight and hearing conservation, drug abuse prevention, health and hygiene education, nutrition, energy conservation, social justice, teacher development, public order and safety, peace and conflict resolution, and through the “Sagip-Kabataan Project,” the rehabilitation of children at risk (street children) and juvenile offenders.
RCM provides financial assistance to indigent families who have children with life-threatening congenital heart disease (Rotary’s Heart for Little Angels). The Club hopes to plant 100 million trees in the future.
Pineda says: “We have started our legacy projects with our Rotary Club of Manila Educational Assistance Program. The Adopt a Student Project with with our academic partners, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, has been launched last May 3, 2018.”
RCM wants to fund with P2,000 monthly stipend up 100 poor and marginalized students. Members provide the money.
RCM has Sari-Saring Aralan, an out-of-school-youth education project with partners, the Ayala Foundation, Grameen Australia Philippines, Rotaract, and the City of Manila.
“Education is the future of any generation, hence, the need to prepare our youth for tomorrow,” explains Pineda.