"From martial law to Zoom"
In March 2020, when the Enhanced Community Quarantine was first imposed in Metro Manila and National Capital Region restricting the mobility of people and banning mass gathering, I wrote that it might be the end of the 365 Club, a gathering of people with different persuasions, those in government (past and present), business, and media. It was a group of individuals who traded views on current events, business and politics.
We had our beginnings at the old Hotel Intercontinental Jeepney Cafe when Proclamation 1081 was declared. This order by the late strongman President Ferdinand E. Marcos imposed Martial Law. Since then, we have held our gatherings in three hotels in Makati City. Our last was at the Holiday Inn Suites.
We used to gather three times a week except on Sundays. Eventually, the consensus was every Saturday at Holiday Inn. That was when the restrictive ECQ was imposed for the health and safety of people amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 365 Club is peculiar in a sense because it has no structure, no charter, no list of members, and no list of officers and board members. I said to myself that we had lasted 48 years since it was founded and the group had definitely served its purpose. Believe it or not, among our honorary members who dropped in once in a while at the club were the former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, the late Central Bank Governor Miguel Cuaderno, the late Makati mayor Nemesio Yabut, then Makati Mayors Jojo Binay, his wife Elenita, and currently, Mayor Abby Binay and Senator Nancy Binay. We also had as a regular former Ambassador to the United States and Leyte Governor Kokoy Romualdez, whom we used to call “puti” because he was then fond of wearing white shirts, white pants and white shoes. Even during Martial law days, Kokoy shared with us jokes about President Marcos Imelda. Come to think of it, even former President Erap Estrada and then President Fidel V. Ramos were honorary members.
The 365 Club became so popular that foreign correspondents used to drop by and share with us their views on business and politics. It was because of this that the Wall Street Journal featured in its front page the 365 Club as the only one of its kind in the whole Asia and the whole world, My gulay! The Journal reported that while Parisians used to gather in street cafes, there was nothing like the 365 Club. Santa Banana, even ambassadors of other countries used to drop by!
Press icons and business icons and well-known government officials also shared with their experiences. Among the press icons were Doroy Valencia, of course the great nationalist Renato Constantino, former Press Secretaries Toto Olivera, Joe Aspiras, JV Cruz, Max Soliven, Louie Beltran, Jose Guevarra, Blas Ople, Art Borjal, Rebe Cayetano, and many others I can no longer recall.
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When I say the 365 Club has resurrected, it was last March 27 when our general Secretary-Treasurer Maloli Espinosa-Supnet and her assistant Gina Lumauig, daughter of the late Governor and Rep. Bart Lumauig, a 365 Club regular, gathered in a Zoom meeting.
The other 365 regulars who were among the presence in theZoom meeting were: former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who we consider our patriarch because of his age, businessman-sportsman-lawyer Alfonso “Boy” Reyno, whom we declared as our president because he has the money when we need it former Senate Secretary Hazel Gacutan, businessman Toti Dantes, former Rep. Rene Diaz, Tom Chavez, who is now in Canada, TESDA Deputy Director General for Operation, Lina Sarmiento, former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director and former AFP Chief of Staff Retired General Dionisio Santiago, Prosecutor George Yarta, radio commentator Ruben Ilagan, retired General Antonio Supnet, Maloli’s husband, and my son, Eric Jurado, joining the Zoom meeting from the United States.
Our next 365 Zoom meeting is scheduled on April 10 (Saturday). This is an invitation to others of 365 regulars who missed our first Zoom meeting.
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The 365 Club came into being at an auspicious time, September 22, 1972 at the Hotel Intercontinental Coffeeshop.
At around midnight, I was called to Channel 9, then located along Roxas Boulevard. I was then Vice President for Public Affairs. Channel 9 was then owned and operated by Roberto S. Benedicto, through Kanlaon Broadcasting System (KBS).
From my house at Quezon City, I rushed to the TV station and went through several checkpoints along EDSA. I met with RSB at a nearby hotel.
I went home at around 6am, driving along EDSA. I decided to drop by Hotel Intercon for a cup of coffee. When I entered the coffeeshop, I saw Mayor Yabut, together with Ka Doroy Valencia, businessman Pat Dayrit, BIR Commissioner Joe Viterbo and Yabut’s aide, Brigido Sibug.
When I asked them why they were there, Yabut told me that he expected to be arrested by the military because he was suspected to be behind the killing of a noted labor leader who was then known to be close to Marcos. There were also the killing of some AFP Criminal Investigation Service (CIS) agents. I saw Yabut with a duffel bag, and when I asked him what it was for, he said it was in the event that he was arrested. “I have here Ka Doroy as some kind of insurance that nothing will happen to me,” he added.
Taking me aside, Ka Doroy Valencia told me to notify all media people, who were then out of work because of the media shutdowns,that they were all invited to take breakfast at Hotel Intercon, at the expense of Mayor Yabut, Yabut just smiled.
That gave birth to the 365 Club as a breakfast club.
After a month or two, Yabut complained that the expenses were going up because media people were having breakfast, lunch and dinner at his expense. At that point, Ka Doroy who proclaimed himself chairman of the Club issued what he called Proclamation 1082 the “kanya kanyang bayad” or Dutch treat.