History of the Rotary Club of Manila Midtown
…at a Glimpse
Histories of institution are the stories of the men and women such as Paul Harris and his friends who founded Rotary in 1905 in Chicago. The Rotary Club of Manila Midtown, chartered in June 1985, is an example of a dream which was turned into a reality. Our “mother club” the Rotary Club of Downtown Manila, was a “daughter club” of the Rotary Club of University District, Manila.
Luis Kheyu “Louie” Sy was charter president and a past director of the Rotary Club of Downtown Manila. At its charter presentation in 1985, twenty-seven (27) members were listed as charter members together with five honorary members. The late charter president Louie in his inaugural speech pledged to work for the club’s growth and development and was soon able to add new members, reaching the “magic” number of thirty-five (35) by the end of his term.
Soon after, the Rotary Club of Manila Midtown was assigned to organize the Documentation Committee of the 1986 District Convention and the new Club proved its capability and resourcefulness by providing the District 3810 with high-tech recording and audio-visual equipment and manpower, for which it was commended, CP Louie also started linking up with foreign clubs by attending Rotary International Conventions and meetings abroad.
The second club president was PP Tereso “Rex” V. Rosario the jovial GM of C.O.D. Manila. A former Jaycee President and Toastmasters International Stalwart, he showed his leadership abilities by attending Rotary Activities in the US and Southeast Asia as our ambassador of goodwill. He kept in close touch with members by sending handwritten and crafted cards on their birthdays, promotions, illness and other occasions. His contagious enthusiasm for Rotary was evident in the initiation of projects for the environment, livelihood, youth sports, beautification and others. R.I. District 3810 recognized the club’s worthiness by naming PP Rex as chairman of the District Committee on Entrepreneurship for the succeeding Rotary year 1987-1988.
Well-respected lawyer Arsenio “Sen” R. Reyes, president in 1987-1988, is a venerable and recognized community, religious and civic leader in Metro Manila. A president of the Printing Industries Association of the Philippines, President Sen, also called “Tito Sen” by most members, made the club known by its close cooperation with city of Manila authorities in their campaign for sanitations, fire prevention, anti-side-walk vending campaign, among others. PP Sen Reyes traveled in behalf of RCMM and the PIAP to many countries during his term, particularly Germany, United States and Canada.
Businessman George “George” K. Tan- Palanca, President in 1988-89 was called “Mr. Fellowship” for his ability to organize friendly, fun filled programs which were well attended by club members and district officers and visiting Rotarians. A well-traveled Rotarian, PP George was able to solicit US$5,000 from our sister-club in Taiwan during his term.
Printing expert James “James” L. Chiu, another charter member and officer, succeeded PP George in 1989-90. He followed President Sen’s example by printing the club bulletin, Manila Report pro bono and involved the Club in numerous “sisterhood” agreements with Rotary Clubs in the District and others. President James continued its fellowship thrust of PP George K. Tan- Palanca and attended various District Conventions, conferences, seminars and assemblies in and out of Manila. His “Four-Way Test” galvanized iron signs were carried out by succeeding administrations on more modest scales.
President for 1990 to 1991 was Lawyer Arturo “Art” Limoso, UP Diliman and well-known Iloilo law practitioner. He instantly increased the Club’s membership by inviting his major clients to join RCMM, notably Jess L. Chua, Melvyn S. Chua, J. Wilson Chua, Robert Young and others. A dynamic Rotarian, he forged sisterhood relations with Clubs in Singapore, Australia, Canada and Southeast Asian Countries. He was able to invite top men in government, business, legal luminaries and others as guest speakers. International goodwill and understanding became a hallmark of the Club, and well-attended joint meetings were held frequently with sister clubs. Successful as a corporate organizer and popular of the Philippine Bar and New York Bar, PP Art led the club energetically, leaving a legacy of achievements to his successors in office.
Real Estate broker and claims adjuster Eligio “Ely” Saligan took over in 1991 -1992 and tried his best to continue the on-going projects of past presidents before him. However, club support started declining and activities became unrealized and the club was moribund for sometime. Succeeded by PP Rodolfo “Rudy” Obcamia, a former town Mayor and jeweler in 1992-1993, great hope for the club were entertained by everyone when President Rudy entered the RCMM picture with great potentials in leadership. He had the means to travel anywhere in the world in behalf of RC Manila Midtown, attending as many functions as he could. However, personal circumstances forced him to drop the mantle of leadership. Rotarian Verbo “Verb” Celino an eager Rotarian who was in many civic groups succeeded him. “Don Verb” as he was well known could only carry out so much of the club’s load without any mandate. The club reached its nadir with many Rotarians already forecasting its “natural death”.
The Rotary Club of Manila Midtown found its “Man on a White Horse” the savior f the club, in the person of PP Mimir J. Dollosa, as 1993-1994 club president and board chairman. A well-heeled former Bureau of Internal Revenues official, a C.P.A. and Lawyer of high standings, President Mimir galvanized the club into action, from its dormant slumber into an active, vibrant and worthy member of Rotary International.
Through his persuasive and coercive powers, both as Rotarian and lawyer, he gradually transforms indifferent members into lunch-paying patrons of the Manila Midtown Hotel, waiting for his witty pronouncement on Rotary and non-Rotary matters. President Mimir’s term is therefore characterized as a “term of transformation” and “revival” of a dying club. Thanks to such stalwarts as CP Louie Sy, PP Rex Rosario, PP Sen Reyes, James L. Chiu and other Rotarians like Pete Panugayan, and others, he ably managed to put the club into the Rotary map again, with flying colors.
For the Rotary year 1994-1995, the club has as its President a young and dynamic businessman, PP Angelito “Lito” T. Pua. Following PP Mimir’s example of “Personalized” interaction with all members, PP Lito increased club membership and closely abided by the District’s thrusts for the club’s implementation. Making friends for himself and for the club here and abroad, he forged sisterhood agreements with local and foreign Rotary organizations. Concerns for the needy, livelihood projects in depressed communities were undertaken. An aqua-culture project under the Rotary Village Corps was successfully worked out in Bulacan which was continued by his successors under a matched-club agreement approved by Rotary International Foundation. A former District Deputy Governor and an acknowledge “Gubernatorial timber,” PP Lito has many more years of service to render in Rotary.
Succeeding PP Lito T. Pua was PP Lawrence K. Sobremonte, RY 1995-1996, a soft spoken, mild-mannered but highly intelligent businessman. PP Lawrence took his job seriously, attending punctually, and overseeing all committees with a tight watch on everyone. His term was filled with many activities which earned awards and commendations from the District and Rotary International, just like his predecessors before him. The club, under his guidance was on the forefront in sports and youth development, community service, International relations, to name a few. It also sponsored a Search for a Math Wizard in cooperation with the University of Manila as well the “Mini United Nations” project of the RC JP Rizal-Makati which was continued by his successors.
Academician Alfonso B. Millena of the University of Manila a charter member and past club secretary and editor became the president in 1996-1997, determined to succeed with the help and supportive action of those who voted him unanimously. Continuity of on-going beneficial project and program was his modest goal and the club formalized its “Adopt an Elementary School” agreement with the Dona Margarita Roxas Zobel Elementary School. Started during the term of PP Lito T. Pua and PP Lawrence Sobremonte, it has been continued to the present. Medical and dental missions were also undertaken.
A rare find in our search for Rotary Leaders was Ruben “Ben” Banaag who was sworn as club President in 1997-1998, a world-traveler and former U.S. Navyman, he represented the club even before assuming RCMM’s top post, in various international conventions and meetings. As the club proxy, he attended almost all the induction rites of the District, and in many Rotary functions. He thereby emerged as one of the best-known Rotarians in District 3810, winning friends for himself and for the club. He enlisted the club in joint projects with other clubs as far as Palawan. He attended various social and fellowship District functions where he showed his prowess in folk dancing as well as in ballroom dancing. He, therefore did much public relations work on behalf of the RC Manila Midtown.
To succeed “makata” PP Ruben Banaag, the club chose as its 14th President, a C.P.A and industrialist-businessman, Julian “Boy” Tecson in 1998-1999. Although busy as a national director of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, PP Boy Tecson was able to provide the drive and direction of the club during his term. International goodwill was achieved through hosting of visits by sister-club-representatives as well as Group Study Exchange teams from other countries. Medical Missions were provided to needy areas, while on-going projects in all the avenues of Rotary service were maintained. District 3810 awarded the club a number of plaques and commendations for a “job well done.”
A charter member and as early president-nominee, PP Peter K. Fung had to decline the presidency in 1987 and passed on the torch to PP Sen Reyes, Peter migrated to Canada, instead. Upon his return several years later, he resumed his ties with RCMM and got immersed in Rotary work, holding minor posts. However, in 1992-2000 he was persuaded to accept the RCMM mandate. PP Peter outdid himself in excellence. Computer-literate, to the ninth degree, he brought the club to new heights by a continuing observance of all R.I. calendar programs and projects. Covering all avenues of service, he garnered numerous awards for the club for its innovative plans which were fulfilled in good time and conducted efficiently with the least expense. Its livelihood demo project in the low-income community of Dona Margarita Roxas Zobel Elementary School, as well as humanitarian missions elsewhere will be long remembered.
Past President Jesus “Jess” L. Chua served with much distinction in 2000-2001, whose report appeared in the 16th Charter Anniversary Issue of the Midtown Report in June 11, 2001. Jess is the President of NEMA Electric Company, Inc. His term was “smash hit” on all accounts, characterized by determination and will to succeed in any work to be done. “Leadership by Example”, is the driving motto of President Jess L. Chua and it deserves to be emulated by present and future leaders of the RC Manila Midtown. Maintaining its twenty-one (21) member club, the club’s aim was to grow to twenty-nine (29) and the goal is to keep old members, while adding some more. The Club Bulletin was published regularly. Several community service projects were finalized, more meaningful of which was the “Save a Vision” project held at the Golden Acres Home for the Aged in Quezon City, benefiting the older persons there. “Public Safety and Fire Prevention” Seminars were also conducted in at least ten (10) elementary schools and other venues. The Interact Club of St. Stephen’s School in Manila was also chartered with the active support of RCMM Rotarians who are alumni of the school. Enthusiastic response from faculty members and the students assure RCMM of a worthy endeavor for the youth in that area and elsewhere.
President Melvyn S. Chua, the president for 2001-2002 accepted the lead role in our club after evading presidential service for a time. He efficiently filled the positions of Directors and Club Treasurer for these past years, showing his humility and dedication all the way. A soft-spoken, kind person, he means business and is a straight-forward business magnate who does what he says. Environment tops his priorities and the initial seven thousand (7,000) trees planted by him and RCMM Rotarians on rainy days speak of his determined and iron-willed intentions to succeed.
PP Paul W. Chua Jr., marked his term by adopting a policy of continuance, pursuing to reinvigorate projects and programs initiated by predecessors. Examples are the tree-planting program in La Mesa Dam and Marikina, now institutionalized through a memorandum of agreement with Marikina Mayor Fernando. Goodwill Industries, Inc., a non-governmental organization working for the disabled acknowledged the club’s donations. It recently held a seminar on tax consciousness week conducted by Bureau of Internal Revenue Officials. PP Paul Chua, president for 2002-2003, following in the footsteps of his predecessors was active in the District’s affairs, bringing our club to the attention of the District leadership for its performance and low-key involvement in Rotary undertaking, contributing immeasurably to the success of DG Rosie Go’s administration.
RC Manila Midtown had indeed come of age since its founding eighteen (18) years ago. It inaugurated its very first lady President in the person of Victoria “Vicky” Aquino during RY 2003-2004. PP Vicky joined the club during RY 2000-2001 under the stewardship of the MEGA President Jess Chua. Aside from continuing all projects with vigor, PP Vicky took one step further and chaired the District Campus Anti-Drug Campaign in cooperation with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, ABS-CBN Talent Center and various schools under the District 3810. Her numerous projects included the planting of four thousand five hundred (4,500) trees; the CHILD’S HAUS, a venue and half-way house for Cancer Stricken Patients from the different regions of the Philippines: Tulong Kalinga sa Baseco Fire victims, Nude Painting for a Cause and the sponsorship of GSE In-Bound members from Australia for one week.
PP Jerry S. Ybanez, in the year of Rotary’s Centennial celebration continued some of the bigger projects that Rotary club of Manila Midtown has started, to name: the Campus Anti-Drug Campaign, Tree Planting projects in Taytay, Rizal and Marikina City and the Nude Painting for A Cause. In this year, the club co-hosted many Interact contests and some district activities, such as the Campus Anti-Drug Campaign series, the Kawal Patrol Radio and the District Interpretative Dance contest. A new Rotary Community Corps was also approved in PP Jerry’s term, the DAMAYAN of Barangay 567 Zone 59 of Sta. Mesa, Manila.
Come Rotary year 2005-2006, start of the 2nd year of service, with 101 President Edward P. Angtuaco leading our club to community service and club fellowship as well. Following the footsteps of his predecessors, he implemented and continued the tree planting projects in the city of Marikina and Tanay, Rizal, “Save a Vision” project in DAMAYAN and the students of A. Maceda High School, vocational projects like literacy program and livelihood in cooperation with DepEd’s Alternative Learning System, just to name a few. In the club level, he always made sure that all the members attended the fellowship with the monthly birthday celebrants and wedding anniversaries. He also joined other Rotary clubs in projects like Lugaw ni Sto. Nino, Oktoberfest, Mooncake Festival, and more. That is why he was recognized by the district and received numerous awards for his efforts during the awards’ night.
For Rotary Year 2006-2007, leader president Sofia Samonte-Jabillo, the 2nd lady president of the club who has been a consistent secretary of the club for many years, “Lead the Way” for the clubs project like the drinking fountain at A. Maceda High School, livelihood programs at Margarita Roxas de Ayala Elementary School in coordination with Alternative learning system and Feeding Program at ISLA PUTING BATO, surely she will be remembered by the people who benefitted from this worthy projects.
The club leadership was passed on to President Rolley So, a young leader who is no stranger to leading several service organizations like the “Movers”, Association of Phil. Volunteer Fire Brigades, Inc., to name a few. He served under the club for two terms RY 2007-2008 & 2008-2009 manifesting his commitment & passion to serve. He was able to invite government, business leaders as guest speakers in club meetings as well as in joint meetings of the club. He was also very active in most of the district projects. It was in his term that RCMM was featured almost every week at major broadsheets like The Manila Bulletin & had TV & radio coverage for its projects. He will be remembered for his projects like the anti dengue campaign, drug prevention & health seminars, fire prevention systems & computer donations, feeding programs with Radio Veritas, donation of the RCMM ambulance & multi-cab and his Legacy project the Gawad Kalinga housing & Bantay Bata Feeding. A Sharing President who also Made Dreams Real by serving tirelessly!
Councilor Ivy Varona’s ambition to stand for her advocacy & to promote the welfare of all Manilenos brought her to the presidency of RCMM. She was invited to the club by PP Rolley So and one club meeting led to another which resulted in her being inducted as the visionary president. With utmost concern for the future of the youth, she initiated livelihood programs for her “I Love Your Future” scholars. Her other notable projects were Operation Blessing Medical & Dental Mission & Typhoon Ondoy relief distribution program, proving that the future of Rotary is in good hands.