At the Threshold of New Beginnings is the title of a coffee-table book launched by the Rotary Club of Makati West (RCMW) last month. The book traces the history of RCMW starting from the tumultuous year of 1969 up to the last ‘old normal’ year of 2019 and even beyond, touching on the early months of the current global crisis.
This 200-page volume is a compilation of colorful stories about one of the Philippines’ premier Rotary clubs and its towering achievements. Produced during the term of 2019-2020 RCMW President Eric Tensuan, it was spearheaded by past president Dennis Decena as chairman of the book project.
Chief chronicler Santi Dumlao wrote a sweeping review of the club’s first half-century culminating in its 50th anniversary celebration chaired by past president Eric Angeles. RCMW’s luminaries such as Rotary International (RI) Director Guiller Tumangan and District Governor Tony Rufino contributed sidebar articles interspersed with Mr. Dumlao’s historical notes on events that shaped the nation and the world over the past five decades.
The golden jubilee year of RCMW coincided with the Rotary Club of Manila’s centennial as the first RI chapter in the Philippines and in Asia. Founded 115 years ago in Chicago by lawyer Paul Harris and his business associates, Rotary was the world’s first service organization. It has since grown to some 33,000 clubs in 200 countries with 1.2 million members today.
More than 500 Rotarians who joined this Makati Central Business District-based club are featured in the commemorative book, highlighting their involvement across the decades in the five avenues of Rotary service: community, vocational, youth, club, and international.
Among the signature projects distinctively identified with RCMW in Rotary circles are the Gift of Life program that provides free surgery to poor children with congenital heart disease; Alay Sining, an exhibit and sale of art pieces; Likhang Sining, a themed painting competition among public school students; and the Artificial Limbs project for amputee patients. This year, many club members participated in disaster relief efforts for victims of the Taal Volcano eruption as well as several COVID-19 initiatives.
Producing a book during the pandemic posed challenges to the project team, of which I took part as managing editor together with art director Elias Guerrero, photo editor Fides Tensuan, and print production director Edsa delos Santos. Our timeline was severely affected by the inability to meet face-to-face amid the lockdown. Through the use of Zoom technology and the valued assistance from RCMW’s secretariat, we were able to hurdle the obstacles and complete what Mr. Decena calls “a love creation with multiple parenthood.”
Mr. Tensuan aptly described the ‘new normal’ in the book’s afterword: “Rotary Clubs worldwide remain unbowed. While restricted in their physical movements, their desire to aid against this viral shroud draped over the planet remains undeterred. Members have seamlessly transitioned from analog techniques to digital means of enabling beneficial change.”
Life as we know it has changed drastically due to the raging coronavirus. But the “Service Above Self” motto of Rotarians should inspire us to survive this crisis and emerge stronger in the post-pandemic world.
J. Albert Gamboa is the CFO of Asian Center for Legal Excellence and chairman of FINEX Publications.