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Opinion

Rotarians in action

FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas - The Philippine Star

Have you ever wondered what Rotaract means?  Well, you’re right, it’s the junior version of Rotary Clubs, but in truth, Rotaract is the Rotary International’s service club program for young adults aged 18-30. It was first officially inaugurated in March 1968 as the Rotaract Club of North Charlotte, North Carolina, USA.

There are 7,500 Rotary club-sponsored Rotaract clubs in some 156 countries, with over 173,000 members. (Rotary International, by the way, has 35,000 member-clubs worldwide, with a membership of 1.2 million individuals known as Rotarians.)

Conversations with Rotaract members and some literature cite the Rotaract clubs’ general objectives: the development of fellowship and understanding among the business and professional men in the community, the promotion of community betterment endeavors and of high standards in business and professional practices, and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace. Rotary clubs everywhere have one basic ideal – the “Ideal of Service,” which is thoughtfulness of and helpfulness to others.

Rotarians have been sponsoring Rotaract organizations for young adults since the early 1920s. Hundreds of Rotaract clubs have been organized around the world, by different names. The decision to adopt the Rotaract program came at a time when student protest worldwide was a growing concern to Rotarians. The Rotaract program was adopted not only as a means of keeping former members within the Rotary family, but as a means of channeling the energies of young adults into positive activities that could benefit their communities.

A special committee was convened to design the new service club program for young adults during the 60s. After polling students at the University of Houston, Texas, the committee decided that “Rotaract” would be the best name for the program, a combination of the words “Rotary” and “action.”

As the first Rotary club in all Asia, the Rotary Club of Manila spawned the districts, and at the turn of the new millennium, the Philippines had 678 clubs and almost 20,000 Rotarians. And growing. In Rotary Year 1984-1985, Rotary touched the heart of North and Central Mindanao with the creation of District 3870, which covers six provinces of Mindanao – Misamis Oriental (Gingoog City), Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon, Cotabato and Iligan, all of which have their Rotaract clubs. The Rotaract Club of Gingoog was founded on July 23, 2015 and became chartered on Nov. 9, 2017.  It has 23 individual members.

The Rotaract Club of Gingoog inducted its new officers recently. A highlight of the induction program was the attendance of the District Rotary Representative (DRR) of Rotaract Clubs of Rotary International District 3870 – Ernest Nid S. Abueme.

Abueme is busy as a bee, traveling from one Rotaract event to another, for induction events and launching of several projects. A registered nurse, he serves at the GTLMH Gregorio T. Lluch Memorial Hospital and has had experience advocating programs for HIV-AIDS victims. He has received several awards for his advocacies, among them the 2017-2018 Best Rotaractor of Zone 2 and the 2019 Outstanding Leadership Award of Rotary Clubs of Rotary International District 3870, and was elected District Representative of RCRI District 3870 for Rotary Year 2020-2021.

In his message, he said the Gingoog Rotaractors are “a living proof that there is good in this world and we can make a difference if we are united in one heart, goal and action as we lead towards achieving our Rotary’s vision.”

He continued, “Our district Rotaract Clubs create a big impact in our communities that we are serving. We are engaged to people for sustainable community projects. Indeed we are the best partners in Rotary services.”

Abueme said Rotaract clubs are now allowed to sponsor other Rotaract clubs and establish themselves even without a sponsor. Rotaract will also be open to young adults 18 years old and over. There will no longer be an age limit of 30.

Two Rotary Club of Gingoog officers present at the induction were PAG Neil A. Lumantas, Philippine National Bank manager, and chair of the Rotary club crisis and disaster management committee, and David Stephen V. Pascual, assistant governor of RID 3870.

According to Pascual, Rotaract clubs decide how to organize and manage their funds and can carry out activities and service projects that are important to their communities.

Indeed, the Rotaracts of Gingoog City have been doing their own projects, although sometimes in some cases, jointly with the Rotary Club, to meet the needs of the less privileged. Ma. Mercedes M. Cirunay, Rotaract Club of Gingoog City president, is a new business administration graduate of Gingoog City Colleges.
MM, as she is called, said, “The world is changing rapidly and was doing so even before the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has forced all of us to adapt to the challenges before us. But adaptation is not enough. We need to change, and change dramatically, if we are to face the challenges of this new age and provide what the world so desperately needs from Rotaract.”

The other officers inducted were Maria Angelica R. Biado, vice president; Johanna Louise B. Neri, secretary; Joy Kristin Hababag, auditor; Kathleen Kryria Soriano, public image; Yung Ji Nem de Asis and directors Johmar V. Dagondon, Peter John Esplanade and Roniel C. Cajuelan.

Of the club’s accomplished projects are, in partnership with Rotary Club of Gingoog, turnover of a hand-washing station to the Sangguiniang Panlungsod employees; of school supplies to the Sulpicio Lugod Integrate school and Esik Campilan Elementary School and of a blood pressure monitor and nebulizer to the Barangay Libertad and Barangay Pangasihan Health Center; and, in partnership with Cong. Christian Unabia, giving away two kilos of rice and free snacks to 175 blood donors in a blood-letting activity of the Philippine Red Cross Gingoog City chapter and turnover of a hand sanitizer station to the Eureka National High School.

Rotaract also sponsored a radio interview on World Polio Day, via 92.9 FM-Mellow touch, Gingoog City.

The Rotaractors also sponsored Project Noah, a fund-raising activity to help victims of the Tuguegarao typhoon, and an HIV sticker campaign. Their education project, called Balay Pangandoy led by city council Jerome Mercado, reaches out to youths in detention centers, teaching them good values and reading the Bible, and lifting their spirits as they prepare to be assimilated in mainstream society. Project Shoebox collects donations of goodies to be distributed to needy children during the Christmas season. Containers of love, done in February, distributes an assortment of alcohol, noodles and other goodies.

Another project, Native Camp, creates an online platform for teachers.

From the Rotaractors we met, we learned that a life devoted to helping others spells happiness and inner contentment.

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Email: [email protected]

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