Nonnette C. Bennett
Rotary Club (RC) is one of the older civic organizations in the country and in the world. There are many traditions observed in organizations like this, and one of the finer practices is “The 85 Rule” which is most meaningful for past president Angelo Gerard “Gerry” Rulloda.
The 85 Rule: Article 10 Section 5 (b) – The sum of the member’s age and years of membership in one or more clubs is 85 years or more; the member has been a Rotarian for at least 20 years;and the member has notified the club secretary in writing of a desire to be excused from attendance and the board has approved.
This rule has applied to PP Gerry since October 28, 2020 because the date marked the 28th year as a Rotarian plus his 57 years of existence on this earth. But many have achieved this recognition but not with the same commitment and dedication as he has, particularly since he has since been in a wheelchair from the days prior to his membership or since the onset of his muscular dystrophy in 1984, right after college.
When I joined the RC Baguio North in 2000, PP Gerry was already tasked as a secretary of sorts and he rolled into the Ruby Hall of the older Hotel Supreme before the 7:30 p.m. regular weekly meetings of the club on Wednesdays faithfully handing out the club bulletin, Everlasting, to members.
At that time, he was still able to move his arms and was still active as an agent with EasyCall, the paging system company. He says that he was encouraged to join Rotary by his boss, Edward “Dodie” King, Jr., a member of RC Makati Central, who attended all the meetings of the five Baguio and La Trinidad Clubs and identified Baguio North as the one to join.
If one remembers right, the basic cellphones came out sometime in 1996 to replace the paging system that was still dependent on landlines. According to Google, this paging system closed in 2002 and it is assumed that the service PP Gerry offered could have made him sever the bond with the club as most are wont to do after the usefulness of networking and socials is expended.
Amidst the limitations of mobility, he was present in most of the meetings and became the club president in Rotary Year 2011 to 2012, under the First Lady Governor of District 3790, Digna Ragasa, of RC Vigan. The activities of running the club as president for the able bodied are daunting but this did not stop him from doing service projects and leading the club in the district affairs.
PP Gerry is blessed with excellent communication skills and the patience that make a perfect combination for a writer and editor. He was a contributor to the Everlasting for Rotary Humor. Since 2018, he has been registered as the executive secretary in the Rotary International website because he has a better memory of the history of the Paul Harris Fellows and knows how it runs.He is able to track the missing pins and also matches the points.
Perhaps, the new normal is a relief for him and his constant companion, Raul Esperas, who has also been part of the club meetings for almost as many years. The laptop is all that is needed and the WiFi connection for his attendance to the Wednesday evening meetings and no longer the dressing up, getting a cab, being lifted up the cab, carried and set down in the wheelchair, pushed down to the Wolfson Room at Baguio Country Club, pushed up the ramp, lifted up into the car, carried down and set in the wheelchair, and dressing for bed. He has missed but a few meetings because of factors that are beyond his control, like having no companion to bring him to the club or someone to set up his computer. Although, he is classified in sports management in the club, an odd bedfellow, but it must be the passion in sports and the critical eye that are essential.
If there was anyone who has faithfully paid Rotary International dues for 28 years, it must be PP Gerry, who is also a Paul Harris Fellow having paid $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation. This part of the presidency is most often the difficult part of the responsibility because there are members who do not see that the dues fuel Rotary International charities and the local community service projects which the club commits to.
As the president, he participated in the medical-dental-optical mission that the cluster of Baguio clubs contributed to and a feeding program for young kids in the Pasadang Pambarangay. He accomplished the Japanese Sister Club Fukui Ajisai funded Adiwang Elementary School classroom project and manned the service booth of the Rotary Clubs in the 2013 Panagbenga.
Additionally, at the time, he was the head of the club.He had to attend many district conferences like the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, The District Conference, The PETS, The Mid-year Conference, The TRF Ball, The Year-End Review, The Grants Management Seminar, and other affairs that are included in the regular events of Rotary. These he gamely attended with a smile, and continues to participate in virtually.
His memories of RC Baguio North go way back and he reminisces, “The RY 1993 to 1994, turned out to be a banner year for Baguio North. Our district was headed by our very own, Bobby Legaspi as district governor, and Mark Go as club president. Our regular club meetings were held at Lone Star SteakHouse at Camp John Hay. It was also during this year where membership of our club reached its highest – 104.
“Rotary Year 1994 to 1995 was headed by Edilberto Tenefrancia. One of the highlights of his term was the “No Smoking and No Drinking” during club meetings. When meetings were called to order, the no smoking and no drinking policy was strictly followed. Drinks were only allowed when meetings were adjourned. Manong Tene also sent a bouquet of roses to the wives of Rotarians during their birthdays. Rotarian wives were called Rotary Anns before. He would also send telegrams during wedding anniversaries. “
Another highlight of the RC Baguio North had to do with the difference in opinion of the club members regarding women members, PP Gerry recalls, “Rotary Year 1998 to 1999 was headed by Johnny “JR” Refe II. Coinciding with our country’s centenary, our club also inducted our first lady member in Jing Deco of the Professional Regulation Commission. Unfortunately, in the succeeding year, Jing was assigned to Mindanao. This caused the chartering of the RC Baguio Summer Capital.
“Rotary Year 2001 to 2002 was when Mark Go became district governor and Carl Canilao our club president. At the end of his term, Rotarian extraordinaire Mark had the distinction of being adjudged one of the top district governors in the world,” he recalls. Indeed, from the roster of the club came the outstanding leaders of the city.
Many members have come and gone but PP Gerry is still active and attentive to the needs of the club. He is a member of the board of directors as a consultant. Of late, we have imposed on him somewhat by holding some of the monthly meetings at his home. We haven’t missed the fellowship much because we bring it with us under strict protocols of this Covid 19 times.
He was inducted as member with TESDA-Cordillera head, Ike Ilnar, under president Tedler Depaynos in 1992 at the second floor of the Main Club at Camp John Hay.
He adds, “There were only five clubs then: RC La Trinidad, RC Metro Baguio, RC Baguio North, RC Baguio South and RC Baguio in Baguio City and La Trinidad (Area 1 Cluster C). Aside from the regular Wednesday club meetings, very noticeable then was the “regular Friday meetings” held at Luisa’s Café, restaurant of another former Baguio North member, Roland Wong aka Chong Loy. (Chong Loy is still a Member of Baguio Summer Capital.) Club projects during those times were practically every week.”
Mr. Ilnar and PP Tedler have left the club without reaching 85, and we salute the best Rotarian, Angelo Gerard Rulloda, for accomplishing The 85 Rule. Yes, you are excused from attending the club meetings and paying your dues. We will inform RI before the tradition is forgotten.
Nonnette C. Bennett