April 22, 2024

The Rotary Club of Downtown Session (RCDS) was formally chartered April 17, 1997 after a historic oath taking before then president Fidel V. Ramos.
French revolutionary Napoleon Bonaparte described his army: “Every private carried a field marshals baton in his knapsack. This tells us that anyone can lead – for as long as he or she is focused on the challenge at hand – and he or she has the guts to get out front and say ‘Let’s go’.”
This was the kind of leadership we envisioned as the charter president for the club which Sun Tzu says is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, heart, courage, and sternness, ahem.
Those who led the club based on this dogma were Doc Willy A. Occidental, a general medical practitioner who has emerged as a business tycoon; Robert “Bobby” Burgos, publisher of Malaya and president of the PNP Press Corp in Camp Crame until he relocated in the city with his Burgos Ice; Mike Limbo, Jr., who was Pfizer’s area manager and one of the Rotary “brains” of the club; Sonny Estavillo better known as the better half of Cora, engaged in the lease of real property, farming, and transportation; Ed Canave (+), professor at the then Baguio Colleges Foundation and established his own school; Florentino “Bok” David, John Hay’s fire chief; Manong Fernan Sanchez (+) who was into accounting; Alex Rimando, banker Bank of Philippine Islands until his retirement; Vashi Pursnani who is into lending; Danny Quinones, banker from Philippine National Bank; Ely Adora Santos who was into aerobics and dancing until she immigrated to the U.S. and recently took her oath as a citizen; Mau Bajada (+), UB professor; Laura Montes who was with Texas Instruments until she flew to Washington, D.C. and stayed there for good; Virginia Jean Hamada del Rosario, banker and businesswoman; manong Constantino “Morris Palaroan (+), building maintenance contractor; Sonny Agcolicol who co-owned Kubong Sawali and owned a pizza parlor here and in Laoag; Virginia Jean Dal though continuing her membership to date; Amado “Dong” Dizon who rose to be clerk of court of the MTC; Orly Tadeo who was likewise a TI’er and vastly contributed his managerial skills to the club; Joseph Rimando, Jolo Revilla’s idol, who runs the best eatery over the bakod of Baguio Country Club; Karl Batong Gabaen, who has one of the biggest security agencies in North Luzon; Jen Herbolario Aritao, who engaged in business until she joined government and now a full time grandma; Manoj “Mike” Tank who was into financing and general merchandise; and incumbent President Kelwyn Tan, a builder-developer of condominiums, Jollibee franchise holder, and trader of food and grocery items.
Each member had leadership potentials but more importantly proved to be good followers, thus giving the club a foundation of unity and solidarity.
Special mention to charter members Victor Keswani, Rajat Electronics at Center Mall and Khitz Ang, Cathys Resto who could have been presidents but opted not to.
Our outstanding members: Incoming president Kat Gumaya of Axa; Rob Ocampo of then Colors; broadcaster Roger Mercado, lawyer Roger Cabreros, retired Comelec Commissioner Armando Velasco, and Jun Agunos, Faye Lizada-Magallanes of Union Bank, spa owner Anna Liza Ong, contractor Joey Munar, Doc Jeric Villareal, Engr. Cris Baterina, bar proprietor and youth leader James Jimmy Sayang-od, kagawad Joel Kidpan, and Chato Carandang of Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
Our newest members construction magnate Robin Tan, Arch. Ryan Gumaya and Rotaract graduate, Richard “Jiepa” Buhayo and all who in my senior moment I lost count of.
Past members who have gone to the great beyond Manny Salenga, Ed Borja, Netz Benitez, and Ernie Tuquero. Honorary members, presidents FVR and Joseph Estrada, former vice president Jejomar Binay, PCSO chair Manoling Morato, Sen. Bongbong Marcos and Laafayette proprietor Paul Lalwani.
Twenty-four years and RCDS survived.
We poured blood, sweat, and tears to make the club reach two decades and four memorable existence and service. There were, of course, differences in personalities, views, positions, and opportunities that came and went; ocean tides that rose and fell; of what might have been had we done this or done that but in the end the unity remained and the moment seized.
Carpe diem! Sigh.