Archive for January, 2014

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

Some time in the year 2003 two American guys came to my house asking me to join the Rotary International club in Tagbilaran. It wasn’t the first time I was approached by this organization, it happened before in France and later in the US by Brothers Free Mason already members.

Honestly, the social clubs never attracted me, as much respect and admiration I had, and still have for the Lodge, the Rotary and other similar clubs never touched my heart, the status of these organizations was known to me in the first world as it was clearly defined by Paul Harris like this: The Rotary International Years.

“In 1905, Paul Harris organized the first Rotary Club “in fellowship and friendship” with three clients, Silvester Schele, Gustavus Loehr, and Hiram Shorey . His initial goal was to create a club of professional and business men for friendship and fellowship. 

Early on, Harris realized that Rotary needed a greater purpose. While Harris served as president of the Chicago Rotary Club in 1907, the club initiated its first public service project, the construction of public toilets in Chicago. This step transformed Rotary into the world’s first Service Club.[4][5]  If interested Read more The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years.

The Rotary International Years. Bill Gates

It wasn’t perceivable to me how a group of  businessmen and prominent citizens in the third world can show compassion for their people, claiming to be a philanthropic organization while I believed it was nothing else than a source of closing business deals amongst members; Weaving at the same time that positive image in the community as givers and compassionate helping themselves to win trust, clients or votes or all of the above provided many had business, government positions and liberal professions all at the same time.

Unless your name is Bill Gates, you don’t need customers and more money, but just an image cleanup; To be known as a human, not as a financial tycoon and money hungry as he often is portrayed like these reporters of the LA Times told us the story. Dark cloud over good works of Gates Foundation – Los Angeles Times  It confirms what exactly I was thinking. The Rotary International Years.

The 2 Americans who offered me the membership had nothing of the usual Rotarian profile. One, Jack Galbreath, a retired Vietnam Veteran, married to a Filipino living in Bilar, Bohol for many years was known as helping poor and destitute in his community. But not really without having in mind some personal ambition and counting on the return of investment. The Rotary International Years.

His wife Ester Corazon Galbreath  was elected Mayor of the town of Bilar several times, later elected also as a Board member in the Provincial Government of Bohol. The poor and destitute are still hungry, the fish given once in a while was a day’s meal, then hungry again the next day. Poverty numbers in the Philippines go on the upside year after year with no reversal in the foreseeable future.

The other one, Dave Collins, also an American retiree from GE a Mechanical Engineer according to him, he also wasn’t the typical Rotarian as I knew them in the first world. Married to a rich Filipina owner of several pawn shops known in the country as sharks shops, because of predatory lending practices, also known as 5/6ers because of the interest rate they charge, 5 to 6% per month even up to 20% per month. 

During my first  contact visit to the club, looking at the members I was surprised by the diversity  of trades and professions composed of about 20, like a known career politician, a private hospital owner and his wife in their 80’s, veterans in years of membership, a nurse, one or two local branches bank managers, a low rank government worker, a couple of “foreigners’ wives” (Yes folks, that makes you important in the Philippines) a wife of a seaman, (That also makes you important), a German owner of a resort in Panglao, a Fil/American also owner of a resort in Dauis,

An American woman, teacher by profession who became a missionary managing an education camp in the north of the island financed by the donations to an American church ( go figure which one, their presence is mushrooming in the Philippines)  later, the children camp turned out to be a tourist resort. There was also this Born Again preacher known as Harrell the hallelueaj because of his frequent religious themes screaming even during the meetings! Here is the latest on Harrell.

Not really that impressive. One wonders what the give and take would be with a mosaic of trade and professions as I saw it, in a third world country that buying power is desperately low, such a small pie to share, who was who exactly and why they were there?

Digging a bit further in the constitution and bylaws of the organization discovered this:

OBJECT OF ROTARY The Rotary International Years.

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  • FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • SECOND: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
  • FOURTH: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.

The first remark to myself was that probably they are kidding themselves. In the Philippines, hospitals are refusing patients’ discharge and exit the premise without paying the bill while still in. I have seen bodies decomposed in the hospital’s mortuary because no one of the relatives offered to pay the bill. High ethical standards? Where? When? The Rotary International Years.

Then this came up:

THE FOUR-WAY TEST

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings:
Of the things we think, say or do

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

Mysterious? Secret philosophical, deep meaning words only  Grand Masters of ancient Babylon can decipher?
Not at all. All it is, something to keep you busy with the interpretation. Make your own, as fit. If you don’t, no big loss to you. Somebody else understood it for you. As long as you paid your dues, you’re fine.

And the little cherry on the pie:

AVENUES OF SERVICE

We channel our commitment to service at home and abroad through five Avenues of Service, which are the foundation of club activity.

  • Club Service focuses on making clubs strong. A thriving club is anchored by strong relationships and an active membership development plan.
  • Vocational Service calls on every Rotarian to work with integrity and contribute their expertise to the problems and needs of society. Learn more in An Introduction to Vocational Service and the Code of Conduct.
  • Community Service encourages every Rotarian to find ways to improve the quality of life for people in their communities and to serve the public interest. Learn more in Communities in Action: A Guide to Effective Projects and this Community Service presentation (PPT).
  • International Service exemplifies our global reach in promoting peace and understanding. We support this service avenue by sponsoring or volunteering on international projects, seeking partners abroad, and more.
  • Youth Service recognizes the importance of empowering youth and young professionals through leadership development programs such as RotaractInteractRotary Youth Leadership Awards, and Rotary Youth Exchange.

No matter what I’m reading and seeing the mystery is deepening, often becoming senseless, can’t find the real “raison d’être” there, who these members are, how they benefit from the Rotary, how they amortizing their $300+ a year total cost of dues.  Certainly not philanthropists, not in the third world anyway, plenty of reasons to distinguish those “practicing” in the first world, raising money that is, for those in the third world recipients of the money.
 I’ll explain you all that in the next entries. 

 

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