ORMOC CITY – A young businessman from this city is the incoming district governor of the Rotary Club District 3860, which includes half of Mindanao and regions 7 and 8 in the Visayas.
He is the tall and winsome Peter “Perok” Rodriguez, who at 43 years old, could be considered at the prime of his life. He is married to the elegant Maria Cristina “Rina” Rodriguez nee Pongos and has four kids Pierre Andrew “Andre”, Maricar Regina “Kyra”, Peter Jr. “Peter” and Vince Benjamin “Ben”.
Perok is the finance officer of Rodriguez Burger and Bread Corporation, owner and operator of Mayong’s Bakeshop and Snackhouse, a chain of fastfood and bakery stores all across Leyte and Samar.
Perok was chosen among four aspirants to the prestigious post during the Rotary District 3860 District Convention held at General Santos City last March.
Actually, Perok said, it was his third attempt to apply for governor and his making it this time is a “dream come true” for him.
The Rotary process of selecting its district governor is not through the usual voting system adopted by other clubs. Rather, applicants are selected through their merits. Aside from having impeccable credentials, they are interviewed by a panel of past district governors for their aspirations, directions and heartfelt Rotarianism which would mean their commitment to the club to give their time, talent and treasure.
“Dream come true”
Perok said he considers being district governor of Rotary Club not only for the prestige it brings but because it widens his area of humanitarian service. It will also give him a chance to travel around the district, to see for himself the many innovative ways various Rotary clubs is trying to serve humanity with their time and resources.
He said it was a good opportunity to share experiences which could be adopted in some places and link the Rotary Clubs together in service.
Admitting that he was not really keen on being a Rotarian when he was first invited to the club, he said that he became committed to the club when he experienced its Polio Plus program. Add to this his feeling of fulfillment of being able to help a few orphans and flood victims finish their studies with the scholarship program they launched after the Ormoc Killer Flood of 1991, he then became the committed Rotarian he is now.
He owes his membership to Luis Fran Sr. who invited him some 19 years ago. Fran himself was also a district governor of Rotary during his prime, making Perok the second from the city and the second of his club.
With his introduction to Polio Plus and their scholarship program, he said, he has come to appreciate the civic spirit that people can achieve more when they work together. In fact, he said, his personal slogan for his term which starts on July 2012 to June 2013 is “T-E-A-M Rotary: Together Everyone Achieves More in Rotary”.
Perok admits the job of district governor is tough and far from glamorous, as others would think of it.
It will take him away from work and the kids during his term, though Lady Rina is expected to accompany him on official travels. By November of this year, he is going to Kuala Lumpur for a governor’s training, and another one at Los Angeles, USA early on 2011.
Just like other international civic and service clubs, Rotary is faced with the problem of dwindling membership as the communities go global.
If in the past, Rotary club meetings were those once a week gatherings that everybody looked forward to because of the lack of something else to do, it is facing competition with the internet, cable TV and home entertainment. Humanitarian causes can be adopted and donations made with just a click of a mouse or a text.
However, Perok believes otherwise. He said nothing can still substitute for human interaction and the pleasure of seeing the happy face of somebody whose life you’d touch with a simple act of generosity.
Hence, he said, he will continue to encourage Rotary to improve its membership numbers and create more new clubs. He said the club should publicize its activities more, so people would see what they are doing.
His direction would also be towards adopting more environmentally friendly projects, providing clean and potable water to communities who don’t have, and nutrition program, aside from adopting those that will be set by the incumbent Rotary International president by the time he assumes the office.
Perok said that he hopes generous people will realize how little is needed sometimes to help the underprivileged. For example he said, they only need a small amount to feed a multitude of children in their feeding program at Brgy. Dayhagan.
He related that their club, the Rotary Club of Ormoc, has been doing a feeding program of 220 children in Brgy. Dayhagan for the past six years now, and they only spend around P1,500 per week to give the kids nutritious lugaw. From being under and malnourished, these children are in good shape already.
In the process also, they’ve involved the PTCA who cooks the lugaw, bringing the mothers and community closer in the simple endeavor. There are also cooking classes to teach mothers how to cook delicious but nutritious meals.
It is with pain, though, that he said they would be terminating their feeding program at Dayhagan and will be moving in to Naungan and Linao. They are now trying to tap moneyed residents in Dayhagan to fill in the gap they will be leaving, as they introduce the concept of community feeding to another area.
Perok said the idea is to introduce a “best practice” to a place, then hope the locals pick up on it. The club, he sadly said, cannot stay at Dayhagan forever because there is also a need in other places.
In ending, he said, civic clubs like Rotary are in the community not only to serve but to lead the community in service. By Lalaine M. Jimenea