By Shirley Mendoza-Maghari
Most of the meaningful stories we share start with the little defining moments.
My journey with the Rotary Club of Bacolod began years before I finally decided to take the oath as a member of the club. It was a gentle and patient courtship, if I may say.
In 2015, I was invited by then Head of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) committee head and now Past President Romy Lopez to give a talk on Public Speaking to the student participants. Lo and behold, I arrived to witness my former professor, Past District Governor Louis “Louie” Gonzaga, facilitating the activities. Listening to his animated and engaging discussions, it seemed like college days again. It was then that I received my first invitation from PDG Louie to join the Rotary Club of Bacolod North.
Over the years, I went on to continue collaborating with the club through RYLA and the out-of-school-youth scholarship training programs. PDG Louie would always remind me of his invitation to membership. In late 2018, I attended my first Rotary meeting as a guest.
In a room full of high-achieving individuals and bosses of their own fields, the energy was palpable. The discussions were dynamic and I knew then that this was an environment I could learn so much from. I was also happy to see some gentlemen from my previous civic organization, the Junior Chamber International (JCI) Bacolod, present at that meeting - Rotary Past District Governor and JCI Past President Ramiro “Chick” Garcia, Jr., Rotary and JCI Past President Harish Nandwani, and Rotary and JCI Past President Sugar Ababao.
Rotary Club of Bacolod North, despite its long history of an all-male club, has welcomed us, female members, with great warmth and openness. Like all the other new members before us, we were immediately given opportunities to immerse in the different projects and initiatives of the club. With the presence and support of the Rotary Anns as well as the inclusive environment within the organization, there was actually not many hardships to hurdle when it comes to gender roles.
By putting more importance into the mission of “service above self”, whatever preconceived notions and biases about women entering into a male-dominated society became the least of my worries.
By engaging in respectful discussions and behaviors, we get to focus more on our common goals of personal and organizational development, impactful community programs, environment-friendly practices, and global unity. Rather than highlight our differences and weaknesses, we get recognize our unique strengths and use them together as complementary forces to break boundaries and create more life-changing moments.
In all its growth and changes over the years, in all the directions it has coursed, I believe that the Rotary Club of Bacolod North, just like a compass, constantly points to its True North – the Rotary mission of being People of Action – regardless of status, race, age, or gender.
End Polio Now Campaign and donation drive 2019
Anti-Bullying Campaign at Bacolod City National High School and “Yes to Life, No to Drugs!” Campaign at the Department of Education – July and August, 2019
Vaccination Campaign for Mothers at Brgy. Burgos, Cadiz City, March 2019
Rotary New Year’s Celebration with the children of Tahanan Mapagkalinga ni Madre Rita, Bacolod City – July 1, 2019
With the youth of RYLA 2019
Dental Mission and Wheelchair Donation at Bays Center, Bacolod – July 8, 2018