The term of Pres. Fidel “Fidel” Alfonso in RY 1991-1992 reached a high point with the testimonial dinner it organized for President Corazon “Cory” Aquino at the ballroom of the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati. The event packed a full house of Rotarians from 14 Rotary Clubs and reps from top broadcast and print news organizations, evidencing RC Makati’s influence and stature as the premier Club in the district. The clubs conferred an Outstanding Leadership Award and a Paul Harris Fellowship on President Aquino and presented her with a sculptured glass trophy.
With 1992 an election year, the Club hosted a joint meeting with presidential candidates Fidel V. Ramos and Salvador Laurel as the guest speakers.
Hardly had the country recovered from the shock of the previous year’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake than Nature delivered another blow, a strike so massive, it turned Central Luzon into a veritable wasteland, altered the lay of the land, and changed weather patterns, effects that would linger for decades to come.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in mid-1991, spewing 311 years’ worth of lava, ash, sand, and rocks that blocked out the sun and turned day into night, people everywhere stood open-mouthed and helpless, not knowing what had hit them, let alone what to do. But not for long.
Gathering their wits, Makati Rotarians quickly rolled up their sleeves and went to work. Dipping into their pockets, their companies’ and their own, they quickly raised some P500,000 for a Pinatubo Assistance Program designed to bring relief to Central Luzon communities where houses had collapsed from the weight of sand, rivers had dried up, and flora and fauna had died or were dying. To help the hungry huddled in temporary shelters, they brought food, medicine, clothes, water, and personal care items, as well as hundreds of blankets and portable beds.
A look at the situation prompted Pres. Fidel to think up other means to generate funds. In addition to proceeds of P400,000 from the annual Christmas Bazaar in November 1991, he organized another fundraiser, a Super Family Bingo at the Manila Polo Club that generated another P400,000. The combined proceeds from these two fundraising events made it possible for the Club to help the Rotary Club of Dau in Pampanga, one of the areas that suffered most from the volcanic eruption, build a Livelihood Training Center where local folk received training to acquire immediately employable skills.
A more long-range assistance package came to the Loob Bunga Resettlement Village in Botolan, Zambales, another place devastated by Pinatubo, in the form of a potable water system which the Club constructed in cooperation with the Philippine Business for Social Progress.
With its ties with RC Dau firmly secured, RC Makati established brother-clubs relations with the Pampanga club, and expanded the Club’s brother clubs roster by forging ties with the Rotary Club of Cebu, one of the oldest Rotary clubs in the Philippines.
It was also on this year that the idea for a fire safety organization was conceived. This led to the establishment in 1996 of the Makati Fire Safety Authority (MAFSAFI) to enforce compliance with the Fire and Building Codes among structures in Makati and develop a culture of safety and disaster preparedness among residents and workers. The Foundation, in tandem with the Bureau of Fire Protection, conducts annual building inspections and recognizes buildings that comply with said Codes. RC Makati is a founding member of MAFSAFI.
Under Pres. Fidel’s leadership, the Club threw its support behind the district’s Sight & Light Program, a project aimed at preventing nutritional blindness caused by Vit. A deficiency among the poor.
That year ended on a bright note with the recognition of the Stepping Stone Learning Center as “The Best School of its Kind” in Metro Manila in affirmation of its excellent educational, counseling, occupational and therapy programs.