Rene “Rene” B. Benitez and Wellington “Willie” Soong

About Rene “Rene” B. Benitez and Wellington “Willie” Soong

Term: 2003-2004

The dynamic Programs Committee chaired by Ramon Gonzalez injected a fresh twist to the regular meeting by organizing three off-site meetings and 6 joint meetings with other Clubs. The Club also used its resources for a brand-building campaign aimed at promoting the name and polishing the image of RC Makati.

In the lead-up to the centenary of Rotary International in 2004-2005, Clubs the world over were enjoined to adopt a project, a substantial one, in celebration of the historic occasion. To RC Makati, nothing could be more of substance than an integrated development project incorporating as many community needs as can be lumped in one project —housing, education, health and nutrition, youth development, skills training, community organizing, and values formation.

For its centennial project, the Club adopted a Gawad Kalinga community—the Scarha-Kaingin neighborhood in Sto. Niño, Parañaque City, just outside the perimeter fence of NAIA. On this first year, Rotarians led by Pres. Rene “Rene” Benitez paid frequent visits to the site to meet with the people, to find out their most pressing needs, and discuss how the Club can help meet them. In keeping with the primary GK mission, the Club built five houses and a multipurpose community center where the community held meetings and socials. The Center also became the venue for two medical missions and a six-month feeding program for 30 pre-school children. The feeding program was one of a few visited by RI Pres. Jonathan Majiyagbe during his Philippine trip in January 2004.

The Club’s vocational training arm, the Heather Kinross Center, was reinforced with the opening of the Handyman Skills Training Program which offered short courses on such trades as plumbing and repair of home appliances and gadgets; graduated 72 public school teachers from seven schools in Makati under the Teacher Training Program with the Ateneo; and distributed 206,000 books to 815 schools and libraries under the Books Across the Seas Project.

In acknowledgment of its track record in TB eradication, RC Makati was named lead club in the district-wide TB eradication campaign funded by a donation from District 2700-Japan. In December it delivered Christmas presents to 1,200 children under the Last Angel gift-giving program, including 400 pupils at the Adiwang Elementary School in Baguio.

Sometime in March 2004, Pres. Rene resigned on account of his family’s relocation to Australia, and Vice-President Wellington “Willie” Soong took over the helm of the Club until the end of the Rotary year on 30th June.

Pres. Willie presided over the formalization of relations with the Rotary Club of Fukui Ajisai-Japan under the Club’s first-ever Twin Club agreement. The year ended with the turnover by the Club to ABS-CBN Foundation of a check for P1.44 million representing half of the cost of the Club’s participation in the La Mesa Reforestation Project.