100 years of the Rotary Club of Manila

100 years of service to humanity, of service above self

For banker and socio-civic leader Jesus “Susing” M. Pineda, the first 100 years of the Rotary Club of Manila are about a journey of touching lives.  After all, Rotary’s motto has always been service to humanity.

“This makes the Rotary Club of Manila far from obsolete or irrelevant,” insists the centennial president of the Rotary Club of Manila.  “We must keep moving forward to keep our balance if we are to continue to lead the way and for us to leave a legacy that will create sustainable change in the next 100 years as  One Rotary,” he declares.

Explains the soft-spoken and ever gentle Susing Pineda: “As technology becomes an integral part of our daily lives in an interactive environment, we must be reminded that these are merely tools for us to use in our service to humanity. With Rotary as a catalyst, we can create programs and projects that touch the heart, mind, and spirit of humanity.”

RCM, Pineda points out, has established many institutions which have shaped the course of Philippine history, such as, but not limited to: the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Philippine Cancer Society, Philippine Band of Mercy, Gaches Village for the homeless, and many more humanitarian projects.

Captains of industry and stalwarts

Pineda feels mighty proud that “many distinguished and outstanding leaders have led Asia’s First Rotary Club. Captains of industry and stalwarts of their professions all have visions of a better life for people who have less in life. This has become their mantra, as they share their time, talent, and resources towards creating an environment for the marginalized in order to make a difference in their communities through Rotary.”

Chimes in Bangko Sentral Governor Benjamin Diokno, himself a Manila Rotarian: “Not many organizations have the distinction of reaching the all-important ‘century’ milestone. Attaining this momentous landmark is certainly not a walk in the park for any organization. That the RCM has lasted this long is a reflection not only of its long-standing commitment to its ideals and goals, but also of its dynamism, relevance, and influence to the community it serves. For this, the men of the RCM deserve our congratulations!”

That is, of course, not lost on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.  The Chief Executive gave his enormous support to RCM’s centennial celebration through Presidential Proclamation No. 413, where he has declared July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019 as the YEAR FOR THE CELEBRATION OF THE CENTENNIAL ANNIVERSARY OF THE ROTARY CLUB OF MANILA  AND THE ROTARY MOVEMENT IN THE PHILIPPINES AND IN ASIA. 

Gushes Pineda: “This proclamation will open new doors for Rotary Club of Manila. I look forward to the many new opportunities this will bring to our Club and the many Rotary Clubs in the Philippines—for support, partnerships and cooperative endeavors with government Institutions and local government units, and the ability to help as long as they are aligned with Rotary’s different noble advocacies for Service to the Filipino people.”

Service to humanity

This 2019, says the RCM President Pineda, “we celebrate 100 years of service to humanity. Throughout the past century, one mission has united us, together with many clubs around the world.”  He elaborates:

“Service Above Self – our motto has endured for a reason – there will always be people who have less in life, and it is a challenge to our Rotary Club to fulfill the duty of answering their call. The values that Rotarians have exemplified as members in fellowship, global understanding, ethics, integrity, diversity, leadership, and service – will be essential to paving the way forward to the next century.”

“The Rotary Club of Manila was officially chartered on June 1, 1919. The initial acts to form the Club started as early as Jan. 19, 1919 with the election of Leon J. Lambert as President, Alfonso Sycip as Vice President, E. E. Elser as Secretary, Walter A. Beam as Treasurer. They served in these positions until the formal charter date in the following June with 38 charter members,” relates Rafael “Raffy” Garcia III, Rotary International director, 2018-2020, in his message to fellow Rotarians of Manila.

“The Rotary Club of Manila has always held the reputation of being not only the first and the largest Rotary Club in the Philippines, but also the Club with the most distinguished Rotarians,” exults Garcia.  “Its membership has always been the crème de la crème of Philippine society and industry, including many of the government officials who have crafted the direction of our democracy.”   It was home to MAT Caparas when he was elected as the first and only Filipino to become President of Rotary International in 1986-1987. “With President Susing at its helm, the Rotary Club of Manila will continue to Be the Inspiration to the world,” says Garcia, recalling Pineda’s theme as president.


“It is awe-inspiring to look back to the many great leaders of the club who have contributed immensely to our communities through their meaningful projects and programs,” enthuses Rudy B. Bediones, district governor Rotary International District 3810 for 2018-2019 and RCM president in 2013-2014.

Bediones notes that the Rotary Club of Manila has pioneered in the organization and establishment of many noteworthy organizations, such as the Boy Scout movement, Community Chest Foundation, Philippine Band of Mercy, the Safety Organization of the Philippines, Philippine Cancer Society, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Philippine Tourism Association, Welfareville, TOWER (The Outstanding Workers of the Republic) Awards Foundation, RC Manila Foundation, RCM Medico-Surgical Missions Foundation, Philippine Rotary Pacemaker Bank Foundation, Sagip-Kabataan (Save the Children) Foundation, RCM Eyebank Foundation.

Also, RCM regularly sends medical and surgical missions to depressed areas in our country to serve indigent patients.

RCM also sponsors programs in sight and hearing conservation, drug abuse prevention, health and hygiene education, nutrition, energy conservation, social justice, teacher development, public order and safety, peace and conflict resolution, and through the “Sagip-Kabataan Project,” the rehabilitation of children at risk (street children) and juvenile offenders.

100 million trees

RCM provides financial assistance to indigent families who have children with life-threatening congenital heart disease (Rotary’s Heart for Little Angels). “It has also embarked on a long-term plan to plant at least 100 million trees and has taken a lead role in the drive to rehabilitate Manila Bay to a safe and pristine state,” discloses Bediones, without realizing what could be a herculean task ahead.

In Rudy Bediones’ time, “we collaborated with local and international Rotary clubs to raise and receive donations amounting to P27 million, part of which was used to construct and distribute fiberglass motorized fishing boats to the fishermen in the province of Leyte whose boats were ruined by Typhoon Yolanda. Also, in collaboration with Gawad Kalinga, the Club donated 80 housing units and provided P7 million for its livelihood projects.”

During his centennial stint as RCM president, Pineda says “we have started our legacy projects with our Rotary Club of Manila Educational Assistance Program.”

The “Adopt a Student” Project with was academic partners, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila and the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, RCM’s launched last  May 3, 2018.   

Out of the 100 poor and marginalized students, who RCM aims to support with financial assistance at P2,000 per month, the 30 who qualified for the program have been adopted by Manila Rotarians, and many more Rotarians have pledged to adopt the other 70 students as they qualify in the program.” 

Likewise, “we have initiated Sari-Saring Aralan, an out-of-school-youth project with our partners, the Ayala Foundation, Grameen Australia Philippines, Rotaract, and the City of Manila. This legacy project is inclusive of the six pillars of Rotary, which may qualify for a possible global grant,” says Pineda.

Pineda challenges his colleagues, classmates and all Rotarians “to follow in our RCM Educational Assistance Program, by adopting one student per club or 123 poor and marginalized students in the public schools of your choice.”

“Education is the future of any generation, hence, the need to prepare our youth for tomorrow,” explains the RCM president.

He urges his Rotarians: “It is time for us to act and embrace the true spirit of service to humanity.    Our presence in a changing and dynamic Society will be felt not only in the lives of the people we help and serve but also in their Hearts, in their smiles, in their homes,   and In their communities.    We lead by example to pave the way forward.”

Looking into the future, Pineda urges Rotarians “to actively lead and participate in nation-building and poverty alleviation through projects in education, in skills training, in value formation and character building, and inculcate love of country among the younger generation. Our future is on the new generation following the doctrine by which we live by—our Service to others in the community, in the country, and in the world with a code of conduct that envisions truth, fairness, goodwill, and understanding.”