Publisher's Note

  • Publisher’s Note

    Dear Kababayans, I hope you are all doing well and had a great time celebrating the holidays with your loved ones. 2020 has been a roller coaster ride with the COVID-19 Pandemic arriving in our part of the world in March which resulted in much of our country being locked down. Fast forward nine months later [...]

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Page added on March 19, 2011

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by Roger Encarnacion

(This short story was first published in the Filipino Pioneers Club Magazine.)


During one of their quarterly meetings, Bert the presiding officer of the Filipino Heritage Foundation – a Filipino organization whose mandate is to acquire a Filipino cultural center in Calgary – informed his members of a plan to construct a building with financial help from Calgary’s Filipino community. As Chairman of the Board of Directors, Bert was given the task of leading the fund raising campaign whose goal was to raise some $1.5M to get the project going.

And so that evening, as soon as the members started to settle down after a sumptuous dinner at the Marlborough Inn, Bert immediately brought up the idea to his membership.

“Ladies and gentlemen, good evening; magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat. As most of you probably know by now, our organization is about to embark on a fund raising campaign, the proceeds of which will go towards the building of a Filipino cultural center.”

Bert, standing behind a lectern on a make-shift podium provided by the hotel, was anticipating an enthusiastic response from the fifty or so members who were present during that evening.

To Bert’s surprise, his announcement did not seem to get the anticipated reaction from his members. The background noise from the crowd – typical in any Filipino gathering – had probably drowned out his amplified voice from the speaker system.

Bert paused for a while then pleaded for silence from the audience.

“Folks, please listen up. This cultural building is a long time dream of many Filipinos in Calgary. We need help from everyone to make this dream a reality. It is our organization’s responsibility to raise fifty percent of the financing while the other fifty percent will come from our provincial government.  I therefore ask everyone to pool their time and effort together to raise money for this wonderful project.”

Ernie, one of the active leaders in the Filipino community, raised his hand and offered a suggestion.

“The success of this undertaking depends on how much cooperation everyone is willing to give. There are over forty thousand Filipinos living in Calgary right now and if only fifteen hundred among them contribute $1000.00 each, we will be able to raise $1.5M – enough to meet the fifty percent of the money that we are required to put up for this project. However, that’s assuming fifteen hundred generous, civic minded Filipinos in our community will come forward and contribute towards our cause!”

“Why don’t we form committees to look after specific roles in this campaign?” volunteered Flor, one of the representatives from the Filipino Pioneers Club of Calgary. “In that way, there is a fair distribution of work and responsibilities.”

“Folks, I think we should strive to arrive at a consensus from among ourselves as to how we will approach this monumental task. I think we will need to hold an election to put people into positions of responsibility,” Bert suggested.

“Pardon me Mr. Chairman, but it is my humble opinion that an election will not be necessary,” interjected Robert, one of the executive officers from the Mapua Alumni Association of Calgary and well known for his many community volunteer works. “I think that you, being the chairman of the board, should just appoint committee chairpersons and each chairperson should choose his members.

“Okay,” Bert said, “any suggestions for committee names?”

“How about Records and Information Committee?” Maria volunteered. “Its chairperson’s duties will be similar to those of a secretary. Also, Treasury Committee headed by somebody whose responsibilities are similar to those of a Treasurer.”

“Planning and Execution Committee,” suggested Lou.

Now, all of a sudden, it seemed everybody was awakened and became intent in participating in the discussions.

“Public Relations Committee,” Eugene offered.

“Let’s include the Watchdog Committee,” Gina proposed.

“Don’t forget the Awards Committee,” countered Florence.

“Now, folks, let’s stop there,” Bert interjected. “We don’t have lots of time to discuss in detail all of these committees and their functions. I propose that we create an Umbrella Committee to organize, define and formulate the roles of all the committees we need. I would like to appoint Pepe, a respected and indefatigable leader in our community, to head this Umbrella Committee.

“At this point, may I remind everyone that we should be honest and realistic in our approach to reaching our goal. How can we possibly raise $1.5M within a short time frame of two years?” Bert asked.

“Let us solicit donations from businesses in our community,” Malou suggested.

“Let’s sponsor bingo games, raffles, casinos, and dinner-dance parties,” Jeff volunteered.

“Caroling and halloweening are not bad ideas,” countered Marybeth.

“We should ask all members to donate generously to the pot,” Ellen proposed.

Ben, who was so quiet during the proceedings but known for his brilliant ideas and articulation, raised his hand and addressed the membership.

“So, we are planning to have a cultural center – a legacy that we can leave with pride to the next generations of Filipinos in this fair city, symbolic of our generosity and civic-mindedness!” Ben’s stentorian voice was filling the room.

“But do we really need a cultural center? More specifically, are we sure the majority of the forty thousand Filipinos in this city support this admirable project? Have we approached and asked them and tallied their opinions? We may be the only ones – the fifty of us gathered here tonight – who entertain the notion that the building of a cultural center is good for everyone, that it will enhance our image and elevate our pride, and that it will benefit all Filipinos, young and old, because there will be a building at last where we can propagate and showcase our culture, our arts, and our rich heritage. We need to understand the thoughts and sentiment of all Filipinos in this city. We have to ask them personally if they share the Filipino Heritage Foundation’s dream and our dream of acquiring a building that we can call our own, and if they do, ask them to put their money where their mouths are – contribute financially to this commendable project. If they do not support our cause, we carry on to the next ones until we finish canvassing the opinions of the majority of the forty thousand Filipinos in Calgary. With the help of the fifty passionate and enthusiastic souls who are gathered here tonight, we will be able to communicate with everyone concerned especially those whose varied opinions about this project, I’m sure, will serve as the foundation in shaping the decision making process of our leaders.”

There was total silence in the room.

Sensing that the audience is now under his magic spell, Ben concluded his discourse with his patented impact statement.

“Now more than ever, I believe that one of the greatest tragedies in life is not in failing to succeed while in pursuit of a dream but in failing to do the right thing to realize that dream.”

When Ben sat down, there was a deafening applause from everyone. It was one of those rare moments when a group of Filipinos was united and solidly behind a worthy cause.


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