2015 Reunion, the Legacy of the 2014-15 VHSAFI Board by President Marc Bautista
It is always a challenge to write the State of the Current VHSAFI and more so to read or deliver it impromptu during the General Assembly. As outgoing President, this is part of my duties and so I readily face my fears.
I will unravel my report unconventionally, not by enumerating facts and figures, but more like a serious analyses of the health of rapport among us, the culture we live in the Organization, which I believe, should be at the basis of our voluntary work. As the nature of our service asks, we need to give our efforts freely. There is nothing to gel us together like rewards or compensations except our pure love for our Alma Mater and the entire alumni population.
Still, this is not an ordinary love but a love that needs to be authentic and passionate to sustain hardships and difficulties that come along with being Officers of VHSAFI.
I would like to take as an example my own personal experience.
I was re-elected President of VHSAFI on March 2014, and readily accepted the responsibilities again, certainly not to "power trip" but to serve and give myself to the cause of the alumni again, this time with the wisdom born out of the beautiful but tortuous experiences of 2013-2014 tenure.
I also wished to leave a better legacy, and concretely speaking, a healthy financial standing, a positive balance in the coffer of the Foundation.
Everybody knows our dismal financial performance when we closed 2014 due to many valid and also not so valid reasons. After the Grand Alumni Reunion of FEBRUARY 2014, we were left with a huge deficit, amounting to over100k pesos.
For the record, this was mainly due to the miscalculated entry versus exits of funds. We imprudently relied so much on ticket sales revenue, based on the previous year's showing, but sadly there was a low turn out. We spent more than what we received.
But we learned from this mistake and this time we took all the necessary precautions to avoid the same mistakes. (We will have more time to dwell on this during the Treasurer's time.)
But one very important learning I wanted to carry through from that 2013-14 Board was about relationships, about oneness, about unity, which I observed was the fundamental culture missing in our Organization.
Being at the helm of the umbrella organization of the VHSA Alumni from 2013 up to the present, I saw how fragmented alumni are - not only those in VHSAFI but also those in the different organized Batches. Almost every Batch, with the exception of very few, has internal divisions. Inside each Batch there were factions - two, three, even four groups, sadly in contrast with one another.
True enough during the 2014 Grand Reunion, there were Batches who celebrated the year in reunion among themselves, not together with the rest of VHS Alumni in SMX Convention Center of Pasay. And unfortunately same scenario was repeated again this year. For this, I entrust to the coming Administration to formulate rulings to guide Batches and advice them not to hold their respective Batch's get together simultaneously with the date of the Grand Alumni Homecoming.
Up to the end of my tenure in 2014, difficulties were mounting one after another and criticisms were threatening to drown us as they flowed continuously like a rushing flash flood.
But did We succumb? NO. We still stand proudly in front of you.
Humility is the secret to survive the crises. We tried to accept all criticisms and judgments even those we felt were unfair and unjust. Difficulties made us more concerned of the greater good, the Organization rather than the singular sentiments we were feeling. We became more sensitive of the needs of other Trustees, we became more understanding... We have learned how to work together as a Team, we have become more united. We have deepened and strengthened the "foundation" of the Foundation.
Now we are at the threshold of our 2nd term.
What did we accomplish?
To follow shortly are reports of the Secretary, the Treasurer, the Chairman of EDUCOM and other relevant operative reports pertaining to our tangible accomplishments that benefitted largely our Alma Mater and the entire school community.
But let me brush off a few exchange of goodwill with the current School Administration under our watch:
1 . Tangibly we have noticed a remarkable increase in harmonious collaboration with the Principal and VHSAFI via exchanges of written and verbal expressions of open appreciation for the steady assurances of assistance from us for many projects close to the Principal's heart.
2. White Boards donations for the Office of the Principal and rehabilitations of many old blackboards as well as acquisition of new ones were projected by Batch 67 (the Batch of VHSAFI President)
3. Six new ceiling mounted electric fans were donated by Ms Becky Wilder of Batch 65.
4. 16 New wall mounted electric fans were donated by VHSAFI to the school courtesy of Dr Rex Barbosa, VHSAFI Founder
5. 165 medals as per VHS Principal's request were made available by VHSAFI during the recent Recognition Day held March 18, 2015, with Dr. Rex Barbosa presenting them, representing VHSAFI.
6. Mario Casupanan of BATCH 68 donated a pre-loved printer, copier and scanner to VHSAFI currently in the Alumni's Office
7. Danny Lansang of Batch 69 donated also a pre-loved fax, printer and copier currently for the use of EDUCOM
8. A book about VHSAFI History was handed over to the School's Library by the author herself, Ms Rosita Galang
9. Several other books and school supplies were donated by many different batches that benefitted numerous students of VHS
10. Finally, the long battle between VHSAFI vs Bank of Commerce over the anomalous transaction perpetuated by a disgruntled ex- Trustee ended in favor of VHSAFI, thanks to the meticulous and astute defense by VHSAFI Past President Bong Cabatit who dedicated precious time selflessly for our cause. (See Treasurer's report in this regard).
But to cap this all, maybe we shall take pride also in declaring that as we go, we are leaving the VHSAFI Treasury with more than P150,000.00, thanks to the generosity of many Batches who filled in the donation box during the FEBRUARY 7, 2015 Grand Reunion, with their hard earned money, a concrete manifestation of their support for the Alumni Foundation. Here, allow me to make special mention of the very generous couple, who are always ready to go out of their way to help the organization in a very unassuming manner: Ernie and Mercy Evangelista who that night of the reunion contributed P120,000.00.
But what about the intangible qualitative goal at the start of my second term: UNITY? What gains did we have?
This reality may seem less noticeable than the concrete donations etc, but no less palpable.
I can humbly affirm that we are more one today than a year ago.
As above stated, something very positive occurred. I have seen how we are more prone to listen to what others have to say rather than insist on our point of view, I have noticed that we are more sensitive not so much on how we feel but how the others feel, I have observed that friendship has deepened and became more true. In the process, we have developed the leadership skills within us while at the same time we work inside the team. In some this sense of being a leader came out real strong, unbridled at first but slowly acquired the dimension of leadership through service, learning how to be the first by being the last.
Certainly so much still needs to be done - relationships amongst us in the Board, should become ever more authentic and true, from mere respect it should reach that state of mutual love, that love that runs in a family where everyone aspire truly for one common good.
This is precisely the legacy that we would like to leave the Organization: a culture of unity.
We may boast that this time we are leaving in the Treasury box something that will ease the operations of the next administration; we may take pride in affirming that we succeeded in attracting more generosity from other Batches via their useful donations as mentioned above; we could rejoice the fact that the VHS School Administration through the Principal has recognized us more fully and has trusted VHSAFI as an important operating arm for the School needs, we definitely are ecstatic that our scholar grantees have reached a very good number of beneficiaries paired to their magnanimous benefactors, thanks to the able hands of the Educom that made this happen... Under this administration also occurred the settlement of the long standing battle between the Bank of Commerce and the VHSAFI whereby the Regional Trial Court Branch 55 of Manila ruled in favor of VHSAFI ordering the Bank of Commerce to pay VHSAFI the total amount of p243,243,12 which includes the P50k attorney's fee.
But I insist that the sweetest and lasting legacy we will leave is the fact that in the end, VHSAFI is all about living like one big family, about happily serving the alumni,without expecting anything in return.
But then again I reiterate, we, just like the early Christians who were recognized by the others on how much they cared for one another, so too we must pioneer this Culture of loving and giving in the Alumni organization, not to cancel differences but to live unity in diversity, not to eliminate hardships and difficulties but to develop, through unity, the art of transforming negative into positive.
Unity must be the essence of our working as volunteers, unity should be our source where we derive our strength to serve others freely. Without unity, our volunteerism will last only as long as our initial enthusiasm; we will be able to serve only when we feel like it or until the first difficulty comes along... Or until the next person whom we work with disagrees to our opinion...
But if we have unity, if we have love one for the other, we will serve even if it hurts, or mostly when it hurts, we will endure all hardships and obstacles because we have a higher sense of volunteerism that is rooted in unity.
Dear fellow Alumni, we have reached a certain level of maturity in life since we graduated from High School from our beloved Alma Mater, Villamor High School and this is important. Each of us, no one excluded, can be a source of inspiration to the alumni next to us, we can be of influence, we can be an example for those in our cycle of friends. Let us therefore join hands, in this continuous effort of building a culture of unity, a culture of love. Everything will pass away, only love will remain.
Let us therefore spend the rest of our lives in unity living for an ideal that will never pass: Love.