I was a Toastmaster for 10 years. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of my home club, Taipan Toastmasters Club, on Dec. 13, 2019, I was asked to deliver a message as a past president. Below are excerpts of the message I gave that evening.
One fateful day in October of 1990, I walked into my first Toastmasters meeting as a guest and delivered my Ice Breaker speech. Unknown to me until many, many years later, my speech that night had caused quite a stir among Taipan members.
Almost like a storm brewing in the horizon, I had given off ominous signs to Taipan elders. According to a very reliable source, they had to hold a special meeting afterwards to decide whether or not to admit to the club—this seemingly dangerous subject.
They found me too blunt, too bold, too brazen. More importantly, too culturally and politically incorrect. In brief, just too much. An anarchist, perhaps?
Well, I want you to know that after 30 years, I haven’t really changed that much. I am just as blunt, just as bold, just as brazen, just as culturally and politically incorrect and still very much too much for most people. And of course, still an anarchist at heart.
Barely a month after I delivered my tumultuous Ice Breaker speech to an audience completely unprepared for my unreserved and unrepentant self, typhoon Ruping barreled through Cebu and battered it badly.
Packing gale force winds of 220 kph and bringing the greatest destruction to the country since 1947, Ruping made landfall midnight of Nov. 12, 1990.
Cebu City was pummeled. Eighty-eight ships sank in the harbor. Water and power lines went down. Water had to be rationed in the next 30 days. It took a month for power to be restored to our homes.
Ruping caused some P10 billion in damage and affected more than a million families in Central Visayas. More significantly, it rendered the Mactan-Mandaue Bridge unusable, which affected our supply of gas, crude oil and access to the airport.
Ruping was unforgettable in a traumatic kind of way.
I can only hope that my Ice Breaker speech 30 years ago was just as unforgettable. And while I swept through Taipan and shook you out of your seats like some tropical cyclone, hopefully, it was not in some traumatic sort of way.
For reasons that escape me till today, the Taipan elders chose to admit me to the club. So, I, the anarchist, officially joined Taipan in January of 1991—in the aftermath of the unforgettable typhoon Ruping.
I learned a lot in Taipan. I learned that it is just as important to build relationships as it is to get tasks done because the former is the key to the latter. We are only leaders for as long as we have team members. And our organizational goals can only be achieved through team effort. (Part 2 next week)