YEARS ago, my ninang, Gene de Guia, was inviting me to Soroptimist. It was not the right time, as I was shuttling from Bontoc to Baguio and later on from Baguio to other parts of Asia. It was a decade after that I finally became a soroptimist when Mameng Balajadia invited me into the club. August is celebrated as the Soroptimist International Month and so this month is our month.
I have been in various women organizations, but there is certain uniqueness in Soroptimist, not only because of it being an international organization but of the way they recognize achievements. Back then someone gets into the club by being sponsored by a current member. Invitees are identified as to their profession as there should only be one member of one profession. If there are 10 physicians, they cannot use physicians. One will be an O.B. Gynecologist, the other a neurologist and so on. If one is a teacher, she is either a pre-school teacher, the other a professor, the other an instructor. In that way, the composition of a club comes from varied professions.
After barely a year of membership, I became a President not going through the normal route of being a president-elect. The president-elect was them Dr. Praxedes but she resigned before she can take the role and is one of the youngest in the club. I was voted to take her place. It was a lot of learning while on the job. It was an organization that supports efforts of women in awarding scholarship grants, supporting group discussions and initiatives for young and teen girls to live their dream. It was an organization that recognizes unsung heroes. It was an organization of women committed to bringing out the best of women and girls.
Being a Soroptimist, I meet strong capable women in the Baguio District, the Philippine Region the Federation of the Americas as well as the Soroptimist International Inc. I was able to do that because it is how the organization was designed. One becomes a member of the club, but that membership is a membership to the SI Americas (the federation) the Philippines (region) and the International organization. I was able to meet them because of the biennial convention of the federation as I attended during the end of my term as a Club President, in Vancouver convention and as a District Director in Orlando convention.
Also, I was able to meet others from the different federations as I was a UN Delegate to the 59 and 60th UN Commission on the Status of Women through Soroptimist International. That has widened my horizon especially in women programs and advocacy spearheaded by Soroptimist International, UN Women and other women organizations.
The friendship that has been formed in the club, the region and the federation has been very significant for me as a woman leader. It is here that I saw that we remain to be connected even when we are actually apart due to distance. The connections continue even through the pandemic because the organization has cope with the times and went online. I went to Soroptimist not really knowing them, but with my eight years, I have gained sincere friends.
I pledge allegiance to Soroptimist and to the ideals for which it stands:
The Sincerity of Friendship
The Joy of Achievement
The Dignity of Service
The Integrity of Profession
The Love of Country
I will put forth my greatest effort to promote, uphold, and defend these ideals,
For a larger fellowship in home, in society, in business, for country, and for God.