INCOMING Rotary International District 3850 Governor Maria Ester "Mate" Espina enjoined her incoming Assistant Governors and Presidents-elects in 11 zones covering Negros, Panay and Western Mindanao to be ready to embrace and expand their Rotary journey for 2023-2024 with the theme: "Create Hope in the World."

She stressed this during the joint Assistant Governors and Presidents-elect Training and Seminar held at Hennan Lagoon Resort, Boracay Island, Aklan on March 22.

This is part of the requirement for all incoming officers to undergo the said seminar and training, which is a prelude to the District Conference in this island under District Governor John Michael "Kano" Ng.

District Trainor and Past District Governor (PDG) Jundad Legislador, PDG James Mc Gyver Makasiar, PDG Joe Jay Jude Doctora, PDG Mark Ortiz, and PDG Louie Gonzaga took their turns in leading the training and seminar of the incoming officers.

"I am indeed humbled to be in the presence of these great district leaders. I’d also like to thank RI support staff Mary Jayne Desmond, who flew all the way from Australia, and while she is in this paradise we call Boracay, this has not been much of a vacation for her as she has been hopping from one PETS to another all over the country. Of course, many thanks as well to my sissies in the RPIC team who are here with us, Charter President, ARPIC and future District Governor Josh Santos, and the beauteous ARPIC Charlotte Cruz," she said.

"Our theme, ‘Create Hope in the World’ was unveiled by incoming RI President Gordon McInally during our International Assembly last January in Orlando, Florida. And since it is only in the Philippines that we label our year of service, Gordon suggested that we name ourselves as Hope Creating Governors, and you will call yourselves Hope Creating Presidents and Hope Creating Assistant Governors," she said.

So how do we go about creating hope?

"My background is journalism and public relations, and I’ve seen the power of storytelling in stirring people, moving people and governments into action, and affecting change in the process.

"And so I challenge you to tap into your inner self and find that story or stories that will power you to bring in new members, inspire others to join your cause, donate to your programs, and help you, help us, grow Rotary," she said.

She added, "Let us start communicating and telling stories that not only seek to enable change but also share our own Rotary stories that celebrate the change you’ve made in your communities."

Furthermore, she urged all Rotary clubs to implement nationwide, the pride project, where all Rotary clubs will be encouraged to state that they are an LGBTQ+ friendly club.

What does this mean?

"It does not necessarily mean that you will start recruiting LGBTQ+ members to your club, although why not? They are a happy, creative group of people. But what the pride project’s bottom line is with that statement, our clubs are saying that we are respectful of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and as far as public image is concerned, we are going to show the entire country that indeed, Rotary is above others for being a progressive organization, respectful of the rights of all," Espina said.*