DO YOU belong to a club or organization that has lasted 20 years or more?

Have you heard of Toastmasters' International?

Updates on President Benigno Aquino III's presidency

Toastmasters' International is a non-profit organization dedicated to making effective communication and leadership a worldwide reality thru its member clubs. There are now more than 12,500 clubs, with more than 260,000 members in 113 countries, including the Philippines.

Last Friday, July 30, Pines City Toastmasters' Club celebrated its 20th year!

We had a big event at the Florence function room of Hotel Veniz. The newly selected club officers led by its current president Ms. Regine Pedrono, ably handled the preparations. Angie, my wife, and currently the Division G governor, provided guidance and support.

Many Toastmasters' club meetings are held with about 6 to 20 people who usually meet twice a month for about two hours each time. Members practice and learn the critical skills of thinking, listening, and speaking, by taking up a role at the meeting. This could be anything from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one, to serving as toastmaster, timer, evaluator or grammarian of the day. There is no instructor or teacher! Instead, each speech and meeting role is evaluated by a co-member in a positive, friendly and encouraging manner. Evaluations focus on what was done right and what could be improved. Thus, the members learn and grow to become better communicators and leaders. They also help others learn and grow, and have fun in the process.

The Pines City TMC 20th Anniversary Celebration started with an abbreviated "regular" meeting which consisted of four parts: Introduction, Educational, Evaluation and Business Portions. Ms. Pedrono started off the even with an introduction. Then, the Toastmasters of the evening, Ms. Rien Boado and Mr. Daryll Ponard took over the proceedings. The Educational portion consisted of the Grammarian introducing the "Word of the day". This was followed by the Impromptu Portion. Due to time constraints, the Prepared Speech portion had to be cancelled. The Evaluation portion followed with the General Evaluator leading a team of evaluators, namely, the Table Topics Evaluator, the Grammarian, the "Ah" Counter, and the Timer.

The Timer's report was highlighted by a video presentation of the history of Pines City TMC, through 20 years of soaring high.... with achievement after achievement.

During the business portion of the meeting, the newly elected officers of the club were installed by the Division Governor.

Here is the list of the club's 2010-2011 officers:

• Immediate Past President: Beng Garcia

• President: Regine Pedrono

• VP-Education: Daryll Ponard

• VP-Membership: Jennifer del Rosario

• VP-Press Relations: Elgier Caguioa

• Secretary: Andrienne Boado

• Treasurer: Margarette Sarmiento

• Sergeant At Arms: Juliet Manzano

The second part of the 20th anniversary celebration started with the delivery of the contest speech of Mr. Stephen Lumanlan from BLSI (Baguio Living Synergistically Inc.) TMC. He is currently the Philippine's (District 75) champion and representative to the International Prepared Speech Contest to be held in Palm Beach, California this August 14, 2010. This is the third year in a row that the Philippine National Champion comes from Baguio City, Division G.

His speech was followed by the highlight of the day's celebration, the 20 Wines and Toasts! This was given by 20 "old"/"past" members, and some "senior" members and officers of Pines City TMC. Some "old-timers" from Moog, who graced the affair were Ms. Fran Moredo, Ms. Elsa Pangilinan, Mr. Efren Alberto and Mr. Ric Bayao. Also present to give a toast were Mr. Rafael Cayetano, Dr. Hoover Agyao, Mr. Frank Baniqued, Ms. Bubut Leano, Ms. Lin Lapitan, Pastor Jun Vestidas, Ms Beng Garcia, Ms. Teena Dela Cruz, Mr. Arman Bilog, Ms. Reiann Cayetano, Mr. Hermie Garrobo, Mr. Michael Leonard, Ms. Jeanny May Damoslog, my wife Angie, and my daughter Jennifer. Dra. Jade Aquino, who came in a bit late, made it to the next highlight of the evening.

After the 20 toasts was the symbolic lighting of 20 candles, the lighting of the Pines Birthday cake and the passing on of the 20 lighted candles to 20 new members of Pines City TMC. This symbolized the continuance of the dedication and commitment that the pioneers and mentors of the club have passed on through the years. Indeed, it was a very touching and memorable evening.

Pines City Toastmasters Club is the mother club of all the other clubs in Baguio today. They include Baguio Professionals, Baguio Forensics, Baguio Ecozone TMC, Hedcor TMC, BLSI and the newly chartered Passion In Action TMC (from Pines International Academy).

My dearest toastmasters and future toastmasters,

Since I joined Toastmasters in 2005, I have been privileged to have as my mentors: Mam Sonja Chan (who sent her video toast via internet, as she is now based in Connecticut), Bubut Leano (of Texas Instruments), Hermie Garrobo (formerly of SLU, now based in Korea), and Immediate Past Div. Gov. Jay Yogawin, (formerly of Moog, now with Bo Sanchez' group, Kerygma), among many others.

Why join Toastmasters? That is one question usually asked of each member.

For me, I joined because I saw the improvement in communication skills of my daughter, Jennifer. Seeing me improve, it was easy to convince my wife to join. Then, it was she who invited James, our son, to join, too. Hopefully, our two other children will decide to do the same.

As they say, "People usually have 3 fears. The fear of dying. The fear of speaking in public. And the fear of dying while speaking in public".

I have attended many funerals, and none of them were for people who died out of fear while speaking in public!

Since January of 2008, I have not delivered any prepared speeches in the club. I must have suffered from "speech practice" fatigue! Or was it just resting on my laurels?

Thus, yesterday, I decided to start working for my next higher level of competency.

Isn't it enough to have been Baguio's first National International Prepared Speech Champion, and second runner-up in the Interdistrict Competition in Canada?

It's not all about winning! It's about improving oneself, and being the best we can be.

As Colossians 3:23-24 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving!"

As they say, the best way to learn and grow is by continually working at it! We stop growing when we stop learning and practicing!

Last year, one of my mentor-"idols", Hermie Garrobo, won the nationals, and went on to win the Championship in the Interdistrict A competition in Connecticut.

Let us pray that Stephen Lumanlan will soar high to the next level.... and beyond, by becoming the International World Champion of Public Speaking for 2010!

20 years of Pines City Toastmasters!

Proudly Baguio!!!