DRR Christian celebrates 7 years of serving Rotaract Clubs

By Elyrose Naorbe | Posted on March 8, 2022

Rotaract District 3850 is a diverse district divided into three islands – Panay, Negros Occidental, and Western Mindanao. That’s why leading this district is quite hard. However, being a District Rotaract Representative (DRR) in the Fun District is priceless and rewarding. 

Aside from vibrant Rotarians, Rotaractors, and Interactors, the district also shares best practices in terms of values, traditions, languages, and even ways of life. 

The district is a home of stunning tourism destinations, mouth-watering dishes, and active leaders who aim to serve and change lives in the community. 

This Rotary Year, the District 3850 is led by DRR/RTN Christian Paul Santiago of the Rotaract Club of Dipolog. Before he became DRR, we initiated an interview to know his Rotaract journey. 

How long have you been to Rotaract?

I heard about Rotaract when my friend signed me up as a new member in September 2014. For the rest of the RY 2014-2015, I was under a probationary membership (we used to call it “baby Rotaractor”) until I got elected as the Club Secretary the same day when I was admitted as a regular member in June 2015. I will be celebrating my seven years in Rotaract formally this coming June 2022.

Tell me about your Rotaract journey.

Personally, the journey is all highs. I am having fun. I cannot consider that the mistakes I made and the struggles within Rotaract were low because those were part of the learning process as a Rotaractor. While it was all high to me, the club ranking went down so well that it came to a point  that our club was about to get suspended (or perhaps terminated) two years after my term ended in June 2017. Within those years (July 2017 to June 2019), I was already serving as an Executive Assistant to our sponsoring Rotary Club of Dipolog. I have learned so much about Rotaract from the peripherals of the Rotarians. And in June 2019, through the courage of Matilda Justine Zason to serve as the Club President for RY 2019-2020 with a little to no knowledge about Rotaract, the club – on its brink of suspension – revived slowly with my mentorship and served as their Rotaract Advisor along with the new chartered Rotaract Club of Dapitan from 2019-2021.

Observing the on-going operations as Rotaractors on duty for the Rotary Smiles (Free Operations for the Cleft Lip and Palate).

In your stay in Rotaract, what are the perks and advantages of being one?

Network, friendship, and a lot of fellowships. Of course, those are in addition to the numerous warm smiles you get to witness from people that are benefitting from the service projects. Those warm smiles that needed no spoken words but purely of gratitude from their hearts.

Network with the Rotarians. In Rotary, members are coming from different practicing backgrounds. And as a young wanderer who just happens to be a Rotaractor, it is beyond the imagination that you can easily communicate to these people who happen to be Rotarians.

Friendship with the fellow Rotaractors. Rotaract is noticeably everywhere. And practically if you have friends in Rotaract outside your club or the district, you are never lost. Having friends in Rotaract will make you proudly say that “I am a Rotaractor”.

Fellowships are everywhere. What are the chances that you get to jam with the people owning a million or billion companies, or well-known experts of their respected fields, or even the simplest people, or anyone from the walks of life regardless of their cultures and beliefs? It is with the Rotary family. And probably a good and valid reason to travel and meet fellow members of Rotaract.

Chaired the Rotary Youth Activities Week (Boys and Girls Week) in 2019 on which some of the Youth Officials (including from the previous batches) joined the Interact Club of Dipolog.

What are the struggles you have experienced and how did you conquer it?

I struggled the most, so far, when I served as the Rotaract Club President during the All-Star Year. Although I did file for the Presidency prior to the start of the year, I backed out in respect to the seniors of the club. In September 2016, with the unanimous decision of the board to replace the then-elected President due to the conflicting schedules, I sat as the Club President for the remainder of the Rotary Year. I was unprepared, honestly. Halfway through the Rotary Year, the club was already unstable. Members were becoming inactive. And I was on the edge of giving up. But then, unknowingly, I somehow stayed with our Rotary Club of Dipolog and I have diverted most of my attention to our sponsoring Rotary club, and revived our Interact Club of Dipolog in August 2017 after its long break. And I realized that these kids, the Interactors, somehow should consider continuing their Rotary journey if they have plans to continue their education in Dipolog City. With the new friends, we have brought back the Rotaract Club of Dipolog City, and I single handedly mentored them – both Interactors and Rotaractors of Dipolog together with the Rotaract Club of Dapitan.

What motivated you to join Rotaract?

It was the thought that the Rotaract Club of Dipolog City was an event organization that motivated me (or more like had enticed me) to join Rotaract back in September 2014.

What is the good advice you want to remind the new members of Rotaract?

I started my term as the District Rotaract Representative with a local dialect quote (or probably an upgraded local expression), “Bahala ug wala’y award, basta hilas.” It is the same quote that I have shared to every member of our Rotaract and Interact club, and now I got a chance to share it with our district. The quote could be translated to English in many ways, but the meaning in this context could be, “Even if our efforts will not be recognized, be proud”. The achievements of the club are done for the club, for its members, and for its communities because there is nothing more to be proud of when you could actually see a thankful soul from the windows of the grateful eyes.

These people are some of the familia I have made in Rotaract. I got to befriend amazing Rotaractors and be able to travel around our Fun District.

What’s the highlight of your Rotaract life?

I did not think much of actually winning the election to be in the next-in-line in serving the Rotaract District Committee of the Rotary International District 3850. But I was so ecstatic when I was proclaimed as the DRRN in June 2020. I would say that the pinnacle of my Rotaract journey is having the chance to serve as the 25th District Rotaract Representative in our RID 3850 with the great lineage of PDRRs and working with the truly Fun Rotaractors. And one of the best highlights is to have shared the same experience with my fellow Life-Changing / Changemaker DRRs of the Philippines.

What are your contributions to Rotaract?

In addition to have served our Fun District as their District Rotaract Representative and worked with the great minds of Rotaract, I would proudly admit that the restorations of the Rotaract Club of Dipolog City and the Interact Club of Dipolog were my notable highlights and my best contributions to Rotaract.

How’s your relationship to other Rotaractors and even Rotarians and Interactors?

I have an outstanding relationship with my fellow Rotaractors around me. And, piece of advice, build relationships with your Interactors, their on-the-roof energies will keep you young and youthful. With my induction to Rotary Club of Dipolog in 2018 through the Rotaract Apprenticeship Program of PDG Lindon Seediet, my relationships with the Rotarians are much easier and calmer now. I sometimes get jitters when speaking to a Rotarian.

What made you still stay in the organization?

Friends, especially from the other clubs (or districts). Even if the club was inactive, I still represent the club during the district activities and fellowships. The excitement you feel to finally meet again your Rotaract friends once or twice a year in every in-person district events. And to be part of an organization on which every help is already rewarding to our hearts, and on which an easy conduit to those in need. 

Served as the District Public Image Director under the leadership of PDRR Dennis Pedrosa, and as an All-Star President of the Rotaract Club of Dipolog City.

How are you able to mentor other members and leaders in the group?

I have been mentally upholding this virtue: “Share your knowledge and experiences, and equally learn from their experiences and backgrounds. Continue to be a mentee for you to be able to mentor.

What made you a RacStar?

I shine with Rotaract, and my friends and family see and value it. And I got to share the same shine with my fellow Rotaractors, Rotarians, and Interactors, and even to the young aspiring leaders in our community.

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