Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A BRIGHT night filled with hope, faith, charity, and yes, love

BnT Meeting
08 July 2010



The skies cloaked the Makati skyline in darkness as the night set in, but the penthouse of the Old Makati Stock Exchange shone bright, oh so bright. The people inside basked in the sunshiny spirit of the evening, as everyone felt the spirit of the theme: “With BnT, the future’s so BRIGHT” - Bringing Individuals to Greater Heights through Toastmasters.

July 8, 2010 marked a new beginning at Butter N Toast Toastmasters Club, with President Jun Roy banging the gavel for the first time. Those present, 8 officers + 14 members + 8 guests, bade goodbye to their ERSTWHILE selves and welcomed the opportunity for a fresh start, a new beginning, an organic genesis of individuals reborn to work together for a BRIGHTer year with BnT.

Toastmaster of the Evening (TM of the PM), Alvin Abrantes, ably welcomed everyone, making them savor the fun spirit of BnT. His team for the night comprised of Table Topics Master Eden Alemania-Dayrit, Grammarian Pat Pascua, Ah-Counter Jennie Lou Cantago, and Time Keeper Mayette Torreliza. The great Jeeves De Veyra of Makati Toastmasters Club and erstwhile Governor of Area 13 served as the night’s General Evaluator (GE), with Boom San Agustin, JJ Letargo, Jun Roy, and Ed Ebreo completing his evaluation team.

Tina Marcelino led the Invocation and Toastmasters’ Promise, afterwhich, the fun began.

Eden opened the Table Topics portion by introducing the concept of “the elevator speech,” a feature in the show “The Apprentice,” wherein someone has to make the pitch in the rare case he/she finds himself/herself with an eminent businessman (like Donald Trump) inside the elevator. Now, Eden continues, what if instead of a businessman, one gets the chance to talk to P-Noy, what would be said?

Boom stood up for the first pitch, answering the question, “If you were given the opportunity to give P-Noy advise, what will you tell him?” Boom then went on to remind P-Noy of the ATOM & what he stood for, advising him to have simpler goals, to establish his own, to go ahead & do what he has to do. After all, at the end of the day, the people will judge him on how he performed and not on how popular he has been.

Pat delivered the next pitch to the question, “If you will assume a cabinet post, what will it be and why?” An advocate for quality education, Pat shared that she has imagined herself offering herself to head the Department of Education as early as after the 1992 presidential elections. Wanting to revamp the curriculum, she has the motive to get in there, fix the curriculum, especially those in public schools, to achieve a stronger base of students. Pat wanted to fix it and let majority of the youth benefit from it. At the end, Eden added financial literacy, hoping that the future of BnT would be bright and the future of the Philippines, too.

With the night starting with a hint of hope, with the new Toastmasters term coinciding with a new leadership in Philippine politics, the night continued with shades of faith, charity, and love, as the prepared speakers came next, all basic speeches for the Competent Communication norm.

Clave started with her Speech No. 1: The Ice Breaker, “I Am Clave.” She gave a wonderful speech which sounded like the ultimate speech for the norm, as her evaluator, JJ later told the crowd. Clave shared the etymology of her name (Spanish cla-ve meaning keystone; the wooden instrument in African music called claves; princess, according to her aunt, who gave her the name) but liked her personal definition best: a strong-willed follower of Jesus. She shared her bratty beginning as a pampered princess in her family, complete with exclusive schools, luxurious items, expensive toys, international travel – indeed, a privileged life. Clave then continued with her problematic period when all the financial and familial comforts left her. Where other people might have had emotional breakdown, Clave instead became more focused to finish her bachelor’s degree and more faithful to God, with whom she developed a deeper relationship, He being her source of strength and her refuge. “Some may believe that their names may defined who they become,” she said, “I defy this notion. We are not confined nor defined by the meaning of our name, by our past.” Clave ended by stating, “I chose to define my name, who I am – a woman, strong-willed, and a follower of Jesus.”

Elaine followed with her Speech No. 3: Get to the Point, “Share your Blessings.” “Charity is a common word for us,” she started. “I am here to share the simple meaning of charity – sharing your own blessings at your own time.” Elaine then showed her fellow toasties the meaning of charity, caritas, by sharing her experiences at the Bethlehem House of Bread Orphanage in Bulacan. She and her friends decided in 2008 to hold a birthday celebration for the children who, sadly, didn’t know their birthdays. By bringing food and preparing songs & dances, Elaine felt privileged to know the real meaning of charity. By sharing one’s blessings, one gets to know the real meaning of charity. More than monetary or nutritional blessings, the most important blessing to be shared is one’s time. “Just a simple gesture of sharing your blessing and time would mean much to [the children],” Elaine said. From then on, she and her friends continued with their new-found way of sharing their blessings. Last year, two kids held her knees the whole time she was in the orphanage. She felt that those kids need someone’s embrace. Being charitable does not stop at giving money, food, or milk. Being charitable really means being with them.

Faye with her Speech No. 4: How to Say It, “The June Bride and other stories of Tatang Louy” came in last. Having spent her childhood with her grandparents, Faye grew up listening to the stories of her grandfather, Tatang Louy. “Tatang planted the seeds of storytelling in my being,” she said, inspiring her to share some of the stories that night. Three stories of love between Tatang Louy and Nanang Atting awakened the romantic side of the crowd, as Faye recalled her grandparents’ courtship through letters, their lucky and blessed wedding day, and the sadness felt when a loved one leaves the other behind. Faye then ended by saying that July 8 is a lucky day, as her grandfather would have said, forecasting a BRIGHT future for Butter N Toast.

Jonathan also prepared his Speech No. 2: organize your Speech, “Think like an Eagle.” He provided a sneak preview to the group by letting us reflect on our thoughts when we hear the word “eagle.” The main picture will be unveiled in the next meeting. (Note: he delivered a soaring speech last July 22! More on this in the article for that night’s meeting.)

After the prepared speeches, the crowd partook of BnT’s famous pansit.

Alvin then turned over the stage to Jeeves, being the GE, for the evaluation portion – the segment unique to toastmasters meetings. As Jeeves said, “evaluation gives value to your being a toastmaster. Evaluation is like an instant feedback.”

Boom then evaluated the Table Topics portion. Pat, to him, is “classic. When she gets up here, she’s picture perfect. The epitome of poise, when she speaks, she has the air of authority.” Although Pat used PREP effectively, Boom noted that the ending seemed abrupt, and this could be something for Pat to grow on. However, Boom hinted to the toasties that if they need a model on how to deliver a table topics speech, that would be Pat. Boom next described Eden, the Table Topics Master, as very creative. She acted like an adviser of P-Noy, a very apt exercise since the country just came from an election. Boom may not have seen the theme of the evening in the Table Topics session, but this did not diminish the creativity and the fun in the impromptu segment of the night’s meeting.

Jeeves next evaluated Boom in his Table Topics speech, stating that Boom had been dynamic and commanded respect. He later advised Boom to be consistent with the perspective of his speech, if he starts with the first person, he should do so throughout his speech. In evaluating Eden, Jeeves informed the crowd that “Table Topics is for us to learn impromptu.” Thus, he recommended that in future Table Topics sessions, the Master should call the speaker first, then give the topic. This way, the speaker is made to think on his feet.

The evaluation for the prepared speeches followed.

JJ turned out to be an appropriate evaluator for Clave. Although it was an Ice Breaker speech, Clave delivered a well-applauded one. Thus, it must have been some form of divine intervention when one of BnT’s DTMs was assigned to evaluate her. JJ informed the crowd that the Ice Breaker serves as a benchmark of a speaker. With Clave, though, “the speech sounded like speech number 10.” With Clave’s name to mean keystone, she already has a cornerstone and is exceptional for something bigger. JJ then asked Clave why she joined BnT, to which Clave replied that she wants to improve her leadership skills. JJ the challenged her to continue with the program and agreed that Clave’s name is indeed musical, since her speech was music to the ears.

Jeeves next stated his observations on Clave’s speech. What struck him was that everyone was silent as Clave spoke, showing that Clave connected with her audience. He felt the gravitas, the weight. Jeeves then advised Clave that situation awareness can be another way to connect, that some parts of the story should have included humor. He then told the toasties that the most effective way to deliver a weighty message is through humor. Jeeves also advised JJ that she should have told Clave what to look forward to, like look for speech project number 4, for instance.

“The thing about a beautiful lady, it becomes distracting if [she] speaks of a hallow message,” Jun started his evaluation of Elaine, “But Elaine spoke of a good one.” He then gave her some pointers. Elaine had been clear with her specific purpose, with the speech about charity being stated at the beginning. But for the general purpose, she should choose only one. He observed tentativeness in her voice and confidence was needed, and discouraged the use of notes. However, Jun noted that it was the heart that conveys the message, that Elaine really believed in her message, and that he never doubted that she’s an advocate of charity.

Jeeves next noted that Jun’s evaluation was earnest, showing that he really wanted to help her. He then encouraged those who haven’t evaluated yet to try to evaluate, for “to teach is to learn twice.” Jeeves also recommended for Elaine to tell the story first. The message and gain were already in the story, he said.

Ed described Faye’s speech as a “love story in a pulp fiction manner,” with one chapter after another, indeed filled with vivid words. He noted the audience listening, enthralled. It was an understatement that Faye passed the objectives, Ed said, who also acknowledged the good technic of using dialect. He then told Faye to be more cohesive, since some ideas may be lost in the chapter-style speech. (Pat also whispered to Faye that the speech is good if read. If listened to, however, the audience cannot rewind it to go back to other ideas.)

Jeeves then described Ed’s evaluation as textbook evaluation. Ed should also have made an example, as the end recommendation sounded vague. Jeeves also said that he liked Faye’s speech, with lots of vivid words.

Jeeves also gave Jonathan some words of encouragement. “Toastmasters,” he said, “is a friendly atmosphere. It is okay to use notes; since notes are not prohibited, only discouraged.” He then advised the toasties to use bigger fonts, making it easier for the speaker to see where he/she left off, and not to staple the pages for easier movement of pages.

Pat next mentioned the gems to be kept and the germs to be discarded from everyone’s grammar closets. She cited Boom’s “establish your own character,” Clave’s “most people are intrigued with the etymology… I defy these notions… We are not defined and confined by our name,” Elaine’s “a privilege to be part of the [charity] program,” Faye’s “ambassador of his love… landing… seeds of storytelling bloomed,” and Boom the evaluator’s “Pat is classic, picture-perfect.” To be discarded: the lapse of omitting “s” at the end of plural forms. With the Word of the Day (WOD), ERSTWHILE, best used as another word for “former,” Pat ended her report with the following samplings of the word: “He delivered his last speech as erstwhile head of his department.” “The erstwhile occupant of Malacanang is strongly opposed of the porkchop.” “I remember fondly my erstwhile clubmates at Tambuli Toastmaster Club.”

Jeeves, in his evaluation of Pat, suggested that the WOD should be put up for everyone to see throughout the session. He also mentioned that, in the spirit of education and not in the spirit of being mean, the grammarian should directly tell the source of the germs what was done wrong. Jeeves ended by stating that Pat gave a very precise and great grammarian report.

Technical evaluations followed, with Jennie reporting that Bino and Jeeves got the most number of Ha-Ha from the audience, and Mayette stating that all speakers and evaluators spoke within the allotted time except for Clave in her speech and Boom & Ed in their evaluations.

Alvin the TM, according to Jeeves, had an unenviable job to do that night, a job which Alvin did well, steering everybody. Jeeves particularly liked the way Alvin exuded friendliness and power.

In closing, Jeeves acknowledged the full room, reinforcing the reputation of BnT as one of the well-attended meetings in Toastmasters. Very comfortable with the environment, Jeeves had the pleasure to be part of the insanity for a little over two hours. He particularly liked the banner, program/newsletter, and evaluation forms, all of which could make BnT qualify for the best practices manual. “The thing with Toastmasters,” stated Jeeves, “being a toastmaster is not just getting a manual and delivering speeches; it is the community… It is not just about the club, but about the people.” The GE then ended by congratulating the TM of the PM and his chipmunk power.

The five other guests aggregately gave positive responses, with Karen signing up that very night; Richie, currently of Makati Toastmasters Club like the GE, standing in front of the BnT toasties, telling them that he was just a boy, asking to be adopted; his officemate Paul stating that he’d definitely join; Katrina sharing that the meeting had been inspirational and that she now has a venue for growth; and Marie somehow imbibing the BnT fun spirit when she said that “we all have our clowns… everyone has potential to be clowns… it would be good to challenge one’s self.”

The officers (Pat, Jun, Sheila, Gege, Alvin, Faye, Eden, & Ed), members (April, Boom, Clave, Christine, Elaine, Francis, JJ, Jazz, Jennie, Johnson, Jonathan, Mayette, Shel, and Tina), and the honorable guest-toastmasters (Pam Castro & Yoly Meru) then cheered the guests, encouraging them to take the Toastmasters journey.

The night ended with the induction of ten new members and discharging of the previous set of officers headed by Pat Pascua, both facilitated by past Division B Governor JJ Letargo. Current Division B Governor Yolanda Meru then installed the current set of officers headed by Jun Roy. (More details on these in another article.)

At the end of the session, everyone went out of the Old MSE, each one emanating their own light. In a fortnight, these individual lights will again come together, converging into one great light, forming a BRIGHT Butter N Toast.

- Faye F. Melegrito

1 comment:

Ed Ebreo said...

Great recap, Faye! I'm definitely going look forward to more of this! :)

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