Posted by Peter Roaf on Mar 18, 2019
For the nine Rotarians and two spouses from District 5040 who recently returned from a Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) to the Philippines, all said a highlight of their trip was the people. From January 27 to February 17, 2019, the Canadian RFE team found the Filipinos to be passionate, resilient, warm, loving, caring, kind, and generous to a fault. They love to take photos, sing, dance and karaoke, and love Rotary: they join to do good in the world and, in fellowship, Rotarians become their best friends. Members of the 11-person visiting team, most who did not know each other, developed on their journey not only lasting friendships with their hosts, but among themselves. -- story by Liz Scott, and photos by various
Led by Richmond Sunrise Rotarian Elena Agala, the three-week RFE coincided with celebrations for the 100th Anniversary of Rotary in the Philippines.
One of the experiences was seeing People of Action on the part of Canadian/Filipino dentists and hygienists from our Rotary District 5040 in Panglao on the southern island of Bohol, where they joined local dentists and hygienists on a dental mission to treat 3,500 patients over more than four days. The RFE team brought with them nine 110-kilogram boxes with donated toiletries, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and dental floss at the dental clinic and at a poor fishing village. The team also distributed the toiletry kits at a one-day dental mission in Manila for 150 street children.

Manila city tour on calesas – horse drawn carriages

Riding a calesa

City tour of Manila

Jeepney – a form of transportation unique to the Philippines

Beautiful Spanish style replicated building in Las Casas

Cruising in the canal in Las Casas
Another People of Action link with our District 5040 was the handover of a Rotary World Help (RWH) shipment of medical and dental equipment and supplies, loaded in Coquitlam in January, to Rotarians in Manila, for communities in need. It was particularly satisfying for RFE team members, Elena Agala and Janice Froese, who are RWH board members who had assisted loading the container in Vancouver, to see this shipment arrive at its final destination.
A special “Rotary moment” for the RFE team was lunch with Rotary International Past Presidents D.K. Lee (2008-09) and Sakuji Tanaka (2012-13) and five Rotary International Directors.

Lake Taal and volcano – Tagaytay

A visit to Josephine’s Restaurant in Tagaytay south of Manila
overlooking Lake Taal had the group jumping for joy

Another delicious meal! Josephine’s Restaurant Tagaytay 

Sonia, Davinder and Liz following suit – notice it takes
three of them

Orphanage in Bohol

Cooking demonstration at Tuloy Orphanage, Manila

The RFE team learned that the Philippines is a country of over 7,600 islands rich in natural resources including gold, making it very desirable to other countries. Some of its history includes Spanish colonization from 1565 until 1898 with Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War, when the country became a territory of the United States. The long sought independence promised in 1935 by the U.S. at the end of a 10-year period was interrupted in 1942 when Japan occupied the Philippines, but that promise was eventually fulfilled after the end of World War II with the Treaty of Manila in 1946, establishing the independent Philippine Republic.
The team visited the Rizal Museum, honouring Jose Rizal (1861-1896), considered one of the greatest heroes of the Philippines who was executed after the Philippine Revolution by the government near the end of the Spanish colonial period. They visited the Ayala Museum and the National Museum, as well as Chinatown.
Manila Dental Mission – 150 street children treated in
one day
Manila street children waiting for dental visit – always smiling

Dr. Danny of Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise making smiles

Dental Mission Panglao, Bohol with Richmond Sunrise
Rotarian Dr. Danny Salcedo and Rotary Club of

Panglao Island President Romeo Balaba

600 donated dental kits distributed at dental missions
in Manila and Panglao, at orphanage, and to children
in fishing village

RFE Team Leader Elena and PDG Sonia. Sonia interviewed
by tv crew in Manila

Throughout their visit the RFE members dined on halo-halo as a snack, and Filipino, Chinese, Korean and Japanese cuisine and more. They attended a cooking demonstration by Cathy Go, of delicious Filipino food at the Tuloy Sa Don Bosco Street Children Village, run by Father Rocky Evangelista as a refuge for some of the 1.5 million children living on the streets in the Philippines, where the local children were vibrant and animated as they performed for the visitors.
Other experiences included lunches and dinners at local clubs in Manila, a tree planting project, a centre for 50 young girls who have been rescued from a life in the sex industry, churches in the largely Roman Catholic faith stemming from the more than 300-year Spanish colonial period, a spa, a crocodile farm, tour of the famous chocolate hills of Bohol, and Las Casas - the “Venice of the Philippines”.
The RFE team is looking forward to the arrival of their new Filipino friends who are tentatively scheduled to arrive mid-May and encourages our District 5040 members to experience of getting to know these warm, kind, generous, caring, fun loving, and truly lovely Rotarians.
If the opportunity arises, the RFE team also encourage you to participate in an upcoming Rotary Friendship Exchange. They promise it will be the experience of a lifetime. Contact RFE Chair Elena Agala at
Alonah Tropical Beach Resort where both Friendship
Exchange and Dental Mission Team stayed in Panglao.
Owned by Mayor/Rotarian Mila

Tree Planting on Valentine’s Day with Rotary
Club of Manila Supreme 198 in Antipolo

Distributing food to children in fishing village. Ajit, Joyce, and Don

Rotary World Help container, loaded in Coquitlam, BC
January 2019, turnover. RFE Team Leader Elena Agala
and member Janice Froese are RWH Board Members.

Rotarians Elena and Janice at hospital in Imus,
south of Manila viewing ultrasound machine
from Canada,part of Rotary World Help shipment

Liz and Janice with past RI Presidents DK Lee and Sakuji Tanaka