“Welcome back, Ton!” I’ve been hearing a lot of this the past few months. Being inactive for 4 years, I can honestly say that it feels great to be back with my beloved chapter.My JCI journey started back in 2014 when I was in my college senior year in ADDU. Back then I was only worried about one thing- graduating. It was a tough year, filled with term papers and exams. One day, a classmate of mine, JCI Mem. Clarence, who was also Sen. Shandy’s cousin, was invited to attend a JCI orientation. He asked me to come along with the promise of snacks and drinks, which was enough to convince me.
As a young undergrad, I felt lost and out of place. Fortunately, Sen. Mox, approached me, introduced himself, explained what the organization was about, and assured me that we are all treated equally. He encouraged me to join their projects and I eventually became a project chairman as well as a host at the chapter’s 68th Induction and Senate Investiture on my second year. On the same year, I was able to attend my first JCI NatCon in Dagupan.
Back then I was new, very active and was often called the “Rookie of the Year”. However, around 2018, I gradually distanced myself and prioritized parties, social events and having fun rather than self-improvement and community service. Around this time I went through depression and anxiety disorder. I had to focus on managing my treatment and so for almost 4 years, I was unavailable and missed a lot of chapter activities. However, my JCI Davao brothers never gave up and constantly checked on me. In my lowest days they encouraged me and made me feel like I wasn’t alone. Looking back, there is regret for the time I missed from the chapter, but also very grateful for my Davao Inc. brothers.
In 2022, PE Arthur reached out and invited me to attend the June GMM. I agreed to go and was warmly welcomed when I attended. As they discussed the upcoming FLA, they asked me to volunteer for the logistics. I accepted and eventually found myself and PE Arthur holding VIP Airport passes to pick up guests for the event. It was a wonderful experience to meet JCI members from all over the world, including 2018 JCI World Pres. Brian Lim and 2014 JCI World SG Dennis Cunanan.
This event lit a fire in me and sparked my new found JCI addiction. I built and revived a lot of networks, gained new friends, and found a renewed sense of responsibility towards myself and others. One big highlight was coming back to my hometown of Cebu where JCI friends from Cebu Inc., Metro-Cebu Uptown, Cebu Mactan Channel, Cebu Sinulog, WOMandaue, Mandaue, and Surigao Wensie took turns hosting me. It felt like a month long amusement park tour where every day was an adventure including a surprise birthday celebration as well as an opportunity to join their relief operation for landslide survivors in Baybay, Leyte.
I eventually came back home to Davao excited and willing to help the chapter. PE Arthur Dizon offered me the position of VP for Individual Development and explained how it was time for me to step up to a bigger role and share my skills and knowledge. I embraced this role and facilitated various activities including BOD team building, three OTIs (produced 40 prospective members), and was part of the event & programs committee for JCI Davao’s 75th Induction Ceremony.
A lot of things have happened since I accepted PE Arthur’s invitation, yet it hasent even been a year. No one knows how things will go but I know the chapter and I will have some ups and downs- an exciting roller coaster ride will full confidence that Pres Arthur Dizon and the rest of the BOD will take us to new heights, and realize our vision. This being said, I’m glad I said yes. I’m glad I went to that GMM. I’m glad to be a member of JCI Davao Inc. See me smile whenever I hear the words: “Welcome back, Ton!”