Pen Strokes

November 1, 2008

BNT’s Night out at Rocci Café…

Gege at Table Topics... That's me with my back turned.

Gege at Table Topics... That's me with my back turned.

Rocci Café…

The down side? The place was cramped…
The up side? The place was cramped!

Last October 23, Butter n’ Toast decided to hold it’s meeting outside of the usual MSE Building; perhaps to, somehow, break the monotony of always holding it in the same place. We picked a quaint little café on Jupiter Street called Rocci to hold our meeting.

When I arrived at the Café, I had two initial reactions… the first was that I liked the ambiance; the second was that it was cramped! The second worried me. I kept thinking thoughts like; “Where is the stage? How will we fit the guests? Oh no… A Powerpoint Presentation! I hope we don’t break anything!”…  But when they started to serve the crispy, tasty and oh so heavenly sandwiches, I started to calm down.  It just goes to show you that my stomach… which is already infamous amongst BNT’s long-time members… actually dictates the way I feel!

When we started the meeting, however, my initial fears disappeared! As in true BNT Tradition, our meeting was all about fun and learning and learning to have fun… and we had an abundance of it that night! Here’s why…

The Table Topics Session…

In an amusing twist, Table Topics Master (and our club President), Gege Sugue, came up with an activity that involved each and everyone in the meeting that night… much to the dismay of the Table Topics Evaluator (me) who would, later, simply chose to evaluate the entire session rather than the individual speakers.

Gege’s little twist was to have us all complete a story she started by contributing one sentence each until we reach the last person in the room; who will, in turn, wrap up of the story. The story, which started out about a King who wanted to have a sex transplant, took many funny twists and turns as it got passed around from person to person. It finally culminated in an ending that had absolutely nothing to do with the beginning… and we all had a good laugh!

The Speeches…

The first speaker, Ton Villanueva, made me feel a little guilty, initially, when he spoke about “Software Piracy”; yet he left me feeling inspired to try to do more to stop this ever growing threat! Ton’s point? If we don’t stop the piracy, we may end up with no new software anymore; and in so doing, hinder the world’s growth altogether. This, for me, is a valid point indeed!

Christine Dapa’s speech, which asked the question “Are you Brave Enough?” left me with a “lump in my throat”! I honestly didn’t expect this type of a speech from Christine… it was a pleasant surprise! Christine had built up a reputation as a cerebral and oft times humorous speaker, so this speech about her friend who spent his birthday on a charitable cause… and her inability to follow suit… left me feeling sad for my own inability and inspired me to, at least, try to follow the example of her friend.

The most difficult speech of the night was given by Judith Jarabelo. Yes, you guessed it! This was the Speech with the Powerpoint. Initially, due to the cramped conditions, setting up the presentation was becoming a challenge for everyone. But accidentally, something unexpected happened… Teamwork!  During her speech someone manned the laptop, someone held the projector steady, someone manned the lights… and… the waiter (who is not a club member) held a picture frame steady so as not to obstruct the projector. Teamwork at it’s best!

Though what was happening around Judith’s speech caught my attention, it did not diminish the power of Judith’s delivery or the message she wanted to send to us about “Diligence”!  Judith, like many of our newer members, is the type of speaker who likes to speak about self-improvement and improvement in the workplace.  This is good since we usually get to take home a lot of practical learnings from these types of speeches… and in Judith’s case; she diligently drove home her message! Hmmm… maybe I can borrow your Powerpoint one of these days, Judith!

Another pleasant surprise for the evening was Ed Ebreo’s “Tirad Pass Story #2”.  Many of Ed’s antics on stage are usually humorous, but, when he gives a speech, he can be very inspiring! Such is the case of this speech! In his incisive retelling of General Gregorio H. Del Pilar’s historic confrontation with American forces in Tirad Pass, Ed actually brought a tear to my eye… and then… in typical Ed Ebreo manner… he spoils the moment by saying that it may have been all a lie! But… towards the end of his speech… he again rebuilt the reputation of the Country’s youngest General (which he tarnished in the first place)… by saying that details don’t matter… General Gregorio H. Del Pilar is still a hero, not because of the manner in which he died, but because of his decision to stay and fight against tremendous odds…

The Evaluation Session…

We were treated to a true showcase in our Evaluation Session!  Perhaps by mere coincidence were they selected to be the night’s Evaluators… but, in my opinion, with the likes of Jazz Encarnacion, J-jay Letargo, Tisha Timbang… and Division A’s Champion Evaluator… Carmel Valencia, we may as well have witnessed a District-Level Evaluation Contest!  All the evaluators were right on the money! In fact… I, as General Evaluator for the night, had hardly any suggestion to give them… at all!

Carmel, in particular, showed us just what a Champion Evaluator was supposed to do! Her concise, practical and inspiring evaluation of Ed’s speech brought thunderous applause! Her performance is actually giving me second thoughts about joining in the Evaluation Contest again next year… Great job Carmel!

Not to be outdone, however, are the Technical Evaluators! Again, they read like a “who’s who” in Technical Evaluations.

We couldn’t have picked a better person to be our night’s Grammarian than Sheila Dela Cruz! She simply loves this role! Even when she’s not the Grammarian, she still takes notes of everyone’s grammatical germs and gems! So, make her the official Grammarian and what do you get? A class act!

Our Timer is no push-over as well. I believe that Marlito Sy is one of the few persons I know who actually takes the Timer job seriously! It shows in his detailed reports of our timing and when he constantly reminds us when break’s over… Strict guy! Mars epitomizes William John Bennett’s saying that “There are no menial jobs, only menial attitudes!”

But the star of the Technical Evaluators would have to be our Area Governor, Alvin Tan!  Alvin took another underrated role… the Ah-Countant Role… and turned it to gold! He not only counted the Ahs and Hahahas… he added a new category… another BNT first… and another Alvin Tan original… the “Awww” count! Yes people! Alvin also counted the number of times we made the audience feel all “fuzzy” inside! The moments when we all went “Awww”…  Now ain’t that just the cat’s meow…

The Toastmaster of the Evening…

Aha! I’ll bet you thought I forgot this again! Well I didn’t… so there!

Our hard working Sgt.-at-arms, Christopher Siena must’ve taken lessons from Alvin Tan!  I mean he is so animated in his speech and movement that you can’t help but keep your eyes on this guy! But being animated isn’t his only strength! What I liked about Chris that night was that he came prepared! He showed us how to do it! He didn’t just wing it!

I saw him take a few small notes with him and read them while he wasn’t on stage. He had obviously written down his intros and lines and basically what he needed to do that night and delivered them perfectly on stage! The meeting may have been chaotic if he hadn’t handled it well! Good job Chris!

The Entire Night…

Looking back at it all, I’d have to say that the cramped situation at Rocci’s brought out the best in each member of BNT! I didn’t see individuals that night… I saw ONE TEAM!  I saw people… on stage and even seated… waging a kind of battle against the obvious logistical obstacles in that meeting so that everyone could enjoy and learn! Did we win? Resoundingly! For, of all the nights we’ve met, this was truly a night where we proved that we were… TEAM WARRIORS!

By: Enrique Salvador E. San Agustin



  1. Boom, Your sharing with everyone else how BNT’s meeting went was a great read. If the meeting was indeed enjoyable, I had but to notice how it inspired you to write it down. You described everything well enough to make me feel like I was actually there – witnessing everything as you described them.

    Some of the best meetings in Toastmasters that I’ve had the honor of sharing were with BNT – and though I find less time to do these nowadays, I am glad to know that through your ‘report’ in this blog, I, at least, get a whiff of what I’ve not been having in a while.

    Few people know that TM meetings – specially the really intimate and inspirational ones like what you described here, are food for the spirit. It renews and rejuvenates… even if it is experienced 3rd hand via articles like yours. Thanks for the brief uplifting moment, and regards to everyone in BNT.

    See you around, sometime.


    Comment by Butch — November 2, 2008 @ 4:00 am | Reply

  2. Butch!

    Thanks for the comment…

    Yes! It was a fun meeting! But then… aren’t all of BNT’s meetings fun? The difference with this one, though, was that it looked like a doomed meeting to begin with… But lo and behold… BNT’s fun-magic just got better when placed to the test… It’s a great club with great people…

    I’m looking forward to your next visit to our club!


    Comment by boom8088 — November 2, 2008 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  3. Your writing holds my interest Boom…I love the way you write. Jean

    Comment by jean Charity — November 7, 2008 @ 1:55 am | Reply

  4. Jean,

    Coming from you, an accomplished writer and publisher, I am indeed honored…


    Comment by boom8088 — November 7, 2008 @ 2:58 am | Reply

  5. Boom,

    I’m glad that you finally joined TM. I remember you telling me way back in 2005 that you would someday join the club. Happy for you! 🙂

    Comment by Marylene — November 7, 2008 @ 9:50 am | Reply

  6. Marylene!!!

    I’m really glad you left a comment! I’ll link your site here too…


    Comment by boom8088 — November 7, 2008 @ 8:04 pm | Reply

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