My focus shifted when I heard my cell phone ticked a pitchy, abrupt tone. One message received. The text read, “TM Jay, can you please evaluate TM Gay Marie Gane? She will deliver her Basic Speech Project 3.” Time would testify that during my early years in toastmasters, the word NO is not in my dictionary. So it follows that I replied, “Yes!” Gay delivered with gay strides. Then suddenly that awkward feeling rushed like waterfalls with the realization that that the speaker is better than the evaluator. That was before! (Imagine an impish smile. No. Not really. Imagine the Jay kind of laugh. Hahaha.) When I stood in front to begin my evaluation, I started with the line, “I am very happy to evaluate you, TM Gay Marie Gane (I mispronounced as Gayn). Then I heard everyone chorused, “Gane!” And that turned me mute for five seconds. At the back of my mind, I staged my own monodrama. “Jay, don’t feel bad. Why should you? Mistakes happen. Smile. Smile! (I forced myself.) What does not kill makes you stronger Jay.” And my consoling worked. Well, it always does. The evaluation continued and I finished it without fainting from embarrassment. “Lord, thank you.”
In March 2009, I wrote an entry in my blog about the course of delivering my 10 basic speeches. Then I experienced an AHA moment! Eight out of my ten evaluators are Barangay Toastmasters. Distinguished Toastmaster Greg evaluated me three times; DTM Ro – twice; DTM Juliana Tan – twice; and Gov. Ester for my 8th speech project. Anyone who has the same statistics as I have, please let me know and I will treat you Starbucks Coffee. You have to trust me on this one. I mean it! The reward comes from the fact that, standing before their eyes, is a decision you have won over as your mind wrestles between self-preservation and self-destruction. Of which after I have delivered a speech, I grew bigger as a toastmaster. I mean figuratively. Although, literally too. After the speech, I eat twice as much to make up for the lost calories from all the sweating, trembling, and shaking.
When I became President of Riverside TMC in 2010, some of the creative strokes I did in our meeting were not originally mine. I learned them in BTMC. Themed Meetings. This is markedly BTMC brand where toastmasters attend in gaudy costumes. Parliamentary Procedures. I remember, in a business portion I handled, in the beginning of my term, TM Mario made a motion. And I am Mr. Clueless guy whose vocal chord was ripped off. DTM Ro played Mr. Rescuer as he literally fed me words to reply to the motion. It’s a good thing that DTM Ro has a habit of sitting near the rostrum. Creative Table Topics in the form of Magazine Covers, Song Titles and Movie Lines. Bottomline is: One cannot measure creativity; simply because it is boundless. I was so excited to lead the club because I know I have mentors who are just over the fence. It will only take one call or even one text message, and their feet will start stomping in the Planters Den of Sugarland Hotel.
On June 01, 2007, people start addressing me a Toastmaster. For the past four years, I have seen Exciting times. Of course the Bad times as well. I have witnessed the founding of new clubs and the death of the few others. In fact, my club is not spared. But because we are named after a Hospital, we have always been resuscitated and revived. We refuse to die. But there is only one club in the Division which has remained adamant in the challenge of times, dogged in its pursuit for quality meetings, and resolute in building membership – the Barangay Toastmasters Club.
In my toastmaster journey, finding the road that leads to Barangay TMC, marked the beginning of a wonderful joy ride as a Toastmaster.