JCI Philippines 1989 National President Passed Away

We mourn the  lost of a dear friend, a dedicated and outstanding servant-leader of  the JCI Philippines organization who finally joined his creator last January 5, 2009.  



By JCI Sen. Reginald T. Yu


      His was a life of action and bold ventures with people and industry, of a uniquely personal triumph in search for excellence, of hopes raised and dashed for progress in his country. Aggressiveness and vision reigned pre-eminent, and was, in great part, the base for his good name and accomplishments. And the progression of Junior Chamber International Philippines as an organization with a heart was largely the handiwork of one man: Atty. Rolando "Rolly" C. Ramirez. For what he accomplished in his lifetime, what was well begun ­ and inescapably, too, his prolonged struggle to forge more relevance and character in the young Filipino leadership's quest for true meaning in this world ­ he will forever be respected and remembered.

      Atty. Rolly Ramirez's story is a tale of triumph and tribulation: born during the afterglow of the Filipino youth’s ascension to societal prominence and reared in the unprecedented and possibly unrepeatable achievements of his administration as JCI Philippines only "Jeepney-Riding" National President, and now arrived at his tragic loss, whose instruments most poignantly play the Junior Chamber’s note of mourning.

      Indeed, it was a long, somber tone of sorrow. For not only did JCI lose one of its greatest leaders, it also obliterated a promising career that might have seen better days for the organization and the nation he represented.

      Born on March 14, 1950, Rolly was a precocious youth who displayed extraordinary academic skill and fortitude. He obtained both his elementary and secondary education from the Mandaluyong High School in 1970. He completed his business economics degree from the University of the Philippines in 1974 and was the President of Pan Xenia Fraternity during its heyday. He later pursued law at the Manuel L. Quezon University, graduating in 1977at the Top Ten of his class. He passed the Philippine Bar that same year.

      At a young age, Atty. Rolly Ramirez already realized the value of supplementary education, both inside and outside the classroom. It was this unquenchable thirst for learning that he joined the Mandaluyong Jaycees (now JCI Mandaluyong) in 1981. He served his chapter in various capacities until he was elected Local President in 1984. The far-reaching vision, the unparalleled drive to excel, and the astute management style during his incumbency opened the floodgates of awards and recognition unmatched during his time.

       In his desire to serve the JCI movement in an even higher capacity, he accepted the role of General Legal Counsel in 1985. From there, there was no turning back. He was appointed as National Executive Director (NED) for Development in 1986. After an unsuccessful campaign as National Senior Executive Vice-President in 1987, he undauntedly served as National Executive Director for Programs in 1987. He re-sought the position of National Senior Executive Vice-President in 1988, running unopposed.

        Atty. Rolly Ramirez's proven track record as an efficient administrator made him perfect for the post of National President. And the delegates who voted for him when he ran unopposed during the 40th National Convention in Baguio City on October 18, 1988 were not disappointed. In fact, his year as the 41st National President would propel him ­ and the entire JCI national organization’s name ­ to nationwide prominence within a few months during his term.

       “The Philippine Jaycees the first national JCI organization in Asia. Japan Junior Chamber is the richest and biggest national organization in Asia... the biggest difference between Filipinos and the Japanese are the values of its people,” declared the self-proclaimed "Jeepney-riding National President" during his inaugural speech, as he assumed the national leadership in an uncontested election. Fired by uncharacteristic zeal, he declared “Redirecting Values: A New Beginning,” as the theme for 1989. “This theme is not just an ideal,” he said, “it is the means for peace and prosperity.” Manifesting the National Board’s adherence to a red-worth of values, they have foregone hefty subsidies of travel expenses and other perks. It launched several fund-raising projects, such as the “Green and Gold Membership” for associate members, a “JCI Privilege Discount Card System,” “Commemorative Car Plates,” and a “Leadership Trust Fund,” where 5% of registration fees from conferences were remitted for training programs. Under his term, a substantial surplus was turned over to the succeeding board for the first time in two decades.

        Because of his outstanding leadership as National President, JCI Philippines eventually nominated him as a candidate for JCI Vice-President the following year. Despite the fact that there were more than a dozen candidates vying for the same position, Atty. Rolly Ramirez won over them. Thus, he was elected as the 1990 JCI World Vice-President during the 1989 JCI World Congress in Birmingham, England under which he served the JCI Members in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh and Thailand.

        Reflecting on his years with JCI, Atty. Ramirez credited the organization for molding him to what he had become. “Indeed, JCI helped me become what I am,” he once emphatically proclaimed in an interview. “One, because it afforded me the luxury of making mistakes in JCI, mistakes which I avoided in the later years; Two, it helped build my self-confidence; And, Three, it helped develop my skills in communication. My stint with JCI at the local, national, and international levels also gave me the ability to evaluate people.”

      But the JCI movement did not only make him a better leader, it also opened numerous doors for his further professional advancement. Because of his extensive experience in JCI, Atty. Rolly Ramirez was predictably asked to assume bigger responsibilities in society; his reputation as an overachiever and a man of action caught the attention of an adoring public. With an unsullied reputation of competence, integrity and persistence, he was tapped by then Philippine President Joseph E. Estrada, first as his Presidential Chief of Staff and, later, as his Finance Officer with the rank of Secretary. Even after the President was ousted in 2001, Atty. Rolly Ramirez was one of the former President's most trusted advisers and spokesmen.

       Atty. Ramirez's brilliant career would have gone on much further were it not for the brain tumor, and the multi-organ failure which followed, that cut short his dynamic life. He was operated to remove his brain tumor on December 27, 2008; unfortunately, he never regained consciousness and expired January 5, 2009. His untimely demise shocked his entire JCI family.

       To that quality of leadership Atty. Rolly Ramirez aspired with all the intense ambition that brought him and all the organizations which he represented, to the zenith of achievement ­ was the most inspiring character of all. "Be Relevant!” was the phrase he repeated time and again ­ rallying cries which set the tone for his brand of management.

       It is with this inner strength, tenaciously rooted in self-discipline and matchless determination, that Atty. Ramirez has made himself the unchallenged voice of the young upstarts of his generation ­ and, sometimes, the disquieting conscience of the old traditionalists. That voice in turn has infused his young colleagues themselves with the fiber that gives their revolution its true stature. The mark of excellence he displayed in the organizations which he led, as well as in his countless professional ventures, attests to the triumph of his far-reaching vision and leadership style.

       Indeed, to the world at large, Atty. Rolando C. Ramirez had given his best to what politicians of his time could not provide: a sense of pride to the Filipino race. That sense is at the core of his unwavering belief in the Filipino people. If the invitation goes begging in a nation besieged by political tension and wracked by religious strife, business ­ he surmised ­ could perhaps be the great healer. By bringing the spirit of entrepreneurship and industrial peace to a new conformation with the nation and salving the wounds that have torn its people for decades, Atty. Rolly Ramirez has left a secure legacy of helping vastly to recapture the real essence of economic justice.

      Paalam, boss Rolly.


     "As we mourn the loss of a dedicated and outstanding servant-leader of our organization, let us extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family as we pay our last respects to our departed brother. Let us join hands in prayer for the eternal repose of his soul. His remains lies at the Sanctuario de San Jose, Duke Street, East Greeenhills, Mandaluyong City. After the 9:00 AM mass, on January 10, 2009 (Saturday), interment shall be at the Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City."