Vol. XII No. 10
Friday March 5- March 11 , 2004

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by Saichon paewsoongnern




HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Aboard the USS Blue Ridge

The cup overflows at Milan Crosse Partners networking dinner

Pattaya gourmands hand over funds to the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya to benefit the aged

Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya marks 17 years of service to the community

Makha Bucha Day today, March 5

Aboard the USS Blue Ridge

by B. Phillip Webb Jr.

Recently, several Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya had the pleasure of joining Admiral Robert F. Willard and crew aboard the USS Blue Ridge (LCC19) for an evening of cocktails and hors-d’oeuvres.

Navy personnel stand to attention as they welcome us aboard the USS Blue Ridge.

The USS Blue Ridge is an amphibious command-and-control ship and the flagship of the famous Seventh Fleet. Its primary focus is to support a variety of missions with sophisticated communications from a large suite that allows the Commander and his designated staff to direct U.S. Naval forces in the region.

The Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility is the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. It is also comprised of 50- 60 ships, 350 aircraft and over 60,000 Navy and Marine Corp personnel.

A huge cake with the flags of Thailand and the US symbolizing cooperation and friendship.

The USS Blue Ridge’s homeport is Yokosuka, Japan and has approximately 950 military personnel on board, mostly Navy, but a small squadron of Marines are also attached to the ship for security purposes.

Before arriving in Thailand at Chuk Samet Naval Base in Sattahip, the USS Blue Ridge made a stop in Malaysia.

Phil Webb, (left) stands proudly next to H.E. Daryl Johnson the US Ambassador and his wife, plus Admiral Robert F. Willard and a US marine officer.

Peter Malhotra, president of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, Sue K and I chatted with several high-ranking officers and were equally impressed with all of them. But one particularly stood out among the rest - Captain Steven J. Romano. I think all would agree he went that extra mile. He was extremely cordial, hospitable and was eager to tell us about the USS Blue Ridge and her myriad of duties.

Lieutenant Sonny Alino (right) joined Heidi to celebrate Hansueli Egli’s birthday on board.

Capt. Romano is from North Virginia, has been in the Navy for 26 years, is married and has two lovely daughters. He attended William & Mary University, lettered in Rugby before being recruited by the Navy and was offered a commission as an officer upon graduation from the Naval Academy. Incidentally, the rank of Captain is equivalent to the rank of Colonel (full-bird) in the Army and Marine Corp. From Captain, your next promotion would be “Rear Admiral” or Brigadier General in the Army or the Marines. Peter Malhotra said, “He might even come out of retirement for that position.”

The award-winning US Navy band did their part to entertain the guests.

The Captain shared many interesting tidbits of information with us, mostly Navy jargon, but one thing of interest he mentioned was that in 1984 (on R&R from Vietnam) he did visit Pattaya but he couldn’t recall a whole lot. He said he vaguely remembered walking in South Pattaya in what is now called Walking Street where he saw two very nice looking ladies and two elephants. We commented, “Those ladies are probably retired by now, but the elephants may still be around.”

These smart looking marines dwarf Sue K.

Captain Romano said, “When we are in an area we try to interact with the local people,” and gave an example of their recent trip to Malaysia. “We had over 40 Navy personnel clean and make numerous repairs at the Salvation Joy Home for the Aged. And then we made a visit to Shelter 1, a home for neglected children.” He added, “I try to get involved with as many onshore projects as I can, especially when it comes to children as I have a soft-spot right here,” and pointed to his heart. He continued, “The interaction with children helps me cope with the loneliness and absence away from my own precious children.”

Peter Malhotra was impressed with what the Captain was saying and responded, “It’s obvious that you care for children very much, but it’s also very obvious that your love for mankind is also on an equal level.” Peter then asked the Captain, “Have you ever considered becoming a Rotarian? You certainly seem to have all the necessary attributes.”

Capt. Romano replied, “Yes and no.” And then he went on to clarify. “At the present time, I am married to two beautiful ladies; one is the US Navy and the other is my beautiful and gracious wife. Therefore my time is very limited to serve three Masters. But one day I hope to become a Rotarian, as I consider them to be the Rolls Royce of all civic organizations. Rotary not only knows what the special needs are in a given community but they are willing to step forward and do something, rather than pay ‘lip service’ just to pacify a few local dignitaries.”

The Captain added, “I believe that God has, somehow, in a spiritual sense of ordination, chosen Rotary to carry the ‘fellowship of love and peace’ to the entire world. As a Rotarian, the standard of living is based on the ‘4 Way Test’. 1. Is it the Truth? 2. Is it Fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build Goodwill and better Friendships? 4. Is it Beneficial to all concerned? The US Navy’s creed, standard of living and serving one’s country are: 1. Honor, 2. Courage, 3. Commitment.”

The award-winning Navy band was present in full dress uniform and thrilled the audience with outstanding renditions of the Thai National Anthem and the United States National Anthem. Everyone stood at attention for both.

But when the band started playing the American National Anthem, it seemed that all the American people in attendance took on a totally different posture and extended their chest. I, for one, said very passionately in my mind and in my heart, “Yes, I am an American and damn proud of it.”

In the end, it was an evening where the “Top Brass” of the USS Blue Ridge mingled with the common folk and shared some insight into the workings of the US Navy when they are at sea.

It was a night that I will long remember and one that I was privileged to be a part of. I’d like to say thank you Peter, and the US Navy for the opportunity to share a true-life experience.

The cup overflows at Milan Crosse Partners networking dinner

Brendan Richards

The old adage, ‘the cup runneth over’ did not only describe the flowing wine at last week’s Milan Crosse partners networking dinner, held at the Art Caf้, but was very pertinent to the level of conversation and the current business climate.

Everyone savoring the moment as dinner is served, these networking nights are an increasingly popular avenue to make new business contacts.

Milan Crosse Partners offers marketing and research & analysis services, public relations; graphic design and event management, and hold their monthly networking dinner in Pattaya, once again returning to Art Caf้ for an informal evening.

Paradee Vilaisit, Milan Crosse and Alain Durwarder, Kateon Natie, pause from the conversation for a photo.

Frequent networkers including Jim Howard, in his role away from rugby chairman, brought along Molly Chan of SCC Dow Chemicals, Alain Durwarder was also present as part of the Katoen Natie contingent, Chris Langford, from Laem Chabang container terminals, Les Nyerges, Capital TV & Pattaya Mail Plus, Steve Quinn and Steve Bennett from Thai Leighton and George Strampp, Automotive Solutions and ex TRW boss and Noah Shepherd, regional managing director of Reynolds Polymer Technology to name but a few were seen telling tales and talking shop.

Peter Stirling, managing partner of Milan Crosse welcomes everyone to the networking dinner.

Joe Stetten and his team at the Art Caf้ ensure the food was plentiful while Peter Stirling and Paradee Vilaisit made sure the wine was plentiful.

“Businesses was quite slow during the final six months of last year, not only for us (Milan Crosse) but also for plenty of other unrelated businesses, but this year has taken off quite well and we’ve already exceeded that slow period,” said Peter, talking on the current business climate.

Steve Quinn (left) and George Strampp deep in conversation.

However, while the evening was an informal one, business was on the agenda, and so to was an informal talk by Molly Chan. Molly spoke of SCC Dow Chemical on the Eastern Seaboard, its global scale, and the company’s investments.

Steve Quinn took the informal aspect literally, describing Thai Leighton’s construction projects in the ASEAN region, looking to Vietnam as an upcoming market for their services.

With formalities complete, it was back to the serious business of enjoying each other’s company, as well as the food and beverage. Another evening laced with good food and wine, making the event one of the more enjoyable networking nights here in Pattaya.

The Milan Crosse networking dinners are held on the final Thursday of the month at the Art Caf้, Naklua Soi 16.

Pattaya gourmands hand over funds to the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya to benefit the aged

Ariyawat Nuamsawat

The International Gourmet Club of Pattaya showed they have a heart for the community by handing over 100,000 baht to Past President Erika Keller and members of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya to help in their many community projects and more specifically, the Banglamung Home for the Aged.

Rico Scherrer (4th right) presents the donation to PP Erika Keller (4th left). Witnesses were (l-r) Gusti Steiner, PP Bruno Keller, Willi Zimmermann, Hansjoerg Lehser, Henny Vermey and Fred1 Schaub, proprietor of Bruno’s.

The active Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, through its membership, has constantly come to the aid of those in need and was highly appreciative of the generous donation made at Bruno’s Restaurant.

Daniel Corrodi addresses the club before making his generous donation.

Earlier in the week Rotarian Daniel Corrodi made a presentation of 90,000 baht to the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya, at their regular Wednesday meeting at the Royal Cliff Beach Resort.

Daniel had spoken to members of his Rotary Club and Lodge in Switzerland about the needs of the old age home in Pattaya. The kindhearted Swiss decided to dig deep into their pockets and put this amount of money together. The funds will be directed at purchasing necessities required by the residents at the Banglamung Home for the Aged.

Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya marks 17 years of service to the community

The Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya celebrated its 17th birthday on the 12th of February. Past presidents, members and many invited guests gathered together to help celebrate this auspicious occasion.

Presidents, past and present join in to cut the anniversary cake. (l-r) Bruno Keller, Peter Malhotra, Premprecha Dibbayawan, Erika Keller, John Richards, Dennis Stark, Kees Peprkamp and Nic Demet.

President Peter Malhotra, one of the two remaining charter members of the club and serving his second term as president, spoke of the club’s history, which included fond memories of members who have past on, the achievements of others and of the Rotary Club in general, upholding Rotary’s noble motto of ‘Service above self.’

Rotarians, Phil Webb, Max Rommel, Geoff Paston, Chris Gibbins and PP John Richards enjoying the proceedings.

In his message to the members and guests he said, “The 12th of February 2004 marks the 17th anniversary of the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya. This is a day that we should not only celebrate, but we should also spare a thought for some of the great Rotarians who helped form this club and carved out the path of service which we follow faithfully to this day.

Paul Davies enjoying a good laugh with PP Dennis Stark.

“The story goes back a little further to before our birth. A handful of Rotarians, members of the Rotary Club of Pattaya, had a common vision. They saw that Pattaya was ready for an English-speaking club. They knew that our community was fast growing into an international community and there would be a huge influx of people who had or would have the same vision as Rotarians, ‘seeking an opportunity to serve.’

Members of the Interact Club of Banglamung School came to wish their patrons a Happy Birthday.

“Some of this group included PP Hans Zurfluh, PP Alois X Fassbind, Gene Farley, Hank Whittaker, Dang Harbhajan and Bill Burbridge. Having decided to form a new Rotary Club they requested the permission of the district who appointed Rtn Nitti Mayer as the special representative of the District Governor to guide and help us charter our club. The Rotary Club of Bangkok South became our sponsor club.

“Now Pattaya was a totally new ‘market’ so to speak, therefore to find a group of English speaking residents of Pattaya who would understand and join an organization that they had little or no knowledge of, was a challenge in itself.

“I was invited to a preliminary meeting of about 40 people who gathered to listen to DG Prapan Hutasingh talk to us about the Rotary movement. Khun Prapan walked around the room asking each individual for the reason they wanted to join Rotary. As he moved from person to person, I racked my brain for an answer. ‘What is my motive to join Rotary?’ When it was my turn I said, ‘I’m not really sure, but from what I hear, I can do some good for the community and help those who need relief.’

“A few more meetings were held, but the group dwindled with every session until there were only a handful of us left, which persevered and came back to learn more about Rotary. Finally, Rotary International approved all the applications and the Rotary Club of Jomtien-Pattaya received its charter on the 12th day of February 1987.

“The story of our club is a long and honourable one, but not without our growing pains. Like any other organization we had our ups and downs, yet even today we tend to let down our guard and allow our weaknesses to creep through. We are but only human!

“There have been many noteworthy Rotarians in our club that have kept us upright in our undertakings and have brought us much honour. I have fond memories of fellow Rotarians such as Hans Zurfluh, Gene Farley, Louis Fassbind, Dick Snell, Larry Ferguson, Carl Boehlen, PP Colin Ritchie and David Jeater, who are no longer with us. Others, such as Bill Burbridge, Hank Whittaker, PP Sutham Phanthusak, PP Andre Comeau, Lindsey Kean, Phillipe Guenat, Philipp Delaloye, Rattana Yothawong, Andre Machielsen, Dang Harbhajan, Marc Orts, Dr. Belen Phangmuangdee, Baldev Singh, Suchada Inthana, Pramjit Singh, Dr. Jan von Koss and Dr. Iain Corness, are no longer members but are still our very close friends.

“Two past presidents have left our club and joined other clubs, namely PP Niels Colov to the Pattaya Club and PP Michael Vogt has joined the Rotary Club of Chiangmai West. Peter Thorand went on to become Charter President of the Rotary Club of Taksin-Pattaya. But our greatest pride and joy is our very own Charter member Premprecha Dibbayawan, twice the president of our club and then elected and served as District Governor for Rotary International District 3340 in the year 2000-01.

“We must also not neglect to honour our past presidents who are still with us. So many of you have dedicated so much to keep our club’s flag flying high with pride. I could mention many more names, but where do I stop? The history of our club is full of legendary Rotarians.

“This is the opportune time and moment to re-commit ourselves to Rotary. Our chance to do our duty. Our chance to carry the torch of Rotary and keep the fires of service burning bright, for this and for many generations of Rotarians to come. There are so many good and upstanding people out there who are like you and me. They are waiting to be recognized, waiting to be invited in, waiting to be given an opportunity to serve.

“Open your hearts to them. Give them Rotary. Make this a most meaningful 17th birthday ever, for our Rotary Club, for our community and for all humankind.”

Makha Bucha Day today, March 5

If you’re wondering why banks and government offices are closed today, it is because this year, the Makha Bucha Day holiday falls on Friday, March 5.

Religious ceremonies are being held at temples such as Wat Yarnsangwararm, Wat Sawangfa in North Pattaya, Wat Chaimongkol in South Pattaya and many others throughout the province and the country.

This holy day commemorates the miraculous event when 1,250 disciples of the Buddha, Gautama Sakayamuni, traveled to meet with the Buddha with no prearranged agreement, at Weluwan Mahawiharn Temple in the area of Rachakhryha, India.

Worshipping or ‘Bucha’ occurs in the third month or ‘Makha’, identified in the middle of the 3rd lunar month. This year the holy day fell on March 5.

The day gained official recognition in Thailand during the reign of Rama IV and became a nationally observed day with all government institutions closing down and observing the rituals associated with Buddhist commandments.

Devout followers participate in morning ceremonies, making merit and listening to sermons at local temples, and later in the evening return to the temple to perform the “wien thien ceremony” - walking three circuits around sacred grounds, paying homage to the “Triple Gem” or the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. The day is observed all over Thailand.

Other countries where the Buddhist faith is predominant and where Makha Bucha Day is officially observed as a national day include Nepal, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka and India. Other countries with populations observing the day but in limited numbers include China, Korea and Vietnam.

Disseminating the Buddha’s teachings and the journey to meet with the Buddha on the 15th night of the 3rd lunar month are part of the historical events that include the sermons and truths spoken by the Buddha.

Having good intentions, not harming others, avoiding evil actions and making the heart and mind pure in thought were among the truths spoken by the Buddha. Additionally, other truths spoken by the Buddha cautioned individual restraint in all that attracts one’s attention, to include desiring possessions belonging to others, and exploiting others for personal gain.

Before departing, the Buddha also referred to the people’s interest in making merit, gaining self-esteem and a comfortable reassurance that moral integrity exists. More importantly, having faith in the “Triple Gem” (Phraratanatrai) was illustrated by emphasizing the importance of avoiding drunken, irresponsible and immoral behavior, and maintaining focus on supporting loved ones while being content in one’s existence with friends and without selfish greed.

Upon hearing the words spoken by Buddha many can easily recognize the inherent truth contained therein but adhering to the truths are not so easily followed and many show little interest in the faith at all.

Today, there are many Buddhist temples open to the community offering the Buddha’s teachings on designated evenings during the week without charge. Needless to say, attendance is minimal at most monasteries and the older generation is the main group attending instruction on Buddhist principles.

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