By Fe Paca-Taduran
MAHATMA Gandhi has said that, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” George Poblete has done just that for over half a century now and still is finding fulfillment and enjoyment in volunteering.
Started as a volunteer teacher and community leader
In 1962, as a young man, George started as a volunteer to teach judo as an art of self-defense to young families at the Rizal Gym in Manila. In 1964, he was selected as a judo fighter to compete in the Asian Judo Championship. Unfortunately, he was injured in the team practices. With his management experience, this setback gave way for him to easily switch roles from that of an athlete to being the Chair and Organizer of the First Asian Judo Championship in Manila. He previously was the vice president of the Philippine Amateur Judo Association (PAJA) and a Board vmember of the Philippine Amateur Athletic Federation (PAAF).
In the 1st Asian Judo Championship, he was instrumental in encouraging judokas from both communist and non-communist countries, like Cambodia, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, North and South Korea, and the Philippines to compete with each other in the judo mat. The result was a resounding success. Despite judo being considered a minor sport in the Philippines, he managed to draw attention to the sport and had extensive coverage from the newspapers, television and other media.
George holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Management in Engineering degrees. He worked as a field engineer for an American oil company and traveled extensively all over the Philippines and other parts of the world.
A sports minded person, he played basketball, badminton, golf, weightlifting & body building, and bowling. He also is an avid photographer.
Immigration to Montreal, Canada
In 1966, he migrated to Montreal, Canada, where he worked as an assistant to the vice president of a large electronic company.
In his snew country, he made sure that he had some time to continue his volunteer work. Utilizing his expertise in Judo, he taught the sport to the youth and families in the community. He spent part of five days of his week as a volunteer at the St. Laurent Community Center. Here, he formed a high school Judo Club, taught judo to the youth in the Orphanage at N.D.G. and taught self defense to various business and community organizations.
He was also actively involved with the Filipino community. He was elected as vice president of the Philippine Association of the Province of Quebec (PAPQ) and was elected the President of Philippine Association of Montreal (PAM).
Through his efforts, he was able to merge the major Filipino associations in the area, and formed the Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs (Famas) in August 1969. He was a continuing resource of the Filipinos in the community.
During the United Council of Filipinos in Canada (UCFAC) event in Alberta in 1974, he was selected as an Outstanding Filipino in Canada in the field of Engineering and Management.
Volunteered in Toronto
The Poblete family moved to Toronto in 1976. Here, he continued with his goal of helping build better disciplined youth in the community. Utilizing his Fifth Degree Black Belt, he taught as a volunteer in two schools, helping over a hundred judokas in the Scarborough area. He got involved with the Judo Ontario (where he held many executive positions) and Judo Canada, where he taught in the Coach Certification Program and Refereeing. He devoted thousands of hours in volunteer work. This was recognized in 1979, when he received the Scarborough Volunteer Award for his dedicated service to the community. His children were also volunteers in Soccer, Judo, Scouting and Hockey. His daughter, Dr.Cecilia, also active with Judo Ontario, served as the Mudansha Registrar and later headed the Medical Staff of the Judo Ontario team. He was a volunteer teacher in Toronto for 25 years.
Recognizing he could do more for a better number in the community, He expanded his community and civic involvement by joining the Knights of Columbus and Order of the Knights of Rizal.
In the early 80′s, he joined the Knights of Columbus, to better serve the Church, Family, Youth and the Community. In this fraternity, he held executive positions and chaired Church and Community projects. He is an Honorary Life Member in both the 3rd and 4th degree. He formed three KC Councils in Scarborough and served as a District Deputy, overseeing seven Councils. He received numerous awards from the Knights of Columbus.
Volunteer of the Year 2001
With his continued commitment and volunteer service to the community, then Mayor Mel Lastman awarded him the “2001 Volunteer of the Year Award” in Toronto.
In early 2000, he pursued his active work in the Order of the Knights of Rizal (an international fraternity aiming to emulate the good works of the Philippine national hero Dr. Jose P. Rizal and help in the cultural and civic work). With his close involvement with the Rizal Supreme Council in Manila and with international Regions, he earned his KGCR (5th degree, the highest rank level in this fraternity). He is presently the Region Commander for Canada, managing operations in Canada, promoting civic and cultural projects.
George’s wife, Dolly, is also actively involved in community and Church endeavors. The couple joined the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre (a religious and charitable organization, whose main objective is to maintain Christianity in the Holy Land). He and his wife were conferred as KC*HS and LC*HS, the only Filipino-Canadian couple to earn the highest level rank in the Toronto Lieutenancy, for their service to the order.
At this stage of their lives, he and his wife devote a lot more time to their involvement with the religious, church and community work. They are both very active in the Block Rosary of Toronto (+30 yrs.), IHM Block rosary (+35 yrs.) and Barangay Sang Birhen of Mississauga (25 yrs).
The Block Rosary of Toronto is known as the best organized block rosary group in Ontario, perhaps even the entire Canada. Their main objective is to get families to pray the Rosary together. This group is now composed of over 600 families in Toronto.
George and Dolly, who is an octogenarian, continue to serve the Rosary Apostolate in the Scarborough Catholic schools, conducting 2-3 classes a month in three schools.
They are both actively involved in their Parish Church Ministries, working as Course Conductors in the Marriage Preparation program, Communion Ministers, Greeters and in other capacities.
Working together, they manage to volunteer effectively.
Their assistance is very much appreciated by their pastors and deacons, extended families and friends in the community.
Doing volunteer work has without a doubt, kept this couple young.
In 2012, Sir George was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Canadian Government for his extensive community work.
Blessed with six children (all University of Toronto graduates) and 14 grandchildren (10 are university students, three have completed/completing their post graduate studies), the Poblete couple just celebrated their 57the Wedding Anniversary this Christmas season. Their Pastor aptly wished them “a very long life, so they can serve the Church and the community more.”
Volunteering is essential in all communities. There is a growing need for community members to take part in activities which will benefit the quality of our standard of living. Let George Poblete’s more than 50 years of volunteering endeavors inspire and encourage us to help others and make a difference. (PR)