At Barclays, raising funds while quietly rooting for Jason Day

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Jason Day wins The Barclays Fedex Cup Playoffs: PGA Tour photo

Jason Day wins The Barclays Fedex Cup Playoffs: PGA Tour photo

By Cristina DC Pastor

Hundreds of FilAms found themselves at a golf course in Edison, New Jersey raising funds for their organizations and secretly rooting for golfing sensation Jason Day to win The Barclays playoffs.

“It’s more for fundraising,” said leadership consultant Ricky Rillera, marketing executive Grace Labaguis, and shipping company manager Jujo Conol.

The three were among the 206 Filipinos who volunteered at The Barclays Fedex Cup Playoffs held at the Plainfield Country Club from Aug 25 to 30. Many of them did not play golf, but ended up expressing an interest in taking up the sport.

As widely reported, Jason Day – the 27-year-old Australian golfer whose mother is Filipina — won the playoffs. Day, according to AP golf journalist Doug Ferguson, ranks “No. 3 in the world, but now enters the picture with (Jordan) Spieth and (Rory) McIlroy for golf supremacy. If he wins the finals four weeks away, he has the “potential of a $10 million bonus for winning the FedEx Cup.”

But the FilAms gathered to raise funds for their organizations. Watching Jason Day play was just a bonus.

“I was there for the Knights of Rizal,” said Jujo Conol when interviewed by The FilAm.

As a volunteer, Jujo was assigned to Benefactors. Her task was to check on corporate sponsors and their special guests, make sure they have the correct badges, tickets and tent assignments.

“Each tent has tight security; I check people who come in,” she said.

Grace Labaguis, representing Synergy Production & Marketing, Inc., was a Marshal like her husband Ronald, also a volunteer. Her marching orders was to keep the crowd quiet as the golfers prepare for tee off. Golfing etiquette requires utmost silence as the players concentrate to start their game.

“We instruct the audience to be quiet by holding a Quiet sign. If there is no Quiet sign, we put our two hands up,” described Grace.

Ricky Rillera, who is on his second year as volunteer, was assigned to Corporate Hospitality, in particular the United Airlines account.

“United sold tickets to their customers in exchange for 5K Frequent Flier miles. If they give up their flier miles they get tickets to watch golf and stay in a balcony overflowing with food and booze,” said Ricky.

From where she stood on the 18th hole, Grace was not able to glimpse not even a shadow of Day. Ricky managed to from his far distance, and Jujo was able to take photos surreptitiously, although taking photos was not allowed.

Ricky said he saw Day in a huddle with fellow golfing champs Bob Watson and Jordan Spieth around the 15th hole.

“Bawal kausapin, and you can’t go near. Security was tight,” he said.

Grace Labaguis down by the links

Grace Labaguis down by the links

The fundraising process was explained by Edilberto ‘Bert’ Aguilera, president & CEO of FilAid Foundation, Inc. and the person responsible for recruiting the Filipino volunteers over the last three years.

According to Aguilera, FilAid is a foundation affiliated with PGA Tour. FilAid created a program called ‘FilAid Golf Fore A Cause’ inviting volunteers to PGA’s annual Barclays tournament. It began in 2013 with 64 volunteers, followed by 132 in 2014. The number swelled to 206 this year.

Each volunteer is given a kit, with a $75 value, which contains a shirt, a hat and a tumbler. The volunteer represents an organization he is raising funds for. For example, the Knights of Rizal will get a donation from PGA because of Jujo’s participation. The more volunteers an organization has, the bigger the donation.

Explained Aguilera, “The amount of PGA’s donation to Filaid depends on the profit of the Barclays tournament. Every year, over a million dollars are being donated by Barclays to local charities that include FilAid.”

As far as FilAid and affiliated organizations are concerned, he said, “We are all happy with the donation amount for the last two years.”

The week-long event had an estimated 1,800 volunteers, and according to Ricky, “Filipinos were the biggest ethnic group.”

“We gained friends, there’s a lot of camaraderie,” said Grace as she shared her experience. She would return again but maybe try out a new volunteer role in, maybe, Guest Registration.

Ricky said it was a well-organized event.

“We left our cars at the Woodbridge Mall. A shuttle would take us to the country club and back to the mall,” he said.

Being out under the sun for hours was a draining couple of days, but a lot of fun for Jujo. She met some children who worshipped Jason Day because they said he takes time to say ‘hi’ to his fans.

“When I told them I’m Filipino like Jason Day, they started talking to me,” she said.

Although The Barclays gave her a front-row view of the sport, she does not think golf is for her.

“I’m interested to learn but it’s an expensive sport. Sapatos pa lang ang mahal na,” Jujo said.

Jujo Conol (seated at right) with volunteers from Jersey City, including PAFCOM leaders Victor Sison, Ed Toloza and Ludy Corrales

Jujo Conol (seated at right) with volunteers from Jersey City, including PAFCOM leaders Victor Sison, Ed Toloza and Ludy Corrales

Ricky Rillera (2nd from right) with fellow volunteers

Ricky Rillera (2nd from right) with fellow volunteers

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