So here it is finally done, let me throw in a favorite Jobim-“Aguas De Marco.” Enjoy the read!

How do I get this done as something interesting, something memorable, something that will upend the first interview. The first interview is what introduced my site to the canine world. Again, this is not a pure journalistic interview article but more of a creative nonfiction work. I did interview him, made notes, assured confidentiality on topics that needed to be so and queried him with difficult questions. Historian John A. Garraty considers human vanity as an obstacle when doing an interview, it is human nature after all to make ones self come out looking good, RDS never made such an effort. So, I’ve steeped a pot of French Earl Grey, decided on some Jobim to listen to, inked a Visconti Wall Street LE with Aurora Blue and shuffled some fresh pages of Clairefontaine.

https://withinzones2to8.wordpress.com/2015/06/01/the-man-at-the-drivers-seat-of-the-fci-rafael-de-santiago/

Being the dutiful soldier and team player, I helped out with the 2016 Circuit Show on the days of the show itself. I managed to see RDS on the second day Friday, the day I was Show Chairman. I was at the official’s table when he and Dinky would arrive. As I approached him, Dinky would mention that RDS had been asking and looking for me. The pleasantries were like that of two friends who have not seen each other for sometime and why not, it has indeed been a year since my first interview, since our first conversation. He thanked and complimented me for what I wrote and for my writing. I thanked him too and told him it wasn’t about my writing skill but the subject. I told him it is the most read post in my blog and because of it, my site has had hits by leaps and bounds the past year. I told him I would like a follow up interview of which he gracefully acceded.

I asked how he was and he said his most recent annual executive check up gave him a clean bill of health. He makes a conscious effort to watch what he eats but he still is adventurous when it comes to dining, except maybe for overly spicy dishes. He loved a Filipino dish called Crispy Pata, a deep fried pork leg and knuckles with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar and chopped onions. Another Filipino dish he loved (Spanish influenced) was Callos Madrillejos, a stew of ox tripe, beef and Chorizo de Bilbao. The man knows his food and flavours but will always keep an eye on the calories. Maybe this is why he hasn’t changed much the past year.

I asked how his company was doing. He said that it was professionalized early on but he always finds time to go to work whenever he is back home. He said it was doing fine and that he trimmed down the services provided by Imagen Optima. He removed the retail advertising arm and decided to focus on PR and Crisis Management. When he mentioned Crisis Management, it brought a smile on my face. How could I have forgotten the most important process of PR which is crisis management. Yes, the leader of the FCI does crisis management for a living! The leader of FCI, your leader, isn’t an ordinary dog person with a college degree.

I would sit beside him again on a different day of the Circuit Show. I told him that I was the Chairman of the “FCI Show and Show Judges Commission Meeting” in Cebu. I asked him if he could write a message for the programme. He would smile and tell me “I normally leave commission and committee meetings to themselves.” He would further say “It’s about trusting your team and showing others I do not give any undue influence by being present at committee and commission meetings. I didn’t participate at the WGRF (Working Group for the Restructuring of FCI) in Madrid.” It totally speaks of his management style of being a team player and the Laissez-Faire type of leader that he is. I told him that I would politely and respectfully insist instead that he say a few words at the opening of the meeting.

http://www.fci.be/en/Working-Group-for-Restructuring-the-FCI-1st-meeting-237.html

I asked him how was his first term. He described his first term as “it had its issues and challenges.” I asked him to be more specific and to him it was having the World Dog Show in Russia this 2016. He mentioned that the process of selection was democratic but the social conservatism of Russia made it a hard sell to the world. “You know the other issues Jojo, you wrote about them, the other issues just stemmed from a lack of communication and understanding. A lot of problems could be avoided and are easily solved by communication and understanding.” He believed that the biggest challenge he will face during this 2nd term is the WDS in China. “I think this 2nd term of mine, it will still be the Shanghai WDS in 2019 that will be a challenge for FCI. I have been following up on how China is addressing this issue and actually met with CKU officers while I’m here in Manila. They are doing the best they can given the circumstances. Local NGO’s are fighting this, laws are being put in place, rescues are also in place and most of all CKU has it’s own program addressing the problem. The biggest problem Jojo is the extremism of animalists.” He asked why I wasn’t at Milan, I told him it was a different story to tell, of which he countered “It would’ve been a nice story to write about.”

http://www.fci.be/en/FCI-meets-CKU-at-the-Philippines-CIRCUIT-2016-in-Manila-PH-240.html

http://www.fci.be/en/Chinese-authorities-and-CKU-position-themselves-against-the-so-called-Yulin-Festival-239.html

The next time I would have a chance to talk to RDS was at Cebu, a couple of days after the Circuit Show, a couple of days before the meeting. This time I asked him if he met his goals during his first term and what are his goals for his second term. “My main goal in my first term was to open FCI to everyone, to reach out to everyone.” I asked him if that goal was met and he answered “I believe I’ve started things and all the member countries know I’m welcoming. I’ve opened the doors and now others would like to enter, however it’s a change that others, those inside, are having a hard time accepting.” I told him there will always be resistance to change much more when it means getting out of ones comfort zone. He then would tell me that his goal for this second term is to get members to accept this change. I then asked him “Are you seeking a third term?” This led to a pause and a slight smile from him. I felt I put him in a spot and instead decided to answer my own question-“You should!” This time, a bigger smile from him and a firm wrap of an arm around my shoulders. Having said that, I still wasn’t sure of his answer.

Sunday morning the last day of the meeting, just before the Joint Commission Meeting, he would be part of a simple ceremony, the upload of the Asia Pacific Section Website. After which he would quietly step out of the convention hall. I saw him out and kept him company for a few minutes as I found it awkward to just leave the President of the FCI all alone. I took the opportunity to ask him another question-“How would you rate yourself during your first term, 10 being a perfect rating?” He would smile at me. I guess it was another awkward question, “I won’t print it” I quickly told him with a smile. He would reply ” I don’t think I could do that Jojo, I don’t think I can give myself a grade.” I told him I was an ISO Auditor and I normally don’t accept perfect ratings. I told him I was wary of ratings as indicators of performance, productivity and engagement. Having said that I told him, “But in your case, I’d give you a “10” because I believe the job/task wasn’t easy and the accomplishments you made are significant, considering.” He would smile again, at this point I excused myself and told him I had to attend the joint commission meeting.

Dinner time Sunday, just across the street, infront of Shangri-la was a quaint restaurante named Hola España owned by a Spanish gentleman. We had the full monty for dinner from several servings of tapas, then a sumptuous baked Pollo dish, followed by Paella, and dulce of fruits and Churos con Chocolate. At one point, knowing that some were probably tired, some may have an early next day flight or some may want to chill at the bar by the beach, I stood up and announced to all the delegates that the rest of the evening was free. This suddenly became a cue for everyone to say their farewells, it was after all the last evening of a successful event. I quickly sought out Barbara Mūller President of the Show Commission and John Wauben President of the Show Judges Commission. They are the two people that I was in touch with the moment that I was appointed as Chair of the Cebu Meeting. I also said my goodbyes to Adrian Landarte Vice President and Anne Marie Class Secretary of the Show Judges Commission. I sought out Commission Members Wilfred and Ulrikke Olsen of Denmark, Harri Lehkonen of Finland, Tamas Jakkel of Hungary and Rony Doedijns of the Netherlands, Christian Stefanescu of Romania, all very active participants that made the three days interesting, all who made the discourse respectable and sensible.

Somewhere and sometime, during all the hand shaking, hugging and bussing, RDS and I would end up standing in front of each other. Broad smiles, firm hugs and pat on the backs were given to each other. He broke the silence when he said “Jojo, go ahead and write that I’m seeking a third term, let’s put a stop to any speculations and to all the pretenders.”

http://www.fci.be/en/FCI-Shows-and-Show-Judges-Commissions-Cebu-PH-2016-241.html

There you have it! Something new we found out about him-crisis management practitioner, a very useful leadership skill. Something honest about him-Laissez Faire management, actually something we already know. Something rational about him-awareness of self-assessment flaws. Something dynamic about him-a decision to run for a third term for unfinished business.

Till our next conversation Rafa!

 

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