This is the story of La Salle Brother Roly Dizon and the first West Bank Palestine call center he helped build. The reason why I wrote this piece today (October 31st) is because it is his birthday anniversary, a beloved La Salle Brother who became part of my life in several occasions. I know Brother Roly Dizon to be partly or fully responsible for the successes of many people and organizations in the Philippines and around the world, but let me tell you the story of one particular success that happened in Israel not too long ago.
La Salle Brother Roly Dizon has been a name to reckon with since my elementary days in La Salle Green Hills and De La Salle University, being president of one of the schools in the past. Everybody knew him well through high school and everyone remembers him as a devout and devoted La Salle Brother.
Remembering La Salle Brother Roly Dizon, my first personal encounter with him was during the time I was helping set up a call center in Bacolod City. Though he was not directly involved, the people around him were, from training to hardware and software requirements of the center with a company called La Salle Tech where one of the owners was also a shareholder of the new call center. Less than a year later, I left the already-operating call center and set up a small call center in Magallanes with friends.
In 2008 (I think), Brother Roly Dizon started visiting (and eventually was assigned at) the University of Jerusalem, Israel’s second oldest university established in 1918 long before the State of Israel. The first Board of Governors of the university included Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud. But one notable alumni is Brother Rafael S. Donato FSC, Ed.D. (1938-2006). The University is (also) part of the De La Salle school network. During the visits of Brother Roly Dizon and his stay there, he met and interacted with Israeli and Palestinian alumni. One of the latter was Nassim Nour.
Nassim Nour’s plan was to set up the first call center in West Bank Palestine where the University was located nearby. He approached Brother Roly Dizon, telling him his plan and asking him if someone from the Philippines could touch base with him and help him plan the call center. Of course, the reason was obvious – the Philippines was the boom of call centers of the world. When Brother Roly Dizon went back to the Philippines, he tapped into one of my high school batch mates who in turn got in touch with me. Eventually, Brother Roly Dizon and I met to talk about it, and Nassim Nour and I hooked up through Skype to begin our many conversations. Brother Roly Dizon kept tabs with both Nassim Nour and I to make sure we were getting along and plans moving.
This was 2008. The problem with West Bank Palestine was its spotty broadband internet. Without a good, stable connection, the call center of Nassim Nour will just encounter issues regarding voice quality and connectivity to first world countries like the United States. However, we continued our Skype conversations and e-mail correspondences, which waned down around 2009. Occasional birthday and holiday greetings would resurrect conversations.
In 2011, I got an e-mail from Nassim Nour wherein the font of the first sentenced was increase to like 78, boldfaced and caps locked: “RAFFY, WE HAVE FIBER!” Nassim Nour by this time got a British national as his consultant who had experience setting up and running call centers all over the world, including the Philippines, and also agreed to live and work in Israel. I offered some services to Nassim Nour, including VoIP termination and cloud-based solutions, but he went for premise-based solutions and vendors that his consultant was more familiar with.
Regardless of my non-involvement on the part of actually setting up the call center and going live, I was very happy that Nassim Nour was finally able to set up the first call center in West Bank Palestine. And the more ecstatic part is that behind the scenes, Brother Roly Dizon played a major role in helping make it a reality.
In late 2009, I visited Brother Roly Dizon at the Brothers’ residences floor of De La Salle University in Taft Avenue, Manila. He was recovering from his ordeal and triumphs of recurred cancer and consequential surgery, and we had an hour’s discussion on opportunities for La Salle Tech of Bacolod for more business. He even called Tere (I think that was her name and I forgot her surname) who up to that time managed the company, so Tere and I could continue collaborating after my visit.
It was a sad day when I learned Brother Roly Dizon died on April 25, 2012. His remains laid in state at the National Shrine of the Divine Child, one of the chapels of La Salle Green Hills, and I made sure to pay my last respects to him. I saw Billy Lopue, owner of the Lopue’s East mall in Bacolod and also a shareholder of La Salle Tech, as well as the Dizon sisters Corcor and Lyn who were part of my high school drama club’s theatrical play about St. La Salle (during my high school days) and nieces of Brother Roly Dizon. Mass was said and afterwards, I mingled with the people I knew, and we all told stories about our encounters and relations with Brother Roly Dizon. Corcor and Lyn were both amazed about my story of their uncle and the first call center in West Bank Palestine. It was a good story to tell about him and before today, I have never written it down.
And so this is the end my personal story about Brother Roly Dizon and his involvement in helping set up the first call center in West Bank Palestine. Nice, huh?
Sources: University of Jerusalem | Rolando Ramos Dizon | De La Salle Philippines | A lot of e-mail correspondences between me, Nassim Nour and Brother Roly Dizon
Photo from De La Salle Philippines.