To be correct, the history of Scouting in the Philippines must
go back to the beginning of the American occupation of the islands,
which makes it one of the oldest in the world. This is supported
by a wealth of information about the history of Scouting in the
Philippines in a book written by Mr. Alfonso J. Aluit entitled "A
Bequest of Hope" in 1973.
The movement reached the United States with the formal incorporation
of the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. There are accounts that say
that the Americans took steps to bring Scouting to the Philippines
incident to the colonization of the country after 1910 and that,
in fact, there were Boy Scout units in Manila by 1912.
These accounts are believable becuase the U.S. government in those
times was engaged in a pacification campaign here in the aftermath
of the bloody Philippine-American war. These accounts are contained
in a book entitled "The Boy Scout Story," which is about
the beginning of Scouting in America by Charles Oursler published
The book recalls that at one meeting of the BSA Committee on Organization,
a report was submitted stating that "Scoutmasters have been
enrolled approximately 2,500 (from) 44 States in the Union and our
two dependencies, Puerto Rico and the Philippine." Another
reference to the Philippines in the book was about the first meeting
of the BSA National Council in Washington in 1911. The book quoted
the BSA Executive Secretary, Dr. James E. West, as announcing the
formation of troops not only in continental United States "but
also in Puerto Rico, Honolulu, and Manila." Dr. West ran the
BSA for 32 years from 1911 to 1943.
These statements, while sketchy, were confirmed by disclosures
across the Atlantic by Lord Robert Baden-Powell himself. He wrote
an article in the July 27, 1912 issue of "The Scout,"
a publication of the British Scout Association, about a trip he
made to the Philippines in the summer of that year.
Baden-Powell described the Philippines and Filipinos in detail
in his article. At one point, he observed, "Filipinos are very
fond of music, and almost every boy would (try to ) get our Musician's
Badge." And when he came to describe the products of the Philippines
like coconut, hemp, sugar, and tobacco, he added, "But there
are also some still more important products in the Manila and other
neighboring towns. I think I need scarcely tell you, these are Boy
This 1912 article carried a sub-heading "Boy Scouts of the
Philippines," full 24 years before the BSP came into being.
Mr. Aluit said what is established by Robert Baden-Powell's article
is that by 1912 there was a (or were) Boy Scout troop(s) functioning
in Manila. What is not known is whether they were Filipinos or Americans.
The First Filipino Troop
earliest documention on Scouting in the Philippines was the formation
of an all-Muslim troop in Zamboanga in 1914. The story is documented
not only in pictures but also with the testimony of two surviving
members of the troop in 1973.
It was the early years of the American occupation. The initiative
came from Mrs. Caroline S. Spencer, an American who was in the Philippines
to do works of charity with the natives of Sulu. Assigned to arrange
for her transportation and to accompany her during her trips to
various islands in the archipelago was 2nd Lt. Sherman L. Kiser.
In one of their trips, Mrs. Spencer noticed small boys wandering
aimlessly and she wondered aloud about having someone to worry about
providing direction to their lives. She suggested to the young 2nd
Lt. to forma Boy Scout troop. It was natural for Mrs. Spencer to
suggest this because her son, Lorillard Spencer Jr., was active
in Scouting in the United States.
Kiser was soon reassigned to Zamboanga and Mrs. Spencer herself
had to return to the U.S. and so the plan to form a troop did not
materialize in Sulu. However, Kiser decided to carry out the plan
in Zamboanga, seeing the same situation with the local boys. He
formed a troop of 26 boys, all Muslim, and the community responded
enthusiastically. Kiser wrote later that when Mrs. Spencer heard
about the good news, she sent enough money to buy uniforms and
construct a headquarters for the boys.
The boys took Oath on November 15, 1914. The troop was called Lorillard
Spencer Troop, after the son of Mrs. Spencer.
There are other accounts that mention the formation of other troops
elsewhere, including in Corregidor where 2nd Lt. Kiser was assigned
later, but there are no records of details of these. Another is
the account of a troop that was formed in Boac, Marinduque by 16-year
old Celso Mirafuente in 1922 on the basis of a BSA handbook and
clippings of Boys Life magazine that came into his possession.