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An Initiative

Marinduque 1922It was precisely the need to organization and direction to the troops that already existed as well as to launch Scouting as a nationwide movement that spurred the Rotary Club of Manila (led mostly by American businessmen) to work for the formation of a Philippine Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

It all began in December 7, 1922, when the Rotary Club of Manila wrote to the BSA in New York expressing a desire to see "the organization and program of Scouting in active operation in the Philippine Islands," and requesting for a BSA field department official to be sent here for the purpose of establishing a National Council.

The letter received an enthusiastic response. A young man by the name of Samuel W. Stagg, arrived in Manila as the Special Field Scout Commissioner of the BSA to work with the avid enthusiasts. In New York, Major Philip D. Carman followed up the proposal at the BSA headquarters.

In anticipation of the funding requirements of the project, the Rotary Club of Manila conducted a fund drive involving the other Scouting advocates like the YMCA, the Knights of Columbus, the Masons, the Elks, the Filipino and Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Army, the Catholic and Protestant churches, the American Legion, among others.

On October 5, 1923, at the invitation of the Rotary Club of Manila, they formally organized what they initially called the Manila (P.I.) Council of the BSA. There were 21 charter members who constituted the executive board of the council.

In November 1923, the Rotary Club adivsed the BSA headquarters that the Council had been organized, and on December 27, 1923 the BSA Deputy Scout Executive, Dr. George J. Fisher, cabled the favorable endorsement of the BSA headquarters. The Council was chartered as a first class Council and its jurisdiction was made national instead of merely for Manila as originally applied for.

Scouting in the Philippines flourished as a part of the Boy Scouts of America. The national office of the BSA in New York administered its program through Scout executives paid for by it. A.S. MacFarlane was the first full-time executive sent from the United States. He was succeeded by Ernest E. Voss, who remained in the post until the formal takeover by the Boy Scouts of the Philippines on January 1, 1938.

Philippine Council, BSA

The formation of the Philippine Council BSA came during a difficult period in the American administration of the islands. This was at the height of a conflict between Filipino leaders over the implementation of the Jones Law of 1916 granting local autonomy to Filipinos and a surge of nationalist sentiment that had begun to sweep the islands. It became necessary to modify certain BSA requirements to fit local conditions as well as to counteract accusations that Scouting was a scheme to "Americanize" Filipino boys. The use of the "Philippine Boy Scouts" pocket strip was authorized and a Philippine edition of the BSA handbook was put out. Public apathy stemming from both personal and religious reasons also had to be addressed.

The council started with 380 members in 1924 but increase in membership was fast and steady, indicating the generally favorable public acceptance of the Movement.

In 1931, the first five-year Scouting program was adopted, with provisions for experimentation in Sea Scouting and Cub Scouting. Rover Scouting was introduced in 1934. The country was divided into 12 districts to facilitate administration with membership now totalling nearly 8,000. As an indication that the Movement was doing well, BSA placed the Shanghai Scout district under the supervision of the Philippine Council.

Participation Overseas

World Jamboree DelegatesThe country's first participation in an international Scout gathering was in 1933 when the Philippine Council sent six Scouts of Troop 12 under Scoutmaster Wenceslao O. Cruz to the Fourth World Jamboree held in Godollo near Budapest in Hungary. While they formed part of the American contingent, they were on record as teh first Filipino boys to attend a World Jamboree.

BSA National JamboreeIn 1935, the Philippines sent 32 Scouts and three leaders to Washington, D.C. to attend the BSA National Jamboree but the Jamboree was called off due to the outbreak of infantile paralysis in the American capital. The delegation led by Exequiel Villacorta went on a goodwill tour of the U.S. including visits to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and General Douglas MacArthur.


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