It 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
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,
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
Philippine Council, BSA
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
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.
The 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.
In 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.