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The Boy Scouts of the Philippines

It was apparent from the start that the goal of the Philippine Council BSA was the eventual turnover of the Scouting Movement to Filipino hands. The close collaboration of the Filipino and American members of the Council facilitated the approval of Commonwealth Act No. 111 establishing the Boy Scouts of the Philippines.

The fast Filipinization of the Council can be attributed to Col. Joseph Emile Hamilton Stevenot, the American Executive Vice-President and General Manager of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). He "sacrificed a great deal of his time, effort and even money" to work for the grant of autonomy to Philippine Scouting. It was under Stevenot's stwardship that the Philippine Council BSA drafted the BSP bill and it was the American himself who lobbied in the National Assembly and in the office of the President for its approval.

The bill was sponsored on the floor by Assemblyman Thomas Confesor of Iloilo, and was passed into law as Commonwealth Act No. 111 by President Manuel L. Quezon on October 31, 1936.

The incorporators were Joseph Stevenot, Arsenio Luz, Carlos Romulo, Vicente Lim, Manuel Camus, Jorge Vargas, and Gabriel Daza. They are known today as the charter members and founding fathers of the BSP.

On December 31, 1937 the Philippine Council BSA turned over complete control of the Scouting organization to the BSP. On January 1, 1938, a formal ceremony was held in front of the Legislative Building in Manila to inaugurate the establishment of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines. Exequiel Villacorta, who trained for six months at the U.S. National Training School at Schiff Scout Reservation in 1937, took over as Chief Scout Executive.

World War II

It soon became apparent that war was imminent with the U.S. having difficulty dealing with Japan's increasing bellingerence. The BSP accordingly set up and began implementing an Emergency Service Training Program, so that when the Pacific war broke out with the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 8, 1941, there were Boy Scouts and Scouters who were prepared to handle emergencies. By this time the BSP had a membership of 36,201.

Instantly, before national control of the local councils was disrupted by the Japanese occupation of Manila in January 1942, the Boy Scout Emergency Service Corps was formed. Scouts stopped wearing their uniforms because it was dangerous to be mistaken for soldiers in khaki. Also the Japanese explicitly instructed to stop all Scouting activities including the wearing of uniforms. Boy Scouts helped the Red Cross volunteers in administering first aid to the wounded and putting out fires. Those qualified joined the underground and some of them perished in the line of duty.

There are numerous accounts of Scout heroism during the war. One such act was that of 31-year old Valeriano Abello who, through semaphore, signaled that the U.S. Navy guns were hitting the wrong places and redirected their fire. The Navy ship signaled back "Who are you?" and he replied "BSA". Evidently he was a scout of the Philippine Council BSA. He was awarded with the BSP's Gold Medal of Honor.

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