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
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
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.