In the center of the intersection of Timog and Tomas Morato avenues, there is the monument to the twenty-four members of the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, who had perished on route to attend the 11th World Scouting Jamboree, in Greece. The death of the twenty young scouts and their four senior scout masters shocked the whole country and the world, and stands as the worst scouting disaster to this date.
With the motto “Scout Higher and Wider,” the 11th World Scouts Jamboree was held on the first week of August, 1963, in the historic Marathon, in Greece. Marathon was the site where heavily outnumbered Athenian army defeated the Persians, and the soldier, Pheidippides ran the distance of 36 kilometers from Marathon to Athens to announce the victory; thus starting the long distance “marathon” races, and thus the “Olympic” theme of the Jamboree.
The Philippine contingent of twenty boy scouts came from many prominent families from all over the country, and ranged from 14 to 19 year of age. A few days before their flight, the group met with Pres. Diosdado Pangan Macapagal Sr. (1910-1997), at the presidential palace. The team travelled first to Thailand, then to Indian where they took a connecting flight of United Arab Airlines Flight 869, in an A de Havilland DH.106 Comet jetliner, on the 28th July 1963. Flying over the Indian Ocean, the plane encountered heavy turbulence and crashed into the waters, killing all fifty-five passengers and eight crew on board.
The members of the 11th World Scouting Jamboree BSP contingent are:
Scoutmaster and Physician, Bonifacio Vitan Lazcano, M.D. (1919-1963)
Chaplain Fr. Jose Agcaoili Martinez, S.J. (1921-1963)
Assistant Scoutmaster Librado L. S. Fernandez (1919-1963)
Assistant Scoutmaster Florante Lirio Ojeda (1916-1963)
Air Scout Observer Ramón Valdés Albano (1947-1963), Manila Council
Senior Scout Pathfinder Patricio Dulay Bayoran, Jr. (1944-1963), Pasay City Council
Air Scout Observer Gabriél Nicolás Borromeo (1949-1963), Manila Council
First Class Scout Roberto Corpus Castór (1949-1963), Quezon City Council
Senior Scout Pathfinder Henry Cabrera Chuatoco (1945-1963), Manila Council
First Class Scout Victór Oteyza de Guia, Jr. (1948-1963), Baguio Benguet Council
Life Scout José Antonio Chuidian Delgado, Jr. (1949-1963), Manila Council
First Class Scout Felix Palma Fuentebella, Jr. (1949-1963), Camarines Sur Council
First Class Scout Pedro Hermano Gandia, Jr. (1948-1963), Manila Council
First Class Scout Antonio Mariano Limbaga (1948-1963), Zamboanga City Council
Rover Scout Roberto del Prado Lozano (1944-1963), Dagupan City Council
Senior Scout Pathfinder Paulo Cabrera Madriñán (1943-1963), Pasay City Council
First Class Scout José Fermín Gonzales Magbanua (1949-1963), Negros Oriental Council
Star Scout Romeo Rafaél Rallos (1946-1963), Quezon City Council
Senior Scout Pathfinder Filamér Santos Reyes (1942-1963), Cavite Council
Star Scout Wilfredo Mendoza Santiago (1949-1963), Manila Council
First Class Scout Benecio Suarez Tobias (1946-1963), Tarlac Council
Eagle Scout Antonio Rios Torillo (1946-1963), Cavite Council
Star Scout Ascario Ampíl Tuason, Jr. (1947-1963), Manila Council
First Class Scout Rogelio Celis Ybardolaza (1946-1963), Quezon City Council
Only the bodies of the Scouts Castor, Chuatoco, Delgado, Fernandez, and Tuason were recovered, and along with the few identified properties of the scouts were flown back to Manila, and buried in the Boy Scout Cenotaph of the 11th Jamboree, at the Manila North Cemetery. To mark this mass grave, a geometric rendition of the Scout Sign of a right hand with three fingers point up to represent duty to God, others and self; while the thumb and small finger touch to signify brotherhood through citizen training and character building. Etched below the Scout Sign is “On Our Honor, We did Our Best.”
The twenty-four we soon hailed as heroes, who sacrificed their lives for everything that the Boy Scouts of the Philippines stand for. So in 1964, the BSP commissioned Antonio Gonzales Dumlao (1912-1983) to paint a portrait of the BSP 11th Jamboree contingent, which still hangs at the BSP Headquarters in the Ermita district of Manila. Dumalo created a near photo-realistic portrait of the BSP troupe, with the logo of the 11th Jamboree, and the flags of the 24 nations that participated in the jamboree. Dumlao was a noted muralist, who entered the U.P. School of Fine Arts in 1928, but left the very same year and decided to make it on his own. Soon Dumalo was working for Jean Bisson advertising Company and Antonio Garcia Engraving firm. Later on, Don Andrés Soriano y Roxas, Sr. (1898-1964) hired Dumalo as the art director of San Miguel Corporation. He later taught at the San Miguel Catholic School and Assumption College where he taught Basic Drawing, but he didn’t stay too long, finding that teaching at the academe was just as tedious as when he was a student in U.P. In 1960, Dumlao was hired to work on the restoration of Juan Luna’s Spoliarium, which had just arrived from Spain. Dumalo also designed stained glass, and he rebuilt church altars at the Malacañang Presidential Palace, as well as the stained glass windows at the Golden Mosque, in Quiapo.
In 1964, the Quezon City Council passed Resolution 6692 to change the names of the streets in the Homesite Project 1 district, after the twenty-four members of the BSP contingent. The barangay west of Tomas Morato Avenue was also renamed “Laging Handa” after the scout’s motto of “Always Ready.”
And in 1965, Mayor Norberto Salandanan Amoranto (1907-1979) and the Quezon City Council unveiled the Boy Scout Memorial at the center of Sampaloc (now Tomas Morato) and South (now Timog) avenues, with the life sized statues of the 24 scouts, by Florante “Boy” Beltran Caedo (1939-2004). Caedo was a second generation sculptor, who trained under his father, Anastacio Caedo, and took his formal studies at the University of the Philippines (UP) College of Fine Arts (CFA). Instead of focusing in exhibitions, the younger Caedo started working under his father’s tutelage, before breaking out on his own in creating public art pieces. Florante was able to develop a style classical sculpture that greatly differed from his father, bring a new dynamic and expressive nature to Philippine art. His greatest monuments appeared to be frozen in mid-action and floating in the air, such as his Emilio Jacinto on horseback (1972) at the Himlayang Pilipino Parkand his Saint Michael (1984) near the Malacañang Palace.
The memorial was organized by the Ala-ala Youth Foundation (now the 11th World Jamboree Memorial Foundation), comprised of the parents of the scouts. And in the coming years, the foundation worked with other institutions to erecting their own monuments to the 24 scouts. At the Colegio de San Juan de Letran, in Intramuros, Manila, the “Dambana ng Laging Handa” (Memorial to the “Always Ready”) was erected outside the school gate, along a triangular property between Muralla and Beaterio street. The memorial is dedicated to the former Letran students, Scouts Ramón Valdés Albano, Henry Cabrera Chuatoco, and Wilfredo Mendoza Santiago.
Inside the campus of the San Beda College, in Manila, the Ala-ala Foundation erected the “Drummer Boy Memorial” in memory of the school’s students, Scouts José Antonio Chuidian Delgado, Jr., Felix Palma Fuentebella, Jr., Antonio Rios Torillo, and Ascario Ampíl Tuason, Jr.
A memorial to their student Pedro Hermano Gandia Jr. is located between the gate of the San Sebastián College-Recoletos de Manila and the Basílica Menor de San Sebastián’s Convento de San Sebastian, in Sampaloc, Manila. Scout Gandia was part of the school’s scouting Kwago Patrol.
In the Municipality of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte province, the foundation erected the Scout Ramón Valdés Albano Park, at the corner of Ver and Agcao streets, right in front of the Santa Monica Church. And for a while, there was a Scout Ramon V. Albano Memorial College in Tondo, Manila, which ran from 1978 to 1991, before it was absorbed by the Santa Rita Hospital College of Nursing and School of Midwifery. However, to respect the history of the school, the building on Earnshaw Street was named RVA Hall.
At the Municipality of Pangil, Province of Laguna, the Balian Barrio School was renamed Victor Oteyza de Guia Jr. Memorial Elementary School, in 1967, with a monument erected in front of the school to commemorate the scout. In his hometown of Baguio City, the Scout De Guia Memorial Camp Fire Circle was constructed by the Ala-ala Foundation, in Camp John Hay.
Also in the Province of Laguna, a bust of Scout Rogelio Celis Ybardolaza was installed within the Pakil Municipal Hall Plaza in 2006, which is on Tavera Street, right across the 1676 St. Peter of Alcantara Parish Church. Beside the bust of Scout Ybardoloza is a bust Mayor Ciriaco M. Gonzales (1896-1943), which was installed decades earlier.
And in the nearby Municipality of Paete, a bust of Scout Paulo Cabrera Madriñan was created to commemorate his paternal roots to the town. The town is known for its wood carvers since the Spanish colonial period (1565-1898), and one of its best known artists was Paulo’s great-grandfather, Mariano Baldemor Madriñan (1858-1939), who gained international acclaim with his Mater Dolorosa (Sorrowful Mother) that was exhibited during the 1883 Amsterdam Universal Exposition.
In the Province of Camarines Sur, a memorial to Scout Felix Palma Fuentebella was erected near the Caramoan Municipal Hall. And at the nearby Municipal of Goa, there is a dedication to the young scout at the Fuentebella Mausoleum in the Goa Catholic Cemetery, near the Gov. Jose Fuentebella National Highway.
Within Pasonanca Park, Zamboanga City, there is the Scout Antonio Mariano Limbaga Memorial. The Pasonanca Park is a known scouting venue, with the 2014 Philippine Scouting Centennial Jamboree conducted there. Zamboanga City is also recognized as the birth place of the Philippine scouts, when Lieutenant Sherman Leo Kiser (1889-1974) organized the Lorillard Spencer Troop in 1914, which was named after Lorillard Suydam Spencer (1883-1939), a member of the Officers of the National Council and Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. In 1936, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines was formalized.
The Scout Patricio Dulay Bayoran, Jr. Memorial is located at the intersection of the Western Nautical Highway and Scout Bayoran Road, in the Municipality of Manapla, Negros Occidental province.
And in Dumaguete City, a statue of José Fermín Gonzales Magbanua was erected in 2001, right in front of the Boy Scout Headquarters near the Negros Oriental capitol grounds.
Back in Metro Manila, the bust of Scout Roberto Corpus Castór is on display in front of his alma mater, the Eugelio Rodriguez Jr. High School, in the La Loma district of Quezon City. There are two more busts beside the sculpture of Scout Castor, one being that of the politician Congressman Eulogio Santiago Rodriguez Jr., and the other of another student, Scout Oscar Magan Alcaráz (1953-1970), whom the nearby road and local scout troop is named after. Alcaraz was a scout and junior forest ranger, of unit Explore 14, when he drowned after saving his Scoutmaster, at the La Mesa Dam, during reforestation program between the BSP, the PNB (Philippine National Bank), and the DANR (Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources). For his bravery, Scout Alcaraz was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes), Fort Bonifacio; and he was also posthumously conferred the Gold Medal of Merit by the BSP and the Presidential Merit Medal by President Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos Sr. (1917-1989).
Aside from the 11th Jamboree memorials and that of Scout Alcaraz, there are several more monuments to members of the BSP, who have proven themselves in gallantry and service. One of the oldest Philippine monuments to a scout’s bravery is that of former Scout Valeriano Ibañez Abello (1913-2000), in the Telegrafó distctrict, Municipality of Tolosa, Leyte province. During the World War II (1939-1945) American assault of Leyte, to take back the Philippines from the Japanese, Abello, organized his fellow civilians Antero Junia and Vicente Tistón, signaled the American USS LST-467, by relaying Semaphore codes from a bangkâ (outrigger canoe) at sea. Despite being under fire, Abello had remembered his signal training from his youth, as a scout of Troop 11, and helped direct the American artillery fire towards Japanese installations and directed the shelling away from civilian populations, saving thousands of lives. For his heroism, Abello was conferred the Philippine Legion of Honor by President Ramón del Fierro Magsaysáy (1907-1957), in 1956, while a statue of Abello was unveiled in Telegrafó,and October 18 was declares as “Signal Day” in Tolosa.
In 2012, a memorial to Scout Roy B. Babas (1958-1971) was unveiled at the Estancia Central Elementary School, Municipal of Estancia, Iloilo province, to commemorate the bravery of Babas. In 1971, the 12 year old saved seven people from drowning, when a strong squall smashed a docking boat against the port, throwing several passengers into the sea. Babas dove into the waters to rescue the victims, but at his third attempt, another wave destroyed the pier, and the falling timber killed Babas.
The latest monument to a scout was the2019 christening of Sergio Damazo Bridge, in the Mambaling district of Cebú City. The bridge is named after Scoutmaster Sergio Patria Damazo, Jr. (1932-2009), a teacher, administrative assistant, Citizen’s Army Training commandant, and scout master of the University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJR) Basak campus, whose unwavering service garnered him many honors; such as the 1970 National Scoutmaster of the Year, the 1986 Model Filipino Award, the 1993 Cebu City Government’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the 1994 Outstanding Scoutmaster of the Philippines, and the 2003 USJ-R High School Alumni Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2003). Scoutmaster Damazo’s service was influential not just to the students and scouts of the USJR, but to the whole scouting community of the Cebu Province. After his death in 2009, the USJR Basak campus opened the Museo de Sergio Damazo Jr. to celebrate Scoutmaster Damazo life and achievements; while the BSP Cebu Council initiated the annual competition of scouting skills: the Sergio P. Damazo Cup.
Aside from memorials to note scouts, there are also many monuments to Boy Scouts of the Philippines. In the San Jose district of Tacloban City, there is the 1941 “To the Youth of Leyte,” which is believed to be the oldest scouting monument in the world.
However, there is another scouting sculpture that could be older, which is the “Scout Moving Forward” at the corner of Tres Abril Street and the Natalio B. Bacalso South National Highway, in the Mambaling district of Cebú City. Although the statue once stood prominently at the BSP Cebu Council building along Jones Avenue (now President Sergio Osmeña Sr. Avenue), it was transferred after the building was demolished. The statue was originally believed to be created around 1940 by the Italian sculptor, Dante Stefano Francesco Benedetti Guidetti (1881-1942). However, Guidetti only resided in Cebu between 1925 to 1938, which would be the same time that scouting was introduced to the province; thus placing the creation of the statue at the same time period. However, the BSP Cebu Council was only officiated by 1946, which may mean that the statue was never created by Guidetti, who died in World War II.
Mount Makiling, in the Los Baños City is the Province of Laguna, is the site of Boy Scout Camp and Boy Scouts International Office. The camping site was developed to host the 1959 10th World Scout Jamboree, with a monument of the Scout’s Salute to commemorate the even. The BSP camp site is also within the University of the Philippines- Los Baños campus, and it has also hosted other major BSP events; such as the 1973 December to 1974 January 1st Asia-Pacific Scout Jamboree of thirty-two countries in attendance, the 1991 12th Asia-Pacific Jamboree, and the 2013 National Peace Jamboree. Within the BSP complex is an 11th Jamboree Memorial Camp Fire Circle, constructed by the Ala-ala Foundation.
Another major BSP complex is the BSP Capitol Hills Scout Camp, in Cebú City. The camp site was built to host the 1965 3rd National Jamboree. Scouting was introduced to Cebu by the local YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association) in the 1930s; with the City Central School, the Zapatera Elementary School, the San Nicolas Elementary School, the Mactan Elementary School, the Cebu Provincial High School, the Cebu Normal Laboratory School, and Colegio de San Carlos as its pioneer schools. And in 1946, the BSP Cebu Council was formalized in 1946, and proceeded to raise the interest in scouting throughout the province. With the development BSP Capitol Hills Scout Camp, the site have host other major scouting events; such as the 1968 1st Cebu Council Powwow and the 1977 6th National Jamboree. In 2013, the BSP Capitol Hills Scout Camp hosted the Visayan delegations for the National Peace Jamboree, while the Zamboanga City Pasonanca Park hosted the Mindanao delegates, and the BSP Los Baños Camp hosted the Luzon delegates. This was to be repeated in the 2014 Philippine Scouting Centennial Jamboree.
In the center of the Baybay South Road, bordering between Tacloban City and the Municipal of Palo in the Leyte Province, there is the 2002 sculpture of the “Scout Moving Forward,” which is dedicated to the 12th National Jamboree Memorial held in the province in 2001. The monument was damage during the onslaught of Typhoon Haiyan (Super Typhoon Yolanda) in 2013, but was later repair by its creator, Nemiranda or Nemesio “Nemi” R. Miranda Jr. (born 1949), a painter and sculptor from the artists’ town of Angono.
Another jamboree monument is the 2015 “Dahon” by Davaoeño artist, 2015 Mudjahid “Kublai” Ponce Millan (born 1974), which was unveiled in Tagum City’s Energy Park, to signify the city’s hosting of the 16th National Scout Jamboree, in the same year. In 2017, the Energy Park was once again the host for the 6th ASEAN Scouting Jamboree.
Another major BSP camp site is the Zamboanga del Sur Provincial Government Complex, in the Dao district of Pagadian City. The Zamboanga del Sur provincial government first developed the complex in the late 2000s, to be a showcase of the best of what the province can offer. In 2011, the complex added the scouting compound, to host the 1st Mindanao Scouts Jamboree, with the theme of “Building Tomorrow Today.” Since then, the Pagadian Camp Site has hosted the 2013 One Mindanao Jamboree and the 2014 BSP National Rover Moot. There are several sculptures throughout the BSP compound, such as the BSP Totem Pole, the Rover Moot Tree House, and the statue of Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell (1857-1941), who founded the Boy Scouts in 1910. Near the Powell sculpture is the statue of Josefa Madamba Llanes Escoda (1898-1945), who founded the Girl Scouts of the Philippines in 1939.
Throughout the Philippines, there are many more sculptures in provincial public schools that are dedicated to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of each school. This reflects the strong interest in the scouting life, despite its waning interest in the highly urbanized cities, such as the 17 cities in Metro Manila. And with these provincial scouting troops, the BSP will continue to help shape the lives of young men throughout the Philippines; while the sacrifice of the 11th World Jamboree troop, Scout Oscar Magan Alcaráz, Scout Valeriano Ibañez Abello, Scout Roy B. Babas, and Scoutmaster Sergio Patria Damazo, Jr. will continue to inspire the next generations.
To commemorate the 24 scouts, who perished enroute to the 11th World scouting Jamboree in Greece, is not just a remembrance of the great tragedy that had befallen these scouts. Although some of these young men belong to prominent families, each person worked hard for years in building their skills and community work, as recognized by the scouting badges they earn. These badges were the criteria and symbolism that the Philippines was sending the very best of their male youth to represent the country, and interact with the best of other nations in global community building. And for the small towns where some of these scouts were born, this was a chance for their municipality to be represented in the world stage. And thus, to commemorate the 11th Jamboree BSP contingent is not just to memorialize the tragedy that had befallen them, but to honor the sacrifices they have done to become representatives of our country, which led to the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives.
I would also like to add that there are also many monuments to the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, especially of its founder, Josefa Madamba Llanes Escoda. Although this article is about the BSP, I do plan to write about the Girls Scouts of the Philippines in the future.