Junior Chamber International Philippines
(Philippine Jaycees, Inc.)
Any historical account of the Jaycee movement in Asia necessarily begins with the Philippine Jaycees.
It was here that the first Jaycee chapter in Asia-the Manila Jaycees – was born on December 20, 1947. On March 10, 1948, two delegates from the Manila Jaycees attended the 3rd World Congress of the Junior Chamber International held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to petition for the admission of the chapter to the worldwide organization. They came back to Manila with charter for the national chamber that was to be known as the Philippine Jaycees, and the distinction for JC Gregorio Feliciano for being the first Filipino Vice President of Junior Chamber International.
Two circumstances may be said to paved way the way for the Jaycees’ transplantation in Asia through the Philippines.
- Its historical ties with the United States
2. The restlessness of its young professionals to help the county recover from the ravages brought by the Pacific War.
From various accounts in the past, we have known how this involvement begun with the curiosity of that venerable Artemio Vergel de Dios, still very much active in the movement to this day, who as a young man read about the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in October 1946 issue of the American Magazine PIC and for with wrote the U.S. Jaycees to inquire how a similar organization could be established in the Philippines.
By September 12, 1947, Vergel de Dios got the cue from Bob Richards, Executive secretary of the US Jaycees, who referred him to Bert Talbot, a former Jaycee from St. Paul, Minnesota, who was then Northwest Airlines traffic manager in Manila. At about the same time, Talbot got a letter from Tyrlor Cole, then president of the Junior
Chamber International, about Vergel de Dios intention, suggesting that he and Robert Trent, then representative of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters in Manila, meet with the Filipino.
As advised, the meeting among the three was arranged and held at the Rotary Room of the Manila Hotel on September 25, 1947 and initial plans were drawn for an organizational meeting. These were firmed up in October with a list of 60 young men to charter members, but only 17 were able to attend the organizational meeting December 20, 1947, 10 of whom were Filipinos and 7 Americans. The Filipinos, who were soon to become prominent businessman and industrialist, were Ramon V. del Rosario, Oscar Arellano, Rafael Estrada, Fred Benitez, Gregorio Feliciano, Oliverio Laperal, Jose Mayuga, Eugenio Puyat, Graciano Yupangco and the one who started it all, Artemio Vergel de Dios. The Americans were John Bachman, Steve Brodie, Chuck Nelson, Stephen Stonich, Wylie Young and the two referrals, Bert Talbot and Robert Trent.
By the time the constitution and By-Laws of the chapter, was taken up and approved on January 03, 1948, 42 members had signed up. The first board of directors elected Ramon del Rosario- President, Robert Trent-Executive Vice President, Eugenio Puyat-Vice President for External Affairs, Jose Mayuga-Vice President for Internal Affairs, Artemio Vergel de Dios-Secretary, Gregorio Feliciano-Treasurer and Steve Brodie-Public Relations Officer.
Having granted the charter for the national Jaycees Organization in the Philippines, the intrepid Manila Jaycees fanned out in the provinces to organize chapters. The first to respond were the young men of BACOLOD, CABANATUAN, CAPIZ, CAVITE, ILOILO, DAVAO, LUCENA, SAN PABLO, TACLOBAN and ZAMBOANGA. By the year end, the number of chapters organized had reached 22.
The first national convention was held in Manila in April 1949. Following the approval of the constitution and By-laws of the Philippine Jaycees, the first set of national officers were elected with Ramon del Rosario as President.
That same month, 19 Filipino Jaycees led by Del Rosario attended the 4th JCI World Congress in Brussels. The rather large delegation must have so impressed the Jaycees from different countries that they voted to hold the 5thJCI World Congress in Manila the following year.
From Brussels, the Filipino delegates broke up into five teams for a “Sell the Philippines” campaign tour to Latin America, Canada and the United States, with different itineraries, the Filipino ambassadors of goodwill did their country proud as they spoke at banquets, radio programs, TV appearances and newspaper and its people, in the process dispelling ignorance and correcting misinformation then prevalent about the fledgling republic.
At the 5th JCI World Congress held in October 1950 at the Manila Hotel, the delegates were addressed by President Quirino and other officials of the Philippine Government. A momentous highlight of the assembly was the election of Ramon del Rosario as world president of the Junior Chamber International, the first Filipino and Asian to hold that position. In three successive years, del Rosario earned the distinction of chalking up three first: first president of Manila Jaycees, and first Filipino president of JCI. Two years later, another Filipino, Roberto Villanueva, was elected to the same office: Other Filipino subsequently elected JCI President were Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., Victor Luciano and Crispin Dy, Jr.
Through the years, the Philippines Jaycees as an organization has become a byword in civic projects of varying scope and importance such as setting up monuments, blood banks and puericultures centers, exterminating rodents and harmful insects, and campaigning for people to “get out and vote”. The tragic death of National President Joaquin V. Gonzales in a plane crash is memorialized by a rehabilitation pavilion at Welfareville in Mandaluyong, Metro Manila, set up under the auspices of the Philippine Jaycees.
Two projects of the Philippine Jaycees which have become institutions are the “Voice of Democracy” oratorical contest among students and the annual search for the “Outstanding Young Men” of the Philippines.
Also to this great credit and to this day widely remembered is “Operations Brotherhood”, a humanitarian project in Vietnam and Laos whose methodology evolved out of the “Help the Barrio” project initiated by Cesar Climaco in Zamboanga and later adopted nationwide by the Philippine Jaycees, under the name “Held Juan”. The essence of “Operation Brotherhood” was an enlarged and more systematic application of a Multi-disciplinary approach in helping the needy whose implementation Oscar Arellano successfully headed.
The rise of Jayceeism in the Philippine and in Asia paralleled the organization’s phenomenal growth the world over. By 1952, there were 52 national chambers. In Asia, the growth of Jayceeism was notably brisk from that year to 1952.
In 1952, there were only 79 local chapters in Asia of which 37 in the Philippine and 34 in Japan, with a chapter each in Hongkong, India, Indonesia, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. By 1954, Jaycee chapters had been organized in Burma, Ceylon, Malaysia and Pakistan. There were nucleus organizations in Borneo and Laos which eventually become full chambers with a total of 126 local chapters.
Today, there are 15 national Jaycee organizations in Asia, with the addition of Bangladesh and Nepal. Under the JCI structure, the region falls under Area B to which Australia, New Zealand, Guam and Fuji are included.
The other dimension of Jayceeism is the Jaycee Senate, founded in January 1952 by JCI World President Phil T.R. Pugsley of Canada to provide a lifetime link with the organization for elder members and at the same time harness them for Jaycee extension.
Today, the Jaycee Senate International has over 43,000 members representing just a little over one percent of the three million people who have been Jaycee. This is so because a JCI Senatorship, lifetime title, is selectively for outstanding performance by a Jaycees whether on the local, national or international level.
To learn more about JCI Philippines, visit their site – www.philjaycees.com.