The following article was written by Laurence Stringer and appeared in 'The Scouter Magazine' in October 1959
THE SCOUTER October, 1959 'MABUHAY"
"PLEASE, Sir," asked a young Filipino Scout seeking •-'information about our country, "do they speak English in England?" It may sound a little amusing but it happened only a short time ago whilst the United Kingdom Contingent was in the Philippines at the 10th World Jamboree. So did this. A Camp Leaders' Conference was in session and one of the points brought forward was that of women being in the camp area at times other than those allowed for visitors. "Why concern ourselves," says one of the visiting contingent leaders, "the British have a number of females in their party who are living in camp." Investigation proved that our Scottish lads in their national dress had been responsible for this misunderstanding. I have wondered since then what would have been the reactions to our own Chief, had we not enlightened them, when later on he arrived in full regalia.
Small and unimportant incidents such as these helped to make up the story of the first ever Jamboree to be held in the Far East. This story has already been told many times by the 113 members of the U.K. Contingent, and indeed only last month by Dr. Alan Chalmers for readers of the scouter.
But it will never be finished completely for, when the sun and the mud, and even the beautiful setting of the camp site on Makiling Mountain, and the torrential typhoon downpourings are forgotten, certain memories will remain. As the Leader of the Contingent I attempt to set out some of these more lasting impressions.
"Mabuhay" is the Filipino's way of saying welcome in Tagalog language. "Mabuhay to all Scouts who are here" was the opening chorus line of their Jamboree song—and what a welcome they gave us! Sincere, warm, affectionate and this, together with the open always smiling faces of our Filipino hosts, surely entitled this 10th World gathering to be called the "Jamboree of Smiles." Jamborees, are, of their very nature, places where the spirit of friendship and understanding are the keynotes of all that is done, but here on a site which had been cut from virgin jungle there was a deep realisation and appreciation of the brotherhood of men—or, should I say, of boys. To use again the words of the Jamboree song "The spirit of B.-P." did, indeed, "resound loud, long and clear." Of course there were problems—there always will be at a gathering so large and international as this—but, in a Scouting spirit they were met and overcome. All credit to the Philippine Boy Scouts for so courageously taking on the responsibility of a World Jamboree and for producing such a fine result.
Towards the end of our sojourn in the Philippines we travelled 350 miles south of Manila to the Province of Albay. At Legaspi on the coast and overshadowed by the beautiful Mount Mayon—of which the peoples of the Province are justifiably proud—we were entertained by the folk of that city. It was here in the Filipino homes that we were provided with the opportunity of really getting to know the people of the Philippines and their way of life. Let it be said, too, that we did a certain amount of "flag waving" ourselves and told them something of the United Kingdom, about which the majority appeared to know very little. This visit, apart from anything else, showed what boys with a Scout background could do in a perfectly natural way to create and then cement the ties of friendship between peoples of different races and colour. Here one really saw the job being carried out—young ambassadors, unfettered by the restrictions and conventions that beset their elders, were producing results which were unmistakable and convincing. Was not this experience, even though of a limited nature, sufficient proof that Youth could, and should, be given a greater part to play than is generally realised or acknowledged, in efforts towards world peace and understanding? It was on the Sunday morning of our visit to Legaspi that the U.K. Contingent attended the Evangelical Church for morning worship. As we entered the Church, the Pastor welcomed us warmly and said that he hoped that the Leader of the Contingent would say a few words during the service. Having recovered from the shock of such an unexpected invitation I hastily collected a few thoughts in preparation for the privilege that was to be mine. Somewhat surprisingly the words of my short address came more easily than expected. I said that we had travelled some 9,000 miles, that we were in a strange country and with people we had never seen before and yet, during that service, we were all Home in the House of the One Father where no difference of race, colour or nationality divided us. The Brotherhood of Man—the Fatherhood of God—"blest be the ties that bind." I mention this only because it seems to emphasise and get into its right perspective the main purpose of our visit to the Jamboree and the Philippines.
It is because of what I saw at the 10th World Jamboree that I am more conviced than ever that these World Scout gatherings should be allowed to continue. When saying this I am well aware of the many sound arguments and opinions used and expressed by members of the Movement who feel that, on economic grounds alone, they should be discontinued. I am not going to pursue the matter here. Suffice to say that if the spirit of a Jamboree is right it cannot be confined to the comparatively small number of boys who are privileged to attend it. The story that they tell when they return to their own countries must take their experiences to many other homes and their thrills and adventures must become a source of inspiration to countless numbers of other boys. I say "must"—this assumes that the boys selected to go to these World Jamborees are the right types. Those who went to the Philippines as representatives of the United Kingdom were, for not only did they prove themselves worthy of the Founder Country, they were also fine examples of the young manhood of the countries from which they came. I hope that they are telling you their story—they promised they would!
As I finish this short article I am tempted to use the title "Luzon." I know that the use of the name would be understood by the 113 members of my Contingent (for they, bless them, gave it to me. Therein lies another story far too long to tell). But they are numerically so small and I therefore use my official title "Leader of the U.K. Contingent to the 10th World Jamboree" for the last time. Thank you all Scouters and Scouts of the Contingent for being such a grand team of which I was so humbly proud and privileged to be the Leader.
Laurence E. Stringer. Contingent Leader 1959
The following article was written by Dr.J. Alan Chalmers - Scoutmaster of Troop C and was found in The Scouter, September 1959 edition priced at 1/-(One Shilling)
ANOTHER World Jamboree, but what a difference from all the others! At every previous Jamboree, those of "white" skins have been in the vast majority, but this time it was quite the reverse, since out of a total of over 12,000, less than 1,000 were white. At previous Jamborees, it was the coloured Scouts who were of most interest, both to the local Scouts and to visitors, but this time we were the ones to be under everyone's eyes. We now have a great deal of sympathy with the animals in the Zoo, but envy them their cages, which must be meant, not to keep them in, but to keep visitors out! And the animals do not have to answer requests for autographs or souvenirs.
Yet, making allowances for the difference in our point of view, this Jamboree was very much like the others; swapping was much as usual, autographs even more so, mud nearly as bad as Arrowe, sun hotter even than Niagara, rainstorms as heavy as that at Sutton Park, as many Coca-Cola stalls, the same chaos in filling the arena for the Opening, the same noise at unearthly hours of the morning, and the same friendships irrespective of colour, class and creed. Yes, the pattern, was the same, even if we fitted in differently.
For us, the Philippines was the ideal choice for an Asiatic Jamboree; here we found a people with a real genius for friendship and a people who, though of different race and colour, have the same language (all Filipinos learn English if not at home, as soon as they go to school). Since the Filipinos formed over two-thirds of the Jamboree, as well as all the visitors, it was with Filipinos that the British Scouts made friends quickly and easily. I believe that the real aim of all Jamborees, the production of personal friendships between Scouts of different races, was achieved in this Jamboree more than in any other and that our Scouts will have brought back a great deal more than mere toleration for those of different colour.
Scenically. the slopes of Mount Makiling provided a magnificent setting with the Laguna de Bay a beautiful background: but the slopes were steep for the pitching of tents and" during rain there were young rivers through the camps. Filipinos almost invariably build bamboo huts to camp in, and we had bamboo beds to keep us off the ground, a need which was emphasised when a certain Commissioner from the Midlands stepped out of bed into a good imitation of his native Trent.
It must be admitted that the Jamboree was not as thoroughly well organised as some of its predecessors, for the Filipinos have much yet to learn in large-scale organisation and some seem to think that to write an order on paper is the same as to do the job! But once the problems got down to a smaller scale they were helpfulness itself in solving them. For example the water supply did not come up to expectations (the rumour that Coca-Cola did some sabotage, to increase their sales, is not correct!), but the fire services of all the towns around sent water-tanks to make up the deficiency.
The British contingent consisted of 112 members, divided into three Troops, plus a small Headquarters Staff who camped close to Troop "C" and fed with them. The three Troops were in different sub-camps, which was a good thing except for H.Q. when they wanted to visit them. Each Troop managed to get about twice as much space as had been originally allocated, and we were still cramped. In spite of the difficult conditions, the British boys were soon able to set up camps, which if not of the standard we would hope for at home, were still a credit to British Scouting, and "A" Troop received a certificate for the best camp in their Sub-Camp. It is .fitting to compliment the British boys on the way they adapted themselves to the conditions, and those Commissioners and others who spent much time in the selection of the boys may be glad to know that their efforts were justified by results. Laurence Stringer, Leader of the Contingent, set us a fine example and made it his business, in spite of difficulties, to visit each of the three Troops each day, and he earned much praise by the way in which, at all stages of the trip, he said just the right things at the right time on our behalf. George Witchell, Organising Secretary, went to untold trouble and walked many many miles on our behalf to see to all the various arrangements, and we are deeply grateful to him and to Peter Cooke, who assisted him, for all they did.
Food was varied, but usually good; B.O.A.C. gave excellent meals, in Manila we had English food with our hosts, at Legaspi Filipino food and in Hong Kong a genuine Chinese meal. At the Jamboree we usually managed well with the food supplied and sub-camp stores were very helpful with giving us what we wanted, though adequate tea was a problem; we had too much tinned pineapple (donated, we understand) and chicken (we suspect an arrangement with organisers of cock-fighting).
The Contingent was divided into a "Main" party of 89. who traveled in a chartered plane, an "Overflow" party of 14 who traveled on normal service and a few who traveled independently, including some service Scouters from Singapore and Hong Kong. The main party met at B.O.A.C. Air Terminal on Sunday, July 12th, though many had spent the night at Roland House, and set off from London Airport at noon. The first stop was at Rome Airport and then, at Damascus Airport, we were welcomed by Syrian Scouts who made some Scouters try to recollect their schoolboy French, while Queen's Scouts with "Parle Francais" on their chests kept well in the background; they presented our leader with a large bouquet which he nobly accepted and (I hope Syrian Scouts don't read this!) passed on to our Air Hostess as being more capable of dealing with it. Then to Bahrein, which even at 3 a.m. was incredibly hot and smelly; next to Karachi, with a welcome from the Pakistani Scouts, and Delhi where we were shown the sights and spent part of the night on a concrete floor in a Scout hut, Next day to Rangoon and then Manila which we reached in heavy rain (typhoon "Billy" was in the neighborhood—we hope it wasn't named because Lord Rowallan was coming to the Jamboree!) to be welcomed by Mrs. Lambert, wife of the British Charge d'Affaires and many of the British community in Manila. At quite short notice, because of changes in the Filipino plans as to what we should do on arrival, Mrs. Lambert had arranged for us to be given hospitality in British homes in Manila, and how we enjoyed the luxury then and after the Jamboree! We much appreciated all they did for us, but I think it is also true that the British in Manila welcomed the breath of air from England (and Scotland, Wales and Ireland). Well did Mrs. Lambert deserve the Thanks Badge presented later to her, and many British Scouts would wish to make similar presentations to other hostesses, particularly perhaps the brave lady who encumbered herself with seven (and that seven, too!). Thanks Badges were also presented to Mr. Lambert, Mr. Duncan and Mr. Ingram for much help at various stages.
After two nights to get over the effects of the journey, we went fifty miles by bus to the camp and the Jamboree started for us. Many of the events of the Jamboree have been mentioned above, but we can add the British display—a kind of pageant to represent the development of Scouting from Brownsea Island to the ten Jamborees, the bus tour to see Taal Lake and the Rizal Shrine, the visit to a coconut plantation, the Queen's Scout, Eagle Scout, etc., conference combined with a visit to the Coca-Cola works (we almost wondered at times if the Jamboree had been held by kind permission of Coca-Cola!), the Gilwell reunion, "C" Troop's rushed lunch for Lord Rowallan who spent so long visiting the Commonwealth contingents that he had no time for lunch before the Gilwell reunion, "B" Troop's theme-song of "Rule Britannia," the Scottish dancing at the camp fire and on the arena stage, "C" Troop's colourful gateway with items from the counties and towns represented, Lord Rowallan's speech to close the Jamboree, and so on. In lighter vein, we remember the complaint that the British contingent contained women (because of the kilts!), the idea that a certain Commissioner was really a Lord Mayor, our Irish member's count of 272 autographs signed in l.5 hours, Peter Cooke's tape-recording sessions, George Witchells attempts to answer "Is Scotland a colony of England?" and so on.
The Jamboree over, we returned to Manila for four days with our hosts, in most cases the same as before the Jamboree (so we had not made them wish to be rid of us!). This period included a visit to the island of Corregidor, famous from World War II and memorable to us for a wonderful bathe in the sea (photographs not available!), and a sing-song in the Manila Club at which the Thanks Badges were presented and where the Scots danced a reel with local ladies. Then we had a trip to Legaspi in the south of the island of Luzon; before we left, we had been told by all and sundry of the perfect cone of the Mayon volcano and as we approached Legaspi after an overnight train journey of twelve hours, there we saw it, with smoke coming out of the top—just as well we saw it then, as it was clouded over for the rest of our three-day stay in Legaspi. At Legaspi, at 7 a.m., the whole town, with bands, had turned out to meet us and this welcome was typical of our whole stay, for which Johnny Belgica and Severino Reantazo ("Winston Churchill") had made perfect arrangements; we were looked after by Filipino hosts and had a taste of Filipino life, and we were taken in buses to the local beauty spots. We must mention our leader's broadcast in Legaspi, when he was thanked as "Lord Stringer" and the farewell concert, attended by 1,500 people, in which the Governor of the Province of Albay and the Mayor of Legaspi City led the two parts of "Ging Gang Gooli." My earlier comments on Filipino organising ability do not apply to our friends in Legaspi, who did superbly.
From Legaspi we returned to Manila for a few days in which to spend our remaining pesos. Then we went to Hong Kong for twenty-four hours, spending the night in the palatial local Scout headquarters; the Scouts showed us the beauty-spots and helped us spend more money. Then on to Singapore for a short stop during which we gave Laurence Stringer a parchment celebrating his elevation to the peerage and he was, for once, at a loss for words; next Calcutta and then Karachi, where we were held up for three hours. So, via Beirut and Rome to London where, after the Customs had had their share, the Jamboree ended for us.
What will be our enduring memories? The mud, the sun, the rain, the "Comfort Rooms," the marvelous hospitality in Manila and in Legaspi, but most of all, I think, the eternal smiles of the Filipinos. We shall always think of it as "The Jamboree of Smiles." Dr. J.Alan Chalmers who was The Scoutmaster for Troop C