Junior Chamber International (JCI), or what is more popularly known as the Jaycees, is synonymous with leadership. World-renowned leaders, such as John F. Kennedy, Jacques Chirac, Bill Clinton, Prince Albert of Monaco and Kofi Annan, acknowledge the contribution of this organization to what they have achieved and how far they have gone in their respective careers.
Here in the Philippines, past and present senators, congressmen, local government officials, tycoons and taipans, and emerging youth leaders trace their roots with the Philippine Jaycees. Hence, the Jaycees should be more aptly referred to as a leadership development organization and not merely an organization of young active citizens creating positive change due to its valuable contribution to each and every individual member and consequently, the contribution of these members to their respective communities.
When I was still active in the Jaycees training circuit, I used to describe membership in the organization as a cycle. The organization helps us become leaders in order to help the community. By helping the community, we learn how to become better leaders. When we become better leaders, we are also able to help our community more. It is a continuing cycle.
I joined the Jaycees in 1988. I am a charter member of an all-female chapter in Bulacan called JCI-Marilao Marilag. While there were already quite a number of all-female and co-ed chapters then, female members were (and still are) a minority. However, I can proudly say that sexual discrimination and gender insensitivity are never an issue in this organization. In the same way that it treats everybody equally, regardless of color, political affiliation, social status or religion.
As stated in our creed (now referred to as values), “We believe:
That faith in God gives meaning and purpose to human life;
That the brotherhood of men transcends the sovereignty of nations;
That economic justice can best be won by free men through free enterprise;
That government should be of laws rather than of men;
That earth’s great treasure lies in human personality;
And that service to humanity is the best work of life.”
As fate would have it, I was granted a unique place in history as the first female National President on the 54th year of the Philippine Jaycees in 2002, after being a JC member for 14 years and occupying various elective and appointive positions in between.
This year marks the 65th year of Jayceeism in the Philippines.
It all began when a young World War II veteran, Artemio Vergel de Dios, wrote the US Junior Chamber of Commerce to inquire how the Jaycees could be established in the Philippines after he read about the US Jaycees in the October 1946 issue of PIC, an American magazine. After a series of meetings with members of the US Jaycees here in the Philippines, an organizational meeting was held on December 20, 1947 with 17 people in attendance. 10 were Filipinos, namely Ramon V. del Rosario, Oscar Arellano, Rafael Estrada, Fred Benitez, Gregorio Feliciano, Oliverio Laperal, Jose Mayuga, Eugenio Puyat, Graciano Yupangco and Artemio Vergel de Dios. 7 were Americans: John Bachman, Steve Brodie, Chuck Nelson, Stephen Stonich, Wylie Young, Bert Talbot and Robert Trent.
On January 3, 1948, the constitution and by-laws of the chapter, were approved. The first board of directors was composed of 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). Soon, chapters were organized in Bacolod, Cabanatuan, Capiz, Cavite, Iloilo, Davao, Lucena, San Pablo, Tacloban and Zamboanga. There were 22 chapters by the end of 1948.
This has since grown to more than 200 chapters and almost 9,000 members nationwide at its height. It is rare not to find a chapter or meet a Jaycee, active or inactive, in any of the 80 provinces of the country.
Thus, on December 11, 2013, the Philippine Jaycees or Junior Chamber International Philippines, under the leadership of 2013 National President Ryan Ravanzo, will celebrate this milestone anniversary with the opening of an exhibit representing “65 years of Inspiring the Nation” at the JCP Headquarters with no less than 1968 National President and former Senator Agapito “Butz” Aquino as Guest of Honor. It was during the term of Senator Aquino that the JCP Headquarters in Quezon City was inaugurated.
In the spirit of solidarity with those affected by super-typhoon Yolanda, however, the celebration will be simple and subdued. Whatever will be saved from the budget will be used to augment the initial donations made by the organization to Typhoon Yolanda survivors because as what is inculcated in the minds and hearts of every Jaycee: service to humanity is (always) the best work of life.