“BRINGING HOME THE BACON”
Six decades of JCI Manila Triumphs at the JCI World Congress
By JCI Senator Reginald T. Yu
2011-2012 President, JCI Senate Manila
Amid the bellows of Japanese drums which broke the long, nervous silence that painted the JCI Awarding Ceremonies at the grandiose Ishikawa Ongakudo Concert Hall, the normally jovial Manila delegation sat motionless as their chapter’s name was called from among the ranks of finalists vying for the most coveted award of the evening. Seconds seemed like days as 2011 JCI World President Kentaro Harada opened the envelope that revealed the winner among the five nominees for the “Most Outstanding JCI Local Organization” of the World award. Steve Allen C. Tycangco, the 2014 JCI Manila President whose bids were up for awards this Congress, revealed his agitation as he fidgeted endlessly.
Then, even as Harada began to utter the momentous words – “Join me in congratulating the most outstanding JCI local organization from… Philippines! JCI MANILAAAAAA!!!" – the shrieks, cheers and loud outcries that erupted from the entire Philippine delegation resonated the decades of hard work that built up to this moment, since a similar scene happened in Kobe, Japan almost twenty years ago.
It was JCI Manila’s time to shine… again.
Indeed, for the past sixty-eight years since its founding, Junior Chamber International Manila (JCI Manila) have always set the benchmark for leadership excellence, not only in the communities with which they serve, but also to the other JCI local organizations, both here and abroad, who have tried very hard to emulate.
And the most tangible manifestation of this excellence is none other than the receipt of awards during the most prestigious of Conventions: the JCI World Congress, the Mecca of the JCI movement from all over the world. Over a span of more than sixty years, JCI Manila has been bestowed with the arguable title, “the Most Awarded Chapter in the World,” owing to the countless trophies it has hauled almost every World Congress. Even more so, as it has managed to win the coveted “Most Outstanding Chapter of the World” Award no less than eight times, the latest of which was during the 70th JCI World Congress in Kanazawa, Japan – a feat still unmatched by any other JCI local organization in history.
In this article, we shall try to examine JCI Manila’s continuing quest for excellence within the perspective of its historical awards performance during the previous JCI World Congresses, as we also attempt to define its relevance in the light of today’s changing world.
THE ORIGIN OF JCI AWARDS
The history of JCI awards goes back to the very first years of the organization; the evolution of the program follows that of the organization itself.
In March of 1949, at the International Councilors Meeting (now called General Assembly) during the 4th JCI World Congress in Brussels, Belgium, it was decided how many awards should be presented at the next Congress and for which activities the awards should be designated. Initially, JCI presented just two awards — the New Zealand Award for Outstanding National Work and the Unit (LOM) Membership Extension Award presented by Canada. These awards were first introduced at the 5th JCI World Congress in Manila, Philippines in 1950.
At the 6th JCI World Congress held in 1951 in Montreal, Canada, the Awards Commission presented a program with more specific rules for qualifications. Also, an awards judging panel was mentioned for the first time.
The year 1954 brought big changes and new ideas. From that time on, there has been a structured awards program similar to today. JCI introduced the criteria for judging the awards and the grouping of awards into categories for individual, chapter and national members. During this year, a Certificate of Merit was presented for the first time, recognizing that sometimes more than one entry could be worthy of merit. Forty-four years later, during the 53rd JCI World Congress in 1998, the same Certificate of Merit was withdrawn, as only the “Best of the Best” were deemed worthy to be recognized during the awarding ceremonies.
The awards program for 1955–1956 included guidelines on the preparation of an awards entry. Those guidelines were different from the present ones, although there were similarities. They included the following recommendations:
<!--[if gte vml 1]><v:rect
“BLUNDERS TO AVOID:
• Don’t use airbrush or artwork of any kind.
• Don’t pad scrapbooks.
• Don’t mislead.
• Don’t risk even a minor violation of the rules.”
From the early days of the JCI awards program, General Assembly had the final say on the decisions of the awards judges. This procedure was in effect until 1972, when it was amended as follows: “The decision of the judges will be final, and correspondence regarding their decisions will not be considered.”
The presentation of the awards at Congress has always been a highlight, although the ceremony has undergone some changes. In the years 1961–1974, PepsiCo International sponsored the awards banquet and a major JCI program during the same period. From 1975 on, it became the responsibility of the Congress Organizing Committee to provide for an Awards Ceremony.
60 YEARS OF AWARDS: A JCI MANILA PERSPECTIVE
As an organization, JCI Manila has merited world recognition during several occasions. It is credited notably for having spearheaded the JCI movement in Asia and the Far East. It has also given the Junior Chamber International three JCI World Presidents, two JCI Executive Vice-Presidents, twelve JCI Vice-Presidents, two JCI Secretaries-General, eight “Outstanding Chapter Presidents of the World,” and two “Outstanding JCI Members of the World.” It success was marked not only by a number of accountable achievements done within the country but also by its contributions, which benefited many in other parts of the world. These accomplishments are signs of its enduring significance to the promotion of service to humanity.
It is interesting to note that, during the first years when JCI started introducing the concept of awards, JCI Manila opted not to actively participate in it, as the local administrations felt that the awards should not be something that was consciously worked for, but rather be gratuitously given by the award-giving body.
The first major recognition received, therefore, was given, not by anyone within the JCI organization, but by a professional business group, particularly, the Business Writers’ Association of the Philippines (BAP), as it bestowed the BAP Award of the Year to JCI Manila, under President Alberto M. Meer, for having “lent the most aid in the promotion of free enterprise” in 1950.
This changed in 1954, during the 9th JCI World Congress in Mexico City, when JCI Manila, under the leadership of President Luis Maria Z. Araneta – fresh from its successful bid to have JCI adopt the “Operation Brotherhood” Indo-Chinese Refugee Relief Project passed as an international endeavor during the General Assembly – decided to bid for awards. Its initial attempt was not in vain, as it garnered two major awards: The Most Outstanding Project in Service to Humanity for “Operation Brotherhood” and the Liberty Trophy for the “Most Outstanding Project in Youth Activities” for “Voice of Democracy.” Since then, JCI Manila has become one of the most active award bidders, not to mention recipients, in every JCI Awards Ceremony.
JCI Manila was also credited for being the local organization where one of whose members became the first to receive a world individual award. In 1955, JCI Peter B. Watts conferred the “Most Outstanding JCI Member of the World” award to Operation Brotherhood International Coordinator, Oscar J. Arellano, 1951-1952 JCI Manila President and 1954 JCI Vice-President, for his unparalleled work as World Chairman of “Operation Brotherhood,” the largest international project of Junior Chamber International, which became a total JCI commitment for two years, as JCI members from many member nations provided medical relief to the hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees fleeing North Vietnam following the partitioning of their country.
“Never before have I seen such genuine interest, concern and world‑wide cooperation for a single purpose,” President Peter B. Watts said in referring to the Operation Brotherhood project. “Under the inspiring leadership of World Coordinator, Oscar J. Arellano, the 'Jaycee of the Year', who underwent great sacrifices, we had the satisfaction of helping people desperately in need. I shall never forget moving amongst the doctors and nurses in the refugee camp hospitals in Vietnam.”
With the possible exception of a posthumous conferment to the late Joaquin V. Gonzalez as “JCI Senator No. 1” in 1952, the signal honor given to Oscar J. Arellano was not repeated by any JCI Manila member in the history of the World Congress Awards for “Outstanding Member of the World,” until almost 50 years later, when then JCI Manila Secretary-General Reginald T. Yu won it in 2004 during the 59th JCI World Congress in Fukuoka, Japan.
As the years progressed, JCI Manila gradually caught the attention of the international delegates for consistently winning major awards annually. One of the highlights during the 17th JCI World Congress in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1962, was when JCI Manila, under President Russel S. Swartley, garnered a Certificate of Merit for the “Most Outstanding JCI Local Organization of the World,” a great feat, considering no chapter won the major award for that category that year. Other major awards won by JCI Manila during that Congress were the JCI New Zealand Trophy for the “Best Local Project” for its Economic and Governmental Affairs and the “Outstanding Growth and Development Award.”
The real banner year for JCI Manila, however, was during the Presidency of Aurelio O. Periquet Jr., when it won, for the first time in its history, the Minneapolis Award for the “Most Outstanding Chapter of the World” Award at the 18th JCI World Congress in Tel Aviv, Israel in 1963. For the past eight years, not a single JCI local organization among the more than 5,000 officially recognized Junior Chambers ever qualified for this prestigious award, until the evening of November 23, 1963, when JCI Manila was called to receive the trophy.
The late President Periquet, in an interview weeks prior to his passing away, recounted that unforgettable moment: “When JCI Manila name was announced, the JCI officers stood up to lead the gathering in a long, standing ovation. The JCI Manila members present on that memorable evening were swarmed with congratulatory remarks and warm handshakes. The Philippine delegation, particularly JCI Manila, was practically crying as overwhelming emotions of exultation carried them away. The other lone contender for the award was Finland, who was given a Certificate of Merit.”
After that big break in 1963, the quest for the Minneapolis trophy became less elusive, as succeeding administrations were equally successful in garnering this signal recognition. During the 20th JCI World Congress in Sydney, Australia in 1965, JCI Manila under the auspices of President Eduardo S. Escobar, Jr., lost by only few points to a United States Chapter in getting the major prize; they settled for a Certificate of Merit for the “Outstanding Chapter” Award instead. However, JCI Manila came back with a vengeance the following year, when the chapter scored a first-ever back-to-back victory, as it won the Minneapolis Award in 1966 at the 21st JCI World Congress in Kyoto, Japan and, again, in 1967 at the 22nd JCI World Congress in Toronto, Canada. Consequently, the names of Presidents Senen B. dela Costa and Gregorio B. Licaros, Jr. were forever etched in the roster of outstanding JCI Manila Presidents.
The year 1970 ushered auspiciously, as it started the decade with another close fight to the “Outstanding Chapter of the World” Award during the 25th JCI World Congress in Dublin, Ireland. Losing only by a few points to a European chapter, JCI Manila, led by President (now our country’s Foreign Affairs Secretary) Albert F. del Rosario, won a Certificate of Merit for Outstanding Chapter during that year. Instead of being daunted, succeeding administrations worked hard to rebuild its prominence in the international community, first by hosting the 23rd JCI Asia-Pacific Conference in Quezon City, then by audaciously working to successfully bid for the 1976 JCI World Congress in Manila.
Although the bid was eventually awarded to St. Louis, Missouri, JCI Manila, were rewarded in more ways than one: it helped install past JCI Manila President Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. to the JCI World Presidency in 1976, it paved the way for a successful bid to host the 33rd JCI World Congress in 1978, and won for JCI Manila the 4th Minneapolis Trophy for “Outstanding JCI Local Organization of the World” in 1977 at the 32nd JCI World Congress in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The 1980s was dubbed as the “silver era” of JCI Manila, as a succession of outstanding leaders steered JCI Manila to unparalleled heights, despite the worsening economic and political situation of the Philippines. President Jose Maria J. Fernandez distinguished himself as the first Manila Jaycee President ever to win the “Most Outstanding Chapter President of the World” Award during the 36th JCI World Congress in Berlin, Germany in 1981. His successor, President Louis B. Kierulf, handily won the 5th Minneapolis Award for “Most Outstanding JCI Local Organization in the World” during the 37th JCI World Congress in Seoul, Korea.
But it was in 1983, at the height of the country’s political crisis, when President Ramon S. Bagatsing, Jr., outshone the competition and garnered away, not only with the chapter’s sixth Minneapolis Award, but also the second “Most Outstanding Chapter President of the World” Award during the 38th JCI World Congress in Taipei, Taiwan.
During this period, subsequent administrations were successful in garnering many major awards, which ranged from the traditional “Outstanding Public Relations Project” Award, the “Humanitarian Assistance” Award, and the “Criminal Justice” Award, to the more unique categories such as the “International Trade Promotion” Award and the Award for “Best Project to Dissipate Intolerance.”
It took eight years after 1983, when a major category was won by the chapter. During the 47th JCI World Congress in Miami, Florida, President Benjamin L. Yam became the fourth JCI Manila recipient of the “Most Outstanding Local President of the World” Award in 1992. Two years later, President Alexander T. Lichaytoo duplicated Past President Bagatsing’s near-impossible feat when JCI Manila was adjudged the “Most Outstanding JCI Local Organization of the World” during the 49th JCI World Congress in Kobe, Japan in 1994, and he was bestowed the “Most Outstanding JCI Local President of the World” during the 50th JCI World Congress in Glasgow, Scotland the following year.
In the light of the chapter’s commitment in upholding its outstanding projects and programs, it can be said with certainty that it will continue to receive international acclaim in Junior Chamber conferences. For as long as existing projects are done with innovation and new projects are implemented with great positive impact, they will remain in the list of award-winning endeavors which will perennially inspire more adherents to work hard in being the best.
LOOKING FROM ROSE-COLORED GLASSES?
Over the six decades where JCI Manila has justified its role as “Asia’s Premier Chapter,” owing to the growing list of trophies it has won during international conferences, succeeding generations of JCI members have mistakenly depended on the accumulation of such trophies as a sole measure of achievement.
During the early years of JCI Manila, where there were no organized awards program to speak of, the local leadership was lauded through recognition by invitations to sit on many quasi-government board rooms, membership in many community-based associations, as counsels in a number of pending legislative bills in Congress, and even receiving personal summons by no less than Philippine Presidents who constantly seek their advice. Perhaps the most tangible evidence of its prestige is the long queue of prominent scions wanting to join the organization, so much so that the chapter had to become selective in its choice of members, further ensuring quality membership in all levels of the organization.
Even when the awards concept in the JCI Philippines National Organization was already in full swing in the mid-fifties, the JCI Manila leadership opted to stay out of the awards limelight, confident of its esteemed place in the community of local organizations… and rightfully so. It is, therefore, of no surprise that although the first “Outstanding JCI Local Organization of the Philippines” Award was given to JCI Cotabato during the 7th JCP National Convention in Bacolod in 1954, Jaycees from all over the Philippines still looked up to JCI Manila as the chapter nonpareil.
As the JCI movement’s prominence in society slowly diminished over the years, however, partly because of the influx of many similarly-instituted associations geared towards the interest of the youth, as well as the unchecked decline of the Jaycee movement all over the world, JCI Manila have anchored its prestige on the JCI award-giving bodies as its chief measure of success.
Unfortunately, a number of past administrations, perhaps misguided by the fallacious glitter of winning, have even gone so far as to leaving the bid preparation entirely to professional artists, hoping that embellishments would cover whatever deficiencies they might have had on their bid books, or nominating members to act as awards judges at international meets with the hope of swaying co-judges to decide in JCI Manila’s favor. To them, the awards were the “end-all” and “be-all” of their JCI careers… and it showed. After winning the trophies based on falsified or exaggerated claims, they have since fallen into lamentable obscurity, selfishly content on their “achievements,” while the JCI local organizations in the late nineties and early 2000s generally suffered from a lack of competent leadership and dearth of direction.
Perhaps it would be wise to view awards as mere reflections of a JCI local organization’s potential for growth, “icing on the cake,” as some people put it. Although official recognition through these awards should technically manifest an organization’s outstanding achievements during the year, they are, by no means the only gauge by which its performance should be measured.
Awards are meant to inspire its leaders to strive harder, and not to stifle enthusiasm because of perceived, if not mistaken sense of, achievement. If the latter were the case, the JCI awards would have utterly failed its purpose.
BEYOND THE EUPHORIA… AND THE DEFEAT, WHAT’S NEXT?
After more than six decades of pioneering leadership development in the Philippines and in the Far East, JCI Manila remains the strongest and most prestigious JCI local organization in the Philippines, regardless of the number of international awards they have received for a particular year. Their mission should continue on. What started as a crying need for an opportunity by which young men could involve themselves through community service in 1947, currently boasts of an organization that spearheaded the growth of over 300 chapters nationwide with a membership base of around 7,000 members. With the influx of more and more recruits to the noble cause of the JCI movement, JCI Manila could very well ascertain its goal in achieving even bigger and more far-reaching projects in the future.
Yet, by the very nature of its phenomenal growth and success over the sixty-eight years that it had served the nation, JCI Manila has often exposed themselves to the pitfalls of indifference and irrelevance. Smug in the thought that the JCI organization had survived almost seven decades, its current crop of members could easily fall prey to the lure of complacency and apathy. JCI Manila founding President Ramon V. del Rosario, in a thought-provoking speech to a group of JCI Manila in 1976, reiterated these recurring concerns, when he said that, “the JCI members might lose sight of the fact that the organization is a young men’s organization, to train young men for leadership through service to the community. It might fall short of its avowed ideals and allow itself to become a rich man’s club, as the organization has been snidely referred to in the past. And of course, there are some latent, though, not so ungovernable weakness but which might prove fatal if no remedy is applied to it.”
Indeed, as the unavoidable danger of self-absorption pervades in the deepest recesses of our human nature, JCI Manila should consciously re-focus its energies into fulfilling its enduring and noble vision espoused by its idealistic founders. For it is only as long as the esteemed “JCI process” is vigilantly observed, and a sagacious awareness of the local organization’s many lessons of its past is duly noted, could the Chamber be assured of being able to face even bigger challenges in the future.
Perhaps it will be wise to conclude this article with a perceptive reflection from 2002 JCI Manila President Joel Rufino A. Nuñez. When asked of his reaction after JCI Manila was losing category after category during the 57th JCI World Congress Awarding Ceremonies in Las Vegas, he said, “Excellence is our own reward for doing what we do and bid books are just icing on the cake… In the end, I know that in my heart of hearts I have made changes in many lives and that I have touched many people one way or the other. Even more comforting is the thought that after my Presidency, I am a changed man and no award can validate this.”
Such should be the priceless purpose of leadership.