The 94-year-old who’s probably the Philippines’ oldest Eagle Scout
Cesar C. Javier remembers clearly the first time he saw a Scout.
He was 12 years old and walking past what was then known as the Holy Ghost Church in Manila, the Philippines’ capital, when he caught sight of a group of boys in uniform. He didn’t know who they were, but he was curious.
It turned out the boys were Scouts, and Cesar decided to join the Movement. It was 1935.
“We were church Scouts (and) most of us were acolytes,” he recalled in an interview at his home in Quezon City, northeast of the capital. “Our Scout activities were confirmation duties, assisting in processions and also community services. I joined because I wanted to help other people.”
Now 94, sporting fuzzy white hair and a moustache, Javier is married with nine children, all of whom have also joined the Movement; two becoming Eagle Scouts. According to the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Javier, who was awarded Eagle Scout in 1945, could be the oldest person to hold the award in the Southeast Asian nation. He’s certainly the only remaining Scout from the time when The Philippines was a US colony and Scouting was run by the Boy Scouts of America.
Joining the movement proved formative for a boy who’d spent all his life in the city. It instilled in him a lifelong appreciation of the environment, as well as the discipline and commitment to help his community.
During the Second World War, Javier worked in the US military stores, but life was harsh during the three years of the Japanese occupation, and both his parents were among more than a million Filipinos who lost their lives as Allied troops fought to expel the Japanese from the archipelago. “I saw so many dead bodies,” he remembers.
With the return of peace, Javier returned to Scouting, volunteering as an adult, and devoting evenings and weekends to the Movement. Over the decades, he’s seen numerous young people pass through his troop in what he sees as a continuous process of renewal.
Javier has collected numerous Scouting awards and mementoes, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Boy Scouts of the Philippines, most of which are now on display in his modest home in Quezon City. “They’ve made me very happy,” he smiles, taking his certificates down from the brightly-coloured wall to inspect them more closely.
“I believe once a Scout, always a Scout,” he says, sitting back in his rocking chair, and adjusting his scarf.