Thursday, October 7, 2010

History of Alpha Phi Omega in the Philippines

The History of Alpha Phi Omega in the Philippines began just after World War II, with a service project. The major cities of Europe had been heavily damaged, and many of the cities of Asia and the Pacific had been destroyed. Manila, the capital of the former US colony Philippines had been occupied and was now in ruins; its universities, rubble. What, if anything, could college students across the Pacific in the United States do that would have any real effect? It turns out, quite a lot!

Some of the Alpha Phi Omega–USA Brothers in Texas and the Pacific Northwest had fought in these islands. They knew, firsthand, of the friendliness of the people and of their need. They knew that education of the young people was a vital necessity if the country was to get back to its feet. They could do something, and they did. Book drives were started on their campuses and hundreds of textbooks, used but usable, were gathered from their libraries and fellow students to be sent to the Philippines to help re-stock the many burnt-out college libraries in Manila.

It was a successful service project, but like many one-time projects, it was soon forgotten, remembered only in the scrapbooks of the chapters involved and in the mind of the then APO-USA National President (1931–1946) H. Roe Bartle “The Chief”. It was a good example of a service project; it had all of the elements of a good story; and the Chief never forgot a good story.

Time passed. It was January 1950, and Sol George Levy (Gamma Alpha ’47), a professional scout, an APhiO at the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington and a friend of Dr. Bartle, was going to the Philippines to help generate more interest among the Scouts here. The Chief told him what APO had done a few years earlier to help re-establish Filipino university libraries. One January evening that year, scouts in Manila were invited to a conference by Mr. Levy. He passed on the story to them, mentioning how nice it would be if a Scouting-based fraternity similar to Alpha Phi Omega could be established in the country. He expessed his desire to organize Alpha Phi Omega, and distributed some copies of three APO publications: Questions and Answers, National Constitution and By-laws, and Ritual Rites and Ceremonies.

The story was of particular interest to a group of Scouts at Far Eastern University in Manila. It may be that their library was one of those which had been helped, or it may be that the idea of a Scouting-based fraternity just struck fertile ground. Librado I. Ureta, an Eagle Scout, a graduate student, and was among the audience; together with a group of over twenty Scouts and advisors began organizing work.

Alpha Phi Omega rapidly and healthily grew in the Philippines. In its third year, it became a national organization with seven chapters chartered in Manila and Visayan campuses. It was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a non-stock, non-profit, non-dividend corporation with a registered name of Alpha Phi Omega International Collegiate Service Fraternity.

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