Issue of December 31, 2017
     
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Hail to the chief!

The anthem for Potus (President of the United States) goes “Hail to the chief, we have chosen for the nation! We salute him, one and all as we pledge cooperation in proud fulfillment of a great, noble call. Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander, this you will do, that is our strong, firm belief. Hail to the one we selected as commander, Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!”

In 1910, Lord Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell, retired from the Army and founded the Boy Scouts and became its first chief scout.

Three years earlier, he had his first camp out at Brownsea Island Scout Camp in Southern England, which saw the beginning of the Scouting movement.

Scouting as a movement was for the young geared towards their physical, mental and spiritual development, make them responsive to and respectful of others, train them as leaders where they may play constructive roles in society, with a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills. I joined as a Cub Scout in Grade 2 at the Saint Louis Center with Serafin Putiyon as my Scoutmaster, who guided us through the square knots, ship sanks and other knot tying skills. Later on we had the Rovex group of Scouters – Buds Cura, Tony Valdez, Jimmy Caluza, Bambi Villanueva and the venerable Dick Kitma, who taught as camping and campfire songs.

The big guns of Baguio Scouting then were Rev. Fr. Jean Marie Tchang, Tulsiram Sharma, G. Bert Floresca and even Oseo Hamada, one of the founding fathers of this paper.

Though of limited mobility, I had a lot of hiking and camp outs with Outfit 69 of Fr. Tchang’s Lourdes Scouting family and attended two world jamborees, the 10th Golden Jubilee at Mt. Makiling and the 14th World Jamboree in Oslo, Norway. In 1977, I had my feel of being Chief Scout having passed all the merit badge requirements, rigid training and interviews to be awarded the highest BSP rank – the Jose Rizal award. From then on life was lived based on the Scout Oath and Law, always keeping in mind the saying, which goes “when we are good to others, we are best to ourselves” – service!

Meanwhile in 1939, a group of young Baguio boys mostly belonging to Boy Scout Troop 56 got together to basically hang around, play basketball, sing songs and have plain, simple fun. They must have loved the old cowboy movies at Pines Theater where my old man worked and inspired by the Indians who fought for their land and people with tremendous spirit, began calling themselves “Apaches.”

They held their first bonfire on the 30th of December that year which tradition has been handed out from generation to generation. A culture of fellowship, fun, food, family, faith was embedded as the Apache Braves sang, danced and partied around the bonfire lit by the spirit of a Supreme Being. Food was always chili beans and hotdogs as the boys sang scout chants and Bill Cosby oldies but goldies with “It’s a sin to tell a lie” as the unofficial anthem. The surnames of the originals of the Apache nation ring a bell – Paraan, Bautista, Alvarez, Tipton, Nevada, Bueno, Aquino, De Leon, Cabato, Chan, Tesoro, Zaguirre, San Pedro and all the Baguio born natives coming into mind. Baguio leaders in their own right, in their selected fields. It has evolved through the years but the culture of braders remains.

There is no constitution and by-laws but the nation is governed by tradition. No board of trustees either but there is a tribal council of elders and past chiefs who determine policies. There is no election but a rigid selection process determined by the elders on who will lead the Braves, no term limit, and no recall.

As an institution, the Baguio Apaches has been recognized by the Centennial Commission for its role in making Baguio City what it is now. It has contributed a spectrum of public servants and in the private sector in education, medicine, engineering, clergy, media, business, airlines, country club management and other endeavors. All are committed to a Cherokee’s tender loving care for the city of their birth.

Being a Brave makes one feel at home like he has a blood compact to be a brother. One gets an assurance of people lending a helping hand, advice, or consolation in times of need and sorrow or enjoying laughter, booze and music, the latter being a must in every apache gathering, singing and belting out songs passed on and newly learned.

Jojo La Maria came up with a list of Indian names and baptized me as Yodeling Bear. For the curious, some other names cropped out: Chief Richard is Red Cloud, Reynaldo C. Bautista Sr. is Golden Snake, Condring Bueno is Friendly Hawk, Rae David is Rolling Stone, Rudz Paraan is Bald Eagle, Bong Mandapat is Comanche, Earle Farrel is Skipping Rabbit, Romy David is Fire Starter, Alex Yan is Red Face, Ed Montenegro is Black Bull, Ron Perez is Kemosabe, George Henry is Soaring Eagle, Butch Mascarenas is Victorio, and elder Nanding Cabato is Geronimo. Can’t name them all due to lack of space but to date, Doc Willy has no Indian name unless it becomes Pocahantas!

Membership to the Baguio Apaches is open to all but you must be invited and endorsed by at least one active Brave. Of course one must be Baguio bred with no character, reputation or integrity issues. Then you go through one grueling year of “peonship” where among others you are required to “bless” or make “mano” to each and every single Brave you meet anywhere, serve and wait/serve on the Braves during meetings and other occasions as if you are a second-class citizen and do anything and everything you are commanded to do. Fear not though because all peons are treated with respect and given the dignity they deserve as human beings. At the end of the year, all Braves vote whether to accept a peon or not (blackballed) and once you are in, the final test is at the bonfire where the paddle is bigger than the oar of a boat and the fist bigger than Pacman’s fist landing in my kidneys when I went ‘usok’…. sorry I am not allowed to reveal what happens next.

Yodeling Bear has been called and chosen as the next chief of the Baguio Apaches for 2018 and 79 years of tradition based on a brotherhood goes on and would last forever. The spirit shall live on. Time to make the Apache nation great again with food, fun, fellowship, faith, family and now, service to the Baguio we all love! The year 2019 will be another story. Chief too!

And while we are at new beginnings, 2017 was a good year for all of us, given a few chinks in the armor. We are grateful to each and everyone who made life bearable despite what Desiderata says “All the sham and drudgery in the world.” A bountiful blessed New Year to all! Dios ti agngina. Naragsak ken napnuan koma ti adu nga gasat ti umadani nga baro a taoen a maipaay kadatayo amin. Sigh! Tat accumsa

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