ArchivesAugust 2010Scout reflects on the 1963 tragedy

Scout reflects on the 1963 tragedy

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NEW YORK – As we remember the 1963 crash of the plane carrying Filipino scouts on the way to the 11th World Jamboree in Greece, one person attaches a more personal connection to the incident, and a more poignant perspective on the commemorations held annually.{{more}}

Jonathan Badoy spends July 28 each year as a day of reflection on the meaning of life, a time to offer special thanks for extraordinary blessings, and an occasion to honor those who perished in that tragic incident.

“When I was still in Dumaguete, I always made it a point to attend the ceremonies at the Boy Scout Headquarters to honor Jojo Magbanua and the rest of the Philippine contingent,” said Jonathan, who now lives in New York City with his wife Brenda.

Jonathan had a personal link to the 24 ill-fated scouts: he was supposed to be the 25th member of the delegation.

Along with Jojo Magbanua, his fellow First Class Scout in Troop 37 of SU High School, Jonathan was among those chosen to comprise the Philippine delegation to the World Jamboree.

 

“I was ready to go; Jojo and I were excited,” said Badoy. “The upcoming trip was heralded in the national newspapers, and our names and pictures were printed all over, along with the rest of the delegation. There were to have been 25 of us.”

But by some twist of fate, Jonathan learned from his father a few days before departure that the family was unable to raise the money needed for the trip. “I was disheartened, but then I just consoled myself with the reality that it was way beyond the capacity of my father, a UCCP minister, to come up with that kind of money,” Jonathan reconciled.

So, the then-14-year-old boy stayed in Dumaguete, as the Philippine contingent enplaned for Greece without him. Hard as he tried to train his thoughts on his classes, his mind would helplessly wander on the trip that could have been — the thrill of getting on a giant airplane, the adventure of visiting other places, the excitement of meeting thousands of scouts from all over the world. The World Jamboree was to be the ultimate experience, especially for someone like Jonathan, who had been involved in scouting for as long as he could remember.

And then came news on the radio that shocked the whole country and stunned the world. The United Arab Airlines plane plunged into the sea off the coast of Bombay, India, killing all the 24 members of the Philippine contingent.

Jonathan remembers it very well: “I was in school, surrounded by my teachers, when I learned of the tragedy. They broke the news to me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was shaking uncontrollably, and as I sobbed the teachers all hugged me reassuringly. I remember it was my fellow scout Emmanuel Mancao who kept me company the rest of the afternoon and walked me home. He stayed with me late into the night as I tried to gain my composure.” It was to be a long, arduous healing process, only made easier with the help and concern of family and friends.

“I should have been dead already,” Jonathan today reflects. “But I think God still has a purpose for me, that’s why I was spared. This incident has given me a deeper appreciation of life and its meaning.”

He has since endeavored to live his life in accordance with the Boy Scout Law, and offered his services in promoting scouting. He was instrumental in organizing the Explorer Scouts at SUHS and later the Sea Scouts in college. He actively participated in scout gatherings, most notably as Senior Patrol Leader of the Negros Oriental delegation to the 3rd National Jamboree in Cebu City in 1965.

With his convivial demeanor, Jonathan is now able to make light of that fateful incident. He relishes with impish amusement the story that in every affair in recent years at the Boy Scout Headquarters, Alex Amor, Jr. would always pull him forward and announce, “If you want to see what Jojo Magbanua looks like today, just look at Jonathan Badoy.” Alex may have said it half-kiddingly, but Dumaguete scouting circles affectionately associate Jonathan with Jojo, and gatherings are always honored by his presence.

Over the years, Jonathan has endeared himself even more to the Magbanua family, who dote on him as an apt personification of their lost son. “I appreciate the love showered by the Magbanuas; it keeps me connected with and always cherish the memory of my friend Jojo, who was like a brother to me,” confides Jonathan.

Related story:
Magbanua heroism extolled

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