JCI Philippines “60th Grand Anniversary Celebration”  

(Left photo) Guest Speaker, Past JCI World President & Quezon City Mayor, Feliciano "Sonny" Belmonte delivering his message during the 60th JCI Philippines Anniversary  (Right photo)  Mr. Jose Marie del Rosario ( son of the late Amb. Ramon del Rosario Sr, JCI Phils. 1st National President & also former  JCI World President) delivering his response. Looking on is NP Rip Lesaca and Mr. Arnie Vergel de Dios, son of JCI Phils. founder, the late Artemio Verge de Dios. With him is his son Artie and wife Tina.   

       It was one starry night and a perfect evening, the streets’ white lights speckled the trees, there was chill in the air just enough to hasten the occasional jitters of what was to come. The roar of vehicles in the streets leading to the Manila Polo Club resonated auspiciously to the cacophony of what was to come. Excitement and anticipation were palpable from those who converged for this grandiose event.  

      October 18, 2008 provided another important milestone in the history of JCI Philippines – formerly known as Philippine Jaycees – for the grand celebration of its “Diamond Anniversary Homecoming.” This date was chosen to almost coincide with the birth date of its founder, the late Artemio Vergel de Dios, to make it more memorable (actually, his birthday was on October 20). The “Grand Anniversary Celebration and Homecoming” was to commemorate the 60th year of existence of JCI Philippines, a red-letter day in the annals of its rich history, and the organizers left no stone unturned to make it truly worthwhile. 

     The affair was attended by more two hundred and fifty individuals – most of them former and current national officers – where the occasion also served to pay respects to the 60 National Presidents who made up the leadership of JCI Philippines. The evening also sought to memorialize the two pillars of JCI Philippines – the late Artemio Vergel de Dios, the acknowledged founder of the JCI movement in the Philippines, and the late Ambassador Ramon del Rosario Sr., the national organization’s charter president. In addition, the organizers aimed to recognize the first twelve charter local organizations in 1948, which formed the seed in what was to become JCI Philippines. The occasion was not just to salute men who occupied the helm but, more importantly, to remember the milestones that JCI Philippines have made over six decades.  

       More than anything else, the gathering served as a reunion for all national officers to honor their meritorious services to the organization. Those who attended were past and present national officers coming from all over the country – from the northernmost tip of the Babuyan Islands to as far south as Zamboanga and Basilan provinces.     

     It was 60 years ago, when the organization was conceived amidst the ravages of the Second World War, made possible by the curiosity of Artemio Vergel de Dios, who as a young man, read about the exploits of the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce in the October 1946 issue of PIC Magazine and wrote the U.S. Jaycees to inquire how a similar organization could be established in the Philippines. It was here that the first JCI chapter in Asia – the Manila Jaycees – was born on December 20, 1947.  On March 10, 1948 delegates from the Manila Jaycees attended the 3rd World Congress of the Junior Chamber International held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to petition for the admission of the chapter to the worldwide organization. Weeks later, the two-man delegation came back to Manila with a charter that was then called the Philippine Junior Chamber of Commerce.  

       The first National Convention was held in Manila in April 1949.  Following the approval of the Constitution and By-laws of the Philippine Jaycees, the first set of national officers were elected with Ramon del Rosario as President. That same month, nineteen Filipino JCI members, led by del Rosario, attended the 4th JCI World Congress in Brussels.  The large delegation had so impressed the JCI members from different countries that they voted to hold the 5th JCI World Congress in Manila the following year.  

       The highlight of the said JCI World Congress, which was held from March 1 to 8, 1950, was the election of Ramon del Rosario as World President of the Junior Chamber International, the first Filipino and Asian to hold that position.  Two years later, another Filipino, Roberto Villanueva, was elected to the same office.  Other Filipino JCI members who were subsequently elected to JCI’s highest post were Feliciano Belmonte Jr. (1976), Victor Jose Luciano (1985) and Crispin Dy Jr. (1997). 

       Through the years, JCI Philippines has become a byword in civic projects of varying scope and importance such as setting up monuments by implementing beneficial community projects. Two projects of the national organization have become institutions: the “Voice of Democracy” oratorical contest among students and the annual search for “The Outstanding Young Men” (TOYM) of the Philippines. A widely-remembered project of JCI Philippines was “Operation Brotherhood,” a humanitarian project for the Indo-Chinese refugees in Vietnam and Laos and later adopted worldwide by Junior Chamber International. Today, the JCI organization has grown to be one of the biggest and prestigious leadership development organizations for young leaders and entrepreneurs in the country today.  

     The recently-concluded 60th Anniversary celebration served to be a resounding success and this was made possible by its Anniversary Chairman, JCI Sen. Dennis L. Cunanan, backed up by the team from JCI Manileña under Programs Committee Chair Rosalind Ngo and under the direction of 2008 National President Raphael A. Lesaca. Special thanks goes to all those who, in one way or another, worked very hard for the past ten months to ensure its smooth success. Indeed, the affair would be forever cherished in the hearts and mind of each and every JCI member who attended.  

     Mabuhay ang JCI Philippines!