World War II had recently ended, but it had left its devastation around the world. 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 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 useable, 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, Dr. 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 Alpha Phi Omega - USA alumnus 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 our Brothers, all former Scouts, had done a few years earlier to help re-establish Filipino university libraries. One 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 expressed 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 the 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 fell upon fertile ground. Librado I. Ureta, an Eagle Scout and a graduate student who was among the audience, together with a group of over twenty Scouts and advisors, began organizing work.
Pioneers of APO Philippines at Alpha Chapter, Far Eastern University.
On March 2, 1950, at the Nicanor Reyes Hall, Room 214, Far Eastern University, Manila, Philippines, the first organization of Alpha Phi Omega outside the United States of America was established. It became known as Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Omega in the Philippines.
Alpha Phi Omega grew in a rapid and robust manner in the Philippines. In its third year, it had become 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 the registered name of Alpha Phi Omega International Collegiate Service Fraternity.
The Charter members who served as the first National Officers were:
Alpha Phi Omega (Philippines) Inc. was the first national organization to be chartered outside the USA. Although it is separate and independent from its mother country, it adheres to the cardinal principles as conceived by Frank Reed Horton. The badge (seal) and revised coat-of-arms created by Everett W. Probst, one of the original members, were likewise adopted. However, the handclasp was patterned from that of the Boy Scouts and not from the one proposed by Thane J. Cooley.
In "The Story of the Founding," Alpha Phi Omega found Frank Reed Horton stated:
"As Scouting is worldwide, so should Alpha Phi Omega be worldwide, gradually in the colleges and universities of all nations."
And so it came to pass.
This article is extracted from "The APO History" that first appeared in the Alpha Phi Omega Torch and Trefoil diamond jubilee program for the 13th National Biennial Convention, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Mt. Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna, Philippines, December 1985. Details on Bro. Sol George Levy were provided by Bro. Randolph "Randy" Finder, member of the Alpha Phi Omega National History and Archives Committee, from the APO-USA membership database.
Copyright © 2005-2010, Alpha Phi Omega International (Philippines), Inc. All Rights Reserved.