July 28, 1963, 24 delagates to the 11th Boy Scout World Jamboree in Greece perished in a tragic plane crash.
On July 28, 1963, United Arab Airlines Flight 869 crashed into the Arabian Sea a few miles off Bombay, India. A total of 60 people perished in the tragedy, among them were the 24 Filipino boy scouts and scout officials en route to Athens, Greece for the 11th World Jamboree.
Two days before the crash, the ill-fated boy scouts (see photo above) wearing their uniforms and native hats (salakot) entered the KLM plane at the Manila International Airport. They were off to Hong Kong where they would take a connecting flight to Athens, Greece. In addition to some equipment, the group also brought with them traditional Filipino costumes as well as folk dancing props.
The said connecting flight had a brief stop over at Bangkok. The plane then flew towards its destination, despite having been informed about clouds hanging low over Juhu beach. Soon, the plane received instructions from Santa Cruz Airport in Bombay to execute an emergency landing. Unfortunately, the British-made Comet jetliner plunged into the sea in one piece, as told by eyewitnesses from Mahd island.
The ill-fated plane carried 52 passengers and eight crew members. Among the passengers were 24 Filipino boy scouts and scout officials en route to the 11th World Jamboree in Marathon, Greece.
The boy scouts who died in the plane crash
From the Manila Boy Scout Council
- Ramon V. Albano
- Henry Chuatoco
- Jose Antonio Delgado
- Pedro Gandia
- Wilfredo Santiago and
- Ascario Tuason, Jr.
From the Quezon City Council
- Roberto Castor
- Romeo R. Rallos and
- Rogelio Ybardolaza.
The rest of the scouts
- Victor de Guia, Jr. (Baguio City)
- Antonio Limbaga (Zamboanga City)
- Roberto Lozano (Dagupan City)
- Paulo Madriñan (Pasay City)
- Jose Fermin Magbanua (Negros Oriental)
- Filamor Reyes and Antonio Torillo (Cavite)
- Benecio Tobias (Tarlac) and
- Felix Fuentebella, Jr., represented both the Manila and Goa, Camarines Sur Councils.
Only the bodies of Jose Delgado, Henry Chuatoco, Roberto Castor, Ascario Tuason, Jr., and Librado Fernandez were positively identified from among the human remains recovered in the Bay of Bombay.
Aviation authorities were not able to ascertain conclusively the cause of the accident. Sabotage was ruled out.
Now hailed as heroes, the 24 members of the BSP who perished in the tragedy were honored by the Quezon City Council on April 24, 1964 by renaming the streets in Kamuning and Roxas Districts after them. The Ala-Ala Mausoleum in North Cemetery was also built in their memory. Finally, in 1988, then President Corazon C. Aquino declared 28th of July as “Scout Memorial Day” to celebrate the lives of the Filipino boy scouts who died in their line of duty.
- Before their ill-fated flight, the chosen delegates underwent a rigid training in Manila and Mt. Makiling, Laguna from July 8 to the date of departure. Scoutmaster Bonifacio Lazcano, also the BSP physician, headed the said training.
- Most members of the delegation were either sponsored by business establishments or under a “fly now, pay later” plan. Two scouts–Nicasio Fernandez and Guillermo Flores–were supposed to join the group, but they were left behind after failing to raise the required funds. They were among the lucky few who missed the flight.
- During their stop over in Bangkok, Thailand, Aid Scout Observer Chito Albano wrote his last message on a postcard. It reads:
“Dearest Pa, Ma, Brothers, Sisters and Everybody,
We arrived in Bangkok at 10:25 PM (Manila time) safe and in good condition. We departed in Hong Kong at 8:45 PM (Manila time). I already sent Tio Pati a postcard. Please pray for me. Thank you.
Love, kisses and prayers,