Palayan, You’re for Me (1969)

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I did mention that my travels go back to my Boy Scouts days.

I was in sixth grade and was one day called to the Principal’s Office. No, I was not afraid. I was a good student. Mrs. Bajet asked me “Would you like to attend the Jamboree?”. My heart was beating fast, because I most definitely wanted to go, but my parents couldn’t afford to send me then. And I did not have a Type A uniform, a requirement for participation. I said “Yes, ma’m, but….” but she cut me short. She said I want you to go, and I will make sure all of your provisions are taken care of.

We had a pre-jamboree training for a couple of days and nights at the Nichols Air Base Elementary School. I remember one of our projects was to make a “monkey bridge” such that I still call hanging bridges I see anywhere as “monkey bridge” to the guffaw of my friends.

I call this a "monkey bridge"

I call this a “monkey bridge”

I remember Palayan City in Nueva Ecija. It did not look at all like a city. It was rice paddies upon rice paddies. But it was the site of the 4th National Jamboree. In what was called Camp Atate, to be exact. Our troop’s camp site was beautiful. A river flowed on the edge of our camp, and we would hang on to ropes we tied on trees to go down the river to take a bath and wash our uniforms.

The photo below captures the beauty of our camp site:

not taken from Camp Atate, but this captures the beauty of our camp site

not taken from Camp Atate, but this captures the beauty of our camp site

We did not have to pitch a tent. There were small nipa huts pre-constructed  – – with one small hut for ach troop. As I was too young then and did not have a camera, I am posting what could pass for the hut we stayed in, albeit the hut in the photo is bigger.

something like this, but this is bigger

something like this, but this is bigger

We would go around the camps of boy scouts from other cities. I remember having swapped my beret with a head piece from a boy scout from Zamboanga. It had a mother of pearl shell on it.

Our days were spent going from one activity to the next, earning for us several merit badges. I collected so much that at the end of the Jamboree, and back inthe BSP Headquarters in our city, I went thru a review board and was promptly promoted to being First Class, a 2-step jump from being Tenderfoot when I joined the Jamboree.

To this day, I remember the song we sang about Palayan.

I know a place
Where No one ever goes
There’s peace and quiet, beauty and repose
It’s hidden in a valley
Beside a mountain stream
And lying down beside the stream
I found thatI can dream
Only of things
Of beauty to the eyes
Blue peaked mountains climbing to the skies
Now I know that God made this world for me

Palayan, you’re for me
Palayan’ you’re for me

Only of things
Of beauty to the eyes
Blue peaked mountains climbing to the skies
Now I know that God made this world for me

 

Those were formative years, and my being a boy scout was probably the best thing I had when I was young. More camporees, jamborettes and jamborees followed – – – at the Philippine School for the Deaf and Blind, at Sta Monica in Puerto Princesa, and at the Jamboree site in Mt. Makiling.  And countless other overnigts on our school grounds.

To this day, I live by our oath and the Scout Law. Traveling as an adult, I know by heart that nature must be preserved for our children and for generations to come.

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