It all started one day in 1938— at the now legendary Pines Hotel. Outstanding community leaders of Baguio gathered auspiciously; perhaps overwhelmed by mixed emotions of anxiety and hope. The occasion was a red‐letter one, coming at a time when Rotary was hardly the familiar name it shall be in years to come.
The 35 Baguio residents who amended the evening affair were the charter members of the Rotary Club of Baguio (RCB), composed of 15 Filipinos, 18 Americans and 2 Japanese.
The full list included: Mayor Sergio Bayan, Col. Louis Van Schaick, Judge Jose R. Carlos, Percy Warner Titan, Tommy Thompson, Amado Lagdameo, John O’Malley, J. Williams, Dr. R.H. Walker, R.W. Lawrence, J.S. Peterson, H.C. Helad, Capt. J.J. Keith, Fred Belling, J. Harrison, E. W. Herold, Joe Rice, J.J. Murphy, R. Patterson, Amado Amador, Conrado Alcaraz, Major. J. Evangelista, Pedro Armenia, C. Rivera, A. Nagatomi, Buenaventura Atienza, Dr. H.E Stafford, E. Samson, Juan Gaerlan, Ramon P. Mitra, Alejandro Tanabe, Dr. H. Schmid, Dr. Pedro Apacible, Judge Luis Ortega, Florendo P. Aquino, T. Hayakawa, J. Castro, Dr. T.C. Arvisu, Manuel Bilog, Buenaventura Saldaña, F. Mejia, Rosalio Villalon, Florencio Reyes, Dr. Jose M. Cariño, Bartolome Pangilinan, and J. Hahn.
Members of the Rotary Club of Manila, sponsoring the fledging service organization, likewise attended the evening functon. Among them were the eminent Justice George A. Malcolm, Dr. Carlos P. Romulo, Tony Escoda, Ned Hall, A.F. Dulgeby, A.G. Klinger, Shorty Holmes, Ted Hall, F. Ocampo, Len Moore, Jose Galvez, Lou Rifkin, Alva J. Hill, Jose Barredo, Ramon Oriol, Bill Chittick, and Ben Legarda.
It was the 21st day of February 1938 and the occasion was—the Charter Presentation of the Rotary Club of Baguio. The 4,587th member club of Rotary International, its members becoming part of the then growing Rotary family of 97,000 Rotarians worldwide. That fateful day was three months after the organizational meeting held on 27 November 1937, when the first Baguio Rotarians decided to form the sixth Rotary club in the Philippines (after Manila, Davao, Cebu, Bacolod, Iloilo), 33 years after the birth of Rotary; becoming the first Rotary Club‐ north of Manila.
The club’s charter officers were Col. Louis “Louie” Van Schaick, president; Baguio Mayor Sergio Bayan, vice‐president; John Woodson, club secretary/treasurer; Ed B. Mullaney, sergeant‐at‐arms; and R. Patterson, Dr. H.E. Stafford, John B. O’Malley, C. Rivera, Major Jose Evangelista, and Dr. Heinz Schmid, directors. Dr. Romulo, in his charter presentation speech, extolled the spirit of service of Rotary, which now (he said) also embraced the Baguio Rotarians.
In his response, Pres. Louie pledged the new club’s commitment towards helping Baguio in its civic functions.
Since then, the Rotary course in Baguio had been lively, tumultuous, enjoyable, tense, shaky, smooth, robust, energetic, dynamic and vibrant.
At its First Anniversary, the club was recognized as the most active organization in Baguio, comprising the cream of the community’s crop of residents and professionals. According to Justice George A. Malcolm, then Philippine Governor, the Baguio Club was the second best in the country to his estimation.
The Club has always been a jolly gathering of good friends in the city. Rotarians invariably looked forward to the Saturday luncheon meetings at the Pines Hotel. Even at that time, members were already singing favorite tunes, penalizing each other for the fun of imposing fines. Funds raised in the jovial spirit of giving and sharing were (and still are) channeled to support viable club activities designed to uplift civic welfare, particularly for the benefit of the under‐privileged. Baguio children received the club’s annual cheers, through Christmas gifts given by the members.
The following Rotary year, 1938‐39, Baguio City Mayor Sergio “Serg” Bayan was elected as club president. Mayor Bayan was concededly one of the most energetic and capable executives Baguio ever had, and it was during his time that many progressive developments in the city had been undertaken, with the full support and cooperation of the club. Projects in the various fields of Rotary service were expanded and more members drawn into the club roster.
The next year, 1939‐40, Dr. Eugene “Gene” Stafford won the club presidency. He instituted a program of sportsmanship as the club theme, and most memorable was a hilarious wrestling exhibition match he put on as club entertainment. Pres. Gene himself was a wrestler of no mean ability in his younger days.
A few months after the change of hands at the club’s helm in 1941 unto the person of Dr. Fernando “Nanding” Manalo, World War II broke out. Together with Filipino Rotarians—at great risk to their lives and that of their families— Pres. Nanding raised money and gave aid to Americans concentrated in Camp Holmes.
After liberation in 1945, Pres. Nanding assigned himself to the difficult task of reorganizing the club, seeing it through the arduous work of reconstruction. Perhaps, in recognition of his untiring and selfless efforts, he was reelected to another term (1946‐ 47)—the only RCB club president to have been honored in that high regard—and, consequently, became District Governor for RY 1950‐51.
Since much of the affairs of the club had already been setup right, in the following year (1947‐1948), a new hand was entrusted at the wheel: Dr. Bienvenido “Bien” Yandoc, whose presidency was characterized by an ever pleasant mood. Always amiable, and never lacking pleasant jokes and wisecracks, Pres. Bien made every difficult job seem easy, thus getting things done by a supportive membership.