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What other things come to mind when Josefa Llanes Escoda’s name crops up?

Whenever the town of Dingras in Ilocos Norte is mentioned, what readily comes to mind is Marynette Gamboa, the originator of Water Plus, a water dispensary business very popular in the millennium? Marynette was also the organizer of the all-female sexy singing group D’ Bodies which took the whole country by storm with its signature naughty song “Kiliti.” “Huwag d’yan, may kiliti d’yan, Huwag d’yan (Not there, it’s my tickle or erogenous zone, Not there).” Gamboa was also a movie producer for the screen version of “Kiliti” which starred Kat de Santos, Ian Valdez, John Lapus etc. and a record producer for singer-actor Nilo de Castro.

Marynette is from Dingras and she served at its mayor for years without interruption until she was dethroned amidst political intrigues. Now Gamboa is happy with her domestic as well as social life with boyfriend-actor Efren Reyes, Jr.

When Dingras is again mentioned, Mario Garrido, a classmate at the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters, also props up. Mario, a genuine Ilocano, had joined our UST Artlets ’75 group and its activities through the initiative of the org’s Facebook organizer Sarah Cayabyab. 

Meanwhile, I was listening to Bryan Quitoriano in his Sunday show over DWWW last Sunday and he announced that it was also Josefa Llanes Escoda’s birthday. As a kababayan, he was proud of Josefa’s achievements as a person and as a social worker and a civic leader when she was alive. 

Yes, Llanes Escoda was born in Dingras so I supposed Marynette and Mario are also proud of her.

Gamboa and Garrido most of time remember Josefa for heaven’s sake! How could they ever forget her the moment they fork out a one thousand peso bill from wallets, they would see the image of the woman along with Vicente Lim, a military general and Jose Abad Santos, the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court—among the many Filipinos who resisted and fought the Japanese invasion—who are memorialized on the banknote.

On top of these, Marynette and Mario would also pay tribute to their town mate as the founder of the Girl Scouts of the Philippines (GSP).

In her message to us, GSP publicist Chebelle Velasco sent us a reminder that last Sunday the mom of the GSP celebrated her nth birthday anniversary.

Dear Kuya Boy,

“Today, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines celebrates the122nd birth anniversary of its Founder, Josefa Llanes Escoda.

“In the midst of the pandemic, Girl Scouts continue their activities. Being digital natives, they are very comfortable and productive in doing Girl Scout activities online. Truly, the landscape for doing things, especially for social organizations like the GSP, has changed.

“We will very much love to see or hear how our dear Founder and her legacy is appreciated to this day, and how Girl Scouts are able to adapt to the call of the times.

“May we request some greeting or be allowed to grace your platform for today's celebration or for any day of the week? Every year, Girl Scouts celebrate her birthday with a week-long celebration. The Girl Scout Week will run from September 20 to 26, 2020.

“I attached our materials for this event.

“Salamat po!

 

“Chebelle A. Velasco.”

 

Gamboa and Garrido are also sharing the spirit of the memorial celebration virtually despite the restrictive environment following the massive threat of the novel coronavirus.

 

As a former mayor of Dingras, Marynette acknowledged and observed the significant birthdate of Josefa Llanes-Escoda.

Although, the GSP founder had lived longer in Sampaloc, Manila, her Dingras roots were never taken for granted. During Gamboa’s term as Mayor of Dingras, she would pay tribute to Llanes-Escoda in her own unique way like telling her constituents the values and legacies the socio-civic leader left behind, especially to the young girls who are members of the GSP.

 

Likewise, Garrido has always been ready to narrate even a small story on her kababayan.

 

Despite the pandemic, GSP is still commemorates the birth anniversary of its founder with a week-long gig afforded to the sacrifices and challenges she faced up with during her early organizing stages of the all-girl association.

 

According to Chebelle, “in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Girl Scouts showcase their strength in being digital natives. They capitalize on that technological gift which allows them to act timely on issues that affect them. They maximize their social network which helps develop their resilience in times of adversities.” 

 

Even if most Girl Scouts are enrolled online, they never take aside the importance of remembering the causes Llanes-Escoda had espoused to sustain the social significance of the org they represent. Most of the GS shared and liked anything that flashed and posted on social media. This is one way of commemorating the wonderful life of their great heroine and symbol of youth leadership.

 

Velasco added: “In celebrating Escoda’s 122nd birth anniversary this year, the Girl Scouts of the Philippines urges every Filipino family to be part of the Girl Scout mission to help communities especially in the time of COVID-19. Your daughters, sisters, nieces, and friends are welcome to serve others through Girl Scouting! Contact your local Council to register.”

 

Marynette on her part was also like a Girl Scout when she was young and had served many people in need especially in her town. She was an epitome of courtesy and bravery, two of the many virtues a GS must possess.

 

Meanwhile, Garrido was involved in many school activities in Dingras that showed his commitment to the development of the town among the counterparts of GSP, the Boy Scouts of the Philippines (BSP).

There were and still are many Girl Scouts in Dingras to follow the footsteps of their kababayan-founder of the GSP and mostly, these young girls have become role models in the daily grind of life in the countryside by reliving the values exemplified by Josefa as she passed on the organization’s mission “to help girls and young women realize the ideals of womanhood and prepare themselves for their responsibilities in the home, to the nation, and to the world community.”

Together with them, Chebelle, Marynette and Mario take off their hats in admiration of the late altruist.      

 

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