Philippines’ First Peace Corps Staff (Part Three)

The Volunteers of Philippines II arrived in January; Associate Representative John Cort flew in in February; Philippines III arrived in March. The Volunteers were sent out to additional schools in the Bicol and the Visayas. Cort was kept in the new headquarters in Manila.

For 12 years before coming to the Peace Corps, Cort, a cum laude graduate of Harvard, had served as executive secretary of the Newspaper Guild of Greater Boston.

Cort’s newspaper background made him a natural to assist in the production of “Ang Boluntargo,” the Volunteer newsletter in the Philippines which commenced regular monthly publication as he Voluntario with the issue of December, 1961.

John Cort briefing new arriving PCVs

In June, 1962, Philippines IV arrived and the new Volunteers were assigned to schools on Cebu and Bohol islands. There were then 271 Volunteers at work in the educational aide program, a figure that would double in September with the arrival of groups V, VI, and VII. Most of the staff had come the academic world, and the program was becoming large enough to demand a full-time management expert. Wylder Modine, who disembarked in Manila on August 1, was the first Representative for Management in the Peace Corps.

The middle of 1962 saw other changes in the Philippines operation. In May, Warren was shifted from Legaspi to Zamboanga at the southwest tip of the big southern island of Mindanao. This move was made to prepare for the September arrival of Philippines VII whose Volunteers were destined for Mindanao. Fuchs, convinced that he should move his headquarters from Manila, followed Warren to Zamboanga in time to greet the newcomers.

The departures of Hare and Pressman left gaps which had to be filled. Cort was named Acting Deputy Representative, a title he was to hold for a year, and assigned to running the office in Manila. On August 4, Associate Representative Charles Dey arrived to fill the hole in the Bicol. Five days later, Associate Representative Roger Flather, stepped off the jet from the United States. His brother Newell, had already joined the Peace Corps. He was with the first contingent to go to Ghana in August 1961.

The number of Volunteers in the Visayas had put a strain on Howard’s office in Dumaguete, so the program there was sliced in two for administrative purposes. Howard was kept in the Western Visayas. Flather was assigned to the eastern islands—Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar—with an office in Cebu City.

Research Document: Who’s Who in the Peace Corps Overseas Administration (1963)

The photographs are by Rowland Scherman, Paul Conklin and Jim Walls, first photographers for the agency.


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