Most of us dream of reaching a hundredth year birthday but only a few make it. Every one of us was born with a purpose but only few accomplish it.
Helena Zoila Tirona Benitez is the epitome of a woman who has lived her life driven by her purpose to serve God, her fellowmen, and her country. Her life is worth remembering and she is worth honoring for reaching her 100th year.
She has faith in God. Whenever she attended conferences of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) be it in France, Denmark, and Singapore, the first thing that Helena does was to see and visit a church.
Every year, she joins a Lenten retreat in Tagaytay and starts every event of the Philippine Women’s University with a mass.
She has done her duty to her fellowmen. When Josefa Llanes Escoda invited Helena to be a member of the First Central Committee composed of young girls to pave the way for the formal organization of Girl Scouts of the Philippines, she and her group worked hard in convincing parents to allow their children to join the new organization.
During World War II, Helena became the chairperson of the First GSP Central Committee and of the Emergency Volunteers Social Aid Committee (VSAC). Together with some GSP Central Committee members, they worked closely with Tony and Josefa Escoda in the dangerous and critical mission of bringing help and relief to Death March prisoners, and other prisoners in Manila and nearby provinces.
She accepted the GSP Presidency during the Triennial Convention on March 17, 1979.
She had made a great difference in her governance of the GSP through her inspiring leadership for nine years which practically covered the whole 1980 decade.
She pursued the thrust of Dynamic Troop Leadership in 1983 by introducing a Troop Leaders Day during GS Week. This is now a yearly tradition. She was also responsible for the creation of the GSP Barangay Committee to differentiate them from the political barangay.
Miss Benitez sponsored the HZB Badge Work Awards recognizing a GS Council with the highest percentage of Girls who have earned at least three badges during the triennium. A trophy with cash incentive is given every national convention.
A brainchild of Ms. Benitez, the Scout Entrepreneurial Endeavor for Development (SEED) was launched on September 17, 1985.
During her presidency, the EDSA Revolution altered the landscape of the GSP organizational structure. She and her board worked on the issuance of Executive Order No. 267 dated July 25, 1987, amending the GSP Charter. The EO designated a woman president of the Philippines or the First Lady as the Chief Girl Scout.
The installation of President Corazon C. Aquino as Chief Girl Scout was a milestone event that took place under the HZB administration.
The GSP program and training center in Tagaytay City was named after her in 1986. At the end of her term in 1988, Miss Benitez was bestowed a special award by GSP for her priceless contributions to the movement.
She has served the country in many ways both here and abroad. She is the author and co-author of many laws in education, manpower, youth development, housing and environment as a Senator. She was the first Filipina to be elected as chairperson of the UN Commission of the Status of Women, the first Filipina to chair the UN Environmental Program (UNEP), and served as the member of the National Assembly for more than a decade. She was also the founder of the Philippines Bayanihan Dance Troupe.
For all these achievements, she became a recipient of Sikatuna award with the rank of DATU and of Earth Trustee Award.