Tuesday, September 9, 2008

*106. MASONRY IN PAMPANGA

PAMPANGA LODGE NO. 48. Officials and members of Pampanga's oldest existing masonic lodge, still in existence today. Circa 1920s.

Becoming a mason is often seen as turning one’s back against religion. On the contrary, the rules of masonry stipulates that one must have a religion of his own and to believe in God to gain membership. In the York rite of the mason, the Lord’s Prayer is prayed at the opening of every session.

In the Philippines, masonry had strong patriotic beginnings. The formal organizations were among the first to throw their support for Filipino propagandists. The first lodge was founded in Manila in 1891, with membership initially limited to the elite class. The Masonic Lodge Nilad counted among its first members, at least 7 Kapampangans, including Ceferino Joven, a future governor of the province.

Masonry spread throughout the country as the reform movement gained momentum and support. It reached Pampanga through the members of the Manila lodge. Recruitment was done through the triangle system, a form of networking where a Mason invited 2 prospects to form a triangle, who in turn, formed other triangles. When a sufficient number of members were acquired in this manner, a lodge was established.

The first triangles in the province were formed through the efforts of Ruperto Laxamana (Mexico’s gobernadorcillo), Manuel Alejandrino and Spaniard Eugenio Blanco of Macabebe. Two lodges were formed to accommodate the new masons—one in San Fernando, set up by Cecilio Hilario and another in Bacolor, initiated by Francisco Joven. The original aim of Masonry in Pampanga to endorse the reformist movement was thought to have been moderated with the presence of Spaniard Blanco, who was openly anti-Philippine independence.

Even then, a number of Kapampangan masons remained steadfast to the cause. They accorded a warm welcome to fellow mason Jose Rizal when he visited Pampanga in 1892. High-profile masons in government positions were harassed like Ceferino Joven, and ousted from their offices like Ruperto Laxamana and Antonio Consunji of Mexico. Manuel Alejandrino was exiled for possessing incriminating Masonic documents. After 1892, masonry seemed to have disappeared in Pampanga, although another explanation was that it went underground.

Masonry enjoyed a limited resurgence in the late 1900s thru the1930s with the establishments of lodges such as Masonic Lodge Macawili and Pampanga Lodge No. 48. Founded in 1918, it was first comprised of 15 Kapampangan masons culled from 8 different lodges: Pedro Abad Santos (named Worshipful Master by Manuel L. Quezon), Pablo Angeles David, Lucas Babiera, Felix Bautista, Regino Gamboa, Benito Golding, Ceferino Hilario, Isidro Makabali, Pedro Malig, Saturnino Ocampo, Pacifico Panlilio, Bernardo Samson, Isabelo de Silva, Mariano Tiglao and Marcelino Bustos Zabala. “Pamikakapatad, Pamisaupan at Katutuan” (Brotherhood, Relief, Truth).

The first five members were Saturnino David, Pascual Gozun, Candido Hizon, Marciano Ordonez and Amado Pecson. In 1918, Hon. Jose Gutierrez David was appointed Worshipful Master, and the following year, the Lodge received its charter from the Association of Accepted Masons in the Philippines, and its authorized name: Pampanga Masonic Lodge No. 48.

Ninety years after its founding, the Pampanga Masonic Lodge No. 48 is still in existing, marking its historic 90th year founding anniversary in July 2008. It is heartening to know that this ancient fraternal tradition lives on in this 90 year-old institution, with glowing accomplishments in the community that continue to give new dimensions to the spirit of brotherhood in these modern times.

(*NOTE: Feature titles with asterisks represent other writings of the author that appeared in other publications and are not included in the original book, "Views from the Pampang & Other Scenes")

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