Monday, November 12, 2007


(Note: The following article is herein presented to give readers a birds-eye-view of how Masonry and the lodge system have influenced the life of this writer As he is scheduled to board the plane bound for Manila today, November 25 for his scheduled medical check-up and to visit their children and grandchildren for the Christmas holidays, this column will temporarily cease printing but hopefully will be back after the advent of the New Year)

Short to delivered to the brethren of Dagohoy Lodge No. 84 on August 11,2007

First, allow me to express my appreciation for the concern of the lodge members on the tragedy that befell me very recently as shown in the minutes of our July’s stated meeting.

Second, it pleases me to meet and fraternize with VW Urso Penalosa of the Grand Lodge of Arizona who is with us tonight. Although this is the first time that I have rubbed elbows with him, I feel I have met him already so many times in the past. We, after all, have communicated with each other on matters Masonic over the Internet.

And now for the task at hand.

Fifteen years ago this month, the aging lion, still robust then, first attended the stated meeting of this lodge inside what was then the old Masonic Temple at the heart of the city as a sojourning brother on a visit to his wife’s hometown in Guindulman. The Worshipful Master then was VW Francisco “Noning” Pamaran, Jr.

` Almost ten years later or in April 2002, he again attended its stated meeting at the same Masonic Temple but this time as a new resident of Guindulman town; and its master then was WB David B. Tirol ..

That second meeting was later followed by successive fraternal visits that would be interrupted only whenever he and the lion tamer would return home to the metropolis to visit their children and grandchildren for the holidays. Until finally in January 2004 when he was elected dual member of this lodge as he and the lion tamer have already permanently established residence to the scenic and peaceful town which is some eighty five kilometers away from this Masonic lodge.

In April of this year however, he and the lion tamer boarded the plane for the metropolis wondering if they would be able to return to their adopted place again. And for good reason, when he boarded the plane he was already gasping for precious breath !!

Soon after their arrival in the big city, he was subjected to rigid medical tests and was found to be seriously afflicted with a weak heart, kidneys that were already in the verge of qualifying for dialysis treatment, his lungs full of water he could no longer sleep unless in a sitting position and worse, his right foot was afflicted with poisonous gangrene an immediate amputation had to be scheduled. Dr. Billy del Rosario, a fraternal brother from Laong Laan Lodge No. 185, a noted surgeon at St. Luke’s advised that immediate amputation of his right leg is necessary otherwise the aging cat may exit to the Great Beyond sooner than later, which most likely would also automatically earn for him the Masonic Last Rites..

There is no need retelling what happened next, some of you may already heard of it through juicy gossip and brethren with access to the Internet can easily browse upon his most recent articles and read whatever the heck happened, and so let him continue narrating his story on what was not told yet.

It took him and the lion tamer four whole months to recuperate and rehabilitate himself in the big city. It was on April 11 when they boarded the plane at Tagbilaran airport and it’s now August 11 as this tale is being narrated..

In that span of time, many things transpired. Among those are:

** His right leg was amputated by Dr. Billy del Rosario at St. Luke;s gratis et amore,

** His bills at the hospital and the medicines for maintenance were all paid for courtesy of the so many kind hearted relatives, brethren and friends,

** He learned that WB’s Niceto “Boy” Doron and Andrew Namucatcat had already gone to the Great Beyond never to return,

** He was visited by WB Jack Galbreath while still in the metropolis and solicitously gave US$100 to help finance his maintenance medicines,

**VW John Teng of Laong Laan Lodge No. 185 would not allow the aging lion to return home unless he has an artificial right leg to stand on,

** His eldest son also joined the Craft and vowed to idiomatically follow his Masonic footsteps but with both feet still intact, of course..

Against the solicitous advise of many concerned brethren and most especially his three children, he decided to return home to his adopted place and there spend his remaining days. They calculated and argued that the limping cat have better chances of extending his remaining life in the big city because medical and professional care are readily available should the need for these arise. Stubbornly however, he countered that the additional days, months or even years, cannot compensate for the joys of watching the sun rise and set at the horizon daily and enjoy the rustic and bucolic atmosphere of his adopted hometown. He no longer added that his passion for writing is being curtailed by the unruly noise and bustle of the big city also the various small charities that he and the lion tamer perform for the indigent members of society in that part of the globe. Ever heard of “operation tule” which is nothing but circumcision performed of these young kids living near the beach?!

The simplest question that many of us may ask therefore is:

“How many more signatures can the aging lion affix at the logbook of this lodge that he now calls his own? In a span of five full years since 2002 when he set forth his footprints in Guindulman as a resident, he estimates he must have affixed no less than fifty signatures. Can he therefore manage to sign at least a dozen more considering that his movements are now restricted because of the right leg that he has lost?!

Ah, but only Father Time can tell!

Sunday, November 11, 2007


As continuation to last Sunday’s issue of this paper, here are some more questions and answers as compiled by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, the national organization unto which Dagohoy Lodge No 84 is beholden.. But before these questions, it is providential to note that the new edifice that proudly stands beside the Masonic cemetery which was inaugurated last year coincided exactly on the 84th year of the lodge’ checkered existence in the province of Bohol (2006 less 1922= 84)
And now to the questions and answers.
Why do people join and remain members?
People become Freemasons for a variety of reasons, some as the result of family tradition, others upon the introduction of a friend or out of a curiosity to know what it is all about. Those who become active members and who grow in Freemasonry do so principally because they enjoy it. They enjoy the challenges and fellowship that Freemasonry offers. There is more to it, however, than just enjoyment. Participation in the dramatic representation of moral lessons and in the working of a lodge provides a member with a unique opportunity to learn more about himself and encourages him to live in such a way that he will always be in search of becoming a better man, not better than someone else but better than he himself would otherwise be, and therefore an exemplary member of society.
Each Freemason is required to learn and show humility through initiation. Then, by progression through a series of degrees he gains insight into increasingly complex moral and philosophical concepts, and accepts a variety of challenges and responsibilities that are both stimulating and rewarding. The structure and working of the lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events, which are usually followed by social gatherings, offer members a framework for companionship, teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.
What promises do Freemasons take?
New members make solemn promises concerning their conduct in the lodge and in society. These promises are similar to those taken in court or upon entering the armed services or many other organizations. Each member also promises to keep confidential the traditional methods of proving he is a Freemason which he would use when visiting a lodge where he is not known. They were always symbolic not literal and refer only to the pain any decent man should feel at the thought of violating his word. Members also undertake not to make use of their membership for personal gain or advancement; failure to observe this principle or otherwise to fall below the standards expected of a Freemason can lead to expulsion.
.What are the requirements for membership?
The doors of Freemasonry are open to all men who seek harmony with their fellow creatures, who feel the need for self-improvement, and wish to participate in the adventure of making this world a more congenial place in which to live.
The prescribed requirements for membership are being a man at least 21 years of age, having a belief in a Supreme Being and in the immortality of the soul, being capable of reading and writing, being of good moral character, having been a resident of the county in which he resides for at least one year preceding the presentation of his petition, and being recommended by two Master Mason members of the Lodge to which he desires to apply.
How much does it cost to be a Freemason?
It varies from lodge to lodge. It is entirely up to the individual member what he gives to Charity, but it should always be without detriment to his other responsibilities. Similarly, he may join as many lodges as his time and pocket can allow as long as it does not adversely affect his family life and responsibilities. Annual dues are paid normally at the start of the fiscal year and donation to Charity can be paid anytime.
What is the joining process?
If you live in or around the town area, and are interested in joining, we suggest you approach one of our Lodge members that you know. If everything seems to be in order you will be invited down to one of our Fellowship events and meet some of the members. If there is a social on at this time, you will be invited along with your wife, where appropriate. This is to ensure that you are comfortable with the members of the Lodge and the Lodge members are comfortable with you. After this you will be asked to attend an interview with senior members of the Lodge and your name will be read out in the Lodges in the districts in which you live and work, and in the area, to verify you are a man of good repute.
When people join they are asked to make the following declarations on their membership forms:
My application is entirely voluntary.
I do not expect, anticipate or seek any pecuniary benefit as a consequence of my being a member of Freemasonry.
I have never been convicted by a Court of any offence. *
I have never been the subject of a finding of dishonest or disgraceful conduct.
I have never been disciplined by any professional, trade or other tribunal.
I am not awaiting the outcome of proceedings against me before a criminal court or a professional, trade or other tribunal.
I am not, to the best of my knowledge, the subject of any criminal, professional, trade or other investigation.
What can be considered as a minor traffic offence or a "youthful indiscretion" do not normally count against an application to join.
When the reports come back favorably you will be proposed into the Lodge and balloted for by the members. The whole process can take from three to six months, assuming there is no waiting list. If at any time you have any misgivings or reservations you should discuss these with your Proposer or Seconder and you may withdraw your application at any point in the process. It is natural to have doubts about joining Freemasonry because you do not know the nature of the ceremony, though it is better for everyone if an application is withdrawn than if somebody feels they are joining out of a sense of responsibility. Please note that "blackballing" or denying a candidate is extremely rare as we take a lot of care to ensure that any problems are taken care of at an earlier time.

Monday, November 5, 2007


Over the past nine issues of this paper starting September 9 when this column came into being, readers were informed in progressive sequence of the existence of Freemasonry in the province Bohol from its inception, its growth and its role in the community.
But the previous narrations should not be construed as the official mouthpiece of the Craft for the narrations of the writer, no matter how well meaning these were intended to be, are solely his own interpretations of how he views the Craft. A more credible mouthpiece is therefore needed for more authoritative impact. And for this purpose the following questions and answers which were lifted verbatim from the website of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines are herein presented to summarize to the readers the most common questions and the corresponding answers that relate to the Fraternity on a national scale and will be printed in two installments starting this issue.
What does it mean to be a Master Mason
Being a Master Mason is a lot of responsibility. You must be true to yourself and be reminded everyday that being a Master Mason you reflect on all of Masonry. You must not just receive brotherly love, but give it and show it towards everyone. You are in a chain of brothers and sisters, which starts in your heart and through hands, but which spreads around the globe. Be careful you are not the weakest link, so that this chain won't break because of you.
What is the difference between Freemasonry and Masonry?
Masonry refers to builders in stone or Operative Masonry , Freemasonry refers to builders in character or Speculative Masonry, but there is no difference in their usage today.
How can I understand Masonry?
How can I make you understand a song without you hearing it, a fragrance without you smelling it, or a thought without you thinking it. You can learn about Masonry, but the only way you can understand Masonry, is to join.
What do Freemasons aim for?
They strive to be good citizens, to practice the highest moral and social standards, and to be men of friendship, charitable disposition, and integrity. It is often said that Freemasonry makes good men better.
Why is Freemasonry a Unique Institution? In many ways it is not. There are other organizations in existence that also value their privacy. It may be because Freemasonry is so popular that it attracts a greater degree of attention than these other organizations. Historically Freemasonry was but one institution among many. For instance there were the Free Gardeners, Free Shepherds, Free Carpenters, Free Colliers, etc. which were organized along similar lines to Freemasonry and taught morality by way of their own ritual plays and symbolism. Most of these organizations no longer exist leaving Freemasonry as the only example of this once common form of society or association.
Who are the Freemasons?
The Freemasons, the Masons, or the “Free & Accepted Masons (F&AM)”, is a world-wide fraternal organization composed of men of high integrity, who join together, under the fatherhood of God, to further the practice of a moral code; proven by a long distinguished history; relevant to the complexities of the world today and founded on the highest standards of ethics, honesty and character.
Do the Freemasons still build cathedrals and churches?
Freemasons do not practice the “operative” skills of the craft masons, or stonemasons, who built the great cathedrals of Europe during the Middle Ages. Freemasons practice “speculative” Masonry, which symbolically applies the tools of the craftsman as lessons in personal growth and morality, thereby “building” a better life for the individual in his roles as a son, a brother, a father, a citizen, and a friend.
How many degrees are there in Freemasonry?
Basic Freemasonry consists of the three 'Craft' degrees (Entered Apprentice, Fellow Craft and Master Mason). There are many other Masonic degrees and Orders which are called 'appendant' because they add to the basis of the Craft. They are not basic to Freemasonry but add to it by further expounding and illustrating the principles stated in the Craft. Some additional degrees are numerically superior to the third degree but this does not affect the fact that they are additional to and not in anyway superior to or higher than the Craft. The ranks that these additional degrees carry have no standing with the Craft. In short, the Master Mason degree is the highest.
How many Freemasons are there?
Under the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, there are about 15,000 active Freemasons, meeting in more than 350 lodges. Worldwide there are probably 5 rnillion members.
What happens at a lodge meeting?
The meeting is in two parts. As in any association there is a certain amount of administrative procedure - minutes of last meeting, proposing and balloting for new members, discussing and voting on financial matters, election of officers, news and correspondence. Then there are the ceremonies for admitting new Masons and the annual installation of the Master and appointment of officers. The three ceremonies for admitting a new Mason are in two parts - a slight dramatic instruction in the principles and lessons taught in the Craft followed by a lecture in which the candidate's various duties are spelled out.
We tend not to talk too much about the content of the ceremonies themselves, as it will lessen the impact on the candidate, just as someone telling you about a film before you've had a chance to see it!

Monday, October 29, 2007


The Logo on the Upper Left Corner of this Page

Regular readers of this column must, by now, have noticed the logo that has adorned the upper left corner of this page and may have wondered what the Square, the Compasses and the letter G at the middle stand for. For those not in the know, it may be worthwhile restating that “Masonry is a system of morality illustrated by symbols”, and that the three are symbols that are sacred to Masonry.

Two of the three are builders’ tools, as represented by the Square and the Compasses. But these symbols will not be discussed at this time, this issue will instead focus on the letter “G”.

To Masons, the letter G has two meanings, (1) it represents the initial of Geometry, the basis on which the superstructure of Freemasonry is erected, and (2).it is the initial of the Omnipotent God, creator of all things. contained in the universe.

The All Seeing Eye

There is yet another emblem that also represents God, and that is the All Seeing Eye. So the question that readers are therefore wont to ask is “What is the All Seeing Eye and how did it come about?

Well, the most popular depiction of the All Seeing Eye may be found at the back of the one-dollar bill when Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Freemason, approved its design in 1935. More importantly, it was used in 1776 when the Great Seal of the United States was designed by the framers of the United States Constitution.

But this symbol can be traced back to ancient times, more specifically, as the Eye of Ra, chief deity of the ancient Egyptians, also called the Eye of Horus. (wordings copied verbatim from the wonderful pages of the Internet-JG)

Symbolisms of the All Seeing Eye in the province of Bohol

This now squarely puts the issue of whether Freemasons do not believe in God or at the very least, are non-believers of the Christian God as Horus obviously is a pagan deity. But is this really so??

Now look!

The Equilateral Triangle at Duero Church

Readers who travel the eastern route going to Tqgbilaran and who have passed the town of Duero (this means he must have come from Guindulman, Anda, Alicia or Ubay), may have noticed the town’s Catholic church. that displayed in the awning of its rooftop a curious symbol that showed an engraved circle and inside it was an equilateral triangle. Outside the circle are rays painted with resplendent rainbow colors that could easily remind the viewer of the rays that adorn the Philippine flag. But the question as to whether it indeed represents the All Seeing Eye since the equilateral triangle was substituted for the eye, this writer was not able to validate.

The architectural design of this church is of more current or cosmopolitan vintage and rightly so because construction was said to have started in 1908 and was completed two years later.

Curious to ascertain whether anybody in town knew of its significance, this amateur sleuth alighted from the van that he was riding on and inquired from the students who were then relaxing at the adjacent Catholic school building. Unfortunately, none of the students knew and the school administrator is nowhere to be found. Neither was the parish priest. The caretaker of the curio shop at the other side of the street facing the church that displayed some of the town’s mementos is also totally ignorant on what the symbol was all about.

The Equilateral Triangle at Loay Church

There is another equilateral triangle inside a circle that appeared at the upper part of the church door but this time at Loay town, some nineteen kilometers away from Tagbilaran City that surely can attract foreign tourists who visit the island if only it is properly advertised as a tourist destination. Let this chronicler explain.

Loay church, unless visited on purpose, is difficult to find as it is virtually hidden from public view. Nestled atop a small plateau, the church is covered with verdant foliage to the extent passersby that traverse the eastern route will likely miss it unless informed beforehand how to get there. And assuming he indeed locates the church, it will still take considerable time to find out on what part of the church the symbol actually was carved. Previous to our visit, the church personnel who helped us look for it themselves did not know what we were looking for and where to look for it. We no longer solicited the assistance of the town’s parish priest as we learned he was newly assigned in the parish when we made our visit and therefore cannot be of help.

To cut a long story short, the said equilateral triangle was carved inside a circle the same way it was depicted in the awning of the Duero church but instead of the resplendent rays that adorned the outer part of the circle, two seraphims were holding it which would easily remind the Filipino Masons of the Grand Lodge Seal of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines except that the seraphims are sitting whereas these seraphims were standing as the Grand Lodge Seal depicted.

According to the historical marker that was planted there by the National Historical Commission, this church was constructed in 1812, or a full century ahead that of Duero Church. Its design followed the Gothic type of architecture that was prevalent during the Middle Ages that the Knights Templar made popular in Europe with its circular or rotund buttress design.

The church interior is also something for tourists to behold. The ceiling was painted with life size replicas of patron saints while at one side of the wall was show an antique although unserviceable bamboo organ that could easily remind a tourist of a similar musical instrument at the famed city of Las Pinas.

And why is this writer certain that the equilateral triangle on these two churches represent the All Seeing Eye??

Well, because Wikepeda Dictionary said so saying it is the:

Christian version of the Eye of Providence, emphasizing triangle representing the Trinity” (words copied verbatim from Wikepeda Dictionary)

Monday, October 22, 2007



Readers must have heard of “The Golden Rule”’ no, not the one that had the corrupted meaning that says: “he who has the gold, rules!”, but the real connotation that it is supposed to convey. For those who may have forgotten, read what Christopher Hodapp in page 56 of his book titled “Freemasons for Dummies” had to say and is herein quoted verbatim.

“Simply put Masons believe in the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule is
part of every great world religion, so it qualifies as the single unifying theme of all faiths. Its basic concept is the cornerstone of Freemasonry no matter how it is phrased.

** Buddhism: “In five ways should a clansman minister to his friends and families, by generosity, courtesy and bemevolence, by treating them as he treats himself and by being as good as his word.”
**Christianity: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
**Cunfucianism: “What you do not want done to yourself, do not do to others.”
**Hinduism:” Men gifted with intelligence . . . should always treat others as they would wish themselves to be treated.”
**Islam: “No one is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”
**Judaism: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
**Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and regard your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”:

What then is the relevance of the Golden Rule to Masonry??

But of course! Freemasons are taught “to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and the low, the rich and the poor, created by one Almighty Parent and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other. On this principle, Masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion and causes true friendship to exist among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance.”

Or, stated simply, humanity is our neighbor, which, although eons apart, eloquently douse cold water to Cain’s quizzical reply to God when the latter asked about Abel and who, the former replied : “Am I my brother’s keeper??”


The beliefs of Freemasonry can be grouped into three simple concepts; (1) brotherly love, (2) relief and (3) truth. In simplest terms, Masons are taught to exercise brotherly love, charity to others and mutual assistance to members, and the search for answers to the universal question of morality while here on earth.


Readers have already read in the previous issues the unique definition of a lodge both as a building and the members comprising it. Although unique in itself, it may still be considered basically similar to the other fraternal organizations that exist in the vicinity, among them, the Lions, the Rotarians, the Jaycees, the Kiwanis, etc. But one aspect in Freemasonry where it radically differs from all others is the existence of what is called as the Grand Lodge system. Let this feature be explained, albeit superficially.

The Grand Lodge System

The Grand Lodge system is what holds the individual lodges as a common mass with rules and regulations that are basically similar to each other. Thus, one member of a lodge that visits another lodge does not feel alienated specifically because what he does in his own lodge is being done at another. The same obligations and benefits occur and are shared even in distant places. For example, a brother in Bohol who visits a lodge in Mindanao will find the same warmth and camaraderie in much similar breadth as he would be enjoying it in his own lodge.

A Brief History of the Grand Lodge System

The first Grand Lodge was created on June 24, 1717 when the members of four old lodges in London, England, met and organized themselves as a coherent group of Masons in that part of the globe. Compared to Operative Masonry that then existed, this Grand Lodge transformed itself into Speculative Freemasonry and thus started what would then be the mother Grand Lodge of the world. Soon, other Grand Lodges, especially in Europe, among them in Spain, France, Germany and in Italy were created.. In the Americas it also sprouted as mushrooms would spontaneously in a rice field.

This Grand Lodge system that operated world-wide recognizes, with certain exceptions, the Masons of the Philippines and conversely, the local Grand Lodge also recognizes masons of other countries.

The Grand Lodge in the Philippines

The Grand Lodge in the Philippines unto which Dagohoy Lodge No. 84 is beholden is comparatively of a more recent origin. Lodges were already operating in the islands when it was organized at the turn of the 20th century but because the Americans were then occupying the country, it was able to organize under the aegis of the Grand Lodge of California and since that time it practically gobbled the lodges that were previously existing under the authority of the Spanish Grand Lodge called “Gran Oriente Espanol”This Grand Lodge that was organized in 1912 would become the Grand Lodge where Dagohoy Lodge No.84 and all other lodges that now number more than 350 would be subservient to all of its activities.

A concrete example on how the mystic camaraderie works happened last October 13 when some 30 attendees of the Government Association of Certified Public Accountants (GACPA) conference at Cebu City led by the Commissioner Juanito G. Espino, Jr. of the Commission on Audit took a side trip to Bohol to see the famed Chocolate Hills and some of the island’s scenic spots. They were treated to a hastily-prepared breakfast by the lodge care of Mark Noel Mende and were assisted by his biological father Emmanuel and Moises Millanar, transportation was furnished by Congressman Adam Jala, Greggy Gatal served as tourist guide and so absorbed the various entrance fees charged at the tourist sites that were visited, while lunch was paid for by visiting brethren themselves.

Such a memorable fraternal visit undoubtedly added luster to the mystic ties that cement the relationship of the brethren whithersoever dispersed!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The number three (3) is a sacred number to Masonry.. Consider these:

1. Its three great lights represented by the Holy Bible, the Square and Compasses are three;
2. to become a mason it is necessary for an applicant to undergo three degrees,
3. it has three principal officers composed of the Worshipful Master, the Senior and Junior Wardens,
4. the buildings that it erects, whether physical or spiritual, must conform to the rules and parameters on Wisdom, Strength, and Beauty.
5. its principal tenets are composed of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth
6. three cornerstones taken together and inseparable from each other, form part of the foundation on which Freemasonry is anchored. These are (1) belief in God, (2) the immortality of the soul, and (3) the brotherhood of men, the absence of one of which will render Masonry just like any other organization that cannot withstand the challenging tests of times.


One of the most persistent accusations against Freemasonry is that it does not believe in God and over the past ages it has not defended itself in forums, whether in public or in private.

But belief in an Omnipotent God is a mandatory requirement not only at Dagohoy Lodge No. 84, at the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, but to all other Grand jurisdictions in the entire world, to which every applicant must declare in his petition form. Beyond answering the question in the affirmative however, Masonry has nothing to do as to what religion he professes.

It is obvious to assert that atheists are barred admission into its doors because of the very simple reason that to them God do not exist. Of course, women, young men in their non-age, and old men in their dotage are likewise barred but they are not allowed for entirely different reasons, none of which pertain to the question on the existence of God Almighty.

A specific case in point for belief in God as a mandatory requirement concerns the Grand Orient of France, one of the more popular Grand Lodges in Europe that in 1778 shocked the entire Masonic world when it removed in its membership requirement the belief in a Supreme Being and ceased presenting the Volume of the Sacred Law in its lodge meetings. The vast majority of the mainstream Grand Lodges around the world declared the Grand Orient of France irregular and stopped recognizing its members as regular Masons. It has remained popular to this day in France but is outside the realms of regular Freemasonry that pervades in all the other parts of the globe.

But even in their case, it may be necessary to set the record straight. What the Grand Orient of France did was the removal of the basic principle of God as a prerequisite for the admission of a petitioner, but simply deleted it as a mandatory requirement to allow all men including atheists, of whom there were many in the eighteenth century, that they may also be admitted. As readers can well rationalize, declaring that God does not exist and simply ignoring the issue are two entirely different things. Nonetheless, the Grand Orient of France has remained an irregular organization that is not recognized by the mainstream fraternal organizations of the world to this day.


Before the topic on the belief in God is shelved to the sidelines, it may be necessary to summarize a few points:

1. Masonry, though religious in nature, is not a religion as it offers no religious dogma for salvation. All its members are encouraged to practice their respective faiths in the particular religion where they belong.
2. The phrase “Great Architect of the Universe” with GAOTU for its acronym, is not the name for a Masonic God. It simply is a phrase that denotes a common name for the Deity which is deemed acceptable to all its members with diverging religious beliefs.
3. It has no Masonic Bible that it calls its own. The beautifully crafted Holy Bibles that are commonly found in its altars especially in the Philippine and American jurisdictions, are largely that of the King James Version that were printed in the United States by brethren who are in the printing business.
4. The phrase “Holy Bible” as mentioned in the three Great Lights is a misnomer. The correct phrase is “Volume of the Sacred Law” to include the holy books of the other religious faiths like The Holy Quran, the Zend Avesta and the Bhagavad Gita of the Muslims, the Pharsees and the Hindus respectively.
5. While opening and closing prayers are conducted during every Masonic meetings, those cannot be construed as religious ceremonies in like manner the President of a republic and Congress offer beginning and ending prayers when conducting business meetings.


Corollary to belief in God is adherence to the belief in the immortality of the soul for what good is it to believe in an Almighty Being if a man does not likewise believe in an afterlife that his soul will likewise perish after death??

The modes of believing however, is as divergent as the religion unto which it is anchored and will no longer be dissected as that is not for Masonry to settle.


Hermits believe in God and in the immortality of the soul but in their futility at understanding mankind decided to live their individual lives in seclusion. They may have good reasons for this but sadly they cannot be made members of the Fraternity as the life of a recluse or a Robinson Crusoe is not what a fraternal brotherhood is all about.

This topic will however be put on hold until the next issue of this paper as the space allotted has already reached the allowable limit.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


Over the past five issues, readers came to know about the new edifice, the old building that it replaced, the cemetery, the charter members, the masons of pre-war years and some of the members that currently are in its roster. A brief glimpse by an outsider was also chronicled in the last issue. It also gave a simple definition of the word Masonry.

But what really is Freemasonry??


Freemasonry, especially in this beautiful island called Bohol, is an organization that so little is known about its nature, purposes and objectives. This, despite the fact that it has been existing for more than eight decades, save perhaps to its members themselves and their immediate families.

But this is understandable because by its very nature Freemasons themselves are hard put in defining what they are and what they do. A concise definition is also often very difficult to understand because of its very wide coverage and oftentimes incisive and thought provoking meanings.. Consider a description Masons often use such as:

“Masonry is a way of life.”

Pray, just how will the general public understand that statement?! Or try to decipher the true import of one of its more often-quoted definition that says:

“Masonry is a system of morality veiled in allegory!!”

But there are main goals, objectives or situations which, if explained in clear language, can be understood by non-masons.. Among these are:

*** Freemasonry is a fraternity of men that bind themselves together to achieve a common goal and is one of the most ancient organizations in existence today,
*** Its rules, regulations, legends and customs were derived from the medieval Masonic guilds;
***It teaches morality and ethics by means of symbolic tools of the operative masons,
***It is not a religion and offers no religious dogma to its members. Beyond requiring an applicant to affirm belief in the existence of an Almighty God, his relationship to his God becomes a personal matter.
*** Members are obliged to practice brotherly love, mutual assistance and equality, among others.
*** Its membership is worldwide and is divided into what is called as Grand Jurisdictions. In the United States for example, each state has one Grand Lodge whose jurisdiction is independent to those of the other states. Although operating independently from each other, masons of other countries (or states) extend courtesies to members of other jurisdictions.
***It aims to make good men better,
***Members are able to identify each other whether in the light or in the dark and even when meeting for the first time. Quite often, non-masons are baffled when upon accompanying a mason friend, he would notice the latter conversing with another animatedly while in transit and when asked later if the two have met before would receive a negative reply.
***They are likewise amused when their organization is labeled as a “secret society.” With their lodge building proudly advertising its name and lodge number like “Dagohoy Lodge No. 84, and with its members attending public gatherings in appropriate regalia, what is so secret about them?
But somehow this is partially true especially in those with despotic regimes like in Germany or in Italy. An American fraternal brother of this writer recently emailed saying he was finally accepted by a lodge in Milan, Italy where he now resides but was personally escorted in secret to the lodge, the exact location of which he knew not where. The meeting of that lodge in Italy was indeed secret.

Which also reminds this writer when as a young teenager he had a “secret love” to a winsome young girl. After much ado on whether he should finally reveal his feelings, he did manage to do so in whisper, only, his amorous advances were rejected! But let us get back to the subject before this topic on “secrets” becomes scandalous.


To enable members to operate or function as a lodge, it had to meet somewhere and this is where the definition of a lodge as a building comes in. The second definition which means the members themselves are as important as the first because the required number to represent a quorum had to be complied with otherwise no business meeting can be achieved..

Masons in the Philippine jurisdiction meet at least once a month, and this meeting is called “stated”, meaning, there is no need to inform the members because they are obligated to attend on such a time and at a particular date as stated in the charter.

At times, especially when conferring degrees to new members, they also meet at the direction of the principal officer called the “Worshipful Master” and since his word is law, each member complies after being regularly informed of the matter. The notice may vary, it may be written or verbal and if the latter, may be sent through text messages. During stated meetings also, they conduct the various business matters that are brought upon the Master’s table by the Secretary and there discussed in detail and approved by all the members present after due deliberation.

Monday, October 1, 2007


Masonry is an enigma. It attracts the best minds the world produce and yet its increase is hardly equal to what statisticians call “proportionate to population growth”. One can memorize the various definitions that can be found in books or gloss over the myriad of articles that can be found in the wonderful pages of the Internet and yet not feel the relevance of Masonry until he becomes one. Consider a very simple definition of Masonry as is shown below.

“Masonry is a fraternal organization that teaches moral and ethical values using symbolic builders’ tools to inculcate its lessons”. But how many of the reading public is able to understand what to a member is a simple definition?!

To confound matters, Masonry is a study of morality and social values that are best experienced rather than explained, a mode of instruction that the word “apprenticeship” (this will be explained further later) is eloquently put to play.

The following article, written by this writer’s youngest son, is herein presented to give the reader an idea how an “outsider” views the Masonic Fraternity. This in local parlance says “mag le’ le’ sa’ ta!” or in the Kings language means “let’s peer through a peephole!”

By: Ivan R. Galarosa

It was in 1989 when Dad came home one day. He called a family meeting. Mom’s eyes were already red from tears. Mom, my sister and myself were the only other persons in the house then and so the family meeting started easily. Dad begun by saying: “Children, I just lost my job. But let us not lose hope. Let’s just help each other so that we can return to our normal lives.”

Dad having said that, I suddenly lost my uneasiness. When Dad tells us not to worry, I don’t worry. I knew Dad is good at facing life’s adversities. So when he says everything will be okay, I believe him. Dad was jobless for a month but he did not just sit in the house watching opportunity pass him by. He approached many of his friends and relatives from whom he asked for help, neither to borrow nor beg for money, but to ask for a job.

I really believe in Dad! And it’s because it has never been his habit to borrow money. What he wants is earn it; just give him the opportunity.

At this time also, in addition to looking for a new job, he mentioned something that has occupied him. He said he will shortly join an organization that may change his life and probably ours as well. That was the time Dad became a Mason..

Dad finally got a job, but that was not what caught my attention. Simultaneous with his new job was his acceptance as a member in a nearby Masonic lodge.I thought, since Dad is already a Mason, would he still believe in God? Would we still go to church every Sunday? Well, it is because I’ve heard that Masons don’t believe in God.

I told myself “Dad is also a character, he lost his job and when he found another, he distanced himself from God”. Until finally, I could no longer contain myself and so asked him why he joined Masonry at that particular time.

“Dad, will we still go to church each Sunday?” I asked. He replied as if wanting to hit me at the back of my shoulders. “Ah, what a smart aleck you are. It is you who is too lazy to join us in going to church whenever I ask you!” he replied. “Well, will you still take your communion now that you have become a Mason?” I barked back. “And when did you ever see me take communion? I never took one, even before I became a Mason” was his instantaneous reply almost laughing. And so I finally blurted out and asked him pointblank: “Is it really true you no longer believe in God?”

“Son,” he said, if a Mason does not believe in God, has it ever occurred to you I won’t waste my time joining them?!” was his quizzical reply.But of course! If Dad’s objective was only to turn his back at God, why would he waste his time joining an organization and pay its exorbitant fees. He’ll just turn his back and cease going to church, period!! I did not ask him anymore.

I reckon Dad is really a character.. He immediately got a job and became a brother to Rizal, Bonifacio and Mabini, all in a period of only four months. Many years passed and he sort of made Masonry his career. He enthusiastically accepted various lodge positions and other tasks outside of it. And he even became a Masonic writer and historian. Terrific, huh!!

Just the other day, I watched a movie alone. I saw the movie titled “National Treasure” because they say it was about Masonry and the lost treasurers of the knights during the Middle Ages. I said to myself, what crazy ideas would the movie impart about Masonry? Would it impress upon the moviegoers (again) that Masons don’t believe in God?

In fairness, the movie did nothing of that sort.But I felt something different inside while I was watching the movie, the same feeling that I’ve felt when I read the books “The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.” I again felt the hairs of my skin stand meanwhile my mind was reeling from the question: “Is Masonry this influential it is now often the subject of literary works, be it on books or in movies?” One thing more, if Masonry has a secret that involves riches ( like the Holy Grail or the Lost Treasures of the Knights Templars) are they teaching these to all their members? Is there something Dad knows about these treasures that he must have stumbled upon in his researches?

In my view, the hidden treasures of the Masons, whether in the Philippines or in other countries, are far more valuable than those found by Ben Gates (Nicholas Cage) in the movie. In my opinion having a broader mind, “religious tolerance”, love for peers (or neighbors), the never-ending search for truth and their strong faith in God, are the hidden treasures of Masonry.

These riches, I believe, are what they forcibly impress upon their people, only, "one has to display his worth to be able to show that he can handle the daunting task of keeping these 'treasures'". I think it is not material wealth but the spiritual and intellectual riches that they conceal. And why do I believe these are what they hide? Because these are the treasures that Dad has kept on passing to me as I grow up ever since he became a Mason in 1989. There never was a time when he has not inculcated upon me the value of these treasures, and I presume that Dad has already shown me the well-kept hidden cache of wealth that Masons are hiding from public view.

Someday, I may still find out whether my assumptions are true.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Wars create a lot of actions, events and situations. It breeds widows and orphans, ravages the economy of nations and places these in desolate and miserable conditions. But it also produces heroes, provides opportunities and offers hope. The same holds true even to Dqgohoy Lodge No. 84

Immediately after war’s end the lodge reconvened and reelected Dr. Pio C. Castro who was master of the lodge from 1940 to 1942, and installed him back in the saddle. He would reassume this position for two full years before returning it back like a tennis ball to WB Arturo Fortich who in 1948 served as the master of the lodge thus repeating his election in early 1946 in an acting capacity.

Pio C. Castro’s contribution to the community in general and to the lodge in particular was his establishment of the forerunner of what is now called the University of Bohol, which at its inception was named Rafael Palma College. Here is how it happened.

“After World War II in 1946, the Boholanos welcomed the birth of a local college whose first members of the Board of Trustees were: Dr. Pio C. Castro, President; Mr. Mariano Rocha, Vice-President; Atty. Felix Magdales, Secretary; Mr. Catalino Castro, Treasurer; and Atty. Donato Galia, member. The first permits for the pioneer courses were granted by the Bureau of Private Schools on June 10, 1946 through the earnest efforts of Atty. Victoriano D. Tirol, Sr.[citation needed (Data taken verbatim from the pages of the Internet)”

The choice of the name “Rafael Palma College” was not without Masonic relevance. Palma was a brilliant educator who was the first Filipino to become president of the University of the Philippines. His term started in 1923 and ended ten year later.

Undoubtedly one of the best statesmen the country ever produced, he fought Manuel L. Quezon heads-on in the Hares-Haws Cutting Law. But the shrewd Quezon threatened to drastically cut UP’s budget and thus compelled Palma to resign the UP presidency in 1933.

Let’s now get back to the college.

A story told this writer says that Victoriano Tirol Sr. was an educator from Cebu who was compelled during the war to temporarily transfer residence to Bohol taking along his family because of the then prevailing hostilities... At this instance he met some of the school’s planners who offered him the administration of the proposed college. He was adamant at the start because the pay was not lucrative enough to support his burgeoning family. But as visionaries always do, when they want it, they’ll get it. The proponents simply provided him retainer fees on the legal services that they ask and consequently were rendered. Most are, after all, businessmen whose legal services they need to protect their business interests. And so Victoriano Sr. got stuck as school administrator.

The steady growth of the fledgling college having been delegated to Atty Victoriano D.Tirol Sr., the other masons contented themselves at working silently at the sidelines. Progressively it grew until it achieved the status of a university in 1970 and was renamed University of Bohol, That name and its initials “UB” has remained so today.

Lodge wise, it was also Victoriano Sr. who contributed much to its growth and stability. All his sons- David, Ulysses, Jes, Victoriano Jr. and Victor joined the Craft. So did four of his sons-in-law, namely, Daniel Bernaldes, Adriano Montes, Francisco Pamaran, Jr. and Victor Casabal.

Currently, two third generation Tirols named Victoriano III (nicknamed “Ryan”) and Will Tyron, sons of Victoriano Jr., have also joined the august Fraternity and barring unforeseen circumstances, “Ryan” is expected to be elected master of the lodge in the coming year.

Together, the clan’s combined years of administering the affairs of the lodge totaled 17 years, with eldest David as master of the lodge for a full six years.

It will be near-impossible to name all those who have made indelible imprints in lodge affairs. But a few deserve mention:

1..Pedro Mende Sr.’s footsteps were followed by son Emmanuel whose footprints would also be retraced by his own two sons, Peter Emman and Mark Noel, the last mentioned of which is the incumbent master of the lodge.

2. Simplicio Doron; master in 1962, was followed by his son Niceto who also became master in 1991. Both are now peacefully reunited at the Great Beyond.
3. Lorenzo A. Lopena who was master of the lodge in 1970 (and then reelected in 1982-83) were followed by sons Jason and Joseph in the twenty first century.
4. Uriel Leopando followed the footsteps of his brother Maximo who became master in 1960.
5. Othoniel Galia followed the footsteps of his father Juan and namesake Atty. Donato.
6. As of this writing Fernando Columnas is the “Benjamin” or the newest member of the lodge.


Masons also call themselves “travelers”. When they visit a lodge where they are not members, they are considered sojourners or visitors. After proper identification that members of the Craft alone knew, they are admitted to the lodge and with certain limitations are entitled to enjoy all the amenities that the lodge offers. It is not surprising therefore that visitors who decide to stay permanently in a place where a lodge is located would apply for dual membership and when accepted, would become regular members of the lodge. Two members in the current roster belonging to this category are:

1. Eugene “Jack” Galbreath, an American mason, who, upon marrying a Filipina and deciding to stay in this beautiful island for good, applied for dual membership and was accepted. He became master of the lodge in year 2005. and
2. This writer- a member of Quezon City Lodge No. 122 who decided to transfer residence to Guindulman, a town located 85 kilometers away from the lodge. He dutifully attends the lodge’ stated meetings towing along his wife Lorma to Tagbilatan as he felt it incomprehensible to leave her alone in the house whenever he is not around.


Congressman Adam Jala of the 3rd district is not a Freemason but he belongs to a fraternal institution that was established in 1917 called the DeMolays, the youth organization created by the Masonic Fraternity that produced immortal names like John Wayne, Walt Disney and William “Bill” Clinton.

This youth group also produced Eli Buendia, Willie Revillame and the home-grown Luke Mijares of the local entertainment world.

Monday, September 17, 2007


(September 23)

Readers of the first two issues of this column learned of the new edifice, the cemetery and the old building that were all appropriately marked “Dagohoy Lodge No. 84”. It’s now time to talk about its people. But first here is a Masonic definition of the word “lodge” in its pure and simple form.

“A lodge is a certain number of brethren with a Holy Bible, Square and Compasses, and a charter or dispensation authorizing them to meet.”

And so let’s now talk about them.


In like manner Francisco Sandejas, aka “Dagohoy” is not a true-blue Bol’anon but a Cebuano by birth who migrated to Inabanga, Bohol and there became a Cabesa de Barangay before he became a rebel chieftain and who engineered the longest-lasting rebellion in the entire archipelago, so were all the charter members of Dagohoy Lodge No. 84 numbering fourteen All were transient residents of the beautiful and bucolic island called Bohol. Consider these:

The first three lights, yeah, that’s how the three principal officers of the lodge are called, are not natives of the place. Elected Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens at its inception in 1922 were Alfonso Lecaros, Eulalio Tanedo and Adolfo Aldaba respectively, and they took turns in handling the reins governing the affairs of the lodge consecutively, with Lecaros and Aldaba elected to two full-year terms each, thus ending the rule of the Cebuano brethren only in 1927 when German Yap, a native Bol’anon became its Worshipful Master. After this time, the Cebuano brethren, most of whom were members of Maktan Lodge No. 30, simply contented themselves watching as elders of the lodge, giving valuable advice on matters that relate to its affairs until old age and the rigors of five hours sea travel finally demanded that they finally fade away from the scene.

But the daring and determined efforts of these Cebuano brethren did not turn to naught. Hardy Bol’anons, among them Frank Lombardo, Bernardo Palma, Arturo Fortich, Pio C. Castro, Catalino Castillo, and several others, took over the reins where they left off and managed efficiently, they did. And the lodge performed in accordance to the expectations of the founding members and as mandated by Grand Lodge rules.

Bernardo Palma did even more. As a permanent resident of Tagbilaran employed at the District Engineering Office, he accepted the awesome task of being elected lodge secretary for a good number of years and thus insured the stability and continuity of the lodge’ affairs especially because most of the members at that time were government employees that were subjected to frequent reassignments to other places at any given time.


If the Sugbuanons experienced difficulties in attending meetings because of the distance that had to be traversed, some of the native born Boholanos also experienced similar difficulties although no ocean had to be crossed. This was exemplified when on October 6, 1935 the brethren of the lodge gathered together to hear the radio broadcast of the station KZRM in Manila, a radio transmission that was still a novelty then. Together they converged at the residence of Bro. J. D. Jimenez in Tagbilaran to listen to an important news broadcast that had Masonic importance. Among these who attended were Frank Lombardo and his family from Ubay which is 125 kilometers away from Tagbilaran, the family of Alfonso Caday from Jagna (65 kms.), Macario Saniel, Gregorio Loquellano and Nicanor Logronio from Carmen (61 kmos), Casimiro de Sagun and German Yap form Bilar (42 kms.), Claudio Butalid, Leoncio Marapao and Eduardo D. Palac from Calape which is 42 kms traveling via the northern route. Consider also the mode of land transportation during the prewar years and one can well imagine the rough and rugged road that reaching the town of Tagbilaran entails.


Bol’anons may well be considered an enigma. Resilient to the point of being labeled as passive (remember the local ballad that sings to the rhyme “Kung ikaw Inday mangita pamanhunon, siguruha baya Inday, ang Bul’anon” which when translated means, “Beautiful girl, if you are to look for a man to marry, be certain to look for a man from Bohol”) it also is the seat of the Blood Compact between a local chieftain and the Spaniards that was conducted in the island before the latter finally took over the reins of government under the guise of conquest. The gossip that floats is that while it is acknowledged that there are indeed “gentlemen of the hills” , yet the ruling clique or the commanders are not home grown but are from the island of Negros.

But are the Bol’anons really that meek it will not kick its enemy in the ass when pushed to the wall.?!

Historical records do not tell us so. If you don’t believe this statement, consider first what Dagohoy did. Of course he is not a true-blue Bol’anon but most of his followers of that armed rebellion definitely were! And if this does not convince the readers, consider now the following vignettes from historical records.

During the war when the Filipinos and the Americans numbering about 50,000 were routed by the superior Japanese forces and forced to undergo the Death March at Bataan, they were placed under the overall command of Major General Guillermo Francisco who is a member of Dagohoy Lodge No. 84, Another sub-group was led by Major Deogracias U. Tenazas of the same lodge. And if these facts are too old enough to be believed, then read what the marker says after passing the town of Duero on your way to Guindulman and at the side of the road you will read a marker for on that scene it announced the battle between the Filipinos and the Japanese forces that was successfully fought by the local guerillas sometime before the end of World War II.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


(September 16, 2007)

In the previous issue of this newspaper, readers were informed of the new edifice called “Dagohoy Lodge No. 84” standing majestically at the side of a cemetery. But do they know that another two-story building with the same name previously stood along J. S. Torralba St. at the heart of the city but was demolished to give way to the new building that was recently constructed as mentioned earlier?! So let this writer narrate to you a brief flashback on Masonic history but let him first explain the two definitions of the word “lodge” as used in Masonry.


In Masonry, the word “lodge” has two distinct meanings and both are intertwined to each other. These are:

1. A lodge is a certain number of brethren, duly assembled, with a set of symbolic working tools and a charter or dispensation authorizing them to meet, and
2. it also refers to the edifice or building where the members mentioned in Item 1 hold their regular and special meetings, and such other functions necessary for their existence.


Eight decades ago or in 1922, two intrepid gentlemen, one a doctor of veterinary medicine named Alfonso Lecaros and the other a constabulary officer named Eulalio Tanedo thought of establishing a Masonic lodge in this beautiful and scenic island called Bohol. But two procedural requirements stood in the way. These are:

1. At least ten members of good standing of other lodges should enlist as charter members, and.
2. a dispensation from the Grand Lodge is needed so that a charter authorizing them to meet may later be issued.

Undaunted by the awesome task of convincing other brethren to join them in their noble objectives, the two convinced twelve other masons so that a dispensation to form a new lodge may be realized.

.The first meeting of the newly-formed lodge was held on November 23,1922 and two full months later or on January 23, 1923 the Grand Lodge issued a charter and named the lodge “Dagohoy” after the island’s rebel chieftain whose exploits, historical records reveal, lasted eight full decades and was registered as the longest armed rebellion to succeed in the entire archipelago. The cause of his armed struggle against the Spanish Conquistadors is a meaty source of a juicy article but will no longer be touched as like the “Blood Compact” that has become a vignette of the island’s colorful history, so was the rebellion of Francisco “Dagohoy” Sandejas .that was acclaimed as a successful struggle against the might of Spanish sovereignty.

To complete the name of the newly-formed lodge, it was assigned the number 84 to indicate it was the eighty fourth lodge to be established by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, thus formally naming it “Dagohoy Lodge No. 84.”

The fledgling lodge initially sailed on rough and stormy seas. The charter members being mostly from Cebu City and other environs had to travel by boat for at least five hours one way to attend the monthly regular and other special meetings Their hardy efforts were amply rewarded for in time permanent residents of the town enlisted as petitioners and after their formal raising as master masons finally dominated its membership.


With the establishment of the lodge as mentioned in the first definition having been successfully executed, the members then endeavored to erect the building as explained in the second definition. Previous to its construction, it held its meetings at a rented house in Tagbilaran.

The actual construction of the building started in April 1928 and was completed a full year later. Timbers were obtained from the forests of the towns of Anda and Sierra Bullones. One can well imagine the Herculean efforts in bringing the needed materials to the site entailed. It must have been done in much the same way when King Solomon’s Temple was built using for materials the timbers that were felled and prepared from the forests of Lebanon. And when completed, the imposing two story building stood regally along J. S. Torralba St., barely a stone-throw away from Shopsville and was to stay there for a full 77 years before it gave way to the new edifice that was built near the cemetery.


In January 11, 1931, Bro. Arnold Bartlett, Superintendent of Schools of Bohol died. Despite his being a Roman Catholic however, his mortal remains was denied burial at the town’s Catholic Cemetery. This sad experience prompted the brethren to establish their own burial grounds such that on November 14, 1931 a 2,750 square meter lot was purchased at Dampas that for seven decades served as resting place of the members whose mortal remains were to rest until the final judgment day.

This cemetery would be among the handful Masonic burial sites (Sorsogon City also has one) that exist in the country today.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not in any way represent those of this newspaper nor of the organization of which he is a member in good standing..


(September 9, 2007)

Less than a kilometer away from the City Hall building along J. Clarin St. going to the heart of the city is a cemetery that for eight decades usually bring chills to superstitious passersby especially during moonless nights.

Not anymore, for early last year an imposing two-story edifice was seen standing by its side that at nighttime had bright lights at the side of its rooftops displaying the words “DAGOHOY LODGE No. 84”

Just very recently when this writer boarded a pedicab bound for the place, its driver asked his passenger in the vernacular the words: “Na’a ba mga buring diha?” meaning, “are there prostitutes in there?” taking the question to mean that the word “lodge” is similar to the numberless lodges that operate the flesh trade in the downtown area, and received a mere shake of his head in reply.

Not many are aware that the building house the organizations of the Masonic Fraternity that had planted its roots in this beautiful and scenic island in 1922 and has remained in the island since then. In addition, it also serves as meeting place of three other allied groups called the Eastern Star, the Rainbow for Girls and the Order of DeMolay, the last of which is a male youth organization that includes for its members the youthful Luke Mijares of the belting song world.

Although relatively unknown except to a very limited few, its members include a number of the “who’s who” in the island’s only city. Listed are the Tirol brothers led by ex-Governor David B. Tirol, the debonair Bonifacio Quirog, Jr., of the Sanguniang Panlalawigan, Moises Millanar of the City Engineering Office and even the ageless mentor Uriel Leopando of the University of Bohol. Out there in Guindulman, the nongenarian Antonio Maputol is still alive and kicking after his similarly-aged fraternal brother Diosdado M..Palac was transported to the Great Beyond last February never to return.

Nationwide, its members include Chief Justice Reynato S. Puno of the Supreme Court, Secretary of Public Works Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr. of the Department of Public Works, Generals Avelino Razon, Jr, Romeo Barilla and Jesus Versoza of the Philippine National Police and many active generals in the Armed Forces. It also count in its roster Teddy Boy Locsin and Simeon Datumanong in the lower house of Congress.

The Masonic Fraternity is spread world-wide. From the British Isles count the king from whom the King James Version of the Holy Bible that was first printed in 1610 got its name. George Washington, the first president of the United States. Guisseppe Garibaldi of Italy and many other immortal heroes of Europe. Almost all heroes of the Philippine revolution like Jose Risal, Andres Bonifacio, Apolinrio Mabini and Rafael Palma are in its rolls. and four Filipino presidents namely, Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel L. Quezon, Manuel Roxas and Jose Laurel, Sr.

Its lodges, e1uivalent to “chapters” of other organizations, are spread all over the archipelago. It has lodges in places from Aparri to Jolo but most of those can be found in big cities especially in the metropolitan centers like the Greater Manila area, and cities of Cebu, Davao General Santos and Cagayan de Oro.

It is often said that the Fraternity is a secret organization of which its members casually deny by explaining that it could not possibly be because its place of meeting is visible and easily distinguishable to the outside world like the Dagohoy Masonic Temple. On the issue of holding its meetings in private rooms, they nonchalantly mention the age-old answer: “And who does not? Don’t husbands and wives hold their trysts in the seclusion of their private rooms whether in daytime or in the night??”

Because of its strict policy of admission, its membership in individual lodges is generally small, hardly exceeding a hundred at any given time. There are two good reasons for this; the first is the general and prevailing belief that the group does not believe in God and that it allegedly are engaged in devil worship hence the need to conduct their meetings in private.

Its members can only be amused. The Fraternity’s three principal tenets are (1) belief in God, (2) the immortality of the soul and (3) the brotherhood of all men taken all together and therefore one cannot be member if he does not expressly declares belief in an Omnipotent God.

Another drawback on increase in membership is its forbidden rule to attract members. One cannot even suggest to a son or a relative to join the Fraternity which members also call the “Craft.” A prospective member, otherwise called a “petitioner”, must knock at its doors of his own free will and accord.