(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.