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.