FILMAGS... by: W∴
Bert Bautista (Updated 2005)
It was on June 3, 1995 when a group of eight Filipino Freemasons met and conceptualized the birth of an organization, which was known as the Filipino Masonic Association of Greater Seattle. Unknown to each other, their only bond is their common experience before the Masonic Altar. A second meeting was held in July 8, 1995 by a group of ten. Word spread around, and in the succeeding series of meetings, other Filipino Freemasons joined the initial group. In 2005, this association changed its name to the Filipino Masons of Greater Seattle and retained its acronym, “FILMAGS”.
The group agreed that the general goal of the association was to promote the tenets of Freemasonry, which are: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth, among many others. The Constitution and Bylaws were drafted and then approved. On October 7, 1995, fifteen charter members signed the Articles of Incorporation. This document was filed in the State of Washington on Nov. 6, 1995. In August 1999, the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington granted FILMAGS the permission to use the square and compasses in its logo (used in its business correspondences, decals, shirts, etc).
In the organizational stage, the members expressed the desire to create a venue by which the members can converse in Pilipino (or their dialect) without offending a non-speaker. Then, FILMAGS limited its membership to Filipino-speaking (not necessarily Tagalog) Freemasons. Until now, the medium of business meetings and fellowship is in the Tagalog language. However, non-Pilipino-speaking members have joined the ranks.
FILMAGS is as average as any other Filipino association in the Puget Sound area, but with one major distinction. All members must be a member “in good standing” of a Masonic Lodge that is “recognized” by the Grand Lodge of Washington. This a prerequisite to retain one’s membership in the association. FILMAGS is NOT a “Masonic lodge”; its meetings are not “tyled”. It is a generic “square and compasses club” that adheres to the Masonic decorum.
Needless to say, FILMAGS is an all-male organization. However, it cannot be denied that it did not and will not survive as an association without the understanding and support of the wives and children of the members. Ladies are respectfully addressed as “sisters” much the same way as the members address each other as “brothers”. In 1999, the president of the association initiated the FILMAGS Ladies Auxiliary.
During the first 3 years, the business meetings were conducted in a member’s residence. Ladies and children were and are always welcomed. At most times it coincided with the host family’s milestones such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations and the like. Contributing a Filipino dish is the informal rule for potluck. Thereafter, a centrally located church, offered the use of their facility. In 2004, FILMAGS was able to find a temporary home in Lake City Masonic Building.
In the ten years FILMAGS has been in existence, members have assumed stations in their blue lodges from south to east. Some members belong to the local appendant orders and concordant bodies of Freemasonry such as the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, the York Rite Bodies, the Order of Amaranth, and the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Some members are “majority” of the Order of Job’s Daughters or “senior” members of the Order of DeMolay for Boys.
FILMAGS inculcates in its members the practice of Freemasonry’s way of life. FILMAGS reinforces the bond of being Filipinos by birth in the context of being naturalized citizens of United States of America. Over the years, it has metamorphosed as a subculture - a combination of two cultures: that of Freemasonry’s and the Filipino culture. By virtue of the geographic residence, the FILMAGS psyche has a touch of the Pacific Northwest and the Evergreen State, manifested in its activities and taste (e.g. camping in wooded forests, mountain ranges, pristine lakes, recycling, the Navy, the salmon, crabs and oysters, coffee, aerospace, and the computer technology).
Most recently, FILMAGS established relationships with the Filipino Freemasons of Bremerton, Washington, Vancouver, British Columbia and Calgary, Alberta. FILMAGS has detached itself from umbrella organizations.
FILMAGS continues to grow as an association, emphasizing the quality than numbers. Ever so, FILMAGS will remain a venue for furthering socio-cultural growth of the Filipino Freemason and his family living in the Pacific Northwest.
HIGHLIGHTS OF ACTIVITIES
1995 June 8 ~ Conceptualization of the FILMAGS by the group of eight. Ten met during the second meeting. This was followed by a series of meetings where the Constitution and by-laws were drafted.
1995 October 7 ~ A group of fifteen members signed the Articles of Incorporation as charter members of FILMAGS.
1995 Joined the Philippine Masonic Association of America, Inc.
1996 August ~ Participated as a vendor at the local “Pista Sa Nayon”- a Seafair event in the Puget Sound area. First attempt to raise funds and to be visible in the Filipino community.
1996 First summer picnic held at the Masonic Park in Granite Falls. This set the trend for the annual summer camp out (tent) and the summer picnic.
1996 FILMAGS was invited as guests during the visit of the Hon. Salvador Laurel, then Vice-President of the Philippines.
1996 First year of Christmas caroling that generated funds for the organization..
1997 Summer ~ Assisted the Consulate on Wheels, together with two other organizations, with the Philippine Trade Commission (based in Seattle) as the lead organization. First community service.
1997 Members were individually invited in receiving the Hon. Fidel V. Ramos, President of the Republic of the Philippines, during his official visit to Seattle, Washington.
1997 Summer ~ First family tent camping held at the Masonic Park in Granite Falls, in lieu of a summer picnic. Another camping at the Naval Radio Station in Darrington followed this.
1997 The Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Valley of Everett officially invited the FILMAGS choir to perform at their Christmas celebration. A part of the second year of caroling.
1997 First newsletter, Trestleboard, was published. This was then superseded by the creation of the FILMAGS e-mail group [firstname.lastname@example.org].
1998 Spring ~ First formal dinner-dance was held at the Nile Shriners Ball Room. This coincided with the Valentine’s Party
1998 First Summer Picnic at the Nile Shrine picnic grounds in Mountlake Terrace. This now has been a yearly affair.
1999 February ~ First informal Sweethearts Night in honor of the ladies.
1999 The FILMAGS Ladies auxiliary was formally established.
1999 Spring ~ First paint party was organized to work on the basement of the local church where FILMAGS meet. Done to reciprocate the goodwill and in appreciation to the Ronald Methodist Church in Shoreline, for the free use of the place.
1999 FILMAGS and the Travelers of Bremerton assisted the Worshipful Master of Rainier Lodge No. 189 in closing his lodge. During this lodge’s Filipino Night, all in the stations were in their “barong”.
1999 August ~ The then Grand Master of Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Washington, MWB Bill Wood, granted FILMAGS the use of the square and compasses in its logo.
1999 August ~ The Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Philippines, MWB Franklin V. Demonteverde was co-hosted by FILMAGS and our brothers from the Travelers of Bremerton.
1999 First (intra-FILMAGS) Bowling Tournament at the Skyline Lanes
1999 First barn dance sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary.
2000 February ~ Sponsored the PMAAI Board Meeting and was co-hosted by our brothers from the Travelers of Bremerton.
2000 March ~ Co-sponsored with three other Filipino organizations, the performance of the famed UP Concert Chorus. FILMAGS was the lead organization.
2000 FILMAGS lost a sister to cancer and in her memory, we include her in our history and fond memories.
2000 May ~ The first organized a paint party to assist the Masonic Park in Granite Falls, in painting the Peterson Hall (Bldg. 90) of the park. First service to the Masonic community. This spearheaded the paint party for fun and for funds.
2000 Summer ~ Paint party was in full operation, to generate funds from the donations given by homeowners.
2000 September ~ Second yearly chapter visit of the Grand Master of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Philippines. MWB Oscar V. Bunyi plus 12 other Filipino Freemasons. This was co-hosted by our brothers from the Travelers of Bremerton.
2000 September ~ The first Cook Out and Overnight conducted at the Rainbow Dream Camp of the Masonic Park.
2000 October ~ First Halloween Dance sponsored by the Ladies Auxiliary.
2001 Operated a SAFECO Baseball Field food stand to raise funds.
2001 MW Nap Soriano, Grand Master of the MW Grand Lodge of the Philippines, visited Seattle.
2001 Earned an Honor Roll status at the Masonic Park for volunteer work. (See photo in the "Honor Roll" page.)
2001 More fundraising had been initiated.
2002 FILMAGS and MWB Jimmy Reid, the then Grand Master of Washington, met with the Masons of the Regional Philippine Grand Lodge in America.
2003 September ~ Hosted the 19th Annual PMAAI Convention.
2004 The assembly adopted a resolution to leave PMAAI.
2004 Established relationship with the brothers from Bremerton [Washington], Vancouver [British Columbia], and Calgary [Alberta].
2004 Initiated a change in the constitutional (charter) and the codification (by-laws) of unwritten rules and practices of the association.
2005 February ~ Visited the brethren of the Travelers of Washington (Bremerton) on their meeting.
FORMAL WINTER BALL ~ Dinner/dance that coincides with the induction of officers. Strictly black tie and long gown.
SUMMER FAMILY CAMPING ~ Once or twice a year for the past 10 years, fellowship is enjoyed under the blue canopy of heaven, and a sound sleep under the nylon camping tents. True to its Pacific Northwest culture, FILMAGS camp out during summer. The 245-acre Masonic Park in Granite Falls in WA State has been the venue.
SUMMER PICNIC ~ Yearly summer picnic (since 1996) and at times a golf game at the Nile Shriners Picnic grounds. This started in 1998, in lieu of the summer picnic at the Masonic Park and in addition to the summer camp out.
[Background music is "The Magic Flute (Overture)" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.]