TRUE MASONRY ALIVE AND
WELL IN THE PHILIPPINES
of you may know that I recently traveled to the Philippines with my wife
for a 3 week trip to visit her family. It was also a great opportunity
to visit lodges and meet many brethren of the Craft. My Masonic adventure
began when I arrived at the Manila Airport. Being a proud Past Master
of Honolulu Lodge, I naturally was wearing my lodge shirt. My wife had
traveled ahead of my son and I, so I was TRUE MASONRY ALIVE AND WELL IN
THE PHILIPPINES taking care of my 2 year old son on a 10 hour flight by
myself. No small feat for anyone. I departed the plane and proceeded to
the customs area. I realized that I had left my customs declaration form
on the plane. My son was asleep in my arms and the woman at the counter
told me I had to get out of a long line and fill the form out and then
get back in line. As you can imagine, I was upset. As I was turning around,
an Immigration/ Customs official noticed my lodge shirt with the large
square and compass on the back. He ran up to me and identified himself
as a Master Mason who was a member of a lodge in Quezon City. Brother
Dennis took my son and I into his air conditioned office and filled the
form out for me. He stamped our passports and took us to the baggage area.
Not that I expected to get preferential treatment, but it was a very nice
feeling to know that a Brother from another country who didn’t know
me from Adam treated me like family. We are a Masonic family of brethren
spread all over the world. This one experience allowed me to appreciate
that fact even more.
Even at the baggage area, I met a Brother who lived in my wife’s
home town who had just visited Hawaii for the
opening of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu. Masons seemed to
pop up everywhere. After settling in, I contacted the Grand Lodge to get
information about lodge meetings. I discovered there were many lodges
close by as well as in Manila. The first lodge I contacted was Pintong
Bato Lodge, in Bacoor. The lodge name means “door of stone”.
A Past Master and two other Brothers came over to our house to introduce
themselves. They invited me to a resort island where many of the Masons
go jogging in the morning. At the early morning event, they treated me
as if I was their true Brother. The food was great and they had planned
the whole event just to welcome me to the Philippines. I was surrounded
by influential men in very high positions of government and business.
It was true Masonic friendship in the flesh. Over the coming weeks, the
Brethren of this lodge continued to stop by our home and invite me to
other events. I enjoyed a lodge meeting and special dinner at Las Pinas
Lodge and met more wonderful Brothers. I also discovered that most of
the Philippine Airline pilots are Masons as well as much of the senior
military and police officials.
I also had the opportunity to visit a 3rd Degree raising at the Plaridel
Center, which is the Grand Lodge temple building for the entire Philippines.
Walana Lodge treated me very well and their ritual was not that different
from ours. After all, we both have ritual based on California’s.
I learned that Walana Lodge is one of the oldest lodges in the Philippines
and that the Katipunan was formed from its members. This was an organization
that wanted independence from Spain and was considered very treasonous
by the Spanish government. In Filipino, Walana means “nothing”.
Their name alludes to the fact that the lodge had to meet in secret in
order to hide from Spanish officials who wanted to catch the revolutionaries
conspiring to overthrow the government. Many of the generals, heroes and
founding fathers of their country were FreeMasons. The most famous of
course was Dr. Jose Rizal. They have a lot in common with Americans because
Although the Philippines may have its share of political and economic
problems, the brethren of Masons living there are living up to their Masonic
obligations and take Masonry seriously. We in Hawaii could learn a lot
from our Filipino brethren. The moral teachings and ancient tradition
becomes a part of how you live your life and how you treat others. It
gives you a stronger purpose for wanting to help your fellow Brother,
fellow man and make a difference in your community. Honolulu Lodge is
on the right track and we can be proud of our accomplishments over the
past several years. Lets keep the true Masonic principles in mind and
do the best we can for everyone.
Frank M. Condello, II
Past Master 2001