The man who had the initiative and chief responsibility for the founding of Maguindanaw Lodge No. 40 was Fulgencio F. Pangan, a member of Nilad Lodge No. 144.

    He was employed with the U.S. Geodetic Survey in Manila with a salary of P200.00 a month. Unfortunately, he was desperately addicted to gambling which was rampant there.  With the hope that he might rid himself of the evil, he sought transfer to Cagayan as clerk of the court of first instance; knowing beforehand that the salary attached to this office was only P150.00.  However, this self-imposed reduction of P50.00 in salary was a sacrifice he was willing and glad to make, if only to attain his desire for a change of atmosphere.

    On his first trip to Cagayan in December of 1910, we were fellow passengers on the "S. S. Robert Poizat' and we happened to occupy the same cabin.  This was how he came to explain to me his predicament and, also, his plan to found a masonic lodge here.

    Soon after his arrival, he discovered that there were three master masons residing in Cagayan;  namely, Nicolas Capistrano, Isidro Vamenta, and Emilio Pineda, all of Nilad Lodge.  Armed with the necessary authority, he organized a so-called "Triangulo" and started initiating, passing and raising applicants.  By July 14, 1911, incidentally a date coinciding with the fall of the Bastille, an event so momentous in the cause of liberty, a lodge under dispensation held its first formal meeting.  Present were: Fulgencio F. Pangan, Emilio Pineda, Isidro Vamenta, and Nicolas Capistrano, master masons; Apolinar Velez, Uldarico Akut and J. Roa Valdeconcha, fellowcrafts; Ricardo Reyes and Celedonio Abellanosa, apprentices. A third apprentice, Nemesio Chavez failed to attend due to illness.

    The need to establish a masonic lodge in Cagayan was discussed at this meeting.  Let us listen to Brother Isidro Vamenta speak on the proposition in his florid Spanish:  "Yo creo que hasta es inutil que se pregunte todavia a los quiridos hermanos aqui presentes, porque supongo que todos estan muy dispuestos a llever al terreno de la readlidad ian hermoa idea;  "I believe that it is even unnecessary to ask yet the beloved brethren here present, for I presume that all are determined that such a brilliant idea be brought into concrete form." The proposal was approved.

    The name of the proposed lodge was taken up next, Pineda proposed "Nicuban" the name of a native nonconformish of Butuan;  Vamenta proposed "Minda", seconded by Apolinar Velez;  Roa Valdeconcha suggested that instead of Minda it be Mindanao;  and Capistrano proposed "Bitoon". Except for one, all voted that the name be "Maguindanao"(Note:  At a meeting held on August 17, it was decided that the name be written as "Maguindanaw").

    At the meeting of July 16, the following were elected as the first officers of the lodge under dispensation:  Fulgencio F. Pangan, Master,  Isidro Vamenta, Senior Warden,  Emilio Pineda, Junior Warden;  Nicolas Capistrano, Orator;  J. Roa Valdeconcha, Secretary;  Nemesio Chavez, Treasurer;  Uldarico Akut, "Expert";  Ricardo Reyes, Almoner;  Apolinar Velez, Master of Ceremonies,  and Celedonio Avellanosa, Tyler.  They were installed on the following day.

    Fulgencio F. Pangan was a perfect gentleman and a thorough mason who believed and practiced the principles of masonry, whom it was a privilege to know.  Because of his kindly, amiable disposition, he was made to order for the task he had set his heart on to accomplish.  It is thus pathetic in the extreme to note in this truncated narrative that he did no live to see the lodge which he had so fondly and zealously striven to found chartered.  He would indeed be a very happy man had he lived to know that the lodge of his creation branched out from Cagayan to Lanao and thence to Misamis Occidental, and that the institution so dear to his heart has taken root firmly throughout Mindanao, down to Basilan and Sulu.  He presided for the last time a lodge meeting held on March 26, 1912, and after that Apolinar Velez took over as acting master.  But fully one year had elapsed before another meeting was held on March 26, 1913.

    At this meeting, three important steps toward the constitution of the lodge were definitely taken.  Agreeably to instructions from the Regional Grand Lodge.  (1) Brothers Nemesio Chavez and Mariano Velez were raised to the degree of master mason;  (2) Brother Apolinar Velez was elected Worshipful Master and the newly raised brothers, Nemesio Chavez and Mariano Velez, Senior and Junior Wardens;  and (3) the lodge was lawfully installed by Ramon Vanta, Manuel Villavicencio and Simon Ariante, all of Sinukuan Lodge No. 272, who had been duly commissioned for the purpose, and was subsequently granted a charter as "Maguindanaw Lodge No. 334".  After the Grand Lodge of the Philippines was constituted, following the fusion of the Philippine Lodges under the Grand Orient of Spain and the American Lodges here under the Grand Lodge of California, it was granted a new charter on February 13, 1917, to be known as Maguindanaw Lodge No. 40.  It continued to work in the ritual of the Scottish Rite used by the Grand Orient of Spain until 1922 when the Grand Lodge sent Brother Francisco Gumila Carag, Grand Lodge Instructor, to instruct us in the Yorl Rite, ("Cal") which it had previously adopted for use by the subordinate Lodges.

     From the time F. F. Pangan and the "Triangulo" started initiating, passing and raising affiliates in 1911 to the installation of the lodge on March 26, 1913, its membership was composed of the following: F. F. Pangan who presided at every meeting and was Worshipful Master of the Lodge under dispensation, employees of the U.S. Geodetic Survey and clerk of Court of First Instance; Nicolas Capistrano, lawyer, founder and professor of the short-lived Colegio Cagayano, military governor and general of the revolution, assemblyman, senator, judge of first instance and land owner; Isidro vamenta, lawyer assistant fiscal, province of Cebu, assemblyman, and secretary of the defunct Department of Mindanao and Sulu;  Emilio Pineda, lawyer, governor of the Province of Agusan, and land owner;  Apolinar Velez, major in the Revolution, provincial secretary, twice provincial governor, and clerk of the court of first instance;  Ricardo Reyes, provincial governor and land owner;  Uldarico Akut, notary public, presidente municipal of Cagayan;  C. T. Abellanosa, deputy, office of the Provincial Treasurer, deputy governor, and farmer;  Juan Roa Valdeconcha, Lieutenant in the revolution, justice of the peace, member of the provincial board and provincial governor;  Nemesio Chavez, prominent businessman and land owner;  Manuel A. Roa, first and only pensionado from Misamis to the U.S., supervising teacher and acclaimed professor of mathematics in the College of Agriculture, U.P.;  Cayetano Pacana, capitan municipal of Cagayan, major in the revolution, prominent businessman and land owner;  Tirso Neri, biggest merchant in Cagayan, municipal president and liberal supporter of the revolution;  Eutiquio Daomilas, notary public and member of the provincial board;  Victorico Chavez, businessman and land owner;  Memesio Yamomo, municipal treasurer, Cagayan  and  Isabelo de Silva, provincial treasurer of Misamis and Pampanga provinces.

    The change of rites in the Philippines jurisdiction had been in effect in the Manila lodges and some lodges in Luzon before its use was enforced in our Lodge.  The change was complete and rather radical, considering the great difference between the rituals of the two rite.  It did not particularly appeal to the habit of mind of the old members who were accustomed to the used of the printed rituals of the old rite.

    In the election of the officers for the year 1923, younger members who were more receptive and adaptable to the new rite, the management of lodge affairs passed from the old to the younger members.

    In taking over the lodge management we were faced with the problem of membership.  For although several of the old initiates who had neglected their lodge affiliation were passed and raised during the period of instruction in the new rite, yet a good number of our members then were government officials and employees who were transferred from time to time to other provinces and those that remained were often sent out of town on missions connected with their offices. With these transfers our membership dwindled and times were when we had a hard time in gathering sufficient numbers to make a quorum for the transaction of business or to do degree work.

    When news of the unexpected death of President Harding in 1923 was received here, it was decided that a memorial service be held to his memory.  For this purpose, we secured the free use of the only cine house in town owned by Bro. Clementino Chaves.  The proper catafalque was put up, the building properly decorated.  Bro. Barlett, then division superintendent of schools in Misamis and Bro. Stevens, a retired constabulary colonel were two of those who participated in the ceremony.  All participants wore mess jackets.  The building was full of overflowing.  The solemnity of the ceremony seemed to have deeply impressed those in attendance who were attentive and quite throughout the whole proceedings.  The service was thus a complete success.

    Some years later, Bro. Pedro Diaz, an ex-secretary of the lodge died.  For the first time there was held in this town a masonic funeral.  Bro. Diaz was in charge of the agency of the Philippine Refining Company and was well known among government officials, had many friends among businessmen and enjoyed a good stangin in the community.  A sizeable group of people attended his burial.

    These two "services", each held for the first time in this town marked the emergence of a strong Maguindanaw Lodge from one that was weakening and seemed headed for complete annihilation.  For after each service applications for membership were filed.  Among applicants, it may be noted, was the late Bro. Alfredo P. Shapit then academic supervisor for Misamis.  This simply goes to prove that even among the intellectual segment of our society there were those who were misled into the belief that masonry in an evil association of evil man organized for evil purposes.  To those men masonry was so forbidding that they not only shied away from it, but held it with a feeling of abhorrence.  Our unpurpossive ceremonies thus accidentally served as an effective means to dispel the deep-seated prejudice against our ancient and honorable institution.  From here, our membership has kept growing.

    After the formation of the lodge under dispensation, it used a house rented from the late Aquilino Gabor.  Later, when Bro. Fausto del Prado decided to go home to Manila he offered for sale his house and lot.  But the lodge was in no position to pay the price.  But an arrangement was made whereby the late Bro. Cipriano Vamenta bought the property and in turn sold it to the lodge on the installment plan.  Most of the cost, however, was charged to the payments for his monthly dues.  The house was transferred to a centrical position of the lot and modified to suit the purposes of a lodge.  This was the lodge building we used for many years until Bro. Ubaldo D. Laya was assigned to Cagayan as Provincial Treasurer when he pushed thru the long proposed organization, in 1950 of a Maguindanaw Building Association.  As a result, now stands the imposing lodge building, which surely is not the largest and the best, but one of which any mason can be proud.

    Masonry thrives in the face of the persistent, pernicious attacks against it. As these are intensified, masonry grow with greater vigor.  Thus where we had less fifteen active members some thirty years ago, we now have around one hundred.  And counting those who have demitted and those that have passed away, more than two hundred "have gone this way".  And we are firmly of the belief that as long as masons "square their action with the square of virtue", masonry will live. Ignorance and tyranny cannot stop the march of an institution founded on so solid a foundation as the masonic institution. As it has been, so it will ever be.

     Maguindanaw must be considered the mother lodge in Mindanao. With the exception of Mount Apo 45 which was founded by some American and Filipino masons from scattered lodges, the others are off-shoots of Maguindanaw Lodge.

     I should be remiss in a sacred duty if in closing this brief history I would fail to recall to memory at this time the name of Fulgencio F. Pangan, the selfless architect of Maguindanaw Lodge No. 40, and those of Apolinar Velez. Emilio Pineda and Nemesio Chavez whose zeal kept the spirit of masonry alive in the midst of a society imbued with a fanatical prejudice against it, and whose exemplary characters and spotless lives reflected a true image of the institution which has survived "The laps of time, the ruthless hand of ignorance and devastations of war and the unsparing ravages of barbarous force". We who have drank deep in the fountain of Masonic wisdom owe the honored dead a debt of eternal gratitude.

Antonio T. Cosin

Tagoloan, July 5, 1961.

 
 
Maguindanao Lodge No. 40 F.& A. M., Masonic District No. 28, Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines


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