Cerise P. Crudo

Freemasonry has evolved from its ancient days as an operative craft to become what is now a speculative one. Operative, because, in the earlier times when there were still no modern modes of anything (transportation and communication wise), the professionals, if they wanted to stay alive and efficient, became members of guilds -- therefore the guild of Masons. As people became freer, they became Freemasons but still retainecl their organization and gradually as modernization came, more and more non-masons embraced their craft and it became more of the speculative kind. The craft of Masonry (literally, as in building and carpentry) has evolved and consequently was given meanings -- its square, compass, hammer, lambskin apron etc., all have amazing purposes in the life of a Freemason and also, I can aver, of Man as well.

Freemasonry as a fraternity has proven itself well especially in the times when it is most needed. From its definition -- a Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God -- to its aims -- brotherly love, relief and truth -- to its basic tenets -- justice, fortitude, restraint, prudence, reverence and temperance -- to its most obvious lessons -- freedom of speech and religion and political opinion and resistance to any forms of tyranny -- to the causes it has advocated -- separation of Church and State, free public education for all, etc, the fraternity has become a haven and an able teacher to its members, many of whom have answered the call of their countries in times of bondage and persecution. These men, having been thoroughly enlightened by their association with the Fraternity, became instrumental in winning for their people their freedom, which they learned as an inherent right of man. Some of these heroes and noble men include - Jefferson, Washington, Franklin of the US; Garibaldi of Italy, Pushkin, Kererisky of Russia; R. Churchill, George IV, Edward VII of England; Von Goethe of Germany; Bolivar of Columbia; Jose San Martin of Argentina; Hidalgo of Mexico, etc. The list goes on and on and as my report has fervently illustrated, we can even add some of our own -- Rizal, del Pilar, M. Ponce, Lopez Jaena, A. Luna, J. Luna, even Bonifacio, Mabini, Aguinaldo, etc... of the Philippines.

Pre-Jose Rizal, 1700 - 1800's

Due to the political upheavals in Spain, a lot of liberals and Masons were exiled from their mother country to the islands. Because of rapid improvements in the world's financial and cultural consciousness, a lot of foreigners likewise got to interact with the natives. From these various characters, the brown-skinned people began to hear of terms like freedom, tyranny, masonry, etc. Naturally they were intrigued and for a while they got bold enough and joined Masonic Lodges and learned. Unfortunately for them, and luckily for the drama of our history, 1872 happened and once again everything became quiet.

Jose Rizal: His brother Paciano was a student of Padre Burgos, whose brother-in-law, Dr Mariano Marti, 33rd Mason, most likely became one of Paciano's influences. Teodora Alonzo's brother, Jose Alonzo, was also a Mason and it was in his house in Binan where young Jose stayed when he was a student. In his first voyage, when they docked temporarily in Naples, he wrote his family, how impressed he was with the posters of Masons announcing the death of Garibaldi, their former Grand Master. When he got to the Universidad de Madrid, his history professor was Miguel Morayta, whose being a Mason figured prominently both in Spanish and Filipino Masonic history. All these plus the fact that the powerful people in the Spanish government (among them, Becerra, Sagaste, Pi y Margall) mostly belonged to the Fraternity, its indelible impact on the young student in all likelihood made him join Acasia Lodge No. 9 -- under Grand Oriente de Espanol, whose Grand Master then was Becerra. He chose Dimasalang as his Masonic name.

In his travels throughout Europe, he quickly became friends with Feodor Jagor, Rudolf Vinchow and Friedrich Ratsel, the first two becoming his avid sponsors in two societies in Berlin. Their quick affinity with Rizal would not be so surprising for those who knew that all of them were Masons -- his fraternity brothers.

His novel Noli Me Tangere was smuggled by his brother mason Jose Ramos into Manila, and when he returned home, the three powers there -- Terrero, Centeno, Quiroga -- were all Masons and therefore he escaped unreasonable harassment. But when the Calamba issue became maliciously controversial he was told by Terrero to leave.

In Hongkong, he got to know his brother Jose Ma. Basa. In New York he secretly wrote in his diary the street adjacent to the street of NY's Grand Lodge. In London, he hooked up with his brothers Reinhold Rost and Antonio Regidor. His Sucesos was smuggled in Hongkong by Basa and another brother Rodriguez, in Manila. Despite his hectic itinerary, he became affiliated with the Propagandists in Spain, most of whom were Masons like del Pilar, Lopez Jaena, Luna, Ponce, Panganiban, etc. - even with his old professor Morayta. He became an officer in their lodge Solidaridad No. 53 in 1890. They decided to spread Masonry in their miserable country because they strongly felt it was needed there. (There are a lot of literature available of their speeches about Masonry and its influence on them.)

One can say that these young men became "intoxicated" with the fraternity. Rizal and del Pilar had the differences of beliefs and the former left the lodge in Spain. He joined a lodge in Paris (members include T. Pardo de Tavera, V. Ventura, and A. Bautista) and was appointed Grand Representative to France and Germany by GM Morayta of Spain. As for El Filibusterismo, Basa and Rodriguez gave him money. In Ghent, he stayed with his brother Alejandrino and loaned money from Ventura. In Hong kong, he was helped by Bro. Basa, Robert Frazier and others in the medical board in publishing his articles. When his North Borneo project came up he got assured help from his brothers there as well. Brother Timoteo Paez helped his family in their trip to Hongkong. When he returned to Manila, he was accompanied by Paez and Bro. Serrano Laktaw around the city. He attended Masonic banquets and when he formed La Liga Filipina, around 30 or more people there were Masons, among them is Bonifacio. When he was deported, most of the Masons were bounded, tortured then killed but their brothers still held on. Five of them formed the Katipunan, D. Arellano, T. Plata, V. Diaz, Ladislao Diwa and A. Bonifacio. The rest is history.

Post Rizal

After he died, his brothers in Hongkong paid him a tribute, Bro. Emilio Aguinaldo, then the President of the Republic declared the day of his death a day of national mourning, and in Club Filipino, a tribute by his brothers again, and in Daet, Camarines Norte, the first ever monument dedicated to him was put up by his brothers. His brothers Father Toribio del Pilar and Father Manuel Trias gave requiem masses for Rizal which led to their Church being humiliated and excommunicated. In Madrid, under GM Morayta, his Spanish brothers paid him a tribute and a memorial placed in their Grand Lodge. They also circulated handbills with Rizal's portrait and farewell poem. His brothers in Barcelona got a street and named it in Rizal's memory. One can just imagine the publicity his death generated and the impact it had on his Fraternity brothers from all over the world, seeing as they did - one of their own - killed for believing what they also believed in. As the years went by, the Church realized its role as the villain to Rizal's martyrdom. So they gradually made excuses for their behavior and even accidentally found the retraction of Rizal more than three decades after his death. Regarding their bastard son's burial, recall that the Church didn't even do anything worthy of its name.

In 1912, the Jesuits approached the Rizal famiy for the rights to bury their famous pupil, but they gave their consent instead to his fraternity brothers, who, led by Dr Isidro de Santos and Timoteo Paez, asked for the same petition. So then on December 27, 1912, Rizal's fraternity brothers, dressed in full Masonic regalia had a long procession to the Masonic Temple in Tondo solemnly carrying their slain brother's body, or rather, what was left of it. On December 28, they had their funeral rites, and on the 29th they were with the Rizal family in the Luneta. They saw both their famous blood brother and fraternity brother be given the honorable burial he deserves. And so it was that until his death and beyond, his ties with the Fraternity was still with him.

Personal Comments and Analysis

I know very well that my report was just a hasty addition by my professor but it is one, which I was vaguely familiar with so I went and researched. I wasn't prepared for what I discovered. I mean, I belong to a Masonic family and all but this is the first time I really realized what the fraternity is. That I was awed by everything is an understatement. I was thrilled, excited, very very happy and proud that my family belongs to, and that I am familiar with the Fraternity which has figured exceptionally in the lives of virtually all mortal saviors of the different countries and even prouder that through my research, I was able to become even more intimate with our own. I got to know them, their struggles, their ceIebrtions, their jawdropping bravery, how they behaved as members of the fraterrity, and most of all, that they were also human, like me, who were in need of an organization to develop their humanity , because like them, I also have one sorority and one organization - the former in UP, the latter under the Masonic Fraternity. And like them, I also belong to the best. But enough about them and me. As a reporter, I have to give an objective analysis about Rizal and the Masons.

So, anyway, we all know that the documentation on the influence of the Masonic Fraternity on our boys from the 1800's to the Revolution ranges from being simply unaccredited; like in Guerrero to highly skimpy, in Constantino to being there but still a bit hasty, and Agoncillo. And now the prolific Filipino masonic historian Reynold S. Fajardo had his two books "Dimasalang" and the "The Brethren" published with full account of our heroes' membership to the Fraternity and the considerable influence it had on them. Now why is this so? (Actually for those who think that Dad Fajardo is a little bit pro Masonic - if they read his books, they can consult the other histo rians I've mentioned and also John Schumacher and they will see that the basic facts are there, they've all been mentioned a million times before but never the Masonic connection. And if they say that Dad Fajardo is biased towards Masonry he's not biased nor is he an inventor of facts. [he's a lawyer], he's just proud of their Fraternity [like I am] and in his books the aim is not to publicize but to correctly document and that is all I need to know to believe.)

So to my question, I think these historians have difficulty explaining the Masonic connection because they aren't Masons. They weren't privileged enough to go through the same initiation rites their subjects underwent and therefore never can understand and appreciate fully the extent of how its lessons can affect its members. It would be very hard indeed to write about something you don't know. The Fraternity, for me, has been like the invisible thread, which these historians can't put their finger on to. What else can tie them all together and encourage them to become bolder and braver? Not as if I'm downplaying their desire for their country's freedom, but it is precisely because our young students (and also the older ones) did desire freedom and change and because they are Masons that our history became what it was. To understand what I said, recall what they have learned in the Fraternity whenever their exploits are mentioned.

And to the question about whether this Masonic influence on our history should even be discussed, I leave it up to the reader. The most obvious answer is the quest for truth, isn't it? I don't want to impose anything on anyone but this is what I have researched, what I have found out and what I lay on the line. It is up to the reader to decide whether Masonry should even be worthy of the attention it is getting from some. Dad Fajardo has made up his mind and so have I. It's the readers~ turn and it's my classmates' turn to make up their minds and decide. C'mon, that's what we're in school for, isn't it?


The Author

Ms. Crudo was in her Senior Year in Special Education at the College of Education, University of the Philippines (Diliman, Quezon City) when she wrote this article. She is a PWA of Perla Assembly No. 1, Order of the Rainbow for Girls. She is the daughter of WB Rogelio Crudo, PM of Capitol Lodge No. 174 and the grand daughter of the late MW Manuel Crudo, Sr. ( PGM).

Reprinted from "The Cable Tow", Vol 75. No.5