Monday, September 11, 2006

Rebels, Freemasons and History

Lincoln Lodge No. 34
Hanford Lodge No. 279

In 1887, a Filipino doctor named Jose Rizal (Logia Solidaridad No. 53, Madrid, Spain) wrote novels about Spanish occupation which inspired Andres Bonifacio (Taliba Lodge No. 165) to create a secret nationalist society patterned after Masonic structure (Katipunan). The execution of Bro/Doc Rizal who was against armed revolution, set off open armed clashes between Filipinos and Spanish troops. The Spanish Gov. Gen. who made conscious effort to shield Rizal from serious prosecution, cost him his job and was recalled back to Spain. The replacement Governor-General launched a crackdown to the rebels including execution of Jose Rizal. Because Rizal refused to turn around to recant his opposite view of the Church e.g. renounced Freemasonry, the Church denied Rizal request to marry an Irish woman named Josephine Bracken.

Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo (Pilar Lodge No. 203) waged successful battle against Spaniards during the early phase of the Philippine Revolution. Gen. Aguinaldo ordered the arrest of Bonifacio who was unfortunately assasinated/executed by Aguinaldo's troops. When American forces replaced Spain as the new master, local troops fought US soldiers in what is known as Philippine Insurrection (1899-1902). During this stage of “insurrection,” fearing coup from Gen. Antonio Luna (Logia Solidaridad, Madrid) Aguinaldo's soldiers was accused of murdering the Commanding General of Filipino forces.

Late 1898, U.S. President William McKinley (Hiram Lodge No. 21) deliver his Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation and claimed American jurisdiction over the islands. He declared Gen. Aguinaldo as bandit and sends about 3/4 of U.S. Army to steer the natives to “maturity” and “enlightenment.” Rudyard Kipling (Hope and Perseverance Lodge No. 872, India) wrote a poem urging America to recognize the duty of "civilizing" less fortunate people, notably the Filipinos.

Take up the White Man's burden--
Send forth the best ye breed--
Go bind your sons to exile--
To serve your captives' need.

"…rather bad poetry, but good sense from the expansionist standpoint." Theodore Roosevelt, Secretary of the Navy (Matinecock Lodge No.806, NY).

Manuel Quezon, who served as a Major in Aguinaldo staff, saw combat as a young man later on became Assemblyman, Resident Commissioner in U.S., President of Philippine Senate, and the President of Commonwealth of the Philippines (1935). He was a member of Sinukuan Lodge No. 272 and the first Filipino Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines. Manuel Quezon, PGM defeated his old boss during pre-WWII election for Presidency of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Holland Lodge No. 8, NY) denied personal plea from the President Quezon for more U.S. assistance before the outbreak of WWII. The exiled-President Quezon, PGM died in United States in 1944.

I attempted to illustrate that history will show freemasons were on both sides of the issue. Men who believe in their own convictions, and viewed the same object with different interpretation. Using different filters accumulated during his time, each one comes up with his own solution. The ideals of our Craft expose each student to Lessons of how rough ashlar could be a polished marble. It is the individual contribution to political or social issues makes the change. Whether the individual is a Mason or not, does not really matter, it is the individual who made the choice---not the Fraternity. The exposure to the Lessons of our Craft could open the gate and its up to the flock to choose whether to stay captive or run for it. Freemasons on both sides. They made history not as Masons but individuals who happened to be Brothers.

As to your thought about freemasons in revolutions is “more than just coincidence.” The following was a quoted from an article by noted Filipino historian and late Bro Reynold Fajardo, PGM.

"The successful Revolution of 1896 was masonically inspired, masonically led, and masonically executed. And I venture to say that the first Philippine Republic, of which I was its humble president, was an achievement we owe, largely, to masonry and the freemasons." Emilio Aguinaldo, PM, 33 Deg, First President of the Philippines.

We are in agreement of what might be a product when a curious mind discovers a field of dreams where the possibility of expressing what has been shackled in the dark recessed of consciousness could be freed. A notion that subjected only to ones acceptance of carrying the burden of its corresponding responsibilities.

All rebellion has cause(s), right, wrong, justifiable, etc.. In that rebellion there are leaders who inspire others who felt the same way. Within that dynamics, a large group who is either afraid, indifferent or blind to the issue, just stand by the fence and watch where the winds blows---fence sitters. That description can be applied to any rebellion/revolution. The political upheavals we are witnessing is an obvious manifestation of lingering and dormant economic condition of the country. While the rest of the neighboring country made progress, the Philippines are very hard press to claim such achievement. Which comes first, the hen or the egg? Inept politicians or the people who select their representatives?

Freemasonry doesn't create or "lift up the condition of the country and our countrymen." The Craft is not about influencing society for "higher and noble" aspirations. Freemasonry is not about community service or Nation building. Its about building a temple hence, guiding an individual to make his choice, to follow his concience and to do what is right---to be a moral man. What comes after is another choice.

No single person ever accomplishes that Nation building task anywhere. It requires leaders with vision and in Philippine History----individuals who happened to be Masons were the catalyst to the uprisings against Spain and United States. Brother Masons were also key players in the modern history of the country. Freemasons were on both sides of the fence and many others were neither. World History is full individuals known and unknown, who made a difference to their country and countrymen. They are not known as Masons but as people who happened to be Brothers of the Craft. Those are the people who during the course of their membership learned the lesson of Temperance, Fortitude, Prudence and Justice. Lessons about Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. Let us not forget my dear Brethren, that great many participants of revolutions who equally endured hardships, lost thier properties and lives were not Masons.

My Brother, if I may suggest an idea to your rhetorical question, you don’t have to look far for a noble society "where one can belong and achieve success and greatness." Libraries are full of records of deeds of many great and noble men, many Lodge registers contain signatures of those men. As to your answer of your self-doubt regarding your membership, we heard your answer as to your willingness and maybe this time instead of asking yourself again "if it is your own freewill and accord," maybe you should ask "what I am really searching for?"


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

re: someone who is looking for a noble society "where one can belong and achieve success and greatness"

Remeber: " a never ending argument for nobler deeds, for higher thoughts, for purer actions and for greater achievement'? There was no mention of GREATNESS. To me ii is relative. One person can be great because people knew his achievements while the another sits silently contented knowing he has done something for the betterment of man. Who is greater before the eyes of the GAOTU?