BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR LODGE
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
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
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.
July 5, 1961.