Tuesday, October 28, 2008

MASONRY'S BASIC PHILOSOPHY

MASONRY’S BASIC PHILOSOPHY


Readers of the article “A HANDY GUIDE ON THE QUEST FOR MASONIC LIGHT” learned that six topics are involved in the study of the Craft. The first, which is labeled as “Rituals” need no elaboration as it merely involves memory work and nothing else. The second of course is called “philosophy” and will therefore be the subject of this article.

I. Philosophy’s Simplest Definition

Freemasonry has a myriad of philosophies, and no wonder, it involves and entire system of morality. But its basic theme involves man, his soul and his longing to reunite with his Maker. Let this writer now elaborate.

In simplest terms,. philosophy is synonymous to belief, way of life, set of values, or thinking that governs mankind. But Masonry’s philosophy transcends all these because when viewed on the higher plane, it gets straight to the longing of the creature to return to his Creator when his time to “pass his papers” has finally arrived. The final equation therefore is that “man with an immortal soul will at one time finally return to his Maker.

Curiously, this philosophy is not original, meaning, it was already there long before Masonry was established as a brotherhood. It was adopted from the existing philosophies of all religions invented by man which in turn were thought of after Cain slew Abel in envy which resulted why the burnt offering of the latter that consist of animal carcass rose higher than the smoke that consisted of plant harvest that the former offered to the Lord. This event also spelled out for the first time the need for caring for one’s own sibling became pronounced when Cain evasively asked: “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

And if this writer may be allowed to digress for a moment, the reason atheists and agnostics are barred from admission into the Masonic Fraternity is because the said philosophy requires belief that man has an immortal soul who yearns to return to his Creator when time his has come. Which also explains why the petitioner must answer in the affirmative the query “Do you believe in God?” And there are no ifs nor buts here.

II. The Need for Alternative Examples

Oddly, man often fails to comprehend even the simplest of terms. Sages from the ancient times had to invent ways of getting their messages across to their intended listeners. Aesop had to use animals to teach a lesson and called his examples “fables”; “allegories” and “metaphors” were also used to tell stories and even the Greatest Teacher of all time had to use what is called “parables” in order that he may be understood. Masonry, in like manner, had to resort to the use of the builders’ tools as symbols to convey messages that involve separate but clear and understandable meanings which the use of words oftentimes mess up in confusing jargons.

The main reason why Freemasonry has a good number of philosophies to live by is because it is defined as a system of morality and when morality is concerned, there are innumerable ways of achieving them. It has adopted the four cardinal virtues as its own, always to be in the right, know the truth even if it hurts and so on and so forth. But nowhere did it say that all these will in fine take him back to the Lord.

III. How then is Basic Philosophy is Conveyed to its Disciples

The question that most likely will be posed by the reader is: “where in Masonry’s teachings are these words contained?”

Okay then, in the lambskin apron it says:

“and when your trembling soul shall stand naked and alone before the great white throne, there to receive judgment for the deeds while in the body, may it be your pleasure to hear from Him who sitteth as the Judge Supreme the welcome words, ‘well done, my good and faithful servant, enter now into the joys of the Lord.”

Conversely, in the ending paragraph of the third degree lecture it admonishes:

So how important it is to imitate the GMHA in his truly exemplified character and in his unfeigned piety to God that we may welcome death, not as a grim ripper but as a kind messenger sent to translate us from this imperfect world to that perfect world where the Supreme Architect of the Universe forever resides.

And the Last Rites further expound on this when on the elocution for a departing brother it emphatically says somewhere in the middle of the discourse it said::

“then shall the dust return to the earth as it was and the spirit shall return to God who gave it

And that is not all for somewhere in the Chaplain’s concluding prayer it said:

“and when our work on earth is done, and our bodies shall have mingled with their kindred dust, may our immortal soul, freed from their cumbrous clay, be received into thy keeping to rest forever into that spiritual house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Amen!

A HANDY GUIDE ON THE QUEST FOR MASONIC LIGHT

I. INTRODUCTION

A dilemma that undeniably confronts all newly-raised master masons is the admonition which is contained in the third degree “charge” that says:

“As a master mason, you are authorized to correct the irregularities of your less-informed brethren, to fortify their minds with resolution against the snares of the insidious, and to guard them against every allurement to vicious practices.”

Fine, a caution so eloquently phrased, but how is he expected to do it? More so if he became a master mason via the one-day conferral of the three degrees!!

And so, it may be necessary to briefly look back and assess the situation.

Still smarting from the bruises that he acquired while traveling the rough and rugged road (not on the one-day conferral though) but nonetheless feeling the euphoria of recently being elevated to the elite rank of master masons, and most probably also still tipsy at the recently-concluded fellowship that usually follow every raising ceremony, the newly-raised brother begins to wonder what the “charge” was all about. He has now attained the status of being called a peer to many celebrated and immortal men that have graced the rolls of the Craft, men who are listed as heroes, geniuses, statesmen and others in the many countries or nationalities where he may belong, men who have became presidents, kings, men of sciences and even of the cloth whose stature and fame reverberated within all corridors of fame and power, they who have answered to the call of being labeled as “Freemasons”, the newly-raised gentleman begin to wonder that after the completion of the three degrees, what so far, has he achieved?

More importantly, what is expected of him?

II. THE QUEST BEGINS

The question that consequently confronts the newly-raised brother therefore, is “how does one proceed to learn the ways of the Fraternity that he has recently joined?

Sadly, there is no ready answer but the very nature of the Craft’s basic philosophy in part provides a ready clue. Let now this writer mention one of the Fraternity’s simply worded definitions:

“Freemasonry is a system of morality illustrated in symbols.” Or, “it is a system of morality veiled in allegory.”

But how would a novice in the Craft ever understand that gobbledygook?” since the lodge that he has joined, and even the Grand Lodge that exercises supervision and control over its existence generally do not have guidelines that can help him understand the intricacies of this mystic brotherhood!! But learn he must if he aspires to earn the title of ever being called being called “a fellow of the Craft.”


III. A SUGGESTED GUIDE AS ENVISIONED BY BRO. ALLEN E. ROBERTS OF THE MASONIC BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLUE FORGET ME NOT

Scanning the inexhaustible source materials that the world of the Internet offers, this writer was fortunate enough to stumble upon an essay written about Bro. Allen E. Roberts, long time secretary of the Masonic Brotherhood of the Blue Forget me Not, who eloquently pictured the structure or body of Freemasonry in six broad categories as follows:

Ritual= Skeleton (or framework)
Philosophy= Bloodstream
Symbolism= Heart and brains
Benevolence+= Soul
Jurisprudence= Muscles
History= Flesh (or binder)

IV. HOW THE STRUCTURE IS DESIGNED TO WORK

Having thus enumerated the six categories of Freemasonry, a Freemason, whether newly-raised or an old timer who desires to study in earnest can thus proceed with the awesome goal of learning the tenets of the Craft by using the above-mentioned guide no different from a receptacles or storage area where he can periodically accumulate in the proper whatever knowledge he has learned which, understandably, should start with “RITUALS” as follows:

IV-A RITUALS

It is often said that “rituals” are what differentiates Masonry from all other fraternal organizations and that without it, Masonry will just be like any other . These rituals, the three most basic of which introduce the candidate to the ways of the Craft via its three degrees are understandably the best starting points. For the purpose of this article however, it will be necessary to include the other basic ritual instructions: These are:

1. The entered apprentice degree
2. The fellowcraft degree
3. The master mason’s degree
4. The installation ceremonies
5. The Last Rites and the Lodge of Remembrance

There are still other rituals but these will no longer be enumerated for the sake of brevity.

Suffice it to say that the newly-raised master mason must be patiently coached by an elder to commit to memory these rituals if he is to progressively advance his knowledge of the Craft, and here is how the time-tested “from mouth to ear method” of instruction is effectively put in play. He should start delivering the lambskin apron, the working tools, learn the role of the marshal, the stewards and the deacons, patiently and progressively committing to memory all the roles that he has performed. As he gains experience, he should also be ready to deliver the lecture of the three degrees until the time he is deemed ready by the lodge to handle more important roles and is therefore consequently chosen to perform the role of a “light” by being elected to any of the fixed stations of the lodge.

And these stored knowledge will come handy in scrutinizing and analyzing the myriad of data that he will later classify and sort in the five other categories mentioned earlier. For example, the novice will be able to clearly sort into their proper categories the following phrases as these are committed to his memory, thus:

*** in it you’ll find the important duties you owe to God, your neighbor or yourself, or
***by refusing to recommend anyone to the participation of our privileges unless you have strong reasons to believe that by similar fidelity he will ultimately reflect honor into our ancient institution, or
*** white balls elect and black cubes reject, or
*** justice is that standard or boundary of right that renders unto every man his just due without distinction,

and so on and so forth.

IV-B. PHILOSOPHY

A philosophy is usually a simple sentence or a “one liner” that best explains a basic belief. Thus, an oft-repeated philosophy of Freemasonry states that:

“it is a brotherhood of men under the fatherhood of God.”

From the above-mentioned phrase, note that three basic ingredients must always be present as follows”, men is in the plural form and that God must be present, the absence of one of which will render the tenet useless. Citing simple examples, hermits believe in God but do not subscribe to the brotherhood of men and therefore do not qualify; atheists, on the other hand may believe in brotherhood of men but do not think that God exists!

Of course, these philosophies can be rephrased differently but in effect, will produce the same result. Like,

“Freemasonry subscribes to the belief in God and in the immortality of the soul”.
In this instance, however, the tenet on brotherhood is implied as it lay hidden in the maxim “love thy neighbor as thyself”, a tenet expounded not only by the Greatest Teacher of all time, but by all known sages of the world. Note also that immortality pertains to the afterlife.

Other tenets, like “brotherly love, relief and truth, make the sentence more thought-provoking and are therefore appealing but in essence the phrase still convey the same message.

Curiously also, both the exoteric and esoteric applications of these philosophies are revealed to the discerning adept as follows:

The obvious meaning of “brotherhood of men under the fatherhood of God” pertains to our relationship with our neighbors in this world that is best measured by the square while the phrase “the immortality of the soul” pertains to a deeper meaning that relates more to the world where the compasses are effectively put in use.

IV-C. SYMBOLISM

Freemasonry, having borrowed its mode of communication from Operative Masonry, uses symbols as its most effective tools of relaying the messages that it seeks to convey. There is no need to itemize these in detail as members are understandably familiar with these already but for the sake of brevity, the reader is nonetheless advised to refresh himself on the symbolisms of the various tools that were used and were explained in the ritual of the Installation Ceremony. In addition, he is also advised to take interest of the various symbolisms that lay hidden but were nonetheless were impliedly explained in the floor works of the three degrees.

In hindsight however, symbols may, to the uninitiated, be tricky. Ever wonder why “hele” means “to conceal” or that a “black ball” actually meant a “black cube?” And has the reader also wondered why the square is the tool used to measure the surface of the earth whereas the compasses are used measure the heavens and those above it?

IV-D. BENEVOLENCE

Charity, the synonym of benevolence is first explained in the lecture of the first degree as the covering of a lodge in the following manner:

“the three principal rounds of which are denominated in faith, hope and charity, which admonishes us to have faith in God, hope for immortality, and charity for all mankind. The greatest of these is charity, for our faith may be lost in sight, hope ends in fruition but charity extends beyond the grave through the boundless realms of eternity.”
and was further amplified the second degree perambulation.

although quite frankly, it is doubtful whether many of the brethren understood it at all. Charity, after all, is not merely taking a paper bill from one’s own pocket when the Almoner pass around with the Almoner’s bag, nor rummaging the attic for used clothes when calamity occurs, bur it means much more than these. Imagine the ineffectiveness of Freemasonry if charity is deleted from its vocabulary!

And how does the reader puts the message of charity to practice??

IV-E. JURISPRUDENCE

Jurisprudence appears to be the most complicated topic of the six categories and indeed this may be so. The reader should however take consolation to the fact that like any citizen of whatever nationality who ideally should know all the rules and regulations of the country where he pays allegiance to, the same situation applies to Freemasonry. Ideally therefore, it is preferable that he is knowledgeable of all the rules and regulations of the Grand Lodge where his own lodge pays allegiance to although how it can be achieved is like looking for a needle in a haystack. It is still desirable however for the member to familiarize himself with the following:

1. The Constitution and by laws of Grand Lodge where he belongs,
2. The ancient charges of Masonry
3. The obligation of the three degrees (he has already committed these to memory, anyway),
4. The periodic edicts that govern the Grand Lodge
and so on and so forth.

IV-F HISTORY

All Grand Lodges that exist have their own unique history that deserves to be learned, and it is important to understand these to appreciate his membership better. Most masons are aware how the United Grand Lodge of England was created in the British Isles and therefore no longer needs further elaboration.

Masonry in the Philippines, on the other hand, was introduced by Jose Malcampo y Monje, a Spaniard who later became Governor General of Spain, when he organized the Primera Luz Filipina in 1856 under the banner of Gran Oriente Luisitano of Portugal to escape the clutches of the marauding Hongkong Masons that were established under the aegis of the British Masons. But let’s not talk about it any further as this paper may turn out to be a boring article.

Suffice it to add however that in addition to what may be called “local Masonic history”, it is also preferable that he should also have a general idea of the Masonic history of the mother grand lodge from where his own Grand Lodge came from. The Grand Lodge of the Philippines for example was a creation of the Grand Lodge of California which explains why the rituals and basic rules that govern both jurisdictions are in many respects, similar. How the Filipino Masons became Americanized despite its roots coming from Gran Oriente Luisitano of Portugal and later nurtured by Gran Oriente Espanol is a topic that deserves more than a page in order to be appreciated and therefore will no longer be touched in this paper.

But one may well wonder; did the masons of Cavite that were organized by Malcampo fraternized with the Masons of Manila where Jocobo Zobel, a Filipino fo a German father who joined in Manila and in like manner, did they fraternize with the Masons that were organized under the aegis of the Gran Oriente Espanol? The most likely answer of course is “probably not” because they were organized under different grand jurisdictions that coexisted during that time..

V. A SHORT TREATISE ON THE “MYSTIC TIE”.

Non masons are naturally baffled whenever they see Masons who are total strangers to each other conversing or helping each other whom they have met for the first time and probably will never meet again. This happens when, accompanied by a friend who is a Mason, would chance upon a total stranger in a foreign land, especially at airports who, upon recognizing each other as fraternal brothers would offer a helping hand in exchange of a mere “handshake”. The non mason will naturally suspect there is something mysterious but will never be able to know what the mystery is all about. Short anecdotes like these are common and none but the initiates can explain how it can ever come about.

VI. SUMMARY

Readers who have reached this page may complain that many topics still deserve mention; for example, why there are clandestine masons, how the relationship of the individual member to his lodge and to the grand lodge interplay with the Grand Lodges of other grand jurisdiction, or why there is a gap between the Prince Hall Masons and mainstream Freemasonry. In like manner, he may also wonder why Grand Orient of France was declared irregular by the others.

But these and many other topics were omitted on purpose. It is now for the reader to take interest, do some researches and consequently prepare a study guide of his own.

Teka, teka, but how shall we classify the fellowship that goes after every stated meeting, especially those that occur after the third-degree conferral of degrees?
Ah, but the answer cannot be divulged in this article and thus readers who may want it must send in their queries direct to the writer by email at jungalarosa@yahoo.com. The same procedure goes to readers who may want to submit their reactions or rejoinders on this article and thus expect a healthy exchange of ideas that will definitely redound to the benefit of the Fraternity that they both love!

So you have reached this line. Congratulations!!

FREEMASONRY AND THE HOLY SCRIPTURES

Non-masons who attend the Craft’s installation ceremonies are invariably puzzled and attracted at the presence of a Holy Bible at the altar. More so if a Holy Quran is also placed beside it. Which generally strike them in wonderment and awe saying “What kind of religious organization is this?”

Before I tackle that question, allow me first to comment on all the objects atop the altar.. These comprise the “Three Great Lights of Masonry”, although at times the items are not only three but four; namely, the Holy Bible, the Square, the Compasses, and a Holy Quran.

Curiously, this modified phrase has existed for several centuries already but it seemed our ancient brethren did not mind the difference, so the word “Bible” has remained unchanged although it should have been modified long ago.

For the purpose of this article therefore, let me focus on the phrase “The Holy Bible.”, and more specifically, the King James Version to expound on the theme of this article..

THE HOLY BIBLE

The Holy Bible is no doubt the most widely translated and printed book man ever wrote. Consisting of two parts called the Old and New Testaments, the former was written in the “Habiru” or Hebrew language while the latter was in Greek,, both of which were, over a period of time, translated by the Roman Church into Latin and was made the basis for converting the Christians to the faith. In current times, it is said that there is no language on earth that exists does not have a local translation of the Holy Bible and although this claim cannot be verified with a reasonable degree of accuracy considering the magnitude of work that it will entail, it is safe to declare that it may indeed be so. In the Philippines for example, most of the local dialects possess translations that can be called their own; and if by chance the reader thinks this assumption is absurd, he better listen to Ely Soriano over the airwaves as he expounds his commentaries on his “Dating Daan” burgeoning Christian sect..

But whether these printed copies are ever opened and read is an entirely different story; and it is not impolite to ask: “Do you ever touch your own copy at your bookshelf?”

THE KING JAMES (OR THE AUTHORIZED) VERSION

The first thing that immediately comes to mind when the King James Version of the Holy Bible is mentioned is: “Just who the heck is King James?” Is he related to any of the characters mentioned in the Holy Bible during the time of Jesus Christ like Judas, Saul, Simon Peter or Paul?!

Well, this writer declares that King James has a namesake in the New Testament which allegedly is a brother of Jesus who continued the advocacy of the Messiah immediately after the latter’s death, but other than this similarity, no other attachment can be added to it. While this writer was able to trace the renderings or equivalent translations of several Anglo-Saxon names like Moses, John and Jesus to the Castilian Moises, Juan and Jesus, and thereafter to the Jewish Moshe, Yohan and Yeshu, he cannot decipher the English name James that was translated to the Castilian Santiago. But let’s get back to King James before we are accused of electioneering in the 2009 ANCOM.

Seriously now, King James’ real name was James Charles Stuart who was born on June 19, 1566 at Edinburg Castle in Scotland. He was crowned king James VI at the tender age of 13 months after his father’s murder and his mother’s abdicating the throne almost immediately after the murder.

Like many monarchs of the time, James never knew his parents and was thus raised by four tutors in succession, George Buchanan of whom, at 68 years of age, was the most influential. James became fluent in Latin, French, English, and Scots and was also schooled in Italian and Spanish. It was held that he needed no interpreter when entertaining other heads of state as he was found fluent in their respective dialects.

At age nineteen, he began his role as king of Scotland and ruled it well. Robert Lomas, a current Masonic writer and historian claims in one of his bestsellers that King James was made a mason during his reign as king of Scotland; Although he was not able to validly support his claim, this is hardly surprising because the famous Roslyn Chapel that is the crowning glory of the Knights Templar that still exist today was built in Scotland and at the precise era of his reign..

After the death of Queen Elizabeth of England in 1603, King James VI was also crowned King James I of England thereby uniting the two kingdoms and ruled both with superb administrative skills thus avoiding the threat of both internal and external conflicts from within and without his two kingdoms, a feat that was hardly recognized by later historians.
A rabid evangelist and believer of the Christian faith, in addition to the fact that English monarchs automatically also become the spiritual head of their kingdoms, he commissioned fifty four (54) linguists and scholars to translate the two volumes from the original Hebrew and Greek languages that were written in Hebrew and Greek respectively, to the prevailing English language of the time.
It was finally completed in 1611 and despite the opposition of its detractors, notably the Papacy, it was hailed by the English world that the King James Bible of 1611 as the absolute and final word of God. This translated work got further boost when the printing press was later invented and thus paved way for its circulation not only in the British isles but also in Europe and most especially in the northern hemisphere where he was the founding monarch of the United States since it was on his reign that the first successful colonies were planted on the American mainland, notably Virginia, Massachusetts and Nova Scotia (Latin for New Scotland) in Canada.
An unforgettable vignette in American history is George Washington’s use of the King James Version of the Holy Bible when he was installed first president of the United States.
THE USE OF THE HOLY BIBLE BY THE FREEMASONS

Masonic customs and traditions have it that a copy of the Holy Bible should always adorn the altar and that no lodge can be formally opened without it. Understandably, any version of the Holy Bible sufficed, especially because the Old World (this is how Europe was previously called) have different languages but it really did not matter for symbolically it stands for the word of the Deity, and its votaries in fine, did not mind.

The spread of Freemasonry to the believers of other faiths necessitated a modification. The believers of Allah who were the sworn enemies of the Knights Templar in the tug of war to claim the Holy Land mutually admired each other in the practice of their own professional disciplines and somehow adopted to each other’s ways which reasonably were also being run similar to the administration of lodges. In fine, the three religions that were founded in Semitic concepts namely, Christianity, Jewish and Muslims, soon adorned their altars depending on membership and thus paved way for the inclusion of the Torah and the Holy Quran. In addition to the Holy Bible.

During the advent of atheism in Europe, the Frenchmen, having a unique culture of its own, discarded the Holy Scriptures as a mandatory requirement to adorn its altars, not because its brand of Masonry does not profess in the belief of a Deity but to allow admission even to those who do not believe in it. Because of this, mainstream Freemasonry declared their Grand Lodge irregular and forthwith refused their members recognition.

Thus was the word “Bible” modified to read as “Scriptures” in many writings instead.

HOW THE SCRIPTURE IS ACCORDED IN INDIAN LODGES

If there is one country that exemplifies religious tolerance especially as it pertains to Freemasonry, none can match the Indian continent. Strategically located in what is called as the near East, it is religiously dominated by the Hindus and their breakaway groups called the Buddhists and the Jains who use the BHAGAVAD GITA as their Holy Writings. There are also Pharsis (called Pharisees in the New Testament) with an estimated 200,000 population whose Holy book is called ZEND AVESTA, those wearing turbans that are locally called Bombays in the Philippines but who are called Sikhs in their home country whose Holy Book is called GURU GRANTH. And when the Muslims attacked its frontiers sometime in the fifteenth century, it left its Muslim believers in its wake and consequently, the HOLY QURAN.

When the British occupied India in the eighteenth century, the British expeditionary forces took with them not only the King James version of the Holy Bible but the Catholic edition as well. It was not surprising therefore that when the Golden Lodge of Orange No. 304 was established in Nagpur, India in the mid eighteenth century, the King James Version that originally adorned its altar would soon be joined by the books of the other faiths, notably the Bhagavad Gita, the Zend Avesta, the Gura Granth and even the Holy Quran making its altar the conglomeration of all religious beliefs.

With that concluding paragraph, it’s now time to thank you for your attention. This writer hopes you are able to reach this concluding paragraph.

ONE LAST TIME FOR THE ROAD



It was a role the aging lion earlier thought he would no longer perform. His two cubs were already members of the Craft fondly calling them Bro1 and Bro2 respectively such that he thought the need to do conferral roles again should now be left to the younger generation, whether as Solomon, a deacon or even a fellowcraft who man the gates which the Craft usually calls a ruffian.

But Bro2’s request sounded more than Webster’s definition of the word, it seemed more of an appeal that his patriarch gets down to the floor once more if only to recite the “charge” to Ferdie Garcia and Denver Langaman, another fellowcraft soon to be raised in their mother lodge whose entry to the Fraternity were derailed, one by a dreaded black cube and the other by a compulsory schooling at a police academy. Will the aging cat do it one last time to these candidates who have literally traveled the rough and rugged roads far longer than what were ordinarily required?

Lamely, the limping cat nodded (and you also would if you have but one leg to stand on), not only because of Ferdie whom the aging cat also liked but more so because it would also give the aging puma the chance to exhibit to his youngest cub how to portray roles during conferrals, that whatever part is assigned it should be performed as seriously as one would do, be it the role of Solomon, a ruffian or even menial tasks usually assigned elders like the proverbial “charge” (but not of the Light Brigade, dumdum).

The aging lion, who was as usual accompanied by the lion tamer arrived at the Temple at four in the afternoon at the precise time the lodge was in recess and after the usual pleasantries with the brethren at the Temple’s yard, promptly climbed the stairs and entered the lodge room. There he saw Bro2 examining the two candidates on their proficiency and noted that the trio are doing exactly what were expected of them. “Proficient”, the master and the lodge later chorused in unison!

Soon the conferral started and the aging cat noticed Bro2 performing the role of the senior deacon. So, the lion silently mused, these two roles were the underlying reasons why the young cub who is but five months a master mason wanted his lifetime mentor to be around. Invariably, the small pieces of advice the old cat has been feeding his two cubs ever since both donned their white lapel apron are now being put to the test and what better evaluation test is available other than to have the old lion to witness how he will do it?! Both have decided to be active during conferrals, the eldest at his mother lodge in 181 while the youngest where the old cat was raised a master mason at 122.

The roles of examiner and SD were performed by the young cub satisfactorily, and it turned out he still has another part to perform, that of guarding the third gate where the impostors of Hiram Abif are to pass. And he did it with aplomb, although for the purpose of this article, it could not be narrated as the experiences are only worth retelling during the hours of fellowship that usually last later than midnight and with the recipients enjoying the tales more than the kibitzers and even those of the ruffians. Also, the pivotal roles of the three lights during the first section were satisfactory performed by the lodge’ three lights namely WM Omar Equiza and Bros. Alden Bait and Godo Velarde, while the role of Solomon were alternated by VW Louie Reyes and WB Rogelio “Junjun“ Gevero and in addition the ageless VW Louie completing the task by giving the 3rd degree lecture to complete the task. VW Alan Bontuyan, an honorary member of the lodge was also there tending to the sounds and acting the cameo role of conferral secretary during the Craft’s roll call.

And what the heck happened to the old cat who delivered the “charge?”

Ay sus! But this article is not about the aging lion but about the road wherewith beers are made the scapegoats why the brethren usually get home drunk!



Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OF DUTIES AND OBLIGATIONS

(Short talk delivered to the brethren of Laong Laan Lodge No. 185 on October 4, 2008

Worshipful Master Danny Gutierrez, VW Reuben Ganaden, other dignitarties in the East, brethren. First allow me to sit before I deliver this short speech this task that was assigned to me.

Immediately after the start of this stated meeting, our Worshipful Master called my attention requesting me to deliver a short talk on the topic “Obligations” for the benefit of the members and that I can do it after the balloting of a candidate to give me time to think of what I have to say to you.

Quite frankly, I can only nod my head for as we all know, the word of the master is law and that even if it was said in the guise of a request, it is still an order in itself and none but a stubborn brother would dare refuse this kind of assignment..

Which makes this limping cat wonder. What specific topic on obligation would the brethren probably like to hear? I figure it cannot refer to the obligations that are contained in the conferral of the three degrees because everybody has memorized these before they graduated to become master masons. And so I reckon that perhaps the topic that our Worshipful Master desired are the obligations that Freemasonry seeks to inculcate upon its votaries for as any discerning brother will realize “duties” and “obligations” are synonymous. Getting deeper into the matter therefore, I supposed that obligations that each and everyone of you may like to listen to pertain to the obligations that we owe to God, our neighbor and ourselves, especially those that apply to our daily lives, our families and those within our circles of activity. In short, it is those obligations that we owe to ourselves, our loved ones and those around us that we have to perform daily in the meantime we are still able to savor the breath of life.

And so here goes.

Two months ago at our adopted residence in Guindulman, Bohol, your sister and her ailing pet were figuring out how they will balance their budget. Their meager savings were already exhausted and the monthly pension of the aging cat can only buy eighty percent of the maintenance medicines of her ailing cat.. Good that the farm produce can support their subsistence, electrical and water bills but the deficit of his medical budget must be resolved one way or the other.

The lion tamer was understandably distraught. Having worked in a medical clinic, she knows the importance of sustained medical care, else the lack of it could be disastrous. She therefore suggested that we seek bailout from their three children in much the same way the flagging U. S. economy sought relief from the Bush Administration.. She surmised that surely, their three kids will undoubtedly be glad but the idea was vetoed by the aging cat right away. If he must live, he should manage to do it with determined resolve in the same manner he has always insisted that minimal help should be given him every time he moves around. He added that if doing it his way will not suffice, then it may well be his final trip to kingdom come. He also added that despite the difficulty, they should still consider themselves lucky for they are not part of the twenty million Filipinos who live way beyond the poverty line, are not living in the hinterlands playing a suspenseful cat and mouse game with the MILF renegades led by Kumanders Cato and Bravo in faraway Mindanao, nor have migrated to the famed land of milk and honey only to worry whether it is now high time to pack their bags and lead for home because of the recession that now plagues their countryside.

Which made the lion tamer sigh and at the same time shake her head. She knew that when her aging cat has already made up his mind especially when the issue pertains to his own health, then there is no way his decision can be changed.

Two months passed and it was time for his periodic checkup and gamely, he commented that he is still alive. The trip to the metropolis was two-pronged because their daughter sent them their plane ticket and their eldest son promised to meet them at the airport. It will also enable her to undergo her doctoral studies and expects to be back in a month automatically making her parents as “house dogs” or in local parlance, “taong bahay” meantime she is in the land of the Rising Sun. She must, the aging lion mused, complete her doctoral degree in Engineering for it is the most pressing obligation she owe herself and her family especially at this time when the JPEPA has already been ratified.

She is now there three days and at this very moment a transatlantic flight bound for Canada has just jetted off the NAIA runway with our youngest son on board that jetliner. He will be there for about ten days to attend a familiarization tour with the mother company of his employer. Our eldest has likewise just sent a text message saying that a 3rd degree conferral has been performed by his mother lodge and that he is now preparing to memorize the 2nd degree lecture called the 3, 5, 7 to prepare him for more important tasks in the Fraternity. All these tasks done by the three mind you are preparations to hone themselves for later duties and obligations either in the Craft or in their respective places of work..

But let’s get back to the aging lion’s decision to trim his medicines. What will happen next if he erred in omitting those that are more needed than what has been left behind?

But of course! VW “Pong” Lustre will just have to refresh himself in delivering the famous “Last Rites”.

(Note: At the time this is being written, Ivan has just returned from Canada narrating fond memories of his trip as a Mason including the upgrading of his seating arrangement from Economy to Business Class, courtesy of his fraternal brod, Ben Se of his mother lodge and the dinner at Toronto that was hosted by VW Johnny Chua and the other brethren residing there.. Our daughter, on the other hand is still two weeks away before she can head for home. By this email recipients are also requested to signify that they wish to continue receiving articles that the aging cat periodically sends via the Internet. Failure to do so will mean they are not interested and will therefore be automatically omitted from his mailing list.)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

NOT JUST BY PRECEPTS, BUT MORE SO BY EXAMPLE

(Short talk delivered at the raising ceremony held on June 14, 2008 at Quezon City Lodge No. 122)

Indeed, all of us are already hungry but this short discourse will only take a few minutes.

Nineteen years ago this month, in this lodge and on the same second Saturday, well, except that the date was June 10 instead of June 14, a similar raising ceremony involving three fellowcrafts was held on this checkered floor. Let me tell you about it.

The three lights that comprised the conferral team were composed of Bros. Eluderio Salvo, Jose Lustre and Saul Exmundo, sitting in the East, West and South, respectively.

Bro. Salvo was already Junior Warden in 1972 when martial law was declared. Incensed however, at what he believed was a passive attitude of the Fraternity for not taking an adversarial stand against the Marcos dictatorship, he vowed he will not attend lodge meetings until martial law is lifted and made good his word but dutifully paid his dues thereby retaining his membership. After the 1986 EDSA Revolution, he promptly returned to the lodge and was thereafter reelected Junior Warden by December of that year and was therefore reinstalled to that post in 1987, as Senior Warden in 1988 and as master of the lodge in the succeeding year.

Bro. Lustre was a successful rural banker and a second generation mason but did not know about it until after his father’s death several years later. He only learned his father was a member of the Craft in 1998 when he saw his father’s name listed in the roster when the Golden Anniversary’s Souvenir Program was issued in that year. This fact may be an oddity, but in the early postwar years Masonic membership was not a household word as it is now.

Bro. Saul Exmundo is an Ilonggo and province mate of the fiery Mirriam Defensor Santiago. True to his non-conformist attitude, he quarreled with the Dean while studying Engineering at the State University and thereafter saw himself graduating some years later on the same course at downtown’s National University.

The three candidates on the other hand were composed of the following:

Bro. Dennis Gabionza, handsome owner of the blue-colored MCBC bus line that plied the EDSA route. He epitomizes what the ladies would call the homo sapiens’ “makalaglag girdle” specie.

His younger brother “Boy”, a thirty two year old brilliant lawyer and managing partner of a law firm that he co-founded. He graduated SUMMA CUM LAUDE while in college.

This writer. And his credentials? Never mind!!

At the turn of the millennium, let’s see what have become of them.

Bro. Salvo who was installed master in 1989 was chosen one of the Ten Outstanding Masons in the field of Engineering in 1991. He was also adjudged Outstanding in the field of Sanitary Engineering by the Republic of the Philippines and was also listed among the Who’s who in the field of Engineering worldwide.

In 1997, he was appointed District Deputy Grandmaster thereby earning his purple apron.

Bro. Lustre ascended the Oriental Chair in 1990 and in 1992 was appointed District Deputy Grandmaster. During the term of MW Agustin V. Mateo, he was handpicked to become the latter’s Assistant Grand Secretary. Professionally, Bro. Lustre is a rural banker and was elected president of the Rural Bankers Association of the Philippines for a number of years.

Bro. Exmundo was installed master in 1991 and in 1994 was appointed District Grand Lecturer. True to his non-conformist attitude in life, he did not seek employment but earned his keep by being his own boss. He would buy an empty vacant lot within the Quezon City area, build two or three houses on it in about 6 months’ time, sell these within a year’s time and in the meantime would pore over the voluminous Masonic materials that he has compiled at home. This lifestyle enabled him to digest most of the rituals of both Blue Masonry and the Scottish Rite, thus earning for him the undisputed dean of rituals within the Capitol Masonic Temple’s earshot.

And yes, his only boss is Sis. Becky, his wife.

Bro. Dennis became charter member of Catanduanes Island Lodge No. 291 immediately after his raising and during the next year became master of that lodge. A year after that, he was appointed Grand Organist, a position that he would hold for two consecutive years.

Bro. “Boy” was installed master of the lodge in 1996 and in 1999 was appointed District Deputy Grand Master thereby easily entitling him to his purple apron.

This writer sat at the Oriental Chair in 1995, a year ahead of Bro. Boy and would have contented himself being sidelined to mediocrity had it not been for Bro. Boy’s special request that he will accept the appointment as DDGM only if his Bro. Jun is also appointed DGL. That is what may be called collecting his purple apron effortlessly.

So much for what happened nineteen years ago. Let’s now talk about the raising ceremony that was conducted today.

Professionally, WM Omar Equiza, and Bros. Alden Bait and Gudo Velarde are with the construction business, the Immigration bureau and at the power sector respectively. In contrast Bros. Nikko Chua, Mike Pena and Ivan Galarosa are from the construction, at PAGCOR and at the Call Center industry respectively, professions that surely can catapult them to considerable heights in searching for glory in this august Fraternity.

These predictions are not far-fetched for as we can see, WB “Jun jun” Gevero has just been adjudged Most Outstanding Worshipful Master in the last ANCOM and in the process also towed with him the distinct honor of making Quezon City Lodge No. 122 the Most Outstanding Lodge for the same year. In addition VW Boy Gabionza also collected the honor of being selected Most Outstanding Mason in the field of Corporate Law.

Curiously, all these awards and citations, despite the fact that most came from our Grand Lodge, belong to the “external” or what may be called as belonging to the worldly wealth or honors, None relates to the arcane attributes of Masonry, the quality that “recommends a man to be made a mason”.

But this is understandably so, for the realm of the esoteric is not within the gift of any Grand Lodge to bestow.

But whenever we see a grandson retracing the lost Masonic footprints of his deceased grandfather, like in the case of WB Junjun Gevero, or a son being personally raised by his own father, like our Senior Warden Bro. Alden Bait, or another son petitioning at another lodge because his father did not consider his idea of joining the Craft serious enough as experienced by WB Sonny Regala who had to petition at Laong Laan Lodge No. 185, or brothers following the footsteps of their siblings who have enlisted ahead of them as in the cases of Bros. Jerome and Joe Gabionza who followed the footsteps of Bros. Dennis and Boy, or as in the case of the newly-raised Bro. Ivan who followed the footsteps of his elder Bro. Ian who was raised at Sierra Madre Lodge No. 181 last year and who himself was gamely following the limping gait of their own father, then we can visualize the mystic light of Masonry shining in its radiating glory.

For it is not only by precepts did these who subsequently joined were motivated to enlist but more so by the examples set by their forerunners that they were inspired to join. As a popular adage says: “Live the full life of a mason, and sooner than later, those near you will take notice and follow.”

Which reminds this writer of the celebrated author Norman Vincent Peale, a revered elder of the Masonic Brotherhood of the Blue Forget Me Not who eloquently said in one of his articles that: “added together, the years that he, his father and his grandfather have devoted to the cause of Masonry has already totaled more than a hundred and that he is still counting. Definitely a lifetime vocation worth emulating by the future generations that will come later.

And to end this talk, if Bros. Nikko, Mike and Ivan will rise, I’ll extend to them my right hand and execute the strong grip of the lion’s paw in warm congratulations for their becoming members of this ancient and august fraternity.

Thank you all for your attention!
e wased BrHi

Monday, March 10, 2008

MILESTONE- A priceless gift

The text message that the aging cat received from his youngest cub reads:

“Fair in the South, clear in the West, and bright in the East.”

Instinctively, he replied:

“Congrats. Pwede ka ng mabugbog ng Kuya. mo”, which when translated loosely means, “Congrats, your elder brother may now beat you black and blue!”

Other exchanges of text messages followed, but these no longer mattered, both knew it was the best gift the youngest cub could ever give to his ailing dad!!

Note: The cub petitioned at Quezon City Lodge No. 122, the aging lion’s mother lodge.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A SHORT TREATISE ON HARMONY

Some two years ago, MW Hermogenes Ebadane Jr., (or is it another GM?) then the incumbent Grand Master, issued an edict authorizing the creation of a Harmony Officer in every lodge under the jurisdiction of the MW Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines. This short talk will not delve on the wisdom, or the lack of it, why the said office was created, as indeed the pros and cons of the said edict was not explained except that when disputes in the lodge arise, he who is elected automatically becomes the arbiter.

On a different note, this short talk will attempt to explain why Harmony is a tenet that is of paramount importance in our Fraternity.

Harmony is a dogma that is often hinted only in cryptic codes in our rituals. To the undiscerning multitude, this very important science is not even there, but to the adepts it stares at him squarely on his face. It’s much like the parables narrated by the Greatest Teacher of all time, to many it is as clear as mud, but to seekers of truth, it’s right in front of him.

The following observations may look intelligible when read at the start after the proper connections as will be explained later, it is hoped that it will be understood at least, by a serious few.. Consider these

I. THE RELEVANCE OF HARMONYAS EMBEDDED IN THE RITUALS

*** In the lecture of the first degree, it said:

“that when the building was completed (referring to King Solomon’s Temple) it had all the appearance of the handiwork the Supreme Architect of the Universe than that of human hands.”

*** In the lecture of the second degree, the seven liberal arts and sciences were made as basis of study for fellowcrafts. Interestingly, music is ranked 6th, a science that is of greater importance to Masons even more than Geometry. And should the listener (or reader) wonder why Music is treated as a science and not as an art as it is being classified today, it is worth mentioning that to the ancients, and that is, even up to the time of Julius Caesar, they have already classified these seven categories into TRIVIUM, composed of Grammar, Rhetoric and Logic, and QUADRIVIUM, grouping Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and Astronomy in this category.

*** In the lecture of the third degree, it eloquently said:

“There were employed in its erection 3 Grand Masters, 3,300 masters or overseers of the work, 80,000 fellowcrafts or hewers in the mountains and in the quarries, and 70,000 entered apprentices or bearers of burden, and those were all so classed and classified by King Solomon that neither envy, discord nor confusion was suffered to interrupt the peace and good fellowship which prevailed among the workmen except on the one occasion etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.”

***And finally, in the explanation of the trowel as the master mason’s working tool it said:

“for the more noble and glorious purpose of spreading the cement of brotherly love and affection which unites us into one sacred bond, or society of friends and brothers, among whom no contention should ever exist, but that noble contention, or rather emulation, of who best work and best agree”

II. BRIEF EXPLANATIONS ON THE RITUALS MENTIONED

In the operative sense, King Solomon’s Temple epitomizes not only the temple’s magnificence but also the wonder of her age. Symbolically, it represents the Temple where the rough ashlars were first perfected in accordance with the Divine Plan confirming to the specifications of “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”

Music, on the other hand, emphasizes the need for harmony of God’s children through the wise use of the tenets of brotherhood where charity, filial love and truth reign supreme. This can be amplified by listening to classical music that are harmoniously orchestrated by the musical conductors using their musicao batons that produce the melodious sounds created by musical geniuses like Mozart, Beethoven and modern-day Bach!

And the workmen of King Solomon’s Temple? Imagine 153,303 workers working in unison and their fellowship not disturbed except on that one occasion where all Masons have exemplified as the legendary Hiram Abif!!

III. INVOKNG THE AID OF THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE

Of interesting relevance is the role of the Chaplain of whatever degree when it alternately invokes two opening prayers that says::

*** “Grant that the sublime principles of Freemasonry may so subdue every discordant passions within us, so harmonize and enrich our hearts etcetera. Etcetera, and,

***”Wilt thou be pleased that this meeting, thus begun in order, may be conducted in peace and closed in Harmony.Amen.

III. THE CREATION OF THE HARMONY OFFICER

Curiously now, is the Harmony Officer an innovation or is it a redundant duplication of one that already exist but whose functions nobody knows, hence is often omitted to the chagrin of the installing officer during installation ceremonies because none was appointed? Who then, is it?

But of course, none but the Organist who is symbolically charged by the Installing Officer with the following eloquent phrase:

“It is your duty to preside at the organ at the opening and closing ceremonies, and other ceremonials at the lodge . May the delightful labors of your position impress more deeply upon the minds and hearts of your Brethren that HARMONY is as essential for the strength and beauty of our noble brotherhood as it is for the excellence of the art and science in which you so greatly excel.”

But how many lodges in our jurisdiction have bothered to install their own Organists??

Sunday, January 20, 2008

SILVER LININGS

The year of the pig was both bane and boon to the aging cat. First, he barely escaped being drowned without his body being submerged in water because his lungs were full of mucus-aggravated liquid it hardly allowed his snubbed-shaped nose or in local parlance “pango” to breath, Luckily for him, the community hospital where he was confined on that fateful Holy Wednesday had an available oxygen tank for such an emergency. With steroid injected to help open up his lungs, the lady doctor managed to make him regain his breath and thus enabled him to return home to recuperate two days later and saved him from being unceremoniously dumped into the century-old waiting graveyard.

The second aborted trip to the Great Beyond occurred two weeks later when, shortly after his right leg was amputated, he was rushed to the Intensive Care Unit of St. Luke’s Hospital, that time because his heartbeat already dangerously dropped below normal level it might have stopped beating at all. Bad grass, he jokingly declared later, but then again, to him it was a puzzle why the Grim Ripper dilly-dallied in his assigned task of using his razor-blade scythe and thus granted the aging puma another reprieve at finally taking his one-way ticket to kingdom come.

So after the two aborted tries at knocking at the proverbial door where not one soul has ever returned before, the only recourse was to gather back his scattered wits and try to get back to normalcy. He obviously could no longer stand on his two feet once again because his right leg was no longer where it was supposed to be, but stand he must and what better recourse than to do it with his remaining left leg but this time aided by an artificial contraption that in medical parlance is called “prosthesis” .!

Fortunately for the aging lion, there is an age-old maxim that says “way above the thunderous clouds still exist the sun with its radiant light.”. Which simply means: “hope still springs eternal even to him who has fallen to the ground provided he has the will and a strong desire to stand!”

The road to recovery was Herculean. Fortunately a lot of relatives, fraternal brothers and friends made the awesome task at getting back to normal bearable and worth every sweat of his brow. The three cubs were likewise very supportive thus pondering at hard decisions became manageable, he ultimately slowly regained his composure and realized that life is still too precious on to, never to abandon nor ignore.

I. WELCOME NEWS AFTER THE STORM

Much like the passing of every thunderous storm, flickering lights slowly appeared on the horizon making him realize that despite the debacle, life- even with but a single foot, still deserves to continue. Never mind if medical tests reveal that both his kidney and his heart are already too weak to work unaided, and that unless assisted by maintenance medicines his breathing may just sputter like an overused engine and may conk without the driver knowing whatever the heck happened.

His first glad tidings after his misfortune happened when his eldest cub Ian, of his own free will and accord, became a member of the Craft.. Petitioning at Sierra Madre Lodge No. 181 because the incumbent master of the lodge was close to his wife Vicky, he doggedly endured the conferral of the three degrees until on June 16 when he was finally raised to what masons call the sublime degree.

Some five months later, or on November 17 to be exact, Ian’s younger brother Ivan called the aging cat long distance saying he has finally decided to petition for membership at Quezon City Lodge No. 122, the very lodge where the latter was made a master mason. Not receiving any comment at all at the other end of the phone from his dad, he realized his news will not be answered and so said he will call again later for his mother to learn of the news.

II. AN UNEXPECTED MEMBERSHIP CITATION

On November 21 or barely a week after his youngest son made the call, he received an unexpected mail that came from Ontario Canada. It contained a citation, a letter and a blue lapel pin, the citation of which reads as follows:

“Distinctive award for Outstanding Speculative and
Unselfish Service to Freemasonry and all Mankind”

His reply to the sender was:

The Masonic Brotherhood of
The Blue Forget-me-not
2 Knockbolt Crescent, Toronto, Ontario, Canada MIS 2P6

Attention: Bro. Nelson King, Secretary

It is with profound sense of humility that I accept my election as member of

“The Masonic Brotherhood of
The Blue Forget-me-not”

It is a distinctive honor that our two sons, the elder of whom is already a Mason while the younger has signified he will also join, and our four grandsons may hopefully be reminded and thus learn to emulate when they come of age someday.

Kindest fraternal regards!

Sincerely,

Geminiano V. Galarosa, Jr.

III. A BRIEF BACKGROUNDER ON THE BROTHERHOOD

Suffice it to say that he was surprised to receive the citation. He knew nothing of the “Masonic Brotherhood of the Blue Forget me not” at all, and eager to know what it was all about, he made the search through “Google” and learned it was organized on January 1, 1972 to recognize those Masons “who were devoting their lives and resources to Masonic education and writing.”. Some of the salient points as copied from the Internet include:

1. The recipient (of the citation) is judged by a Team of Masonic writers and educators before he is chosen for membership in the Brotherhood. His dedication to the whole of Freemasonry and his fellowman determines his qualifications. This Award cannot be purchased. His name must be presented by a member of the Brotherhood, then pass a unanimous ballot of the membership commission.

2. There are no fees or dues paid by the recipient. In every sense, membership in the Brotherhood is an Award for unselfish service to Freemasonry and mankind.

3. The blue forget me not (flower) has been chosen as a symbol of Masonic dedication, courage and fidelity. This symbol was born in the face of Nazi persecution of Freemasonry under the Hitler regime. Although the dictator ordered thousands of Freemasons murdered, tortured and incarcerated, those who would not renounce the Craft and its teachings continued to practice Freemasonry in secret. So they might know one another, a little flower was selected as their emblem. Against overwhelming odds these men, a scant handful, kept the light of Freemasonry burning throughout Nazi darkness.

4. It is not a degree; it is not a political award; there will never be a plea for a greater membership. There are no dues and fees to be paid by anyone. It is in every sense an award for service to Freemasonry and thus to our fellow man. Because of its non-political objective, and because its only members are workers in and for the Craft, many consider it the greatest honor one can receive in Freemasonry.

IV. MEMBERSHIP IN THE BROTHERHOOD AS ICING ON THE CAKE

It is worth mentioning that the list of Masonic writers that were elected to its roll include immortal authors like Norman Vincent Peale, William Denslow, Alphonse Cerza, John J. Robinson and MW Raymond Willmarth in the Philippine Masonic jurisdiction.. At the time of his election his name was numbered 481 and is at the tail end of the list thus making him only the second Freemason from the Philippine shore to be included in the roster.

Despite the international relevance of his membership in the brotherhood however, he considers the inclusion of his two sons into the Fraternity as the more valuable. It is true that many members of the Craft have sons in the fold, even the celebrated Norman Vincent Peale is a third generation Freemason and so are many other brethren in the local front have sons who have also joined the Fraternty. But aging cat still considers it a far more valuable honor because unless one has lived the full life of a mason, it would not reasonable to expect that his sons will follow his footsteps when they come of age someday that effectively echoes:

“No greater gift can a Freemason receive from the Craft other than see his son follow his footsteps of his own free will and accord!”

Which also reminds the aging cat of on adage on immortality that eloquently says:
“Plant a tree, write a book, sire a son”, and confidently he knew he has done all three. And gee whiz, isn’t it better that on the last-mentioned word, he has produced not only one but two?!”

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

MY SON, MY BROTHER

Compared to his two siblings, Ian is the least exposed to the ways of the Masonic Fraternity. His sister, after all, joined the Job’s Daughters during her teens while his youngest brother fully exhausted seven years of his life in the DeMolay movement until the time he became a Senior DeMolay.

But it was understandable; he was already in his second year at Los Banos when his Dad joined the Craft and to confound matters, he got himself employed, got married and thereafter established residence in his adopted place. Except for some fleeting moments, like attending his father’s installation as Worshipful Master of his mother lodge in 1995 and acting as surrogate brother to the fraternal brod of his kid brother, Ivan, when the DeMolays tangled with a college fraternity, his link with the organization the aging puma has embraced was indeed rare. Suffice it to say that it came as a mild shock to the rest of the family when he said in late 2005 that he wants to knock at the Craft’s proverbial door timing his entry at the time he will reach the age of thirty five.

The aging lion was of course silently pleased at learning of his son’s decision but nonetheless was guarded in his reactions. The only question that he posed was: “Have you discussed this with your wife, Vicky?” and got a nod in reply. It turned out it was her employer at the farm where she works as an animal nutritionist that prodded her to allow her husband to follow the footsteps of his Dad because her boss is a mason in good standing at Sierra Madre Lodge No. 181 and it was from the latter that she consciously noticed the sterling qualities of a member of the Craft.

But knocking at the proverbial door was not easy. The cub’s first obstacle was that he was informed it will cost him some twenty grand to join and admittedly the sum was not peanuts. Another difficult problem to hurdle was that the lodge was forty two kilometers away from their residence and therefore will entail considerable travel time to attend meetings.

The prospects of knocking at the door of other lodges were considered. Nearby stood two other lodges, namely Makiling Lodge No. 77 and Pinagsabitan Lodge No. 26 in neighboring Sta. Cruz, but he knew of no one in these two lodges. He also contemplated submitting his petition form in any of the lodges at the Capitol Masonic Temple where his Dad once used to roam, but the distance was even more problematic than what it would entail him should he decide to join any of the lodges in Laguna. He also broached the idea of joining Jacques DeMolay 305 because he has an acquaintance there, but the same problem on travel time exists. Not only that, its stated meeting was on a Friday at six P.M. and reasonably, getting home after each meeting would pose a problem.

His big break came in January 2007 when he excitedly called his Dad long distance in Bohol saying he has already submitted his duly-accomplished petition form at Sierra Madre Lodge No. 181 and was asking what to do next. He received a reply saying: “Well, all you do is wait until your name is circularized by the Grand Lodge in what is called as “Circular No. 12. What he did not know was that his Dad emailed Elo at the GL office and learned that the his petition for membership was already circulated to the brethren by the end of the month of January.

Still a petitioner, his sponsor gradually exposed him and his wife to the public ceremonies of the Fraternity. They were invited to the installation ceremonies of Sierra Madre Lodge No. 181, Pinagsabitan Lodge No. 26 Malinao Lodge No. 25 and Makiling Lodge No. 77, and attended all of them.

Sierra Madre’s March stated meeting saw him and two other petitioners eagerly awaiting being balloted and at closing time were informed that the results were favorable. This made him send a text message to his Dad saying: “Tay, yelocrap na ako”. His Dad, feigning ignorance shot back: “Just what is that supposed to mean?” and received the epic reply: “yelocrap, the one who distributes ice during the fellowship!”

The three petitioners were initiated on March 30 and the lodge forthwith made plans for their second-degree passing and the third degree raising to the sublime degree. April 14 was tentatively set for the second-degree conferral while the third degree was set for the month of May.

Meanwhile the aging cat formulated plans of his own. He and the lion tamer were already scheduled to visit the kids at the metropolis and it would be a nice idea if he can request that he be the Conferral Master of the third degree, portraying the role of King Solomon, and thus symbolically raise his son to the sublime degree. That idea would indeed, be nice.

But like many dreams, there are some that regretfully vanish in the air, with the amputation of his right leg reducing that dream to wishful thinking. For how could one execute the strong grip of the lion’s paw and the five points of fellowship when the limping and aging lion could not even arise from bed with but one leg to stand on?!

And snags stood in the way. The “passing” was consummated only on May 19 while the “raising” was done on June 16. These two events were partially witnessed by the aging lion although he chose to be outside of the lodge while the second section of the third degree conferral was going on. Once the smoke has vanished he noted that compared with the two others, the cub was roasted “well done” that even showed visible signs of burnt residues on his breast while the two were only broiled medium rare. Which made the aging lion quip: “Well, like the sides of a coin, there are two sides of looking at a given experience, it either turns you into a ferocious lion to get even, or become a judicious sphinx because you believe that the manhandling was despicably wrong. Looking back, it appeared some lodge members did not look with favor his reply on the query why he wanted to join the Craft that “he wanted to follow the Masonic footsteps of his Dad” a dream many old timers wish but never could realize.

As a memento of his joining the Craft, the aging lion gave him the golden ring that he has proudly worn the past eighteen years saying:

“I have worn that ring proudly the past eighteen years and have always reminded me of three things, the Square, the extended Compasses and the letter G at the middle... May it also always remind you that the Square is an emblem of Truth and Morality, that the extended Compasses remind you to circumscribe your desires, and that the letter G means that the GAOTU watches over your actions”.