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