(note: I personally attended the wreath-laying ceremonies at the Rizal Park together with other brethren from other lodges before we proceeded to the Grand Lodge grounds where this speech was delivered by MW Peter Lim Lo Suy. I was in Manila then for the Regional exhibit of the Department of Tourism at Intramuros during the month of June, 2009. WB Francis Blanco of Jacques DeMolay Lodge invited me to join them during the said occasion.)
July 4 was celebrated as Philippine Independence Day. In 1962, however, President Diosdado Macapagal decided to commemorate June 12, 1898 as "Araw ng Kalayaan" because, according to him, the historical fact was that the Filipinos proclaimed their independence from foreign rule in June 12, 1898. On that date, the National Anthem was played, and the Filipino flag displayed. These are essential features in the birth of a nation.
President Ferdinand Marcos, who succeeded Macapagal, later proclaimed July 4 as "Philippine-American Friendship Day."
For me, it does not really matter whether we celebrate Independence Day on June 12 or on July 4. What matters is that we all work together in close harmony to bring about a meaningful development of our nation, so that it will be able to participate on free and equal terms with other independent nations in the world in the all-important task of attaining haman solidarity or universal peace and harmony among God's creatures. In Masonic terms, human solidarity is establishing upon earth a true Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.
We cannot, however, bring about a meaningful development of our nation unless we help the duly constituted authorities to erect the real edifice of our social regeneration. This requires us, as a people, to establish our moral education on more solid bases and to abjure the vices most of which we inherited from the Spaniards. Experience has shown that we Filipinos have got to radically change not only our institutions, but our way of being and thinking as well.
This is where we come in. We should set the example of high ethical living; for, as the late Chief Justice and Worshipful Brother Manuel V. Moran stated, "The purpose of Masonry is to create in the world a band of men to whom others may look for example and inspiration - men who others will say are men of honor, virtue and charitable feelings."
But Masonry has for its object not only the consistent practice of all the virtues in daily life, but also the wide dissemination among our fellowmen, particularly our countrymen, of the moral, political, philosophical, and religious truths which it teaches.
To be adequately motivated to disseminate the precepts and principles of Masonry as widely as we can among our countrymen, let us weigh and consider this statement of Ill. Bro. Albert Pike: "If men were all Masons and strictly obeyed with all their heart the mild and gentle teachings of Masonry, this world would be paradise, while ignorance, superstition, persecution, intolerance, fanaticism, and other moral evils make of it a hell."
We can make a lot of difference in our society if, in addition to living our Masonry consistently 24 hours a day, we exert a little more effort than before to induce others, by precept or instruction, to learn and live by the ideals, principles and values which our Fraternity teaches.
If we do that, then we may be sure that the Third Philippine Republic will, as the late Pres. and WB Manuel A. Roxas put it, "rapidly grow in stature, wealth and power, loved and revered by its citizens, honored and respected abroad, the haven of liberty and justice, the cherished home of contented, free men."
If we contribute to the attainment of that end, then we can proudly say that we have helped make a difference in Philippine society. Together, brethren, let us make that difference toward a more peaceful, juster Philippines!