Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Role of Masons in the Philippine Independence of 1898

(Taking the place of the current Grand Orator, VW Manny Palomo, who was in the United States, VW Carlos S. Briones, Past Grand Orator, delivered a grand oration during the program on the Grand Lodge premises on June 12, 2008.  He entitled his grand oration...)

The Role of Masons in the Philippine Independence of 1898

Magandang Umaga po sa inyong lahat!  Sana madama natin ang tunay na kahulugan at kahalagahan ng pagiging lubos na Malaya.  Sa pagpapasinaya nating ito ng ika-110 pagpupugay natin sa mga kapatid natin na yumao na, minabuti kong bigyan diin ang taon na kinunan at binigyan ng halaga, ika-12 ng Hunyo, 1898.  Ang dahilan ko po dito ay walang iba kundi ilahad ang katotohanan na sa araw na ito isang daan at sampung taon na ang nakaraan, ipinahayag ng magigiting nating mga kababayan ang ating kalayaan sa mapangbusabos na mga kastila.  Karamihan po sa kanila na namuno sa pakikihamok na humantong sa kalayaang ito ay mga kapatid nating Mason.

Wala po akong hangarin na habulin ang galing ng ating dating Grand Chaplain na ngayon ay siya nang may hawak ng dati kong tungkulin bilang Grand Orator; sa Bacolod ko lang po nalaman, noong ika-25 ng Abril na ako muna ang magtalumpati ngayon dahil nasa ibang bansa po siya.

And so, to avoid further delay or waste of time, let me proceed in my usual style of conveying an important message.

Call it destiny or fate, whatever, our role in this big troubled world had been written; it is even designed, carefully crafted, so that the gem of the true Mason among us must think, feel and act in the fine tradition he was honed up.  History has a heaping and overflowing collection of distinguished deeds of Masons who have been bestowed rare and distinct honors in even the most powerful nations of the world.  They have gone beyond designing and constructing churches and edifices that are works of art.  They have not only made themselves the exemplars of genuine friendship and trusted leadership in their communities.  They built nations; they excelled in the arts and sciences, in the written and spoken media; they did not only conquer nations; they were the first to scour the universe and land on the moon.  And the stories that have been written about them are what make us what we are today.  The early Filipino Masons were a product of the continental Masonic trestle board, and we cannot deny that their monumental accomplishment is the freedom and liberty we enjoy today.  The question is, Are we doing our Masonic duty to preserve the glitter of the freedom bequeathed to us?

Many orations have been delivered, and numerous treatises, essays and narrative accounts have been written about the heroic deeds of Filipinos in the liberation of their Motherland.  Probably, as a tribute to their unique and distinctive role in the fight for freedom, we enjoy and relish until now the full essence and substance of the clause "The battle that led to our final liberation was Masonically planned, Masonically fought, and Masonically won."  This clause was crafted by Brother Emilio Aguinaldo, who was responsible for that historic declaration at his home in Kawit, Cavite.

Juan Luna

As a Mason, I have relished that honor and regard for the past 25 years.  The entries written in blood by our late brethren are accounts expected to be revered by us Masons.  They are sterling records gallantly executed by men and brothers deserving of our profound gratitude.  Theirs is a colorful story of exploits in the annals of human sacrifice for love of liberty, love of people and of country.

Marcelo H. del Pilar

Theirs was a long 300 years of accumulated suppressed anger, controlled passion and endured pain.  Three hundred years of torturous humiliation of being enslaved and deprived of dignity - all accumulating in the breasts of men who had stored up hatred that had become a furiously deadly mass and like a threatening volcano, it finally exploded; it was to erupt two years later, after the tyrants made the monumental error of executing a Mason.  He was a man who had devoted years of his productive life to work for the freedom of his land, to instill  in their hearts, and to give respect to his race.

Andres Bonifacio

The date June 12, 1898 became worthy of the honor probably because it covered the longest struggle, it contained the narrative of our people's sufferings duly recorded in the journals painstakingly written not just on the domestic soil of an enslaved country, but also in the conqueror's homeland.  Our archives on those years also treasured the fine writing of the talented Filipinos who could match any Castillian writer in the articulation of the Spanish language, their own language.  Many of these patriotic expressions found print on the pages LA SOLIDARIDAD in Madrid, where the likes of Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, Tomas Arejola, the Luna brothers, Juan and Antonio, and other patriots were knocking at the doorstep of the Spanish Cortes.

Jose Rizal

On our own soil, the same patriotic fervor was imparted in the hearts and brains of our immortalized brethren like Apolinario Mabini, so fragile in his physique but so brilliant in his oratory and wise in his thinking and judgment.  The men of extreme courage like Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, and scores of other, named or unnamed Masons in the hierarchy of the revered Katipunan.  Yes, they were Masons who crept to the battlefield in the night without the thought of ever seeing the dawn the next morning.  Yes, they were the selfless Filipinos barren in wealth but rich in courage.  They were men of valor who had the single purpose of doing a patriotic duty and who went to their war without rancor for the loss of their lives; without the braggadocio of showing off the kind of fiber they were made of.  They were the performing assets of the Craft and all they had in mind was to execute the task they were supposed to do.

How ironic that some of them must die without even seeing the glory of their triumph!  How sad that those who survived and received the accolade of their grateful nation and could have relished the fruits of their labors did not have much time to really see what happened to the liberty they had passed on!

It is not only we who can claim their heritage.  History has emblazoned and has made their colorful accounts accessible to the minds of the young and the living men and women of the nation today.  By directly having relations and ascendancy to their past, as Masons, we have somehow inherited the regard accorded to them by people past and present.  Their strong attachment and adherence to things upright and honorable have, by our own choice, become our attachment and adherence, too.  The expectations of being men of distinguished refinement in character, of exuding dignity and maintaining a fair and just response to prevailing situations have now become a part of our identity, of our very person.  Society has somehow rewarded us with the same esteem and pride.  Before the eyes of many people, we have become a source of reliable expectations, especially in times of uncertainties.  In short, by living as Masons today, we have somehow inherited the obligation of guarding the world they had left behind and ensuring that the changes they had introduced therein shall be kept for posterity.  Rightfully, we are expected to preserve their legacy.

Antonio Luna

But, are we really, truly free?  Are we indeed a grateful people?  Do we give genuine value to the freedom they have given?  Are we deserving of their sacrifice, especially of their supreme sacrifice?  How far have we assessed ourselves in responding to these expectations?

Brethren, as we part to proceed to our respective places of abode, let us find time to contemplate.  Let us reflect on the goodness of Masonry and the men who were made better because they embraced the teachings of the Craft.  Let us call to mind the saga of the elder Masons and deeply consider what in Masonry drove them or influenced them to bequeath a  legacy of greatness.  We owe it to them that for over a century, we have been extended the respect and endearment of our own people because we are Masons. Let us go in peace and reflect, too, on how we are now, on how we have been, on how we intend to guard the liberty they have bequeathed to us.

Emilio Aguinaldo
- - - - - -
"Just as the rays of the candle shine across the artificial boundaries of geography and race and religion, so Freemasonry offers its warm and friendly light to all men of all countries and all faith." - Ill. Joseph Earl Perry, 33°

No comments:

Post a Comment