Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Unang Bantayog

By :  Bro. Eduardo S. Freyra, 32° KCCH

The Rizal Monument in Daet, Camarines Norte was the first monument built to honor Jose Rizal, and is the oldest surviving such monument in the Philippines.  It was designed by Lt. Colonel Antonio Sanz with the help of Ildefonso Alegre of the Phlippine Revolutionary Army and through the financial contributions of the locals of Camarines Norte.  The three-tiered stone pylon with its square base supporting a triangle in two stages was the first monument and memorial marker in memory of the Philippines' National Hero.

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This 20-foot stone pylon is bereft of intricate design, but is in every way special because it is a monument to Bicol's libertarian aspirations.  Located by the banks of Daet River, construction of the Rizal Monument commenced on December 30, 1898 in compliance with the 1898 decree of General Emilio Aguinaldo, President of the Philippine Republic, to observe December 30 as a national holiday.

It was completed in February 1899, antedating by about 14 years the monument in Luneta, which was inaugurated only in 1912.  By virtue of this act, Camarines Norte became the first province to celebrate Rizal Day.

Designed by Sanz, a Mason, it is composed of a three-tiered stone pylon, in square base surmounted by a two-level triangle, the last one tapering off to a point.  Its foundation was made of mortars and boulders from the demolished old Spanish jail in Daet.  The front face contains a black metal slab from the National Historical Commission when it was declared a national historical landmark in 1961.

Inscribed on the podium are Rizal's popular novels -  Noli Me Tangere, El Filibusterismo, and Morga, a tribute to Antonio de Morga, author of Sucesos de las islas Filipinas in 1609, an important book on the Spanish colonization of the archipelago.  There is an eight-rayed sun on both sides of the topmost triangle, a five-pointed star and the phase "A Jose Rizal" (To Jose Rizal).  But unlike other Rizal Monuments, it does not have any his sculptured image.  Oral accounts say that the base contains a time capsule containing the list of contributors to the project.  Some quarters and treasure hunters even believe that there were treasures buried around it.

Masons played an important role in putting up the monument because of its pronouned Masonic elements.  Add to this the fact that Rizal, Aguinaldo, Sanz and many financial contributors were Masons, Masonic historian MW Reynold S. Fajardo wrote in the periodical Cabletow, "The monument is unquestionably Masonic, the base is a square and is surmounted by a triangle; on the sides of the tirangle may be seen the five-pointed star and at the top used to be the all-seeing eye."

While Rizal has never set foot in Daet, the First Rizal Monument is a source of pride, not only for the townsfolk but also for all Bicolanos, attesting to the people's reverence for Rizal and his ideals.

Rizal's life and ideals inspired Daet's political leaders and citizenry  in declaring the municipality as a "Charter Town" in 2002, which uphold universal values as guiding principles in governance and public life.  To emphasize this point, the first public officials of the Province of Camarines Norte and the Municipality of Daet have incorporated the image of the First Rizal Monument in the provincial and municipal insignias.  This will remind elected officials, now and in the future, to govern in accordance with the virtues espoused by Rizal.

A Monument To Freedom

In less than a year after the Filipino revolutionary government led by Aguinaldo consolidated their control of the newly liberated pueblos from the Spaniards, the Filipino officers prepared for the eventual collapse of peace.  The seething conflict of the Filipino-American War finally erupted in 1899 and reached the town of Daet by the first month of 1900.

Then Maj. Antonio Sanz, in charge of the detachment in Daet, found no better way to please his superior, then Col. Vicente Lukban, to immortalize their victorious entrance to town of Daet than by erecting a monument in honor of the most respected hero of the revolution, Dr. Jose Rizal.

The First Rizal Monument

The monument which stands today was a  three-tiered three sided block which assumed a triangular shape toward the peak.  It was engraved with stars and the name Jose Rizal with year 1889.  This monument became popularly known as "Morga" apparently because of an inscription which bore his name.

"Morga" was referring to Dr. Antonio Morga, a prominent Spanish officer in the royal audiencia in the 16th century  who earned his distinction for his book on the affairs of the Philippines, the Sucesos de las Islas Filipinas, published in 1609.

The historical interest on Morga's Sucesos was revived when Rizal published an annotated version of this in January 1890.  Rizal found immense propaganda value in reminding the friars of the existence of a once flourishing culture in the islands which the colonial regime effectively destroyed.  Stating clearly in his dedicatory remarks the purpose which inspired him in writing this book, Rizal indicated them as follows :

In the Noli Me Tangere, I began the sketch of the present state of our Native Land.  The effect that my attempt produced pointed out to me, before proceeding to unfold the other successive pictures before your eyes, the necessity of first making known to you the past in order that you may be able to judge better the present and to measure the road traversed during three centuries.

Born and reared in the ignorance of our Yesterday, like almost all of you, without voice or authority to speak about what we did not see or study, I considered it necessary to invoke the testimony of an illustrious Spaniard who governed the destinies of the Philippines in the beginning of her era and witnessed the last moments of our ancient nationality.  It is then the shadow of the civilization of our ancestors which the author is now evoking before you.  I transmit faithfully to you his words, without changing or mutilating them... The post, the nationality, and merits of De Morga, together with the data and testimonies furnished by his contemporaries, almost all Spaniards, recommend the book for your thoughtful consideration.

If the book succeeds to awaken your consciousness of the past, already effaced from your memory, and to rectify what has been falsified and slandered, then I have not worked in vain, and with this as a basis, however small it may be, we shall be able to study the future.

A Tribute

On the morning of December 30, 1898, the first monument of Rizal built through public subscription was inaugurated south of Manila at Daet town, in the province of Camarines Norte.  Revolutionary Army Lt. Colonels Ildefonso  Alegre and Antonio Sanz spearheaded a drive amongst families and patriots to construct quickly a tribute to their hero.  Lacking a professional sculptor, the community proudly made an obelisk with a mythical sun, symbol of freedom for which Rizal sacrificed his soul before the colonizer's firing squad two years earlier.

That night of the first Rizal Day, the first sculptural likeness of Rizal as a people's tribute was unveiled.  The first all-Filipino social society, Club Filipino, tendered tribute in Spanish songs and poetry to laud Rizal, a man personally known to many of the Club's members.   At the center of the drawing room where the program took place stood a pedestal draped and pleasingly decorated with palm fronds in the fashiopn of the age.  To the right were velvet-upholstered chairs for the guests of honor.  Rizal's mother, seven surviving sisters, and sole brother -  a general of unquestionable virtue and value.  To the left were a Frence Chassaigne piano and a small table on which rested a laurel crown.

At half past eight, Club president Telesforo Chuidian announced the start of the program to the distinguised members from government and commerce, military officers, and women dressed in black national attire.   Beautiful Trinidad  Ungson unveiled Rizal's statue to much applause.   The first figurative monument dedicated by the Filipino people to their star hero was a bust of cast bronze make by Filipino sculptor Vicente Francisco.

(source :  The Far Eastern Freemason.  3rd Qtr. September 2014)    

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Bulletin and Summon of Stated Meeting December 19. 2015


WB Pat D. Noel
Worshipful Master

Brethren, we have reached the end of the year and it has been our tradition, nay, obligation, that we elect our next set of officers for the incoming year.  I call upon our qualified members to be present to practice our privileges of selecting our stalwart officers who will lead us in 2016. 

On my part, I have done what I can do in my capacity as your Worshipful Master.  Thank You very much for your support during my term.  There are still a lot of things to be done, a lot of things to be accomplished.  I sincerely hope that our lodge will continue to improve in the coming years, especially on membership, attendance, and worthwhile projects not just for the community but for the lodge itself.  We must be able to stabilize our team before we can go out and share our blessings. 

We must elect and choose wisely our officers and support them fully in their endeavors.  Our physical presence is more important than our verbal support.  This, and of course the financial obligation that we must fulfill for the success of our lodge.  We must continue to show our commitment to the fraternity in general and to the lodge in particular. 
I would like to thank our SW Bro. Ivan Banaag for taking good care of the lodge last November while I was out.  The passing was done in flying colors and I welcome our newly passed brother, Bro. Lee Michael Caballes.  Hopefully, he will be raised before the new set of officers will be installed next year.

Brethren, I would like to remind everyone of our obligations to our beloved lodge – pay our annual dues on time; attend stated meetings; elect officers; prepare for next year’s activities; prepare for the ANCOM; prepare for the installations; prepare for the proficiency exams; prepare for the candidates initiation, passing and raising; and many more! 
Lastly, this month is also the birth of Jesus Christ.  For us Christians, it is a month of celebration, of forgiving, of giving, of sharing, and of Love.  Let us rejoice by sharing a dinner not just to have fellowship among brothers, but to share it with our loved ones.  May I therefore request that the brethren bring along our sisters to have a simple Christmas Dinner with us.  This invitation is extended to everyone – Christians and Muslims alike.  For God has taught us to share Love especially on Christmas day! Happy Holidays everyone! 

- - - - - - - - - 
Agenda for the Stated Meeting 

5:00 PM    Opening a Lodge of Master Mason  

                       -  Reading and Approval
                       -  Minutes of Last Stated Meeting
                       -  Secretary’s Financial Report
                       -  Treasurer’s Financial Report

                    Reports of Committees
                       -  Sunshine
                       -  Fellowship
                     Masonic Education 
                       -  VW EUFEMIO L.CALIO, PDGL
                    Reading of Grand Lodge Edicts/Circulars
                    Other Communications (Petitions, etc)
                    Election of Officers MY 2016
                    Recognition of Visiting Brethren
                    Commentaries of Visiting Dignitaries

                    Closing the Lodge of Master Mason 

- - - - - - - - - - -


Mr. Ricarte Cadalin                                       Mr. Leonidas Hidalgo

Mr. Arturo Alibango                                      Mr. Sotero M. Jala, Jr.
Mr. Maclin Lanto                                           Mr. Raymundo Riel Rugay
Mr. Nocolai G. Tenazas                                 Mr. Alyassar Saudi S. Sulog
Mr. Haroun Al-Jalani P. Sanguila                    Mr. Kent Algino Garzon
- - - - - - - - - -
Happy Birthday to December Celebrants : 
Dec 10             WB Jaime Magnetico
Dec 11             WB Rogelio Nuñeza
Dec 12             Bro. Warren Lim
Dec 14             VW Edwin Co
Dec 22             Bro. Melvyn Salise
Dec 28             Bro. Victor Orbe
- - - - - - - - - -
Congratulations on Your Wedding Anniversar :

Dec 9       VW Fem & Sis Gloria
Dec 10     WB Lando & Sis Liberty
Dec 19     VW James & Sis Fely
Dec 20     WM Abel & Sis Joanne


Friday, December 11, 2015

A Mason's Christmas

"I don't believe in a Christmas celebration by the lodge. I don't think we ought to have one, or be asked to contribute to one or in any way engage in Christmas festivities." 

"The Junior Mason spoke emphatically and with marked disapproval of the little ante-room group nearby, making happy plans for Yule-tide. 

"That's very interesting," commented the Old Past Master. I like to hear points of view unfamiliar to me. Would you mind telling me why?" 

"Of course not. It's very simple. Masonry is not Christian. King Solomon, of course, wasn't a Christian, nor were either of the Hiram's. Masonry admits to her ranks any good man of faith; Christian, Jewish, Mohammedan, Buddhist... it makes no difference, so he has a Faith. Then, as a lodge, we celebrate a holiday belonging to one faith. Now I personally am a Christian, and of course I celebrate Christmas. But my brother across the way is a Jew, who does not recognize Christianity. To ask him to spend his proportion of lodge funds in celebrating the birth of a Leader in Whom he does not believe would be exactly like asking me to celebrate, with my proportion of lodge money, the birth of Confucius. Of course, I have only one vote and the majority rules, but when it comes to personal contributions to a Masonic Christmas celebration, my hands will never come out of my pockets." 

He shoved them deeper in as he spoke to emphasize his intention not to spend. 

"Hum!" answered the Old Past Master. "So you think your Jewish brother across the way doesn't recognize Christianity? Don't you mean he doesn't recognize Christ as the Son of God? Wait a minute... Oh, Brother Samuels." The Old Past Master called across the ante-room. "Here a minute, will you?" The Jewish brother rose and came forward. 

"I just wanted to ask you if you are in favor or against the lodge Christmas celebration?" asked the Old Past Master.

"Me? I am in favor of it, of course, both for the lodge appropriation and the individual contribution."
"Thank you," nodded the Old Past Master. Then as the Jewish brother went back to his seat, he turned to the Junior Mason.  

"You see, my son, our Jewish friend is not narrow. He does not believe in Christ as the Redeemer, but he recognizes that he lives in a country largely Christian, and belongs to a lodge largely Christian. To him the Christmas celebration is not one of His birthday, but of the spirit of joyousness and love which we mean when we sing, at Christmas time 'Peace on earth, good will towards men!' If you argue that 'peace' is only a Christian word, he might even quote to you the words of One who said 'I bring you not Peace, but a Sword.'
"Now let me explain something to you. The Jew has just as much right to refuse to recognize Christ as the Son of God, as you have to refuse to consider Mohammed the Prophet the followers of Allah say he is. But as an educated man, you must know that Mohammed was a good man, a devout leader, a wise teacher. As an educated man, you admit that the religion founded by Buddha has much in it that is good, and you admit that Confucius was a wise and just leader. Were you in the land where the birthdays of any of these were celebrated, would you refuse your part in the people's joy in their Leader, simply because you followed another? I trust not. Well, neither do our Jewish brethren or our Mohammedan brethren, desire to be left out of our celebration. They may not believe in the Divinity of Him we, as Christians, follow, but if they are good men and good Masons... they are perfectly willing to admit that the religion we follow is as good for us as theirs is for them, and to join with us in celebrating the day which is to us the glad day of all the year.

"Believe me, boy, Christmas doesn't mean Christ's birthday to many a man who calls himself Christian. It is not because of joy the He was born that many a good man celebrates Christmas. It is because his neighbor celebrates it, because it is a time of joy for little ones, because it is a day when he can express his thanks to his God that he is allowed to have a wife and family and children and friends and a lodge, because of that very 'peace on earth' spirit which is no more the property of the Gentile than the Jew, the Chinese or the Mohammedan.

"It is such a spirit that Masons join, all, in celebrating Christmas. It is on the Masonic side of the tree we dance, not the Christian side. When this lodge erects its Christmas tree in the basement and throws it open to the little ones of the poor of this town, you will find children of all kinds there; black, white, yellow, and brown, Jew and Gentile, Christian and Mohammedan. And you will find a Jew at the door, and among the biggest subscriptions will be those from some Jewish brethren, and there is a Jew who rents cars for a living who will supply us a dozen free to take baskets to those who cannot come. And when the Jewish Orphan Asylum has its fair, in the Spring, you will find many a Christian Mason attending to spend his money and help along the cause dear to his Jewish brethren, never remembering that they are of a different faith. That, my son, is Masonry." 

"For Charity is neither Christian nor Jewish, nor Chinese nor Buddhistic. And celebrations which create joy in little hearts and feed the hungry and make the poor think that Masons do not forget the lessons in lodge, are not Christian alone, though they be held at Christmas, and are not for Christians alone, though the celebration be in His honor. Recall the ritual: 'By the exercise of brotherly love we are taught to regard the whole human species as one family, the high and low, the rich and poor, who, as created by one Almighty Parent, and inhabitants of the same planet, are to aid, support and protect each other'. 

"It is with this thought that we, as Masons, celebrate Christmas, to bring joy to our brethren and their little ones, and truly observe the brotherhood of man and the Fatherhood of God, whether we be Jew or Gentile, Mohammedan or Buddhist." The Old Past Master ceased and stood musing, his old eyes looking back along a long line of lodge Christmas trees about which eager little faces danced. Then he turned to the Junior Mason. 

"Well," he said smiling, "Do you understand?" 

"I thank you for my Christmas present," came the answer. "Please tell me to which brother I should make my Christmas contribution?"

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