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Philippine Islands

Brother Teodaro M. Kalaw, La Masoneria Filipina, mentions the claim that when the British captured Manila from Spain, 1762-4, a Lodge was established. In 1924 a speaker at the Masonic Temple, Manila, reported his researches at Seville, Spain, into letters from the Archbishop at Manila complaining that the British had at the above period held Masonic meetings in the Cathedral of Intramuros and that this profanation possibly unfitted the building for ecclesiastical uses.

There is therefore a probability of the Brethren among the European officers having constituted a Lodge. Brigadier-General Matthew Horne, second Provincial Grand Master, Coromandel Coast, was also an early visitor to the Philippines (see Proceedings, Grand Lodge, Philippines, Brother E. A. Perkins, 1927, pages 63-72). Documents show that in 1756 the Inquisition, Manila, tried two Irishmen, James O'Eennedy, merchant, and Edward Wigat, physician, OLs the charge that as Freemasons they were violating a Spanish royal decree but being under the protection of England they escaped with a reprimand. January 19, 1812, the Regency prohibited Freemasonry and in 1829 a shipment of Masonic books being discovered on a ship bound to Manila the regulations were made more strict.

Lodge Primera Luz Filipina (First Philippine Light) was established in 1856 by two naval lieutenants, Jose Malcamps y Monge and Casto Mendez Nufiez, chartered by the Gran Oriente Lusitano (Grand Orient of Portugal) and worked at Cavite. One of these lieutenants became Admiral and Captain General of the Philippines, the other, Nufiez was offered the position of Squadron Commander of the Spanish Fleet.

This Lodge did not admit Filipinos and soon another Lodge, mainly Germans, was organized and a Secretary of the Lodge, Jacobo Zobel y Zangronis, was probably the first Filipino to be initiated in the islands. The British established a Lodge and then the Spaniards organized one also admitting natives. Measures were adopted in 1893 to suppress the Craft and the Katipunan, a seditious secret society borrowing the general forms of Freemasonry, was suppressed severely and Freemasons suffered accordingly, many tortured and slain. December 30, 1896, Dr. Jose Rizal, a prominent Freemason, was shot by a firing squad at Manila. January 11, 1897, eleven other Craftsmen were shot there, one freemason unable to stand because of the dislocation of his limbs by torture.

Other executions occurred in various parts of the islands. After May 1, 1898, the American fleet under Admiral Dewey entered Manila Bay, old Lodges reopened, and Emilio Aguinaldo gave official recognition to the Craft. A Field Lodge of a North Dakota Regiment began work, August 21, 1898, Lieutenant Colonel W. C. Treumann, Worshipful Master. On October 10, 1901, Manila Lodge No. 342, Eugene E. Stafford of New York, as Worshipful Master, was organized by the Grand Lodge of California and in two years Cavite Lodge No. 350, and later Corregidor Lodge No. 386. Then a Lodge Perla del Oriente (Pearl of the East) No. 1043 at Manila and a Lodge at Cebu, were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. On December 19, 1912, the Grand Lodge was organized by the Californian Bodies and were later joined by others. In 1910 Mount Arayal Lodge of Perfection under the Supreme Council, Southern Jurisdiction, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, was established at Manila, a Lyceum with Judge Charles S. Lobingier as Preceptor being founded there in 1908, and in 1911, Manu Chapter, Confucius Council, and Guatama Consistory came into existence, and were followed by others (see Masonry in the Philippines, in New Age, by Leo Fischer, September, 1927, pages 543-8).

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