BAGUMBAYAN LODGE NO. 4
This lodge was named after the field of Bagumbayan in Manila, neat which. the first. meeting place of the lodge was located and where, in 1897, a number of Filipino patriots were publicly shot for being Masons. Bagumbayan is a Tagalog word meaning "new town" or "new nation."
The first name selected for this lodge was "Luzon" but at the suggestion of Bro. Christian W. Rosenstock, it was decided to reconsider the name because they felt Luzon has no particular significance. Several names were proposed such as Luneta, Harmony and Bagumbayan. When the matter was put to a vote, Bagumbayan was chosen.
Bagumbayan Lodge will be remembered in the history of Philippine Masonry as the golden link upon which the chain of Masonic unity in the country was forged. It is also the first lodge organized by the Grand Lodge of PI for Filipinos, the mother of several lodges that have given prestige to the Fraternity, and the champion of the public-school system.
In 1914, the year when this lodge was founded, the Masonic situation in the Philippines was, as follows: there were (1) the Grand Lodge of P.I composed of Manila Lodge No. I, Cavite Lodge No. 2, and Corregidor Lodge No. 3; (2) Lodge Perla del Oriente No. 1034 and Lodge Cebu No. ll06, both on thetas of the Grand Lodge of Scotland; (3) a number of lodges chartered by the Grand Oriente Español which were working under a Regional Grand Lodge; (4) Minerva Lodge No. 370, under the Gran Oriente Lusitano Unido (Portugal), and (5) a number of lodges under the Gran Oriente de Espana.
The lodges of the Grand Lodge of PI did not admit Filipinos, but those under the Grand Lodge of Scotland did. The lodges of the Gran Oriente Espanol refused to recognize those of the Grand Oriente de Espana as legitimate, while the later claimed the former were of spurious origin. The Scottish lodges had been invited to join the Grand Lodge of PI when it was formed in 1912, but had preferred to remain with Scotland. The lodges of the Grand Lodge of PI had fraternal relations with the Scottish lodges, but not with any of the other lodges in the Islands.
About May 1914, Balapuwadgue John Mendez, a native Ceylon, who was a member of lodges under the Grand Oriente Español approached his employer, Christian W. Rosenstock, and asked him about the possibility of his two Filipino friends', Perfecto del Rosario and Jose A. Perez, joining a lodge under the Grand Lodge of Pl. Rosenstock advised the three to form a new lodge instead and promised to help them realize the plan.
Mendez, Perez and del Rosario recruited applicants from several lodges under the Gran Oriente Espanol. As the work of the new lodge was to be in English, Americans were also invited to join.
The Filipino and American Masons held several informal meetings. At the meeting held on July 28, 1914, a petition for dispensation was signed. On August 15, 1914, twelve petitioners who were members of the Gran Oriente were re-obligated in Manila Lodge No. I. On August 18, Grand Master Newton Comfort issued the dispensation to form a lodge. Elisha Ward Wilbur was named Master, Christian W. Rosenstock, Senior Warden, and Charles Gallagher, Junior Warden. Among the petitioners were Juan Sumulong, Felipe Tempoco, Jose Gil Medel and Jose A. Gutierez.
On October 14, 1914, while still under dispensation, Bagumbayan Lodge initiated its first candidate, Conrado Benitez.
Bagumbayan received its charter on February 2, 1915. On February 10, Grand Master George R. Harvey constituted the lodge and installed its officers. February Harvey would later say that the organization of the lodge illustrated in a striking manner the significant fact that masonry unites men of every country, sect and opinion and causes true friendship to exist among those who might otherwise have remained at a perpetual distance. He added that the lodge is an illustration of the possibility of bringing together the best men in the country.
On July 10, 1915 the lodges under the Regional Grand Lodge of the Gran Oriente Español held 3 general assembly and passed two resolutions. The first called for the airing of a protest before the Masonic world against the organization and existence of the Grand Lodge of PI and the second was for the conversion of the Regional Grand Lodge into a National Grand Lodge.
A segment of the Fraternity was alarmed by the twin moves of the Regional Grand Lodge. Everyone realized that unless a union of Masonic forces took place in the immediate future, the Masons under the Grand Lodge of PI and those under the Regional Grand Lodge would drift further apart and bringing them together may become impossible.
Bagumbayan Lodge took the initiative of bringing the two grand bodies together. It invited members of the Regional Grand Lodge and the officer; of the Grand Lodge of PI to attend its meetings. Some doubted the propriety of the move because at that time there was a ban on intercourse between members of the Grand Lodge of PI and the Regional Grand Lodge, but Bagumbayan Lodge, believed that the initiation of Masonic intercourse was indispensable for the attainment of true masonic harmony. Future events vindicated Bagumbayan Lodge. The fellowships and fraternal intercourse generated by the mutually attended meetings broke down barriers and laid the groundwork for the union of the lodges under the Regional Grand Lodge with the Grand Lodge of Pl. The union was eventually forged in February 1917.
Many great Filipinos have seen the light of Masonry in this lodge. The best-known educators of the country were members - Dean Francisco Benitez, UP President Salvador Lopez, Dean Vicente Abella, Dean Jose Espiritu, Dean Honorio Poblador, Camilo Osias, Tomas Mapua, Cecilio Putong, Enrique Sobrepena, Florentino Cayco , Dean Maximo Kalaw, Vitaliano Bernardino, A.C. De los Santos, President of Manila U. Filipino statesmen have also graced the rolls of the lodge - Justice Jose Abad Santos, Justice Calixto Zaldivar, Senator Teofisto Guingona, Senator Francisco Delgado, Gen. Vicente Lim, Joaquin Pardo de Tavera, Gen. Basilio Valdez, Jose Fabella, Pedro Abad Santos, Jose Sanvictores, Luis Yangco, Teodoro Yangco, Ambassador Tiburcio Baja, Angel Arguelles, Governor Tomas Maddela, Sec. Jose Escaler, Gen. Percival Adiong, Arcadio Matela, to name a few. Vice-Governor. General Eugene Gilmore, the first man to be made a Mason-at-sight in the Philippines, was also a card carrying member of Bagumbayan Lodge. In addition to all these, Bagumbayan Lodge has produced ten Grand Masters some of whom are Justice Calixto Zaldivar, Damaso Tria and Manuel M. Crudo.
Bagumbayan Lodge has the additional distinction of having been the first lodge in the country to initiate a Japanese national. On June 20, 1925 the lodge initiated Naotaro Inouye, a prominent Japanese businessman. In July 1925 the Cabletow reported:
It may be of interest to our readers to learn that a subject of the Mikado has been recently raised to the Sublime Degree of Master mason in one of the lodges of the jurisdiction. As Far as the editors of The Cabletow are aware, this is the only national from the Lind of the Cherry Blossoms who is a Master Mason in one of our Lodges.
These days the roster of the lodge no longer glitter, with the names, of nationally known figures, nonetheless it can be proud of the ardent Masons on its rolls such as Florencio Sy, Ricardo Leuterio, Jr., Eduardo Marlon, Anthony Sy-Ngo, Genario B. Marasigan, Manolo Teodoro, Valencia A. Cartagena, Jr., Eleizer Rodriguez and others.
Location: Plaridel Masonic Temple, Manila