Bataan Lodge No. 104
This Lodge is named after the province where it is located. Bataan is a Tagalog word meaning “servant”.
In April 1895, the Spanish governor Of Bataan reported the presence of Masons in his province, especially in Pilar and Samal. He declared "that all those holding professional degrees were sympathizers of Masonry; and that the Register of Real Estate and the Assistant of the Bureau of Forestry, both Filipinos, were also Masons" Significantly, as later events would show that the two (the Register of Real Estate and the Assistant of the Bureau of Forestry), played important roles in the organization of Bataan Lodge No. 104.
When the Americans occupied the Philippines at the turn of the century, Masonic lodges were established in various parts of the country. Many sons of Bataan were initiated in these lodges. Among them were Governor and Assemblyman Maximo de los Reyes; Senate Chief Clerk (Secretary) Leoncio Espino; Director of the Institute of National Language Julian Cruz Balmaceda; Provincial Fiscal Pablo Rivera; Norberto Gallardo; Governor Alberto Aquino; Gabriel Labog; Mariano T. SyQuimsiam; Teofisto Batungbacal; Daniel Bacarra; Mariveles Municipal President Francisco Villafrancia; Joaquin Banzon; Jose M. Barron; Governor Sabino de Leon; Governor Teodoro Camacho; and Governor Gregorio R. Quicho.
In time, the Bataan Masons decided to establish a lodge in their home province. Provincial Fiscal Pablo Rivera initiated the move. However, no sooner had he readied the petition than he was transferred to a distant post. Other Brethren took up where he left off, but they, too, met a similar fate.
Early in 1926, Cadwallader and Gibson Lumber Company established a sawmill on the outskirts of Limay, Bataan. Owned by a member of the Craft, the firm employed a good number of sojourners. It was at this time that WB Julian Cruz Balmaceda, Past Master of Pintong Bato Lodge No. 51, spent his summer vacation in Orion, Bataan. Under his leadership, a petition to form a new lodge was signed by Daniel Bascara, Tomas Geronimo, Leoncio Blanas, Felipe G. Fuentes, Norberto Gallardo, Joseph I. Hill, Tomas Fernando, Patricio Mistal, Catalino Razon, Lucio Tolentino, Vicente J. Villaflor and Francisco Villafrancia. Balmaceda persuaded his own lodge, Pintong Bato Lodge, to sponsor the new lodge.
The petition for a dispensation was submitted the Grand Lodge on January 20, 1927, and on the same day Grand Master Francisco A. Delgado issued the requested dispensation. Named dispensation officers of Bataan Lodge were Vicente J. Villaflor, Worshipful Master; Leoncio Blanas, Senior Warden; Tomas Fernando, Junior Warden; Silvestre Guanzon, Treasurer; and Lorenzo Pakingan, Secretary.
At the annual communication of the Grand Lodge which started on January 25, 1927, barely five days after Bataan Lodge was issued a dispensation, the Grand Lodge initially refused to issue a charter to the lodge. However, on the fourth day of the communication a motion for reconsideration was filed. After considerable discussion the Grand Lodge relented a granted a charter to the lodge.
The lodge immediately buckled down to work and initiated Jose F. Ditan, Gregorio Quicho, Jose Juinio, Marcos Jorge and Jesus E. Heras.
On April 17, 1927, at eight o'clock in the evening, Bataan Lodge No. 104 was formally constituted by a team of Grand Lodge dignitaries led by Grand Master Joseph H. Schmidt in appropriate ceremonies held publicly at the Limay Elementary School. The following officers were installed: Vicente J. Villaflor, Worshipful Master; Leoncio Blanas, Senior Warden; Tomas Fernando, Junior Warden; Joseph C. Hill, Treasurer; and Lorenzo Pakingan, Secretary.
The need for fixed quarters was a problem that beset Bataan Lodge No. 104 from her very inception. While it was under dispensation, the lodge was temporarily housed in the headquarters of the "Labi ng Katipunan," a local veterans organization in Limay. From there, it moved from one place to another in a virtual odyssey that lasted for over forty years! Meetings were held successively in the district office of the Bureau of Forestry; in the sala of Judge Tomas Geronimo; and, in the Office of Mayor Francisco Villafrancia. On seeing the miserable plight of the Brethren, Bro. Cadwallader offered a spacious room in his company's building as provisional quarters for Bataan Lodge No. 104. In 1930, however, a fire razed Limay that damaged the installations of the company forcing it to stop operations in Bataan. With the sawmill went a good number of active members and, as the remaining members either resided or worked in the northern part of the province, the transfer of Bataan Lodge No. 104 to a more convenient place became inevitable. That same year it moved to Balanga. Bro. Leoncio Espino, the Secretary of the Senate, granted the lodge permission 10 meet in the house of Governor Conrado Lerma (his father-in-law) in nearby Sta. Rosa, Pilar.
On January 10, 1931, Balanga witnessed for the first time the public installation of officers of a Masonic lodge. The affair was capped by an installation ball late that evening, held in the Provincial Capitol grounds. A complete team from the Grand Lodge, headed by the Grand Master, motored all the way from Manila to officiate at the ceremonies.
In the meantime the Brethren shopped around for an appropriate meeting place. They found one in Omboy, in the poblacion of Balanga, which they leased. That house in Omboy served as the Lodge Temple for several years, until the outbreak of the Pacific War in December 1941.
At the end of the war, in April 1945, the surviving members met in the house of Bro. Adriano R. Siason in Ibayo, Balanga to plan the reactivation of the lodge. They chose WB Roman A. Santos as the interim Worshipful Master. In December 1945, they held their first post-war election. Elected were: Marcos Jorge, Worshipful Master; Daniel Bascarra, Senior Warden; Salvador Banzon, Junior Warden; Norberto Gallardo, Treasurer; and Adriano R. Sison, Secretary.
After the first meeting in Ibayo, Balanga, subsequent meetings were held in the house of Prudencio Salvador which was at the same time the seat of the provisional government, and later on in a room of the Balanga Elementary School in Talisay. Meetings were also held in the houses of Bro. Salvador Banzon and Natividad Barcenas and in the ancestral home of Vicente Reyes along Zulueta St. until Gabriel Labog offered the use of his house in Talisay, which had been vacated by the Provincial Government.
From 1946 to 1949 the members of Bataan Lodge No. 104 embarked on a campaign to build a Temple. Donations were solicited, and a search for an appropriate site was made. Finally, under the supervision of WBs Claro Bagalso, Jose D. Forbes, Jesus E. Heras, Gabriel Labog and Oconer, the construction of the Temple on a leased property in Talisay was commenced. In November of 1949, the Brethren held their labors in the half-finished building. The first installation of officers in that Temple was held in January 1950.
A decade and a half after the construction of the Talisay Masonic Temple, the lease over the lot where the lodge stood expired. The new owners were against extending the lease, leaving the members no alternative but to vacate the area and start all over again.
Under the determined leadership of WB Santiago P. Blanco, WB Joel C. Joco, and others, a Temple was constructed on a site donated by WB Joel C. Joco in Limay. On the part of WB Joco, it was the ultimate display of his dedication to Masonry. The site is a choice portion of his lot near Fort Capinpin and the famous beach resort, Puting Buhangin.
In October 1967, the lodge moved into its new Temple, even as the finishing touches were being made. On February 22, 1969, the modest edifice was inaugurated and dedicated, in conjunction with the installation of the lodge officers. Grand Master Manuel M. Crudo presided over the rites, assisted by Grand Lodge dignitaries. Masons from Zambales and Olongapo City, Pampanga and the Greater Manila Area - even long lost Brothers - came to witness the memorable event and to extend their felicitations to Bataan Lodge No. 104.
The fact that prestigious individuals, professionals and men occupying the upper echelon of the province's socio-political pyramid have continuously sought the light through Masonry, speaks of how well the Brethren have carried out their enlightening work.
Location: Orani, Bataan.