Catanduanes Island Lodge No. 291
The lodge is named after the island province on the eastern part of the Bicol Region where it is located. Catanduanes, formerly known as "catanduan" and "catandongan," is said to have derived its name from the "tando" tree. On October 16, 1945, Commonwealth Act No. 687 established Catanduanes as a province independent from Albay.
The organization of this lodge was spearheaded by three transient Mason Jesse Amihan of Isarog Lodge No. 33 who was then the provincial director of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources; Alberto Escultura of Bulusan Lodge No. 38, at that time the PC provincial commander of
Catanduanes, and Amador Sabado of Malindang Lodge No. 130 who retired in Virac. Twenty-seven brothers from Albay, Camarines and Sorsogon took the boat to Virac on September 30, 1989 to signify their support. Isarog Lodge No. 33, Naga City Lodge No.257, Bulusan Lodge No. 38 and Mayon Lodge No. 61 also recommended the formation of the lodge. On October 23, 1989, Grand Master Juan C. Nabong, Jr. issued a dispensation to the twenty-seven petitioners authorizing them to congregate as a lodge in Virac, Canaduanes.
During the annual communication of the Grand Lodge held in April 1990 the Committee on charters reported that the lodge was able to hold six monthly meetings, and initiated two EAMs, passed nine FCs and raised nine MMs. Based on its accomplishments, the lodge was granted a charter by the Grand Lodge and assigned number 291. On June 16, 1990 the lodge was duly constituted with the following set of officers: VW Jesse Amihan, Worshipful Master; Ariston Sarmiento, Senior Warden and the debonair Dennis Gabionza, Junior Warden.
The early years of the lodge were stormy due to the strong opposition of the dominant Church, however, when the people in the community saw the good deeds of the members, opposition to the lodge withered away. Many natives of Catanduanes have since received the degrees of Masonry in this lodge.
But it is not only religious opposition that the lodge had to overcome. Initially holding its stated meetings as an ambulant lodge, from offices to nipa huts to unused storeroom shacks, it finally completed, in 1998, a very modest lodge made of light materials. Barely three months after it was completed, however the lodge was completely ravaged by typhoon Loling which leveled it to the
ground. Where did they go from there? Only the indomitable spirit of raising the tenets of Freemasonry in that typhoon belt made them shrug their troubles away.
Location: Virac, Catanduanes