Hamtik Lodge No. 76
The Name Hamtik is the name of the first capital of the province of Antique. Accounts reveal that when the first Malay settlers came to the province they were bitten by big red ants which the natives called “hantik-hantik," but which the settlers could not pronounce rightly. Instead they called the ants "hamtik" and from that time on the place was named "Hamtik."
On June 23, 1921, twenty-two Master Masons filed a petition with the Grand Lodge for a dispensation to establish a Masonic lodge in Antique to be named Hamtik. The dispensation was accordingly issued and at the next Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge, specifically on January 25,1922, the lodge was given its charter. On April 29 of the same year, Past Grand Master Edwin Elser, Manuel Oppus, Juan Samson, Bartolome Cella, Jose Ortiz and other Masons proceeded to the School Building of San Jose, Antique and constituted the lodge in the presence of over 500 Masons and guests.
Hantik Lodge attracted the best citizens of the province of Antique. Still, it was never a strong lodge. Its first officers were Bartolome Cella, Master Celedonio Aguilar, Senior Warden; and Mamerto Portillo, Junior Warden. Thereafter, however, it could rely on only a few brother Masons for leadership. It was forced to repeatedly recycle its officers. Thus, for example, Joaquin Quisumbing, who was elected Master in 1924, was re-elected to the same position in 1926, 1927, 1928, 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934.
When the repercussions of the Great Depression in the United States were felt in the country, Hamtik Lodge suffered serious setbacks. Because of financial reverses the members could not pay their dues and they shied away from the lodge. Collecting dues became a nightmare. Thus, the membership of the lodge dwindled. By the end of 1933 it had only 18 members. For a long time it had difficulty mustering a quorum for its stated meetings. Not even the efforts of Provincial Governor Mamerto Portillo, who was Master of the lodge in 1929 and 1930, could turn the tide. In the last months of 1934, a grim faced Grand Master Manuel Camus had no other choice but to arrest the charter of the lodge.
The lodge was moribund, but hopes for its revival never faded. Thirty-five year after its charter was arrested it came back to life. VW Bro. Valerie N. Rovira issued a call for help to the Masons of Iloilo. The response was heartwarming. Before the end of 1968 a petition for the reactivation of the lodge was sent to the Grand Lodge. It was approved on December 28, 1968. On February 10, 1969, Grand Master Joseph Schon formally reactivated Hamtik Lodge at the Capitol Building in San Jose Antique. On the same day Grand Secretary Esteban Munariz installed the new set of officers of the lodge. During the ceremonies it was acknowledged that the reconstitution was made possible through the help of members of Iloilo Acacia Lodge No. 11 and Kalantiao Lodge No. 187, many of whom took out dual membership in the newly reactivated lodge.
Bro. Calixto 0. Zaldivar, Supreme Court Justice, who was the guest speaker during the reactivation ceremonies, recalled the names of some great men from Antique who were members of the fraternity. Among those he mentioned were the late Governor Portillo, Sixto Quirino, Dr. Bartolome Gella, Cirilo Autajay, Miguel Oblima, Mariano Jose, Villagracia and even his own father who, according to him, were all known to every one in Antique. Justice Zaldivar also said:
For some reason Masonry in Antique had to cease to function for a time. We in the fraternity knew that this organization will never die and that somehow, someday, it will be revived in this province. Tonight marks the revival of that fraternity. I am very happy and I say it because I would like to see this great fraternity contribute in some way to the enlightenment and progress of my own province.
Taking the cue from Justice Zaldivar, the members of Hamtik Lodge No. 76 have, since its reactivation, been striving to contribute to the enlightenment and progress of Antique.
Some nine years after the reactivation of Hamtik Lodge, it constructed a small building of its own. Thus, in 1977, Zaldivar, who was by then the Grand Master, reported to the brethren during the annual communication of the Grand Lodge: "In my own province of Antique, with the aid of our brethren from Iloilo and the support of civic minded citizens of Antique, the brethren were able to put up a modest building which now houses the Hamtik Lodge No. 76. The lot where the lodge building stands was donated by Don Angel Salazar, a Colonel in the Revolutionary Army and a former Governor and Representative of Antique."
Location: San Jose, Antique