Masonic Year

The great Masonic historian … Ha muerto el Grande! That was the general feeling when Teodoro M. Kalaw was summoned to the Celestial Lodge on December 4, 1940. He was, definitely, a Grande for many reasons, one of which was his role in cementing brotherly love between the Grand Lodge of the Philippines and the Gran Oriente Español (of which he was himself a Grand Master). Looked up to by the Spanish Masons on account of his great wisdom, he greatly helped Manuel L.Quezon and Francis Burton Harrison in engineering the unification of the two Grand Lodges. He did so because. … Masonry favors no particular religion or political party and knows no national boundaries nor does it draw a color line, because in its work it needs all and excludes none. Hence, wherever Masonry is organized, it invites all good men to meet in its temples and from there watch and study the struggles without and the spirit of those engaged in them, in order to cool their ardor, calm their passions, mitigate their spite, reduce the number of victims, and succor those who are on the outside so that enemies may fraternize. It offers a plan of union and co-operation for raising and strengthening the spirit of humanity, depressed by those fratricidal struggles. It admits all programs, all confessions, all social systems, provided the principle of the brotherhood of man is respected and practiced. This is why Masonry constantly reminds all men that although they have to live and must work and even struggle in order that they may live, they must not hate each other, because they are all brothers, with God as father of all. Kalaw, Sr. was a Grande because he was, among other thing, an author, a scholar, an orator, and a statesman of the highest order. How he came to be such a Grande and a Grand Master may be seen through a review of his eventful life. He was born in Lipa, Batangas on March 31,1884. He grew up to become the “great interpreter and defender of Filipino liberty and nationalism,” becoming the editor of El Renacimiento in 1907. As editor, be fearlessly defended Filipino rights and uncompromisingly advocated the Filipino cause: absolute independence. The editorial in his newspaper, entitled “Aves de Rapina,” catapulted him to national figurehood. One of the Philippine-Commission members sued the paper for libel and damages. Shortly thereafter, the paper folded up. Kalaw graduated from the Liceo de Manila, where he received his A.B., as well as from the Escuela de Derecho, where he obtained his LI.B. and, later, his LI.M. In 1908, he was appointed Secretary of a Quezon-headed Commission to the International Conference on Navigation in Russia. He recorded the events of this trip in his first book, Hacia la Tierra del Zar (1908). He became, upon return to the Philippines, the Director of the Escuela de Derecho and professor of Constitutional Law. This appointment led to the publication of many books on Constitutional matters. Then he ventured into politics, getting himself elected as Representative of Batangas to the Philippine Assembly in 1910. While he was a Representative, he wrote the following: “El Divorcio en Filipinas” (1911), “Como Se Puede Mejorar Nuestra Legislacion,” “La Constitucion de Malolos” (1910), and “Las Ideas Politicas de la Revolucion Filipina. “ In 1916, Kalaw was appointed Director of the Philippine Library and Museum; in 1917, Secretary of Interior; and in 1920, Secretary of Instruction, succeeding the late Rafael Palma. Although he was extremely busy in his administrative responsibilities, he still was able to produce the following works: Manual de Ciencia Politica (1918), La Masoneria Filipinia (1920), La Revolucion Filipina (1924), Court-Martial of Andres Bonifacio (1926), and La Campaña del Kuomintang (1928). In 1929, fortunately for his purposes, he was made Director of the National Library. He contributed some historical works: Epistolario Rizalino, five volumes; Las Cartas Politices de Mabini (1930); El Espiritu de la Revolucion (1931); and La Revolucion Filipina, two volumes. Don Teodoro was, by the way, appointed Executive Secretary and chief adviser of the Philippine Commission for Independence in 1922. Around this time, he wrote about Filipino culture and life in the United States. In 1935, he wrote Cinco Reglas de Nuestra Civilizacion Antigua, a sociological dissertation on Filipino courage, chastity, courtesy, knightly conduct, self-control, and family unity. By means of examples, proverbs and legends, he gave his readers insight into the mainstream of Philippine culture. Even in his column in La Vanguardia, a daily Spanish newspaper, Kalaw gave his countrymen cultural materials on the appreciation of Filipino social life and ideals. His collection of Constitutions from other countries, including the Malolos Constitution of 1898, gave guidance to the delegates of the 1935 Constitutional Convention. His work, Planes Constitucionales, gave the delegates added vision. Here is a summary of Kalaw’s Masonic career: Initiation, Nilad Lodge No.12 – April 8, 1907 Passing, Fellowcraft Degree – March 7,1911 Raising, Master Mason – July 3,1914 Grand Master, Gran Logia Junior Grand Warden, Grand Lodge Grand Orator -1924-28 Grand Master -1928-29 Grand Orator -1931-32 Grand Secretary -1935-39 Grand Secretary Emeritus -1940 He was, likewise, very active in the Scottish Rite Bodies. In fact, he was one of the few who had the distinction of having been coroneted a 33° Mason before the Second World War. Kalaw was a consummate believer in what Masonry could do to men. Thus, on January 22, 1929, he wrote: And if I were asked now what I consider that phase of our external Masonry that we should study and promote in the near future for the maintenance of our Institution, I should frankly say to you: Let us Spread Masonry in the Far East among its various peoples. Let us have the natives of these isles and regions of Asia and Oceania mingle with other people in centers of fraternity, equality, and democracy, such as Freemasonry, in order that they may not only become better acquainted with each other that they may love each other and do good and practice charity together; but that they may love each other and teach the rest the benefits of that love. The coming years will be a time of intense activity and, perhaps, of unrest among the peoples of Asia and Oceania who have hitherto been sleeping. The West is flooding us with its men, its trade, its ideas, its principles, its methods, its institutions. The East is awakening and that awakening brings with it the consciousness of its own worth and responsibility. The final readjustment of the struggle of interests and civilization that is drawing near will inevitably be preceded by serious conflicts that it is our duty to prevent, or the bad effects of which we must at least endeavor to palliate. Let us organize Lodges in every important city of the Orient and have natives and foreigners fraternize in them daily. This will show that they are Brethren who can live together without any necessity for hating each other; and it will introduce into the future relations an element of love and unity that will be indispensable for the progress and harmonious living together of these races. Leo Fischer, Managing Editor of the pre-war Cabletow wrote an editorial on Kalaw on February 1,1929. It is quoted in toto, for it is full of insights regarding Kalaw’s Masonic life. OUR OUTGOING GRAND MASTER Most Worshipful Brother Teodoro M. Kalaw has turned over the Grand Gavel to his successor after an administration during which we had renewed evidence that this eminent Mason enjoys the love, confidence, and esteem of the Craft to the fullest extent. No spectacular achievements are to be recorded for his year of office; but our Institution has pursued the even tenor of its way; peace and harmony have prevailed, and there have been no quarrels and schisms, no scandals and disgraceful incidents, no desertions and acts of disloyalty. And our Brother is not like a meteor that comes and goes, as some Grand Masters have done, bursting forth from the darkness and disappearing in the encircling gloom after a short career. He has been visible on the Masonic horizon since the early days of our Grand Lodge and will, we trust, remain an asset to the Grand Body of Philippine Masonry and our Institution as a whole until the Celestial Grand Lodge above shall claim him. And even then the products of his pen will continue his work among us. Kalaw will always be remembered as having performed the duties of the office of Grand Master in a most conscientious, able, and unassuming way which has earned him the gratitude and admiration of his Brethren in Freemasonry. Kalaw was invited at the constitution of Mencius Lodge No.93 on June 28, 1924. This is what he wrote then: It is said that Masonry is a secret organization, yet secrets in the strict sense of the word, have no place in our Order. True we practice secrecy, but only for the purpose of preventing idle and malicious talk. We prefer that what we do be done quietly, without vulgar display, without conceit, because charity, brotherly love, and good deeds are things which are seen and not heard, and are never made for public acclaim. When he involved himself in various Masonic activities, indeed, Kalaw exemplified what he had written. When Newton C. Comfort had, for health’s sake, to quit his position as Grand Secretary, Kalaw, despite his tight schedule, decided to place his talents and efforts “at the service of the Royal Art with enthusiasm and devotion.” In the February 1, 1935 issue of the Cabletow, Leo Fischer wrote an editorial entitled “Our New Grand Secretary,” which partly reads thus: …He might well have reposed on his laurels after serving as our Grand Master with credit to himself and honor to the Fraternity; but when a worthy successor to Most Wor. Bro. Comfort was needed, M.W. Bro. Kalaw responded to the call and we see him again a Grand Officer this time adorned with the crossed pens of the Gland Secretary. We hope and trust that our Grand Lodge will derive great benefit from the effort of our eminent Brother in the Grand Secretary’s Office and that he will find his task, though it be arduous and burdensome, pleasant and satisfying. .. Kalaw did find his task as Grand Secretary pleasant and satisfying because, as he had always done, he did it not only from a sense of duty but also for the benefit of the Fraternity he loved. In fact, he wrote a number of articles in the Cabletow for the benefit of his Brethren within Cabletow reach. One of such articles expressed his belief in democracy. Listen: Now we have democracy in the Philippines. Democracy was the ideal of the first Filipino Masons. It was the ideal of the Philippine Revolution. It is the objective of all Filipinos of today. But this notwithstanding, there is as much reason why Masonry should exist now, as there was in the past, and perhaps even more. Like every thing human, democracy has its inevitable drawbacks, due either to those who misunderstand it or fail to practice it as they should, or to those who consciously or unconsciously use it to further their own selfish ends. Democracy carries the human struggles into a more open and hard-fought field, hence its danger. Teodoro M. Kalaw, Sr. died three score years ago, but the spirit of his ideals and the memory of his accomplishments live on.