MW Tomas G. Rentoy III
In the Shade of the Square and Compass
The Square and Compass have always loomed large in his life. As a child, he received his first formal education literally under the shadow of the Square and Compass. He attended kindergarten classes on the ground floor of Isarog Lodge No. 33 in his hometown, Naga City. He was awed by the reverence with which his teacher referred to the dignified gentlemen who met at the second floor. It is little wonder then that as he grew older, he was inexorably drawn towards the Craft.
His Humble Beginnings
Our Grand Master was born on February 25, 1958 in a quiet neighborhood in Naga City. He is the third son in a brood of six (6) boys and two (2) girls. His father, the late Tomas Milanay Rentoy I, was a former patrolman in the Naga City Police Department who decided to turn in his badge and join the more sedentary teaching profession so he could be near his wife, and their growing family. His father was a strict disciplinarian. Explaining that he has nothing to bequeath his sons but his good name, he had them all named after himself. His mother, Minda Gontang Rentoy, was the typical dutiful wife and loving mom who stayed home to take care of her children.
Family and close friends fondly call him “Adit”, (short for the Bicol word “Sadit”), a term of endearment meaning “the little one”. He must have been such a cute little baby boy to deserve that.
To support himself in college, he worked as a lowly utility man in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in Naga City from 1978 to 1981. Midway to college, he heard about the newly established academy where struggling college kids can actually earn a living by studying to be police officers. He took and passed the stringent entrance examinations and screening. In June 1981, Adit discarded his civilian clothes, had his long curly hair shaved and donned the uniform of a police cadet at the Philippine National Police Academy.
His Years in the Police Service
That was how Adit, the former utility man, the son of a teacher and former local policeman, found himself marching among the hundred proud graduates of the Philippine National Police Academy “MAGITING” Class of 1983. He then went on to serve the Philippine National Police with honor and distinction, leaving an impressive trail of achievements in all his assignments.
As any other young Police Lieutenant fresh from the Academy, he sought and was granted assignment to remote police units. This was how he came to be, up until then, the youngest Station Commander Dipaculao Police Station in Aurora province ever had. Back in those days, taking the long, dusty bus ride to Dipaculao was an adventure in itself.
It was in Dipaculao where he displayed his strong sense of heroism when in 1986 he was wounded and almost lost an arm in an encounter with several armed Communist Terrorists. He was brought to Camp Crame Hospital for treatment. Before his wound could even heal, he left his hospital bed and returned to his station. General Renato S. De Villa, the then Chief, PC/Director General, INP, recognizing his courage and heroism, personally intervened and had him transferred to his home province of Camarines Sur to recuperate. He served in various capacity his father’s former unit, the Naga City Police. He also served in nearby insurgent-infested towns.
Towards the ‘90s, his leadership and financial management skills came to the fore as he rose in rank and position in the Philippine National Police, holding several assignments at the PNP Finance Service. It was while assigned in the Finance Service that he was admitted into the graduate program of the world renowned Asian Institute of Management.
As a Police Superintendent in the mid-‘90s, he held various key positions. For several years, he served as Regional Chief of the Comptrollership Division of Police Regional Office 8 in Samar. He also held the position of Acting Regional Director of the PNP Regional Training School 5 in Legazpi City.
In 2006, he was reassigned to the PNP Directorate for Comptrollership as Chief of the Budget Division. He later moved on to become its Executive Officer and consequently was promoted to the star rank of Chief Superintendent in 2010, the first in his class. In the final two years of his police service, he was assigned as Chief of the PNP Supervisory Office for Security and Investigation Agencies (SOSIA), the office that supervises all security agencies in the country.
Compass Club. Member, Order of the Secret Monitor. Honorary member of BIR Travellers’s Haven Incorporated (BIRTH). In December 2011, he was awarded the Distinguished Mason in Government during the centennial anniversary of the MWGLP. He was conferred the Honorary Legion of Honor by the Supreme Council of the Order of Demolay last March 18, 2015.
Many lodges, both here and abroad, have bestowed on him honorary membership. The lodges under the Philippine jurisdiction that have welcomed him as their honorary member are Gregorio Calit Memorial Lodge No. 154, Diffun Masonic Lodge No. 317, Jacques Demolay Lodge No. 305, Norberto S. Amaranto Lodge No. 358, Lake Lanao Lodge No. 227, Sanchez Mira Lodge No. 233, Kutang Bato Lodge No. 110, Makahambus Lodge No. 315, and Sta Rosa Lodge No. 297, Dr. Sun Yat Sen Memorial Lodge No. 398. Abroad, the Park Lodge No. 516, Grand Lodge of New York has also adopted him as its honorary member. Likewise, the AAHMES Shriners Temple in Livermore, California has made him its honorary member.
He has fully imbibed the virtues of Freemasonry and adopted them as his way of life. And this he did not limit to himself but has extended it to his family. His wife, Nancy, is active in the Bethel Council of Job’s Daughters International. His son, Russell, is himself a Master Mason, and a Shriner. His daughter, Aimee, is past Grand Bethel Honored Queen, past Miss Philippines Job’s Daughter, and past Royal Matron, Lilly of the Valley Court No. 56, Order of the Amaranth. His youngest daughter, Athena, is Marshal of Bethel 22, Job’s Daughters International. The virtues of masonry guides him in his relations with his other children, Mark Anthony and Ryan John.
A Reformer’s Journey to the Grand East
He has come a long way since the day he knocked on the West Gate of Cosmos Lodge No. 8. His journey has taken him to the entire length of our archipelago and overseas. A disturbing trend that he witnessed during his visits to various lodges moved him to take the road to the Grand East.
To prepare himself for the arduous journey to the Grand East, he intensified his consultations with the brethren. He sought the counsel of the past grandmasters. Thus evolved a vision drawn from the shared sentiments of the brethren, the vision he saw as a little child – Philippine Freemasonry revitalized, relevant and, most of all, revered.
Having crystalized the vision, he then moved to concretize it. He gathered around him a band of worthy brothers, the PNPA BEST, who individually and collectively reached out to other masonic clubs, appendant bodies and worthy brothers in the blue lodges in order to draw up a road map to the attainment of the vision. Slowly, the needed reform agenda took shape.
The Past Grand Master officially unveiled the reform agenda during the 2012 ANCOM where an overwhelming number of the brethren validated them through the votes they cast for him when he won as Junior Grand Warden. By then, he has become a household name among the brethren. His reform agenda, the Three Guards to Reform, would soon become a popular slogan.
With the validity of the vision and its concomitant reform agenda firmly established, the newly elected Junior Grand Warden immediately organized the TGR Team. For the next three years, the team met regularly to brainstorm and flesh out the reform agenda. With scholarly dedication, the team meticulously drafted edicts, issuances, protocols, and plans of action so that these may be ready for implementation on day one of the assumption to the Grand Oriental Chair of our Most Worshipful Grand Master.
From kindergarten desk to the Grand Oriental Chair is a long way indeed. That little boy who played under the shadow of the square and compass now walks among the men on the upper floor whom his teacher regarded with much respect. But despite all his achievements and successes in life, he really hasn’t changed much. He remains approachable as ever. His zeal as a devotee of Our Lady of Penafrancia has not waned. And, yes, he is still an avid golfer.
Call or text him any day or night, and should his phone be busy, as is often the case now, you can be assured he’ll call you back. Approach him with a problem, big or small, and he will receive you with a helping hand. He listens. Ah, he even sings.
The life he has so far lived is now legend while the rest of it is history in the making.
We are lucky witnesses to and privileged participants in revolutionary reforms to our Ancient Craft here in the Philippine jurisdiction. Fired up by our common vision of Freemasonry revered by society, he has set us on the course towards the Three Guards to Reform – Guard the West Gate, Guard the Lamp, and Guard the Ballot.