Isabela Lodge No. 60
This Lodge was named after the province of Isabela which in turn was so called in honor of Queen Isabela II of Spain.
Resident Freemasons and other enterprising Craftsmen from the neighboring towns of Isabela established Isabela Lodge in the municipality of Ilagan on June 24, 1919. The decision was based on necessity. Mabini Lodge No. 39, the parent lodge and, at that time, the only Masonic lodge in Northern Luzon, is located at Aparri, Cagayan, more then 200 kms. North of Ilagan. Aparri was then accessible only by means of water transportation, by a steamboat locally called 'Bapor Magapit' plying along the Rio Grande de Cagayan. It was simply too difficult to attend meetings in Aparri. On March 15, 1919 the brethren net in the Guest House of Bro. Fritz A. Kretzchmar, Jefe del Valle of La Insular Tobacco Company, to formulate a petition addressed to the Grand Lodge for a dispensation to organize a lodge in Ilagan. Among the petitioners were. Administrative Deputy in the Office of the Provincial Treasurer Manuel Alindayu, Alfonso Azurin, Provincial Governor Fortunato Bulan, Juan Ll. Evangelista, Ventura Guzman, Fritz A. Kratzchmar, Gabriel Maramag, Provincial Treasurer Francisco Medina, Pascual Paguirigan, Felix Santos, Asst. Provincial Treasurer Benito L. Sales, Juan Orellana of the Office of the Prove Treasurer, and Ramon Valdez. On May 30 a final organizational meeting was held in the mansion of Provincial Treasurer Medina at San Luis St., District of Sta. Barbara during which the Petition for Dispensation was signed by all the organizers.
When MW Manuel L. Quezon, then Senate President, visited the Province of Isabela on June 19, 1919, the Masons of the Valley gave him a warm welcome in Ilagan. He was the guest of Don Lope Nieto, elder brother of Col. Manuel Nieto , Quezon’s Aide-de-Camp and bosom friend. After the customary brotherly amenities, the formal petition for dispensation was presented to Quezon who volunteered to hand-carry the document to the Grand Lodge in Manila.
On June 24, 1919, Grand Master Milton E. Springer issued the requested dispensation and designated the following as the first officers of the lodge: Fritz A. Kretzchmar, Worshipful Master; Juan LI. Evangelista, Senior Warden; Ramon Valdez, Junior Warden; Manuel Alindayu, Treasurer; and Gabriel G. Maramag, Secretary; Fortunat Bulan, Chaplain; Francisco Medina, Marshall; Ventura Guzman, Senior Deacon; Francisco Carag, Junior Deacon; and Alfonso Azurin, Tyler.
During the 9th Annual Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands held on January 25, 1921, the grant of a charter to Isabela Lodge No. 60 was approved. The following April 21, 1921, Grand Master Edwin E. Esler, with a team of Grand Lodge officers, traveled to Hagan, Isabela to constitute the lodge and install its officers. The ceremonies were held in public at the City Hall and attendance was large.
From 1919 to 1926, the meetings and other Masonic activities of the lodge were held at the residence of Gabriel Maramag, the lodge Secretary. After his death on June 11, 1926 the meetings were transferred to a rented building until 1928.
In 1926, the brethren "passed the hat" to raise funds to buy a lot and to erect a Masonic Temple thereon. Then on December 5, 1927, they organized the Temple Builders Association (later renamed Isabela Masonic Temple Association) with the objective of hastening the construction of the Temple.
The building was soon erected but it was razed to the ground on December 8, 1941 when Japanese warplanes bombarded the town with incendiary bombs. After the war, another building was erected from the proceeds of the war damage claim of the Association. But on May 16, 1957, after about a decade of occupancy, fire broke out in the business district of Ilagan that gutted several buildings, including the Temple.
Once more the brethren built another Temple. Though of wooden material, it stood prominently among the new buildings in town. It became a popular site for social affairs and conferences of various civic groups and fraternal organizations. After only fifteen years, however, the building showed signs of deterioration. The roof was leaking and termites attacked the walls and the ceiling. Temple Association had no choice but to demolish the building to give way to a new one.
WB Alberto E. Simon, Jr., a prominent architect and a member of the lodge, drew plans for a two-story concrete edifice. To finance the construction, the Association entered into a 25-year contract with Bro. Vicente Pua Uy, under the terms of which Pua Uy was given the use of the Ground Floor for 25 years, while the Association was allowed to devote the second floor to lodge purposes. Rising on Rizal Avenue in the commercial center of Ilagan, the Isabela Masonic Temple is a reflection of the sacrifice, love and faith of the members of Isabela Lodge No. 60, a symbol of mutual confidence and affection.
Parenthetically, the Masonic Temple Association organized by the members of Isabela Lodge may well serve as a model for other lodges that are striving to erect their own Temple. A sad experience of many lodges which have organized Temple Associations is that, after a lapse of time, control over the Association passes to the hands of non-masons. The new managers then convert the use of the building to non-Masonic purposes and the lodge is forced to move out. The organizers of the Isabela Masonic Temple Association made sure that their organization will always remain under the control of Masons. Thus, the By-Laws of the Association provide that:
- Membership in the Association is limited to the members of Isabela Lodge No. 60;
2. The Association is a non-profit organization;
3. A member can own a maximum of only ten (10) Shares of Stock;
4. If a member dies, the Certificates of Stock issued in his name are deemed cancelled and their par value, with an equal amount as aid, is made payable to his widow and legal heirs upon the surrender of the Certificates of Stock; and,
5. Shares of Stock are non-transferable except to members of Isabela Lodge No. 60, subject, however, to the limitation on the maximum number. of shares a member can acquire.
Through the years, Isabela Lodge No. 60 has grown in membership and has given birth to five other Masonic lodges, namely: Cagayan Valley Lodge No. 133 in Santiago, Isabela; Maharlika Lodge No. 180 in Cauayan, Isabela; Mallig Plains Lodge No. 191 in Roxas, Isabela, Tumauini Lodge No. 251, in Tumauini, Isabela ;and Pinacanauan Lodge No. 318 in Ilagan, Isabela. Aside from these, the lodge has also established Isabela Bodies, A.&. A.S.R., Queen Isabella Court No. 14, Order of the Amaranth, De Leon Chapter, Order of DeMolay and Bethel No. 26, In Order of Job's Daughters.
Location: Ilagan, Isabela