Keystone Lodge No. 100
The Keystone, after which this lodge was named, is the central topmost stone of an arch, Which holds the others in place. It is a well-known emblem in both the Royal Arch and the Mark degrees of the York Rite.
In 1925, several Filipino Masons stationed on Corregidor Island, who were members of lodges located far from the Rock, conceived the idea of founding a lodge on the Island to give them a more convenient opportunity for the continuation of their Masonic activities. Under the leadership of Cornelio Aguire these Masons, 38 in all, petitioned Grand Master Christian Rosenstock for a dispensation to open a lodge on the Island to he named Keystone Lodge. Rosenstock issued the dispensation on December 14, 1925. The following month, January 27, 1926, the Grand Lodge granted the new lodge a charter.
On March 27, 1926, Grand Master Francisco A. Delgado with a delegation from Manila - forty in all - sailed for Corregidor to constitute Keystone Lodge No. 100 and install its officers. Grand Master Delgado performed the ceremony of constitution, with the help of Joseph H. Schmidt, Antonio Gonzalez, Jose C. Velo and several others. The ceremonies were open to the public and there was a very large attendance of both sexes.
The installation ceremonies followed and were also open to the public. Joseph H. Schmidt acted as Installing Officer, while Velo was the Master of Ceremonies. The officers installed were Cornelio M. Aguirre, Worshipful Master; George A. Holt, Senior Warden; Esteban Castillos, Junior Warden; Donato E. Poblete, Treasurer; and Primitivo Villapando, Secretary.
Keystone Lodge began its Masonic existence very auspiciously. Right off, it was able to put on degree work in both English and Spanish. The regular officers of the lodge composed the English team, while Santiago Boter, Felix Carreon, and Pedro Angeles headed the special team for the work in Spanish. On December 4, 1926, the Spanish Special Team traveled to Naic, Cavite and conferred the third degree in Spanish upon Eduardo Bautista, a Fellowcraft of Mt. Mainam Lodge No. 49.
Before the outbreak of the Second World War, Keystone Lodge encountered difficulties taking in new members. Thus, when it raised Buenaventura D. Motus on September 19, 1935, the Cabletow noted that that was the first time in two years that the lodge conferred the Master Mason's Degree. Despite these difficulties, however, the lodge was able to maintain a robust existence.
Keystone Lodge suffered heavily during the Second World War. Practically all its members were in the uniformed service and they participated in the military campaigns. A number were killed. At the end of the war, the survivors realized they could not reestablish their lodge on Corregidor Island so they sought and obtained permission from the Grand Lodge to move the lodge to Manila. In the later part of 1945 Keystone Lodge was opened in Manila.
In March 1946, Keystone Lodge received very pleasant surprise. Through a communication addressed to Grand Secretary Antonio Gonzalez, dated March 17, 1946, Bro. Harvie L. Farmer, a former prisoner of war, returned the charter of Keystone Lodge. Bro. Farmer wrote: "Here is the charter of Keystone Lodge No. 100 given to me by a very good friend of mine, Buster Keaton, in 1944 just before I was transferred to Japan as a prisoner of war. I managed to bury it when the Japanese searched us and dig it up again and again, until it was almost worn out.
For a while Keystone was quite active, but in the 1960’s mustering a quorum became a problem. Its membership was still composed of men in the service , and they assigned to distant places. Often the lodge could not meet because its members were working elsewhere. At the Annual Communication held on April 27, 1971, Grand Master Edgar I. Shepley sadly informed the delegates: "Due to the failure of the lodge to meet since January 1970, the absence of reports and utter disregard of Section 3, Article VI of our revised Constitution, I was constrained to arrest the Charter of Keystone Lodge No. 100."
One of the last Masters of Keystone Lodge was MW Agustin Mateo, Grand Master in 1992, who at that time was in the military service.