Mencius Lodge No. 93
This lodge was founded by Chinese brethren and was aptly named in honor of Mencius, an eminent Confucianist of the fourth century BC. Mencius lived from 372 to 289 BC. He studied under Tzu-ssu, a grandson of Confucius, and was always loyal to Confucius.
Mencius believed in the essential goodness of human nature. To him man's inborn nature not only is perfect, it is also a microcosm that represents or contains the essence of all things. Thus, he said "he who completely knows his own nature, knows Heaven." In one of his poems, he wrote:
As Square and Compass perfect
squares and circles line
Model of human kinship's best,
the Saint doth shine.
The constitution of Mencius Lodge No. 93 on June 28, 1924 in the Masonic Temple, Escolta Manila, marked an event unparalleled in the history of the Masonic institution. It was the first time in any of the Grand Jurisdictions of the world that a Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons had issued a charter to a lodge the membership of which was composed exclusively of nationals of what was formerly known as the Celestial Empire. True, there were then a large number of Chinese Masons in the Philippines, and many Chinese had become members in other countries as well. Mencius Lodge, however, was sui generis in that, from its Master down to its newest initiate, each and every member was of the blood of Cathay.
Mencius Lodge had its origin in the desire on the part of some active Chinese Masons in the Philippines for a closer relationship in their Masonic work. Thirty-three of them petitioned the Grand Lodge for a dispensation to form a lodge and on January 15, 1924 the requested dispensation was issued. Eight days later, on January 23, the lodge was granted a charter by the Grand Lodge. On June 28 Mencius Lodge was officially constituted. At the time of constitution, the lodge had close to fifty members. It worked both in English and Spanish, the two languages then permitted in this jurisdiction.
The constitution of the lodge, and the installation of its officers that immediately followed, were both open to the public, and conducted in Spanish. More than 400 people were present. Senior Grand Warden Francisco A. Delgado, acting as Grand Master, presided during the constitution ceremonies, while MW Rafael Palma installed the officers. Those installed were: Worshipful Master, Luis Lim Bilian; Senior Warden, Yu Chun Teck; Junior Warden, 0. Hway Peck; Treasurer, Gonzalo C. Go Quioay; and Secretary, Marciano Ong.
MW Frederic H. Stevens, RW Teodoro M. Kalaw, RW Francisco A. Delgado and WB Lim Bilian delivered speeches after the ceremony. The Master of the lodge stressed that the founders of the lodge were in no way actuated by a desire to make its membership exclusively Chinese, and assured everyone that applicants of whatever nationality or creed would he eligible as members, if found worthy.
The members of Mencius Lodge pursued their labors for the Craft in this jurisdiction and outside of it. The late MW Michael Goldenberg, who was an Honorary Member of the lodge, stated on several occasions that Mencius Lodge was the catalyst in the formation of lodges in China and ultimately the Grand Lodge of China. Many members, before World War II, visited sister lodges in China. The cordial ties between Mencius Lodge and the lodges that were chartered by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines in China was happily marked on October 5, 1933 when Grand Master Stanton Youngberg visited Mencius Lodge. A beautiful plaque of red lacquer, measuring 103 by 37 inches, with a message of true Masonic import from President Lim Sen, which was inscribed thereon in Chinese ideographs in gold, was presented on behalf of Amity Lodge of China to the Grand Lodge by K.L. Kwong, Consul General of the Republic of China. The inscription read: "To the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands. The Spirit of Mutual Helpfulness. Eleventh month of the Twenty-first year of the Republic of China. From Lim Sen."
Thirty years after he had issued the dispensation that gave life to the lodge, MW Frederick H. Stevens, was happy to state that Mencius Lodge had furthered the cause of Masonry beyond his dreams. He mentioned in particular WB Tieng Sieng, who by his Masonic work, was well-known throughout the Eastern part of the United States of America. Stevens recounted how Tieng Sieng, with Bro. Joe Woon Lum of Shanghai and a group of Chinese Masons in New York formed a Third Degree team that conferred the Master Mason Degree in different lodges in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, etc., using the Philippine ritual. He said that it must have been a splendid sight to see these brethren, faultlessly dressed in evening clothes, march into a lodge and before large crowds numbering into the thousands confer the degree in faultless English.
Before the occupation of Manila by the Japanese that drove the lodges into darkness, the members of Mencius Lodge had the foresight to hide in a warehouse their Masonic paraphernalia, furniture and fixtures. These came in handy at the resumption of Masonic labors after the liberation of the country.
Mencius Lodge resumed its Masonic labors in the temporary headquarters of the Grand Lodge in Gunao St., in Quiapo, Manila. From there it transferred its meeting place to the Plaridel Masonic Temple at 520 San Marcelino St., which was rebuilt after it was demolished in the battle for Manila in February 1945.
On March 17, 1954 the Grand Lodge issued a dispensation for the formation of Na Nun Gok Handa Lodge in Korea. During a visit of Grand Master Mauro Baradi to Mencius lodge, he presented the dispensation to Bro. (Captain) Clarence Edgar Merwin, Sr., the Worshipful Master designate of the lodge. The occasion was unique and memorable, a dispensation issued by a Filipino Grand Master was presented in a lodge composed mostly of Chinese Nationals to an American, who would guide and govern a new lodge in Korea, a foreign but friendly soil.
In 1982, under the dynamic leadership of WM William C. Ong, the lodge updated the financial and individual records of the members thus strengthening the financial position of the lodge. The lodge was able to collect the past dues of inactive brethren. The lodge also attained a 100% collection of the Temple Fund Assessment for the construction of the Grand Lodge building. Many members became Charter Members of the builders Club out of a desire to help Complete the New temple building. The members are still proud that their lodge was selected as the Most Outstanding Lodge of the District in 1982.
Mencius Lodge is at present maintaining a scholarship project at the Philippine Chiang Kai Shek College and the Philippines Cultural High School for deserving and indigent students. Likewise, its members never forget to perform charitable deeds, but deem it necessary to trumpet their philanthropy.
Location: Scottish Rite Temple, Manila