Nilad Lodge No. 12
The Directory of Nilad Lodge published in 1913 asserts that in the old days, Intramuros was known by the natives under the name of Maynila, which, by Spanish corruption became Manila. Maynila is at the same time a corruption of the Tagalog words may nilad, and has come to mean: "The place where the nilad tree grows.“ Apparently, at the site where Fort Santiago stands at present, there were trees known by this name. It is from these trees that the name of Maynila or Manila originated which was given to the district known today as Intramuros, and, by extension, to the capital of the Philippines. This lodge took its name from the same origin.
Additional information is furnished by Bro. Florencio Tamesis, former Director of Forestry, to the effect that the scientific name of the nilad tree scyphiphora hydrophyllacea. It is a small tree growing along the streams in the swamps. Its flowers are small, white, often tinged with red, and borne in compact grooves. Its fruit is somewhat cylindrical, with eight to ten grooves, and usually a little less that a centimeter in length.
Nilad Lodge, which is number 12 on the rolls of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, is perhaps the oldest lodge under its jurisdiction. It affiliated only in 1917, but its foundation dates back as far as 1892, or 20 years before the Grand Lodge was organized. More important than this, it may be said that the establishment of Nilad Lodge had much to do with the history of Philippine Masonry, and that it was through the instrumentality of this lodge that the Filipinos were first granted the privilege and the honor of forming their own lodges throughout the Philippines.
Nilad lodge had its genesis in Spain in 1890 when Del Pilar and Rizal planned the establishment of lodges in the Philippines exclusively for Filipinos. The two saw Masonry as the "universal protest against the ambition of tyrants," as the "supreme manifestation of democracy," as the organization that could redeem the Philippines "from a downtrodden Spanish colony, poor and sickly, without rights and liberties, into a dignified, free and prosperous nation."
Del Pilar secured authority to establish lodges in the Philippines from the Grand Council of the Gran Oriente Español. The task of carrying out the plan fell to Pedro Serrano Laktaw who set sail for the Philippines and arrived in Manila in December 1891. He and fellow Masons Jose Anacleto Ramos, Timoteo Paez and Moises Salvador initiated three new members and founded the Nilad Lodge in Manila on January 6, 1892. They applied for affiliation with the Gran Oriente Espanol and on March 10, 1892, their lodge was chartered as Nilad Lodge No. 144. On March 12, 1892 the officers of the lodge were installed. They were: Jose A. Ramos, Venerable Master; Moises Salvador, First Vigilant; Lorenzo Tuazon, Second Vigilant; Tomas Tuazon, Orator; Pedro Serrano Laktaw, Secretary and Treasurer; Timoteo Paez, Master of Ceremonies and Expert; and, Romualdo Cacnio, Inner Temple Guard.
In the following months Nilad Lodge initiated members in large numbers, "beyond what had been expected," as Rizal put it. The most eager to join were those who had been exposed to the liberal ideas of the Spanish Masons during the administration of Governor General Emilio Terrero y Perinat, 33°. Among the first initiates were the gobernadorcillos and principales who had joined the
so-called Manifestation of 1888, those who had supported the decree on burials of Director General for Civil Administration Benigno Quiroga 33°, the partisans of Del Pilar in Malolos, and the officers and members of the Comite de Propaganda which was organized just before Del Pilar fled to Spain in 1888.
Nilad Lodge was barely two months old when its members founded Triangulo Balagtas in Sampaloc in March and Triangulo Bathala in Ermita in April. Soon Masonic Triangles sprouted all over Manila. The Masons proselytized vigorously in other parts of the country. The Spanish provincial officials and steamship officials who were Masons helped spread Masonry throughout the islands. Masonry was also propagated through public meetings, reunions, dances, and other social events. In barely 14 months, Masonic circles were established in Batangas, Bicol, Bulacan, Capiz, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo, Laguna, La Union, Mindoro, Negros, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Morong (now Rizal),Tarlac,Tayabas (now Quezon) and Zamboanga. It was the first nationwide Filipino organization. In March 1893, Jesuit Superior Father Juan Ricart complained: “The religious orders have lost much of their prestige. And as religion loses, so does Spain and filibusterismo (subversion) grows together with impiety. The lodges are being organized. May God help us and have mercy on these people once so simple."
Masonry as an institution did not advocate the violent overthrow of the established order, but its teachings of civil liberties sparked a popular craving for change and a desire for freedom that eventually ignited the Philippine Revolution of 1896. This, however, is straying a bit from our story.
As the lodge from which all the others sprang, Nilad Lodge was conferred the title of "Mother Lodge" and it was empowered to exercise in various ways the authority of the Gran Oriente Español itself. Unfortunately this authority was wrongly wielded by its Master and Secretary which brought Nilad Lodge into conflict with the other lodges. At first discontent was stirred by the by assumption of powers by the Master and the Secretary that was considered an infringement of the autonomy of the lodges. Matters were aggravated when it was discovered that Laktaw had malversed the funds of the lodges. The final straw came when Laktaw started badmouthing Marcelo del Pilar who was universally loved by the members.
In 1893 the other lodges organized a Regional Grand Council to administer Masonic affairs in the country in place of Nilad Lodge. The move was opposed by Nilad Lodge but it eventually lost out. The Grand Council of the Gran Oriente Español, through the intercession of Del Pilar, gave a charter to the Council and, as a consequence, Nilad Lodge passed out of existence. It would remain in darkness for thirteen years.
In 1906, the officers and members of Sinukuan Lodge No. 272 went about reviving the lodges that were closed during the Spanish regime. They wanted to organize a Regional Grand Lodge, but the Statutes and Regulations of the Gran Oriente Espanol required the concurrence of at least seven lodges for the establishment of such body, and at that time there were only four lodges under the Gran Oriente Espanol, thus the need to reestablish at least three more lodges.
The members of Sinukuan Lodge were divided into several groups and each one was tasked with the duty to revive a lodge. One group composed of Pablo D. Palma, Ramon Diokno, Anastacio Monzon, Tomas E. Umali, Angel Ponce de Leon, Pascual Concepcion, Ramon Victorio, and Emilio Campomanes revived Nilad Lodge on August 24, 1906. Ramon Diokno was elected as the Venerable Master of the revived lodge; Pablo D. Palma, the First Vigilant; and, Anastacio Monson, the Second Vigilant.
When a sufficient number of lodges were established, the Regional Grand Lodge of the Philippines was organized. The Master of Nilad Lodge, Ramon Diokno, was elected as its Grand First Vice-President. A few years later, Teodoro M. Kalaw, a member of the lodge, was elected Grand Master of this Regional Grand lodge.
In the following years, Nilad Lodge assiduously propagated the tenets of Masonry. Its members played indispensable roles in the founding of Triangulo Ilaw in Masbate in 1908, of Maguindanao Lodge in Mindanao in 1912 and of Malinaw Lodge in San Pablo also in 1912. In recognition of its accomplishments, Nilad Lodge was awarded the title Benemerita de la Orden in 1910 by the Gran Oriente Espanol and Dos Veces Benemerita in 1914.
In 1917, the lodges under the Regional Grand Lodge fused with the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands. Nilad Lodge became a subordinate lodge of the Grand Lodge of P.I. and was given a new charter as Nilad Lodge No. 12.
The members of Nilad Lodge continued to be active. Thus, in 1922 they celebrated the anniversary of the lodge at the Hotel de Francia which was attended by Masonic dignitaries and "the elite of cosmopolitan Manila." In 1925, the lodge, in behalf of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, presented a diploma of Honorary Past Grand Master upon one of its members, Teodoro M. Kalaw. In the same year it erected a monument over the grave of its first Master, Jose A. Ramos, at the Cementerio del Norte. In 1928 Kalaw was elected Grand Master. In 1939, Jose Guido, a member of the lodge, was elected Junior Grand Warden. In 1941 Guido was elected Deputy Grand Master and another member, Antonio Ramos, was elected Junior Grand Warden.
When the Second World War broke out, Nilad Lodge, like all the other lodges in the Philippines, closed down. It was reopened in 1945, but without several members who were casualties of the war. Among the prominent victims were Deputy Grand Master Guido, who was beheaded by the Japanese, and Junior Grand Warden Ramos, who died of malnutrition.
In the post war years. Nilad kept the Masonic flame aglow. Aside from its numerous accomplishments, it produced two more Grand Masters, Macario Ofilada and Teodoro V. Kalaw, Jr. At present it counts on the faithful services of Mariano Licauco, Servando Topacio, Gregorio Vicente, Jr., Felipe Veneracion, Rico B. Bolonaita, Jimmy C. Tomas, Alberto C. Dy, Dennis del Rosario, Orlando M. Intal and a host of others.
Location: Plaridel Masonic Temple, Manila