Sinukuan Lodge No. 16
This Tagalog word, meaning "to whom one surrendered or gave up," is the Tagalog name of Mt. Arayat, a very conspicuous extinct volcano rising 1030 meters above sea level in the fertile plains of Pampanga Province, in the north of Manila. Sinukuan is also the Masonic name of Andres Bonifacio, one of the founders of the Katipunan.
The name Sinukuan is connected with the legend of Marya, a beautiful maiden who lords over Mt. Arayat. Once, a tikbalang, who is king of the San Mateo Mountains and a brother of Marya of Mount Makiling, fell in love with Marya of Arayat. As a test, Marya asked the tikbalang to build a stone bridge that would link Arayat and Makiling. The tikbalang worked feverishly to build the bridge in one night, but he failed. The unfinished structure collapsed and the tikbalang had to give up, thus the name sinukuan.
Sinukuan Lodge was organized under the auspices of the Gran Oriente Espariol on November 30, 1903 in Ylaya St. corner Azcarraga St., Tondo, Manila by Felipe Buencamino, Timoteo Paez, Marciano Ramirez, Guillermo Zarco, Manuel Morales, Guillermo Masankay, Pablo D. Palma, Jose T. Santiago, and Bartolome Paez. After complying with requirements, it was issued a charter as Sinukuan Lodge No. 272.
In time the lodge attracted into its fold the cream of Philippine society and officialdom. Among those who became members were President Manuel L. Quezon, Senate President Quintin Paredes, Speaker Gil Montilla, Senators Rafael Nina, Vicente J. Francisco, Hadji Buto, Mateo Herrera and Isauro Gabaldon, Justices Ramon Diokno and Delfin Jaranilla, Manila Mayors Juan Nolasco and Tomas Earnshaw, and Secretaries Filomeno Peres and Jorge Vargas.
With such high caliber members, it is not surprising that Sinukuan Lodge took the lead roll in several Masonic activities. Thus, on Rizal Day in 1903, Sinukuan organized a Masonic demonstration during the unveiling of the Katipunan Monument in Tondo in honor of Dr. Jose Rizal and other Filipino heroes. On September 5, 1906, it started the publication of the Delta, the first Masonic journal in the Philippines. In 1907, it constructed a mausoleum on the burial site in the Manila North Cemetery of another great Mason, Apolinario Mabini. Upon its completion, the lodge held necrological services in Mabini's honor attended by delegations from the lodges in Manila and Cavite. When the government decided to transfer the remains of Rizal to the Luneta in 1912, Sinukuan Lodge again played a pivotal role.
The most important accomplishment of Sinukuan Lodge was the organization of the Regional Grand Lodge of the Philippines in 1907. It all started when a member of the lodge, Gen. Venancio Concepcion, was authorized by the Gran Oriente Espanol in 1906 to initiate applicants and organize Masonic triangles in Aparri, Cagayan "under the celestial canopy." After he founded Mabini Triangle, the members decided to go one step further and establish a regional grand lodge. The Statutes and General Regulations of the Gran Oriente Espanol required the concurrence of at least seven lodges for the establishment of a regional grand lodge, but in 1906 there were only four lodges under the Gran Oriente Español. The members, therefore, fanned out and revived three lodges that had closed down during the Revolution of 1896 - Lusong and Walana. In 1907, the Regional Grand Lodge of the Philippines was officially established. A member of the lodge, Felipe Buencamino, was elected its first Grand Master.
Even after the organization of the Regional Grand Lodge, the members of Sinukuan Lodge continued reviving the lodges that were closed during the Revolution. They resurrected Balagtas Lodge in Malate, Taliba Lodge in Tondo, and Pilar Lodge in Imus. In August, they helped organize a brand new lodge in Cavite, called Bagong Buhay Lodge. In recognition of its valuable services and achievements, the Grand Oriente Español conferred upon Sinukuan Lodge, in 1909, the honorary title of "BENEMERITA DE LA ORDEN".
In the following years, the members of Sinukuan Lodge played a crucial role in bringing about a unification of Masonry in the Philippines. Sinukuan promoted friendly ties with the lodges under the Grand Lodge of P.I. and even elected as Honorary Members such noted American Masons as William H. Taylor, then Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the P.I; Milton E. Springer, Austin Craig, Francis Burton Harrison and Charles S. Banks. When the crucial moment came, with the proposed unification of Masonry in the Philippines hanging in the balance, it was Manuel L. Quezon who saved the day by convincing the Filipino Masons to accept the terms of the Union. Incidentally, when the Union was effectuated in February 1917, Sinukuan Lodge No. 272 transferred to the Grand Lodge of P.I. and was issued a new charter as Sinukuan Lodge No. 16.
Shortly before the Union, some enterprising members of Sinukuan Lodge who anxiously desired to have a Masonic Temple, organized the Sikatuna Corporation mainly for the purpose of financing the construction of what became known as TEMPLO DE SALOMON. For nearly 10 years this beautiful temple was the home of Sinukuan Lodge and the principal center of Masonic activities in Manila. Under the administration of Tomas Earnshaw, it was completed and dedicated on February 24, 1917. In March 1918, the Temple became the scene of the ascension to the Grand Orient of the first Filipino to become Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of P.I., Manuel L. Quezon of Sinukuan Lodge.
In 1920, Manuel Artigas y Cuerva, a well-known historian, started publication of the ACACIA, a fortnightly magazine, which became the official organ of Sinukuan Lodge. This magazine lasted for several years and succeeded in preserving for Masonic posterity a considerable amount of important historical data and valuable literature about Freemasonry in the Philippines.
Another enterprise of Sinukuan Lodge was the Tondo Montessory Class that was maintained for children of tender age, free of charge. It was inaugurated on June 5, 1917 in the premises of the Templo de Salomon. The lodge supported it through the voluntary contributions of its members and civic spirited citizens. As there were in those days but a few educational enterprises of similar character, the Tondo Montessory Class might be considered a pioneer non-sectarian educational activity of Sinukuan Lodge No. 16.
Another accomplishment of Sinukuan Lodge in the Nineteen Twenty's was its acquisition by purchase from the Grand Lodge of a number of burial plots in the Manila North Cemetery which are available to Sinukuan Brethren up to the present.
Sinukuan Lodge has, on all occasions, extended complete cooperation to the Grand Lodge. It has consistently supported the Masonic Hospital for Crippled Children, Incorporated. Many of its members became either regular or sustaining members. The lodge itself became a regular member of the corporation. Also, through the initiative of Sinukuan, the first concert of the Welferville Band, sponsored by the Grand Lodge, was held with great success. Again in 1928, to help save Plaridel Temple to Masonry, the members generously took up subscriptions to the Plaridel Temple Trust Agreement. To-wards the end of 1918, Manuel L. Quezon, then the Grand Master, headed the first Philippine Independence Mission to Washington. His mission was composed of forty-two delegates which included Sinukuan members Rafael Palma, as Vice Chairman, Attorney General Quintin Paredes, and Major Jose B. Vargas.
On March 24, 1934, the U.S. Congress passed a law providing for Philippine independence and authorizing the adoption of a Philippine Constitution. In the election for delegates to the Constitutional Convention 42 Masons won. This number included the following members of Sinukuan Lodge: Rafael Palma, Luciano Ortiz, Jose Zurbito and Vicente J. Francisco.
When World War II broke out, Sinukuan Lodge went into darkness. It was reactivated soon after the end of hostilities, but for one reason or another, it could not regain its old glory as the premier lodge in the country. The lodge went through some difficult periods. Recently the roster of the lodge was infused with young blood that has brought about renewed vigor and activity in its endeavors. Hopefully, with their enthusiasm, Sinukuan will be able to recapture the grandeur of its pre-war days. Among the members the lodge depends on these days are Jaime Canatoy, Jaime Alegre, Meynardo C. Bondad, Alexander Go, Antonio de la Cruz, Jose Ang and Andrian Valle.
Location: Plaridel Masonic Temple, Manila