Taga-ilog Lodge No. 79
Taga-ilog is a Tagalog term meaning "river folk," which is said to be the designation by which the Tagalog people were originally known. It refers to our old, wandering, adventurous Malay ancestors, who preferred to live near bodies of water such as rivers, lakes and seashores. The word itself means one who lives near a river. One of the biggest Malay tribe, the Tagalog, derives its name from Taga-ilog because they inhabit riverbanks where there is life, progress and ease of movement. The word also signifies "to be always on the move" like the current of the river. Significantly, Taga-Ilog was also the pseudonym used by General Antonio Luna of revolutionary fame. Such words as Tanauan, Bantay, Aguyon, Dapitan, Baybay, Cabanatuan, Taytay and others are in one way or the other related to Taga-llog.
This lodge was organized by 14 Master Masons. Upon their request, Grand Master Quintin Paredes issued a dispensation on February 11, 1922, authorizing them to organize a new lodge in Manila to be named Taga-Ilog. After they satisfactorily demonstrated their ability to operate a lodge, the Grand Lodge, on January 24, 1923, granted a charter to their lodge as Taga-Ilog Lodge No.79.
On February 21, Junior Grand Warden Francisco A. Delgado, on authority of the Grand Master, convened a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands at the Temple of Salomon on Bilbao St., in Tondo, Manila for the purpose of constituting Taga-Ilog Lodge No. 79 and installing its officers. Installed as the principal officers were Domingo C. Torres, Master; Carlos F. Maglaya, Senior Warden; Felixberto Soriano, Junior Warden and Eduardo Martinez, Secretary. The ceremonies were public and attendance was far in excess of the capacity of the building. After the ceremonies, a reception and dance was held on the first floor of the Temple of Salomon which was elaborately decorated for the occasion. RW Delgado, MW Quintin Paredes and the Master of the lodge made addresses.
Taga-Ilog, in its early years, registered a slow but steady growth. By the end of 1922 its membership went up to 29. In 1923 it was 31,35 in 1924 and 42 in 1927. Proficiency in the ritual was also gradually achieved. The founders of the lodge were unfamiliar with the ritual in English, so with the permission of the Grand Lodge, the Spanish ritual was used in their meetings and degree work. After a few years, however, they were able to form a Special English Team composed of Clemente Bernabe, David L. Guevara, Vicente Santos, Pelagio Hermosura and Ricardo Robles. On November 8,1924, the team conferred the first degree on candidate T. Evangelista. It became proficient and was invited by other lodges to confer the degrees on their candidates. Thus, on June 20, 1931, an English Degree Team of Taga-Ilog Lodge headed by WB Abundio del Rosario, on invitation of Makiling Lodge No. 72, motored to Calamba, Laguna and raised Bro. Enrique Hemedes.
The steady growth of Taga-Ilog Lodge was arrested in the 1930's when the economic depression in the United States dragged down the Philippine economy. Many Masons in the Philippines lost their jobs, some even their fortunes. They could not pay their dues and shied away from their lodges. The number of SNPD's nationwide mounted. Practically all lodges lost members. The total membership of all the lodges went down to 6,648 in 1930, 5, 638 in 1933 and 5,225 in 1936. Taga-Ilog Lodge also lost members and had a depleted treasury. In 1933, it had to move its meeting place from the Masonic Temple on the Escolta to the Plaridel Masonic Temple to save on rent. Membership also gradually declined. It went down to 37 in 1932, 34 in 1933, and 27 1939. Very few knocked on doors of Taga-Ilog. There was not a single applicant for degrees in 1934, except for Santiago Puertollano who was raised on May 5, 1934. The lodge encountered difficulties in mustering a quorum.
Then came the Second World War that forced the lodge to temporarily close down. Taga-Ilog was reopened soon after the end of the conflict. Fortunately, three dynamic Masons assumed the leadership of the lodge - Clemente Bernabe, Sesenio Rivera and Jose Curameng. With the help of active new members, they injected vigor into the lodge and made it one of the most active in Manila.
Among others, the leaders cultivated and promoted interaction between Taga-Ilog and the other lodges in the Metro Manila area. Thus, for example, for the raising of Clodualdo T. Paredes of the Manila Hotel, Past Masters of different lodges were invited to form a Special Team to confer the 3rd degree on the candidate. This was done on July 27, 1946 to coincide with the visit of Grand Master Michael Goldenberg to Taga-Ilog Lodge. After the Grand Master was received, the Master, Sesenio Rivera, and the other officers vacated their seats to give way to the Special Team to confer the 3rd degree.
On another occasion it was the turn of Taga-Ilog Lodge to confer a degree in a sister lodge. On October 12, 1946, the conferral team of Taga-Ilog visited Silanganan Lodge No. 19 in Pasig. The Master of Silanganan Lodge welcomed them, after which he requested the regular officers of his lodge to vacate their stations and turn them over to the Special Team of Taga-ilog Lodge, headed by Sesenio Rivera, WM; Jose W. Curameng, SW; Santiago Puertollano, JW and Clemente Bernabe, Marshall.
In its account of the event, The Cabletow, the official organ of the Grand Lodge, reported: "The brethren of Silanganan Lodge were unanimous in expressing their delight in witnessing the conferring of the degree upon their candidate in a very impressive manner. According to them, this special meeting of the lodge was so far the best attended since liberation."
Today the legacy of those three great leaders lives on. The present leadership is ably following in their footsteps and the future augurs well for Taga-ilog Lodge No. 79. Among the assiduous members of the lodge are Victor Bantigue, Wilfredo Juco, Samuel Laus, Roland Rocha, Luis Uy Tan Let, Teodulo Yap, Roy Tan, Rodrigo Q. Cayetano, Renerio Arceo, and Edward P. Lontok
Location: Plaridel Masonic Temple, Manila