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No one goes his way alone.

Official Website ofQuezon City Lodge No.122

Named after Quezon City where it is located. The creation of Quezon City was the consuming dream of President Manuel L. Quezon. He picked the site of the city and did the entire spade work leading to its establishment.

WM Ato Ponce - Inaugural address

The Orient is a special place in the lodge. It not only signifies the certainty and majesty of all beginnings exemplified by the glorious sun which rises unfailingly to open and adorn the day, the east is also the station of power in the lodge, for the Oriental Chair is particularly and solely reserved for the Worshipful Master of the lodge.
It is a place of power because the most powerful person in the lodge is the Worshipful Master whose will and pleasure dictate the movement of the lodge. This distinct power is symbolized by the fact that he who occupies the Oriental Chair is the only one wearing a hat, emblematic of the crown of authority. The hat will also come in handy, as a covering, when the Worshipful Master starts losing his hair, from the many issues and concerns that will confront him as he governs his lodge.

Which brings me to my hat. Or kupya, as the Maranaos call it. I decided to use this kind of hat in remembrance of my happy experience as a DeMolay in the island of Mindanao and in conformity with a suggestion made by the late VW FroilanMadriñan, who was the first Worshipful Master I saw wearing this kind of a hat. He said that while there is nothing wrong with wearing the Western type of a hat, we do have a variety of Filipino hats and we should proudly wear them.

But most importantly, I decided to wear this hat because I look goooood in it.
So back to the view.

I can now say with all confidence and delight: the view is fantastic here in the East. And I understand, the power and perks that go with the view are not too bad themselves.

I was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason in this lodge on or about the same period of the year thirty years ago. Yes that long, and no I wasn’t a slow learner. Nearly a third of that time I was in hiatus, I was on leave from active Masonic life for reasons I have forgotten. All I know is that during that hiatus, I was busy jousting with windmills, frolicking with the Muses, and defying the laws of gravity.

But I would like to believe that my Masonic journey started even earlier than that. For you see, I grew up in Project 8, and during my teenage summer months, me and my brothers would explore the neighboring areas: PugadLawin of the Cry of Balintawak fame led by that great plebeian and equally great lodge secretary, Andres Bonifacio; roamed the ancient Kaingin road, now named after the Katipunero and Mason Apolonio Samson; visited an old church of the indigenous faith group, WatawatngLahi which venerated a Mason, Dr. Jose Rizal, as one of the holy trinity, next to god the father and god the son; and dropped by the house of TandangSora, who is not a Mason I think but exemplified the virtues of a Mason. I remember climbing that iconic duhat tree in front of TandangSora’s house, and partook of some of the sweetest and fattest duhat fruits around. Masonic journeys can be very very rewarding.
From the duhat tree it was very easy for me to jump into becoming a DeMolay.

I joined the Quezon City Chapter of the Order of DeMolay, a Masonically-inspired and administered youth organization for boys between the ages of 13-21. It is named after the last grandmaster of the Knights Templar, popularized by dan brown who is not a Mason, by the way, Jacques DeMolaywho occupies an exalted place in the teachings and rituals of Freemasonry. My chapter, which went in the dark or closed shop so to speak during the martial law days, was then sponsored by this lodge. I remember very fondly the guiding influence of my dad Masons from this lodge: Dad Ager Amagna and Dad Venzon, whose influence continued when we became brother Masons.

To be a DeMolay is to be trained to become a responsible citizen, a great leader and an exemplary man. But if there’s one thing I remember about being a DeMolay it is being spoiled and being taken care of by dad Masons, anywhere, every time. I remember well the generosity of Dad Guthertz, who owned the chain of A & W restaurants in the country then, and who would unfailingly serve us the most fantastic plate of spaghetti and meatballs whenever we come visiting him. Of course, we made it a point to visit him only during mealtimes.

Even in my professional career I was also protected and taken care of by my dad Masons simply because I was a DeMolay. I remember getting hired at the Bank of America after just an interview by the manager who happened to be not only a DeMolay but also a dad Mason. I was flabbergasted and had visions of a room with a view, a car and goldplated calling cards. My dad Mason, however, placed me in perhaps the lowest clerical position that can be found at Bank of America. O-M-G. But I smiled, went diligently back to work, and relearned the basic lesson of gratitude. In three months’ time I was promoted to a senior level position.

But perhaps one of the most significant moments of my being a DeMolay was when I was in Mindanao, a 21-years old DeMolay, about to assume his job , his first job with Philippine Airlines. This was years before my stint with Bank of America.

I found out that the Mindanao Sales Area of Philippine Airlines during those times (and to a certain extent up to the present times) was exclusively dominated by dad Masons. I was spoiled. I was promoted to senior level positions six months into my hiring, I was assigned as roving officer- in-charge of airports in Iligan, Cagayan de Oro, Cotabato, Davao, Zamboanga, and Jolo. I was in Manila every other month for upgrading training. I was on a roll.

One day, unable to contain any longer the pride and joy bursting inside me, I asked the big boss of the Mindanao Area, James Hannen, a Mason of gigantic stature, literally and figuratively, the question I have long wanted to ask him. Very coyly, I asked him: Sir bakitakoangina-assign nyosamgaibat-ibang airports, e angbata-batako pa at angdami naming mas matandasa akin at mas magaling. I was fishing with matching beautiful eyes. Now remember Mindanao during those times was on war footing because of the Muslim-Christian War. There were gusnhots and clashes and ambushes and artillery bombings everywhere everytime. Dad James Hannen, bless his soul, looked me in the eyes and in a serious tone answered, Ato, ikawlangangwalangasawa at anak. Maawakanamansapamilyangmgakasama mo. I never again embarked on a fishing expedition after that and relearned the virtue of humility.

From being a DeMolay, it was an easy choice for me to continue my Masonic journey and thus I knocked on the doors of Quezon City Lodge No. 122. And on a simple day thirty years ago, I was raised to the sublime degree of Masonry. And the rest, is unfolding history.

So here I am, on the Oriental Chair.

The first and perhaps the last DeMolay from the Quezon City Chapter to become the Worshipful Master of its sponsoring lodge.

Here I am, the first and hopefully not the last grandfather to sit on the Oriental Chair. This, in the words of VW Pong Lustre, only proves that Masonry is an equal opportunity employer. It is also a fact that gives joy to my granddaughter, Maya, who specifically wanted to witness another installation ceremony of this lodge because sabiniyanakakatuwatayomaglakadnaderechoangmgakatawan at anglayongtinitignan. Nagpraktis pa kami nglagaynyan.

And here I am, the first centennial and last centennial Worshipful Master of this lodge. (No one can break this record; for the next one is the bicentennial Master.) Because this year the Grand Lodge of the Philippines, of which my lodge is under its jurisdiction, is celebrating its 100th founding anniversary. Masonry of course existed in the Philippines way long before the founding of the Grand Lodge but lodges then were under the jurisdiction of the Gran OrienteEspanol in Spain and later under the Grand Lodge of California.

But this centennial honor rightfully belongs to an eminent son of this lodge, the Right Worshipful but soon-to-be the Most Worshipful Grand Master of all Masons in the Philippines, Santiago ‘Boy’ Gabionza Jr. May your term, Most Worshipful Sir-to-be, be the transforming and defining chapter in the continuing history of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.

Yes my lodge is the home of Grand Masters. In addition to the incoming Grand Master Boy Gabionza, three of the past Grand Masters of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines are members of this lodge: the late Jolly Bugarin, the late Reynaldo Fajardo, and the very alive and still very sprightly Gus Mateo.

The last two are particularly important to my Masonic education. MW Reynaldo Fajardo introduced me to Masonic research and inquiry, lending me his collection of books on Masonic history and symbolisms. MW Gus Mateo, introduced me to the wonderful art and science of public speaking. Believe it or not, prior to meeting MW Mateo, I was a very shy public speaker. But one day, MW GusMati, invited me and some other brethren to join his chapter of the Toastmasters International. It was a most formative experience. I never stopped talking after that.

In addition to MW Mateo and MW Fajardo, I am eternally grateful to a number of Masons whose inspiring and focused guidance and mentorship brought me to where I am today: the VW Nanding Pascua, the incumbent Assistant Grand Secretary; VW Emil Andrion; VW BJ Torres, yes the BJ Torres; the late WB Roger Talastas; the late WB Jun Serrano; my unsurpassed tandemship as deacons with VW Fred del Rosario, now a Major General.

In grateful remembrance of their fellowship and mentorship, I have specifically asked that we partake of sinigang for lunch today. For you see, during the early simple days of my life as a Master Mason, special occasions are usually marked by us sharing a meal of sinigang. The symbolism is not lost unto me. For like sinigang, life can be a bit sour sometimes, pero mas masarapharapinitokasabayngmgakapatid at mainitnakanin.

More recently, I have profited much from the wisdom and experience of VW JojiBulawin, WM CrisGaerlan, and WB Manny Gudito of JDML 305; my former student and trainee VW Kim Villanueva of Mandaluyong Lodge No. 277, VW Alan O. Bontuyan, and also the wisdom shared by lodge brothers VW Louie Reyes, VW Pong Lustre, WB James Donadilla, and, this will floor him, Bro Ivan Galarosa.

I shall always be inspired by the fantastic leadership shown by the immediate past Worshipful Master of this lodge, Benito Ciriaco Se, or more fondly Ben. His term was marked by a number of activities and labors that left us until now gasping for breath. It is a tough act to follow.

But if there is one person I am most grateful to it is that old Mason whom I met somewhere in Nueva Ecija or was it in Capiz or Baguio? I can no longer recall. But what I remember most profoundly are the following words of wisdom from him:

Madali at simple langnamantalagaisabuhayangpagiging Mason. Tatloang baiting nito, walananghihigit pa. Di mokailangangipangalandakanangpagiging Mason mosamgapalamutingtanso o ginto, samgadibuhongnakadikitsaiyongkatawan o oto .Nakikilala at makikilalaangtunayna Mason sakanyangpag-uugali, sakanyangpamumuhay, sakanyangpakikipagkapwa-tao. Tuladngisangbanga, angbuhayngisang Mason ay may labas, may loob, maylalim. At ito’ypatuloynakinikinis at kinikilatisnglebel, ngeskwala, at nghulog. Simple langangmamuhaynaisangtunay, tuwid at huwarang Mason. Dalawalangangkailangannggawin: angmagingmabuti at magingtotoo. Magingmabuti at magingtotoo di lamangsaibangtaokundi at higitsalahatsaiyongsarili. Magingmabuti at magingtotoo at anglahat ay magaganap, at anglahat ay mag-uugma.

To be good and true are the first lessons we learn in life and in Masonry. And by incarnating this simple hint, a glorious perfect life will be had by all. By being good and true, we shall continue to make the difference in our lives and times, and also in the life and times of our nation.

This then shall be my guiding principle as I govern from the Oriental Chair and in designing and implementing programs for this Masonic year: To be good and true.

At itorinangpanalanginkonamaganapsabuhayngakingmgakapatidsaMasonerya di lamangsalohiyangitokundisalahatngpanigngmundo.
Ito rinangdalanginkosainyonglahat.
PagpalaintayongPanginoongMaykapal. Amen.


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