1890: First truly Filipino lodge organized. With Antonio Luna unable to make the trip, Pedro Serrano Laktaw arrived alone in 1890 with full powers to organize Masonry in the country. Together with Moises Salvador, Jose Anacleto Ramos and Timoteo Paez, he proceeded to organize a lodge in Manila. Salvador was initiated in Madrid; Ramos in London and Paez in the Philippines by Lopez Jaena during the latter's brief visit. This first Filipino lodge was named Nilad, said to be named after a type of shrub (nila in Malay) once abundant in the shores of Manila Bay, from which the name Maynila (Manila) was also derived. According to Kalaw (1920), Logia Nilad was constituted on January 6, 1891 and the necessary papers sent immediately to the Grande Oriente Español for approval.
1891: Logia Solidaridad petitions the Spanish Parliament. In the middle of 1891 (June-July) Logia Solidaridad No 53 sent a petition to the Spanish Parliament (Cortes) asking for the restoration of the parliamentary representation of the Philippines which was cancelled in 1837. (This right was actually withdrawn in all overseas provinces but was restored in Cuba and Puerto Rico.) The petition was sent also to lodges to elicit support of their members. Another circular signed by Marcelo H. del Pilar and other officers of Solidaridad Lodge was sent to the lodges on April 5, 1892.
1891: January 3, Jose Rizal is granted authority by Grand Master Miguel Morayta to represent the Gran Oriente Español before the Grand Orient of France and lodges in Germany.
1892: Grande Oriente Español charters Nilad as Logia Nilad No144. By virtue of its being the first Filipino lodge, from where other lodges came from, it was considered as "Mother Lodge". It was granted authority to supervise other lodges and was also known as Logia Central y Delegada (Central Lodge and Deputy).
1892: Dr Jose Rizal returns to the Philippines; organizes La Liga Filipina. Rizal arrived on June 26 and merely a week later met with fellow Filipino Masons in Tondo to organize La Liga Filipina. Its constitution aimed to unite the archipelago into one compact, vigorous and homogeneous body; mutual protection in every want and necessity; defense against all violence and injustice; encouragement of instruction, agriculture and commerce; and study and application of reforms. Rizal's popularity as author of the anti-friar novel Noli Me Tangere alarmed the authorities. He was arrested and deported to Dapitan, in Mindanao.
1892: The Katipunan organized. Six Masons: Ladislao Diwa, Teodoro Plata, Andres Bonifacio, Valentin Diaz, Jose Dizon; all from Logia Taliba and Deodato Arellano of Logia Lusong met at the house of Arellano on July 7, a day after Rizal's arrest, and conceptualized the formation of a new organization. They named it "Kataastaasan, Kagalanggalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan" (KKK). Unlike the Liga Filipina, this movement would advocate separation of the colony from Spain.
1893: Fr. Severo Buenaventura a Roman Catholic priest, together with Juan Castaneda organized a Masonic triangle in Imus, Cavite which became Logia Pilar No. 203 in 1894. General Emilio Aguinaldo who would later become the first president of the Philippine Republic, was initiated here on January 1, 1895.
1893: Logia de Adopcion (Lodge of Adoption) organized by Logia Walana No 158. Its first initiate Rosario Villaruel, was arrested and tortured for allegedly professing revolutionary ideas. Her father, Faustino Villaruel, founder of Logia Walana and a member of Rizal's La Liga Filipina was one of the Thirteen Martyrs of Bagumbayan.
1893: First national organization of Filipino Masons established. Logia Nilad lost its authority over other lodges when its leadership was challenged; particularly the acts of its Secretary, Pedro Serrano over what they felt as infringement of their rights and autonomy. A new body, the Gran Consejo Regional de Filipinas (Grand Regional Council) was established to administer Philippine Lodges. The Council was approved by Grand Master Morayta; a charter was received and the Grand Regional Council installed on December 10, 1893 with Ambrocio Flores as Grand Master (President); Numeriano Adriano, First Vice-president; Faustnio Villaruel, Second Vic-president; Paulino Zamora, Third Vice-president; Jose Dizon, Fourth Vice-president and Apolinario Mabini, Grand Orator.
1896: Madrid decrees the eradication of Masonry. On July 2, 1896 the central government in Madrid issued a decree condemning Masonry as a secret organization and ordering stricter measures against Masons. The authorities finally unmasked the Katipunan on August 19 and large scale arrests of its members and Masons ensued. According to Kalaw, (La Masoneria Filipina, 1920) in Madrid, the government suspended the Circulo Filipino (which replaced the Asociación Hispano-Filipina) and arrested its board of Directors. Heads of Spanish Orients were also issued warrants of arrest, for it was said that it was Spanish Masonry that had implanted Masonry in the Philippines and therefore, shared in the responsibility for the insurrection.
1896: Philippine revolution starts. On August 29, 1896, Katipunan Supremo Andres Bonifacio led an attack in Manila. Cavite province rose to arms on August 31, followed by other provinces around Manila. Emilio Aguinaldo and many Filipino Masons would emerge as revolutionary leaders.
1896: Revolution claims lives of Masons in Cavite. At the outbreak of the revolution, men suspected of conspiring to attack Cavite Puerto were immediately arrested. Of the thirteen men sentenced to death, ten were Masons. They were executed by firing squad on September 12 and would be known in history as the Thirteen Martyrs of Cavite.
1896: Dr Jose Rizal implicated in the revolt and executed on December 30.
1897: Liga Filipina members executed in Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) in Manila on January 11. Remembered later as the Thirteen Martyrs of Bagumbayan, all of them were Masons.
1897: A government was established by Gen Emilio Aguinaldo in Biak-na-Bato in Mayumo, Bulacan. The Spanish government sued for truce and the Treaty of Biak-na-Bato was signed in December. One of the terms of the treaty was the self exile of General Aguinaldo to Hong Kong. He was accompanied by his cabinet and other revolutionary leaders. Aguinaldo would return to the Philippines at the start of the Spanish-American war in 1898 to resume the struggle to liberate the country. The United States would send (then) Commodore George Dewey to engage the Spanish armada at Manila Bay and later, three expeditionary forces for the land warfare.
1898: Philippine Independence declared in Kawit, Cavite. After the surrender of Spanish forces in Cavite and a series of other victories, General Aguinaldo declared independence on June 12, 1898. On August 13, the colonial government surrendered Manila, the capital city to the Americans after a "mock battle" (a scripted fight designed to save Spanish pride). The United States refused to recognize Filipino sovereignty; instead, President William McKinley issued on December 12, "Benevolent Assimilation Proclamation", declaring U.S. sovereignty over the Philippines.
1898: American Military Lodge organized. The first American Lodge that operated in Manila was a Movable Military Lodge organized by Masons of the First Regiment of Volunteers from North Dakota which arrived with the U.S. Third Expeditionary Force, on July 31, 1898. This lodge, headed by its Master Lt. Colonel William E. Treumann was issued a dispensation dated June 1, 1898, by Robert M. Carothers, Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of North Dakota. The Lodge started to meet on August 21 until July 31, 1899, when the regiment returned to the United States.
1899: Another Military Lodge founded. African Americans in the military service founded Manila Military Lodge No 63, under the Prince Hall Grand Lodge F. & A.M. of Missouri.
1899: Philippine Republic inaugurated. General Aguinaldo moved the seat of his government to Malolos, Bulacan where a representative assembly, called the Malolos Congress was convened on September 15. A republican constitution was promulgated on January 21. The Philippine Republic, the first republic in Asia was inaugurated on January 23.
1899: Philippine-American war begins. On February 4, 1899, Filipino Army Corporal Anastacio Felix was fatally shot and his companions fired upon by two American soldiers in the district of Santa Mesa in Manila. Filipino troops retaliated and the next day, February 5, American commanders ordered a massive offensive against Filipino positions. Aguinaldo's proposal for a peace talk was refused and Malolos Congress on June 2 declared a state of war against the Americans. The United States government called it an insurrection.
1899: Ambrosio Flores tries to restore Masonry; appeals to U.S. Masons. The first attempt to resume Masonic activities was initiated toward the end of 1898, by Ambrosio Flores, Grand Master of the Grand Regional Council (Gran Consejo Regional de Filipinas) and Gracio Gonzaga, by gathering Masons who survived the persecution and the revolution. Meetings were held in Santolan and Manila but all plans were interrupted by the outbreak of the Philippine-American war. Then in October of 1899, Ambrosio Flores again convened several assemblies in Tarlac for the purpose of restoring the Grand Regional Council or organizing a National Orient. An appeal was drafted addressed to Masons in the United States, beseeching their influence to help bring about an end to the raging Philippine-American War and to recognize Philippine independence.
1899: Logia Modestia: first Filipino Lodge reorganized. Before the end of 1899, Jose Reyes Tolentino, Secretary of Modestia Lodge, returned to the country from exile; grateful for his freedom which was facilitated by Spanish Masons and especially, Grand Master Morayta and the Grande Oriente Español. With the help of old members of his lodge and some brethren from Logia Walana, Logia Modestia was reorganized. Elected Worshipful Master was Valentin Polintan, its former Senior Warden. Tolentino was elected Junior Warden. The Lodge was issued a new charter on January 27, 1890 by the Grande Oriente Español. Valentin Polintan was also appointed as Grand Deputy of the Grand Council of the Order in the Philippines. The war was still being fought and the first active Filipino Masons during this period of reorganization joined this Lodge.
1900: Logia Modestia sends message to Lodges in America. During the first meeting of the Lodge, a motion was approved to send a message to the Lodges of America stating that "sadly grieved by the tragic events that our unfortunate country has witnessed and by the blood that is still drenching our fields, we beseech you to use all your moral and material influence with the government at Washington to bring this dreadful war to an end." Dated November 3, 1900, this message also included a declaration of principles reiterating Masonic duties to God, country and family and adherence to the precepts of the Charter of Human Rights. (Kalaw, 1920)
1900: American Masons organize. By 1900, many American Masons had arrived; among them, Manly B. Curry who initiated the founding of a fraternal association called the Sojourner's Club, which held its first meeting on April 2, 1900.
Read more: 1901-1918
A question of Identity
In the early nineteenth century, the term "Filipino" was not generally used to denote the entire population of the Philippine Archipelago. When the Spanish explorers first arrived, the natives were collectively called Indios in the mistaken notion that the archipelago was part of India, But the term Indio stayed and was used to define the bottom rung of Philippine society. The Indios' status would change somewhat when some of them acquired land or were given appointments in local government. This elevated some of them to the status of Indios Principales or simply the town Principalias but, as mere intermediaries between the government and the masses (most often to aid collection of tributes), their authority was limited by their respective positions. This however, gave them a status higher than the Indios Naturales, the latter considered as the lowest class of inhabitants who had no social, economic nor political power.
A matter of race and social class
The first to be called Filipinos were the Españoles Filipinos, also known as Insulares or Spaniards born and raised in the Philippines. Although of pure Spanish parentage, since most of them had never set foot in Spain, their affinity and loyalty to Mother Spain were constantly put in doubt therefore, they were not regarded as politically and socially equal to the ruling class known as Peninsulares or those Spaniards born in the Iberian Peninsula in Spain. The term Filipino therefore was initially, both a racial definition and a class distinction in the Philippine social order; oftentimes disadvantageous as it was discriminatory.
Through the long years of colonization the mestizo class emerged. The mestizos were either Mestizos Españoles (those born of Spanish and native parents, once also called criollos) or Mestizos de Sangley (children of native and Chinese parentage; generally, catholic and originally the ones referred to as mestizos). The economic progress of the country made many mestizo families prosperous. Their children were sent to the best schools; some to foreign universities abroad. Yet, in spite of their higher degree of being Hispanized; like the Insulares, they had no substantial political power.
The condition of being politically powerless regardless of their economic stature and in spite of being culturally Hispanized, later bound the insulares, the mestizos and the indios principales into a common ground; setting aside racial undertones and calling themselves Filipinos which assumed a more pronounced cultural, economic and political definition.
(Read: From Kawit to Barasoain: A Masonic Legacy)