Acacia Lodge No. 11 marks centenary

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, at one of their fellowship meetings inside a dimly lit building along Rizal St., town of Iloilo, several American and Filipino Masons were in a quandary as they had no Masonic Lodge to go to. All the lodges established in the Visayan Islands during the Spanish regime had closed down more than twenty years ago.

Thus, the Masons of Rizal Street took steps to organize a lodge. They sent a petition to the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands which approved it forthwith.

Not long after, the Grand Lodge of the Philippine Islands granted a charter to Iloilo Lodge and assigned it the number 11. Subsequently, on March 30, 1917, in the presence of thirty-four Master Masons, the first officers of the lodge were installed by WM MacMurray, as acting Grand Master.

Installed as officers were Amos Dorr Haskell, Worshipful Master; Henry F. Schult, Senior Warden; Felipe W. Gomez, Junior Warden; Chas. B. Dodds, Treasurer; and Eriberto N. Gonzales, Secretary.

Some of those pioneering Masons who established the lodge were Marcelino Monfort, Rafael Santos, Guidalia S. Assayas, Archibald Stevens, James Kerr, Eusebio R. De Luzurriaga and Antonio Horilleno.

In time, membership flourished and the Masonic Temple Association of Iloilo, Inc. was organized for the purpose of constructing a suitable building by which members of the craft may pursue their labors.

In 1927, thru the efforts of WM Thomas N. Powell, a prominent American lawyer in Iloilo, the cornerstone of the Temple was laid. In due time, an imposing three storey edifice was erected in front of Plaza Libertad, on Jose M. Basa Street. The said structure still stands to this day, known by its present nomenclature, the Iloilo Masonic Center.

The members of Iloilo Lodge No. 11 actively propagated the tenets of Masonry in the Visayan Islands and played a major role in the establishment of lodges in the neighboring provinces. Owing to their active assistance, the following lodges were established in the Visayas: Makawiwili Lodge No. 55 in Capiz, (mother lodge of President Manuel A. Roxas); Kanlaon Lodge No. 64 in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; Hamtik Lodge No. 76 in San Jose, Antique; and Acacia Lodge No. 78 in Iloilo, Iloilo.

When the Imperial Japanese Army occupied Iloilo during the Second World War, they used the Masonic Temple as their headquarters. In April 1942, they removed the Masonic emblem that adorned the façade of the Temple. Providentially, this saved it from total destruction.

After the war, an American pilot attended the meeting of Iloilo Lodge and disclosed that prior to the landing of the American forces in Iloilo, he was instructed to detect and destroy the Temple, knowing it served as headquarters of the Japanese. Being a Mason, he looked for a building sign, spent several hours searching, flying over low around the city, but could not find it. Thus, was the Temple saved from complete destruction.

When the war was over, members of the lodge trekked back to Iloilo. They found their temple in ruins and lodge equipment and paraphernalia missing. They also learned that during the occupation, the Japanese executed two of its past Masters, WB Engracio Padilla and WB F. Gabonilla. Both died heroically.

On June 02, 1945, the remnants of Iloilo Lodge met at a downtown restaurant to discuss its reorganization. WB Walter M. Saul of Acacia Lodge No. 78, spoke in behalf of Grand Master Michael Goldenburg, and explained to the brethren, his task of assisting in reorganizing the two lodges in Iloilo, and if possible, to bring about their consolidation. After WB Saul spoke, those present unanimously approved a Resolution expressing agreement to the idea of consolidating with Acacia Lodge.

WB Saul was requested to inform the members of Acacia Lodge of the Resolution. On June 19, 1945, a joint meeting of the two lodges held in a downtown restaurant resulted in the formal ratification of the consolidation. They named the consolidated lodge “Iloilo-Acacia Lodge No. 11” but agreed in the meantime to use the name “Iloilo Lodge” until the Grand Lodge shall have taken action. The Grand Lodge gave its approval in January 1947, and on February 4, 1947, Grand Secretary Antonio Gonzalez informed the members that henceforth they “may use the new name in your Masonic activities.”

The elected officers of the newly consolidated Iloilo-Acacia Lodge No. 11 were: Genaro C. Bermejo, Master; Serafin J. Gustilo, Senior Warden; Emilio J. Gatanela, Junior Warden; C.Kwan Tay, Treasurer; and WM Jose L. Zerrudo, Secretary.

Today, Iloilo-Acacia Lodge No. 11 has evolved into one of the country’s premier Masonic Lodges.

Today, February 13, 2017, Iloilo-Acacia Lodge No. 11 celebrates 100 years of continuing friendship and brotherly love for all Brethren withersoever dispersed and the entire Ilonggo community as a whole.

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