© 2012 James J. Wilson Chapter Official Website Sponsoring Body: Mt. Apo Lodge No. 45 F & AM.
Who We Are
DeMolay is the premier youth organization dedicated to teaching young men to be better persons and leaders. Under the "advisorship" of adults, leadership skills, civic awareness, responsibility, and character development are learned through a variety of self directed, real world applications and activities. DeMolay builds confidence; teaches responsibility, cooperation and community service; and fosters trust, respect, fellowship, patriotism, reverence, and sharing.
|ORDER OF DeMOLAY Know the events and peoples that led to the founding of the world's greatest youth fraternal organization. more...|
by: Bro. Bong Mundo Espinosa, PMC
In the second quarter of 1976, Masons of Mt. Apo Lodge No. 45 which was Constituted on April 7, 1919 convened and agreed to sponsor a DeMolay Chapter in Zamboanga City and prepared a formal request which was sent to the International Order of DeMolay Headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. U.S.A. thru Dad Manuel C. Inigo, Deputy and Executive Officer, Order of DeMolay, Jurisdiction of Mindanao.
Dad Nileo R. Agustin was the prime mover for the establishment of DeMolay Chapter in Zamboanga City and was fully supported by fellow Dad Masons namely; Dad Jose M. Valderrosa, Dad Willy Uy, Dad Jose M. Lopez, Dad Antonio A. Espinosa, Dad Jose R. Luna, Dad William Kosloff, Dad Pedro Chua, Dad Francisco Lim, Dad Romulo Plagata, Dad Pablo Sebastian, Dad Abelardo Murga and Dad Alvin Sebastian.
These Dad/Masons later served in the Chapter as Members of the Advisory Council together with DeMolays from other Chapters namely; Bro. Leo Solamillo, Bro. Wilter Palma, Bro. Honorio Alonzo, Bro. Suresh Parmanand and Bro. Efren Mon.
On October 30,1976 the first DeMolay Chapter in Southern Mindanao was instituted and its Chartered Officers were installed after receiving both the Initiatory and DeMolay Degrees.
It was named after Nicasio Valderrosa who was the Master of Mt. Apo Lodge No. 45 in 1929 and became the Mayor when Zamboanga was Chartered into a City. He was also a former Mayor of Baguio City and served also as the first Mayor of Basilan City.
The first Chairman of the Advisory Council was Dad Jose M. Valderrosa and the Chartered Master Councilor is his son, Bro. Oscar E. Valderrosa.
There were 28 young boys then, who comprised the Pioneer Batch of Nicasio Valderrosa Chapter. to be continued ....
by Antonio A. Espinosa
The Early Spanish Lodge
Masonry in Zamboanga had its beginnings between 1856 and 1860, when two Spanish naval officers, Jose Malcampo y Monge and Castro Mendez Nuñez organized a Lodge in Zamboanga and like the one previously organized in 1856 by Malcampo in Cavite, was under the auspices of the Gran Oriente Lusitano of Portugal. In 1879, a group of Spanish masons under the direction of Rufino Pascual Torrejon, who was empowered to organize masonry in the Philippines by the Gran Oriente de España, formed a nucleus consisting of four lodges in Manila, one in Ilo-ilo, one in Cebu two in Cavite, and one in Zamboanga. The one in Zamboanga, after having been reorgnized, became known as "La Fraternidad". "The Cabletow" of September-December 1986 on page 6, tells also of the existence of another Lodge in Zamboanga called, "La Primordial No. 106", also under the Gran Oriente De España and further mentions that the then Mayor of Zamboanga, Isidro Lopez Grado was its first Master.
The author of the same article in "The Cabletow" of September-December 1986, presupposes that the Lodge "La Primordial" must have met at Fort Pilar. This Fort, which at present is one of the tourists' attraction in the City, was named after "La Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zarragosa". It was originally conceived and built in 1635 as a bulwark againts piratical incursions, abandoned in 1665, but was again rebuilt in 1718. Fort Pilar was the headquarters of the Spanish Army in the south until the Americans took over in 1899.
The reason in favor of the assumption that Fort Pilar was the home of the Lodge "La Primordial" is based on the fact, that, during its existence, Masonry in Spain was on "top of the world" After the overthrow of the monarchy, Masons belonging to the Gran Oriente de España, landed on top positions in the government. Especially benefited by these events was therefore the Gran Oriente de España. In the Philippines the return of Jose Malcampo y Monge, now an Admiral as Governor General, caused the dissolution of lodges and their re-organization under the auspices of the Gran Oriente de España. This Lodge under this Gran Oriente must have enjoyed official blessings and therefore could have met at the Fort if the members wanted it. Another reason that led to this supposition, was that all members were officers and men stationed at the Fort. It would have been most convenient for them, if they held their meetings there, than anywhere else in the vicinity.
It should be noted, that these lodges that were organized during the period from 1856 to 1888, hardly stressed masonic principles or teachings, but existed mainly for social purposes. In spite of the universality of Masonry, lodge activities were confined among peninsular Spaniards, without participation from the native residents of the town.
FILIPINO LODGES DURING THE SPANISH ERA
It was the Filipinos who went abroad that became, as soon as posible, initiates in the masonic lodges of Madrid, Barcelona, London and Paris. The organization of the lodge "La Revolucion" by Graciano Lopez Jaena in 1889 was the first step towards the beginings of Philippine Masonry.
With the organization of Philippine masonry abroad, the next step as planned by these Filipino masons, was to bring the teachings of masonry to the people in the Philippines and organize lodges in Manila and in the provinces. These would constitute, together with those Lodges that were organized abroad, a united front againts the oppression of the people in the Philippines. And so it was to the realization of this plan, that in 1890, Pedro Serrano Laktao, following instructions from Marcelo H. del Pilar, returned to Manila and with the assistance of Filipino Masons initiated abroad, organized lodges under the Gran Oriente Español. Many eminent Filipinos were initiated in these lodges, so that, on their return to their respective provinces, they also started organizing triangles or masonic clubs. One such triangle was organized in Zamboanga, the Pulong-Bato No.71. Unfortunately, during the period of terrorism and chaos that preceeded the change of sovereignty from the Spanish to the American, the details, as to whether that triangle was later organized into lodges and the names of the brethren responsible for its organization, was lost and forgotten.
ORGANIZATION OF THE MT. APO LODGE NO. 45
When the Americans took possession of these Islands, the Lodge under the Gran Oriente Español in Luzon, went throught a period of re-organization which finally resulted in the formation of the Regional Grand Lodge of the Philippines under the jurisdiction of the same Gran Oriente. The Americans too, were not idle. With the three Lodges of the Philippine under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California, they formed the Grand Lodge of the Philippines Island in 1912. There were then two Grand Lodges of different constitution --- the Latin and the American. In as much as disharmony will always ensue with the existence of two distinct and sovereign Bodies, a fusion of the two was effected in 1917. The regional Grand Lodge of the Philippines was dissolved and the twenty-nine Lodges under it, who's members were mostly Flipinos, affiliated with the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.
The minutes of the stated meeting of Mt. Apo Lodge No.45 of May 10, 1960, records that, WB James J. Wilson, P.M., who was present in that meeting narrated how the Lodge was organized some "forty-two years ago"!
It started, he said, as a sojourner's club. Some of the members were Army personnel stationed at the nearby Pettit Barracks (the US Army installation surrounding Fort Pilar), and some were American civilians residents of the town of Zamboanga. There was Bro. Col. Henry Gilhouser, PM, who became Master of the Lodge in 1921 and again in 1923, and in 1950 he became the first Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in Manila. There was WB Frank Redding, PM, who became Master in 1925. He was a lawyer and was also engaged in the lumber business. In 1944 during the Japanese occupation, WB Bedding, at 78, had to trek, with six others, from Zamboanga to escape from then Japanese. Then there was the narrator who was 93 years old at that time ---WB James Jardine Wilson, PM., or Bro "JJ" to his brethren and intimates. He was the "Charter Master" of Mt. Apo Lodge in 1918, as well as its first elected master in 1919. WB "JJ" was born in Polmont, Scotland, on October 10, 1867 and was raised to the degree of Master Mason in January 27, 1890 in Falkirk, Scotland.In 1898 he was naturalized as an American citizen, after migrating to the U.S.A. in 1891. He Joined Pentalpha Lodge No. 316, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California, in Los Angeles, California. During the American-Spanish war, he joined the U.S. Army was sent to the Philippines. After his discharge, he came to Zamboanga and set up the first steam operated Ice and Cold Storage Plant, which remaining structures can still be seen today at the back of the Aristocrat Restaurant.
After the fusion of the two Grand Lodges in Manila in 1917, the members of the sojourner's club of Zamboanga applied for letters temporary for the formation of a Lodge. The letters temporary was granted. After a year, on February 6. 1918, as a result of their masonic labors, a character was issued by the Grand Lodge of free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines. The name "Mt. Apo" was chosen after a prominent Mindanao landmark located in Davao, which place at the time was govern from Zamboanga, it being the seat of place at the "Moro Provinces" in southern Mindanao. On April 7, 1919, the MW Milton E. Springer, the Gran Master of Masons, came all the way to Zamboanga by boat and in ample ceremonies constituted Mt. Apo Lodge No. 45.
Among the first Filipino that was initiated in the new Lodge in 1919, was MW Juan Salonga Alano, PGM. He became the first filipino Master of Mt. Apo Lodge in 1924. MW Alano was born in Malolos, Bulacan on February 8, 1891. After obtaining his licentiate in commerce from the Ateneo de Manila and his AB degree from the University of Sto. Tomas , he sailed for Ilo-ilo where he gained employment as a clerk in an American law and passed the bar in 1914. His Ilo-ilo sojourn netted him also a wife, ---- the former Ramona Torres. Being both audacious, the couple migrated to Zamboanga where in a few years, through frugality and industry, became very successful in their endeavors. For many years, MW Alano was a member of the House of Representatives, representing Zamboanga. The culmination of his achievements was perhaps attained when in 1961, he was installed as Grand Master of Masons while on a wheelchair convalescing from a stroke.
From the constitution of the Lodge in 1919, to the outbreak of World War II in 1941, many prominent residents of Zamboanga saw the light of Masonry in Mt. Apo Lodge. Among them were, WB Nicasio Valderrosa, PM., who became Master in 1929 and was subsequently crowned Sovereign Grand Inspectors General in the Scottish Rites of Freemasonry. WB Nic, as he was fondly called by the brethren, became the first mayor when Zamboanga was chartered into a City, first mayor of Baguio City and after the War, the first Mayor of Basilan City. Bro. Florentino Saguin was a laywer, who represented Zamboanga in the first Constitutional Convention. Then there was, WB Marcelo Mendoza, Sr., PM, who hailed from Bulacan and became Master in 1931. He was for a long time, the Collector of Customs of the Port of Zamboanga. And finally, VW Pablo Sebastian, PDDGM, a native born Zamboangueño and at present, at ninety, the oldest living member of the Lodge. VW "Pabs" was the Secretary of the Lodge for over twenty years. He was a captain in the USAFFE during the War and was raised to the sublime degree of Master Mason just before the outbreak of the War, in 1941.
The growth of the Craft was brought to a halt by the occupation of the City and its environs by the Japanese. The last Master before the occupation was WB Genaro Ruste, also a native born Zamboangueño who was raised in Mt. Apo Lodge.
MASONRY IN ZAMBOANGA AFTER THE WAR
After the liberation of the City, with the material and financial assistance from Masons member of the US Army, the Lodge was again revived and its members who survived the war, reorganized. WB Genaro Ruste, who was unable to serve his full term, did not survive the war. The first Master after the war in 1945 was WB Leon Barinaga, PM., a native of Dipolog but a resident of this City. It was through his efforts that the lodge was again re-organized and revitalized. All records had to be reconstituted, as none survived the War. It was during this time that MW Jose Locsin Araneta, PGM., demitted from "Kasilawan Lodge No. 77" in Manila and affiliated with Mt. Apo Lodge. He also assisted in the tremendous work of rehabilitation. As reward for his work, the members made him Master in 1952. He was crowned Sovereign Inspectors General of the Supreme Council of the Scottish Rite of Freemasonry in 1966 and became the Grand Master of Masons in 1976.
Although the Lodge Hall was just being rented, which at that time was located at the old P.J. Moore Building (later G. Wee Sit Bldg.) on Gov. Lim Ave., the period after the liberation was marked by the rapid growth of the Lodge -- both in membership as well as in its finances. In the latter part of the early sixties the members of the Lodge were instrumental in spreading the light of masonry by assisting in the organization of the Lodges In Basilan, Pagadian and Dipolog. It was during those times that, the passage of the Noli and Fili Bill as well as the filipinization of the heads of private Schools, Colleges and Universities, exacerbated the old controversies between the dominant Church and Masory. The members of the Lodge were militantly advocating for the passage of these Bills. WB Candido San Luis was the leader, and with financial contributions from the brethren bought radio time to counter the radio commentaries of the dominant Church. The members of the Lodge, were jubilant when both these Bills became the law of the land.
In 1962, WB Francis Logan Jhonston PM, with the assistance of Bro. Eugenio Tabaquero, a sojourner from a Lanao Lodge who was with the Bureau of Lands, acquires a parcel of land at the east reclaimed area of the City for the Lodge. The Mt. Apo Masonic Temple Inc. previously organized, was called upon to initiate in the building of the Temple. A building committee composed of civil engineers members of the Lodge was formed and the building plans prepared. On January 28, 1963, both VW Hermogenas Oliveros, Senior Grand Lecturer and MW Esteban Munarriz, PGM., as a representative of the Grand Master of Masons came to Zamboanga, and officiated in the laying of the corner-stone at the site.
The Mt. Apo Masonic Temple Inc., a stock corporation formed among the members of the Lodge, was organized for the reason that, in the later part of 1961 the owners of the Alano Building at Madrid St., (now N.S. Valderrosa St., renamed after WB "Nic"), where the Lodge Hall was located since 1953, gave notice that the building will be renovated and that the Lodge should vacate the premises. After the laying of the corner-stone or about the first week of February 1963, the Lodge with its furnitures, paraphernalias and records vacated the premises and transferred temporarily to the residence of WB Wilson adjacent to his Ice Plant at San Jose Road. One of the conditions agreed upon between the owner and the Lodge, was that the later can occupy his residence until the proposed Temple is completed. In the stated meeting of October 1963 however, the brethren was informed by an official letter from the City Engineer that, the building plans that was previously submitted to his office, cannot be approved for the reason that the site was to be used by the national government. It seems that misfortunes always come in pairs. In the stated meeting of November of the same year, the brethren again received notice that they have to vacate the Wilson Residence, as the entire property have already been sold. The Lodge Had to move again. This time to the Gui-Ho Building just behind the Wilson Residence, by the side fronting the old "Burleigh" School grounds.
The decades of the sixties up to the first quarter of the seventies can best be described as years of frustrations and adversities for the members of the Lodge. It was a period of decline, both in the rate of growth in membership as well as in the zeal and enthuisiasm of its members. There were months where the members had to be called by the telephone in order to meet the required number in stated meetings. Within those period the Lodge with all its furnitures, paraphernalias and records had to move nine times, sometimes going back to the same building, thrice. Not only did these movements caused the loss of records and the dwindling of the financial resources of the Lodge, but the most serious result was that apathy and indifference begun to creep in among the members as they were little time devoted to masonic labors. These were there years, when there were no initiations, for the simple reason that there were no applicants, or if there were at best it would be about two only. Those were the period when one by one, the first generation of the dedicated and zealous brethren who were the pillars of Masonry in southern Mindanao, started to go to that "undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns".
CONSTRUCTION OF THE MT. APO MASONIC TEMPLE
One evening, during the last term of WB Luis Alvarez, PM, as Master in 1974, the brethren on arriving at the Lodge Hall (again located at the G.Wee Sit Bldg.) for a stated meeting, were surprised to find the main door leading to the ante-room closed with a different padlock. They were informed by the janitor that the owner, a widow and a daughter in law of a Mason, gave strict orders not to allow the Masons the use of the Lodge Hall. Since the Lodge was up-to-date in the payment of its rent, WBC Candido San Luis, PM., a laywer and a former judge, with the assistance of some brethren forced open the padlock and opened the door. This act must have been reported to the owner, for, while the brethren were still conversing in the ante-room, the owner arrived with her adopted son and some servents. She belligerently confronted WB San Luis, while the adopted son attempted to strike WB San Luis from behind with a piece of threequarter inch pipe. This was prevented by the timely intervention of a brother who took the pipe away from the young man. After the meeting, all the brethren went to the Police and reported the incident. The next day, WB San Luis filed the necessary charged in court againts the owner and her adopted son.
Its was the incedent that shook up the lethary that was then reigning among the members of the Lodge. In the stated meeting, it was resolved to build a Temple and re-activate the old Mt. Apo Masonic Temple, Inc., that was organized in 1961. Afinance committee headed by WB Cheong Tu Boh, PM was formed and the old building committee composed of civil engineers members of the Lodge formed in 1963, was again re-activated.
In the meantime, the owner of the G. Wee-Sit Bldg, in an amicable settlement agreed, to pay WB Sanluis the amount of P5,000.00 to withdraw the case againts her and her adopted son. This amount was turned over to the finance committee, as seed money for the building fund. The amount of 115,000.00 was raised from solicitations and contributions from the members, a substantrial amount of which was remitted by Bro. Luy Kim Guan from Manila. Bro. Abelardo (Peter) Murga, a newly raised brother, offered his lot of 565 sq.m., at Sta Catalina near the Regional (formerly the General) Hospital. He requested the he be paid P30,000.00 only, as he was donating the balance of P20,000.00 to the building Fund. While the various activities relative to the raising of funds where going on, the building committee chaired by WB Daniel Mallari, PM., together with other members of his committee were busy preparing the plans and conducting soil bearing capacity test on the site. Actual construction of the building started in the later part of 1975 and the building was certified ready for occupancy in the early months of 1976. On September 25, 1976, in appropriate ceremonies with the brethren and sojourners in attendance, the MW Jose L. Araneta, the Grand Master of Masons at that time and a member of Mt. Apo Lodge, consecrated the Lodge Hall to the "Glory of God" and dedicated it "to the patrons of the Order".
The total cost of the building amounted to about P443,000.00, while the solicitations and contributions amounted to only P120,000.00, the balance of 323, 000.00 were advanced by WB Cheong Tu Boh, PM., in the course of the construction. To offset the amount the Mt. Apo Masonic Temple, Inc. represented by its President, WB Candido San Luis, PM., executed a lease agreement in 1977 allowing the company of WB Cheong Tu Boh, the Asiatic Trading Corporation, the use of the Ground Floor for twenty-five years with the later paying the real-estate taxes of the property for the duration of their occupancy.
During the last years of the term of WB Carlos Aguilar as Master in 1985, the second floor of the building was improved and renovated. A circular dome with overhead lights was constructed over the Altar in the Lodge Hall and a roof over the ante-room was build. Five air-conditioning units were installed inside the Lodge Hall, so that now, brethren who desire to attend meetings with their coat and tie can do so with utmost comfort.
It can be trully said that the Fraternity of free and Accepted Masons in Zamboanga, after its trials and tribulations of almost seven and a half decades have "come to the end of its toilsome journey". At last, it has a permanent place that it can now call, Home. The brethren can now devout themselves to purely masonic labors; to the practice and propagation of its tenetes-brotherly love, relief and truth. Young and qualified brethren predominate the membership in the Lodge. Where before, there was a dearth of officer material and participants in conferrals, now excellence in the rituals seems to be the prevailing norm. Every member with few exceptions, seems to be keenly interested in the work, so that as a result the percentage of attendance in relation to the total membership, in all meetings, have admirably increased. Since four years ago a scholarship program for indigent but deserving students was placed into operation. One has already finished his plumbing course, and the Lodge is still supporting students taking up vocational courses.
Like the Molave tree, the Fraternity of free and Accepted Masons in Zamboanga stands proud and strong, and there is no doubt, that it will endure the viccisitudes that time may have in store for her. As it approaches its senventy-fifth anniversary on February 6, 1993, its founding brethren like WB Wilson, WB Gilhouser, MW Alano and the rest, if they can but look from where they are now, they would be proud to see that the fruits of their labors - the Brethren of Mt. Apo Lodge No. 45 - have not only stood as a bulwark againts bigotry and intolerance, but have transmitted the tenets of Masonry pure and unimpaired to men of different faiths that now belongs to the Lodges of Southern Philippines.
Zamboanga City (January 11, 1993)