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On Masonry

While he studied in Spain, in 1883, Rizal joined the Masonic Lodge Acacia in Madrid. On November 15, 1890 – Rizal became Master Mason in Lodge Solidaridad. Rizal was taken back by the free-thinking. The Spanish masons proclaimed a new era of freedom from restrictions of government and the church. Joining the mason order made sense because it was a dedicated organization which points out the friar’s abuses in the Philippines. It was an acknowledgement that Spanish government in Manila needed to reform itself.32

Background of the Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organization, and, according to legend, it was organized in 45 B.C. during the construction of King Solomon’s temple in Jerusalem. The purpose of forming the Knights Templar in Jerusalem in 1118 A.D. was to protect the pilgrims on their journey from Jaffa. Their documented origin in Scotland was in the 16th and early 17th centuries. In the Philippines, the Freemasonry existed prior to 1756. The first Filipino initiated into the masonry was Jacobo Zobel in 1871. Worldwide, there are approximately five million members today. At the time Dr. Rizal’s youth, however, the existence of the Freemasonry Society was largely unknown to the Filipino natives, and membership was usually limited to Spaniards. ( http://www.missourinumismaticsociety.org/Journals)

Dr. Rizal’s Freemasonry Membership
Dr. Rizal joined the freemasonry in Madrid in 1883 at the Acacia Lodge No. 9 Grande Orientes de Espana with the symbolic name of “Dimasalang”, which translates as “Untouchable.” In 1890, Dr. Rizal became a Master Mason at the Logia Solidaridad 53 in Madrid, and two years later, he was designated Honorable and Venerable Master at the Nilad Lodge, Manila, where he gave a lecture titled, “La Masoneria.” While living in Europe, Dr. Rizal obtained affiliations with Masonic lodges in France, England and Germany and then visited lodges in New York.

..Masonry preaches and practices the sacred principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity among all men and they compose the Masonic virtues, the only virtues whose practice would banish among men wars and abuses and bring about that state of which all great reformers dream. In this concept, for the present, virtue has no other temple but the Masonic temple from which emerge some gleams of light that illuminate the minds of many lay thinkers. In this concept. Virtue is no longer a barren, rare, unnatural, fierce or devout quality. Virtue becomes beautiful, fruitful, civilizing, and universal for what is more beautiful than the liberty, equality, and fraternity of all men?33

What was the significance of joining a Masonic order? It was an act that helped Rizal’s political reputation. The Masons were known for their liberal ideas.

Why did Dr. Rizal join the Freemasonry?
Research does not specify his reasons for doing so, thus we look to those influences that may have molded the mind of this Philippine hero. Despite his devout Catholic upbringing, Dr. Rizal’s decision to become a freemason came as a direct result of his well-rounded education, experience, travel and ultimately, his belief that fraternity and brotherhood would help him achieve his dream of the eventual liberation of the Filipino people and country from injustice, inequality and abuse from the religious friars and local Spanish rule.

Other possible influences included family members like his uncle, Alberto Alonso, a mason and Knight Commander of the Spanish Order of Isabel the Catholic and Carlos III. Also, Dr. Rizal’s elder brother, Paciano, worked for Father Jose Burgos and harbored bitter personal feelings about the Cavite Martyrdom of 1872. Paciano made a pact with his younger brother to continue their fight for the betterment of the Filipino people. When Dr. Rizal left Manila in 1882, he carried with him growing resentment after witnessing the injustices suffered by his mother and the people of Calamba, and after his own personal experiences of inequity and maltreatment by Spanish students and teachers at the Universidad de Santo Tomas.

En route to Spain in 1882, Dr. Rizal passed through Naples, Italy, where he spent two days observ-ing national celebrations to honor the death of a great national hero Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-1882). Dr. Rizal learned that Garibaldi was a 33rd degree Scottish rite Master Mason best recognized for unifying his country. Upon arrival in Madrid, Dr. Rizal met many intellectuals who were masons
and, to his surprise, exercised unbridled freedom of speech and activity – concepts unfamiliar to Dr. Rizal in his native country. He was soon deeply influenced by Miguel Morayta, Professor of History at the Universidad Central de Madrid, and Ex-President Francisco Pi y Margall, both master masons and both staunch advocates of Philippine independence from Spain. These men ultimately played a significant role facilitating Dr. Rizal’s membership at the Acacia Lodge No. 9 Grand Orientes de Espana in Madrid. Despite his many studies and activities, Dr. Rizal soon became very active with the freemasons.