Hon. Edison Abella, Grand Master
First and foremost, let me express my heartfelt gratitude for your valuable presence tonight as we usher the new term of office for leadership of the Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay of the Republic of the Philippines, whose mandate is to provide adult leadership and strategic guidance to the young members of the Order of DeMolay. Thank you for choosing to share your time to be with us tonight. Thank you also for your untiring support and selfless service to the cause of the DeMolay movement here in the Philippines and, most importantly, thank you for your fraternal ties... the ties that bind all of us as one throughout the world.
I also wish to congratulate all of the newly installed officers of the Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay of the Republic of the Philippines. Truly, the task ahead of us is big, but it would be small when we work together with unity in purpose.
Today, March 18, 2017, we celebrate the seven hundred and third year (703rd) of the martyrdom of our fraternity’s namesake, Jacques DeMolay, the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar. After enduring seven years of torture and trials, Jacques DeMolay continued to be loyal to his fellow Knights Templars, by refusing to disclose the location of the funds of the Order, and betray his comrades. He would rather give up his life than betray the trust reposed in him. On that day then, King Philip the Fair of France ordered Jacques DeMolay together with Geoffrey de Charney to be burned at the stake. And with their death, we were taught the greatest lessons of loyalty and courage.
This story in history became the strongest inspiration to a Dad Mason and nine young boys that it became the namesake of our great Order, which would celebrate its first century two years from now. As we usher in our glorious centennial, one cannot look well into the future by not looking at the past. With your indulgence, allow me to give you a brief glimpse of the past.
It has been said that a day can be changed or a great moment launched by a single phone call.
Such a call came on January of 1919, as Brother Mason Sam Freet, the then newly installed Senior Warden of Ivanhoe Lodge in Kansas, Missouri called Brother Frank Sherman Land asking him a favor... to look for a part-time job for young Louis Gordon Lower, the eldest son of Brother Mason Elmer E. Lower, a fellowcraft who died a year earlier, saying to Brother Frank, that Louis was one of the finest young men he had ever encountered.
The young Louis Lower visited Dad Frank S. Land for an interview. Dad Frank saw in young Louis a radiance of character and of honesty, a natural aptitude for leadership, and a grace of movement of an athlete. Dad Frank thought, that if he had a son, he would want him to be just like this lad.
Dad Frank asked young Louis on how he would like to form a Club and meet at the Masonic Temple. Louis showed up the next week with eight other young boys. There were nine of them, and they were the group that was destined to form a great youth organization and each was to advance through DeMolay to prominence in their chosen field of work.
In their initial meetings, they were in search of a name. One suggested they use Greek letters as the college fraternities did but this was instantly voted down as making them only a part of other organizations. The name they required must be distinctive and must carry a significant meaning. They turned to Dad Frank for suggestions, who initially suggested the adventures of Sir Galahad and the Knights of the Round Table. There was a negative shaking of heads as well. The greatest of wars, World War I, had ended only a few months before and the adventures of knights of old seemed far away. Then other prominent names were mentioned from history and from Biblical times, like the stories of Damon and Phythias, David and Jonathan, among others. Nothing seemed to click until one of the boys, Clyde Stream asked Dad Frank to tell them something connected with Masonry. He thought Masonry must have great names and since they are meeting in one of their buildings, it might be appropriate. Dad Frank smiled at the suggestion, saying that on that year he was serving as the head of one of the Masonic Groups, as Commander for the DeMolai Council of Kadosh. There are many names and stories directly connected with Masonry, but he thought he should tell them about the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques DeMolay.
The name caught the imagination of the boys. Here was a story of heroism. Here was a great example of loyalty and courage. Here was a theme from knighthood and chivalry, at its best. Without further consideration, the boys accepted the name of Jacques DeMolay as the name of the group.
March 24, 1919 was the day in history that launched the Order of DeMolay in Kansas, Missouri. However, March 18, the date in the past that had witnessed the death of Jacques DeMolay, came to be more frequently used in its annual celebrations and was subsequently formally adopted as the official founding anniversary of the Order of DeMolay worldwide.
During the next few months the group grew in numbers and activities. Then, a fear came to some of them that they were growing into too large a club. Thus, it was proposed that the membership of DeMolay shall be limited to 75. It was then that Dad Frank stood up and reminded the boys that there were other schools which had young men who were just as capable, just as qualified, and just as outstanding as they were. Dad Frank stressed that if it was good for one boy, it must be good for all eligible boys. He reminded them that "to become big, they must be big." The motion to limit membership to 75 was rescinded. It was then that DeMolay was permitted to grow, develop and spread.
And grew it did. DeMolay continued its growth initiating new members and instituting new chapters in all States of the continental United States. And DeMolay then crossed the oceans and the organization was developed in many foreign countries. The Order of DeMolay grew throughout the world, crossed the Pacific Ocean and reached the Philippines.
Even before the establishment of the first Philippine DeMolay Chapter, Filipino Master Masons already witnessed the exemplification of degrees by the U.S. Asiatic Fleet Chapter in the 1930's, who were impressed by the potentials and the tenets of this new movement and many expressed hope of establishing a local DeMolay Chapter but for the next 16 years, that goal remained a dream.
Then in 1946, MW Michael Goldenburg, Grand Master of Masons in the Philippines, was appointed as a Deputy of the International Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay in this region. MW Goldenburg developed a keen interest in DeMolay and it was under his leadership that the Order of DeMolay began to take roots in the Philippines.
The Second World War had just ended a few months earlier and Manila had had been devastated and lay in ruins. Despite this grim backdrop, a group of Filipino Master Masons decided to form the first DeMolay Chapter in the Philippines and the first, in the jurisdiction of the Far East.
On March 23, 1946, the first local DeMolay Chapter was instituted in Manila that was named after Jose Abad Santos, a Past Grand Master of Masons and then-Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Jose Abad Santos Chapter was sponsored by the Philippine Bodies of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rites of Freemasonry.
The first organizational meeting of Jose Abad Santos Chapter was held in the premises of the Manila Blue Printing at Arlegui Street in Quiapo, Manila. The first DeMolay batch was named, the Andrew Gruber Class, in honor of Dad Andrew Gruber, the Master Mason who spearheaded the formation and establishment of Jose Abad Santos Chapter. The first elected Master Councilor was Brother Jesus Vergara.
Tonight, we are most honoured to have with us one of the Charter Members of Jose Abad Santos Chapter... Brother Jose Abejo. May we request Brother DeMolay and Master Mason Joe Abejo to rise and be recognized... a round of applause please.
Subsequently, Jose Abad Santos Chapter took on a missionary mission to help and put up new DeMolay Chapters throughout the Philippines.
In 1975, during the 55th Annual Session of the International Supreme Council, Dad Macario R. Ramos, Sr. initiated the effort leading to the establishment of an autonomous and sovereign Supreme Council in the Philippines.
On May 4, 1983, the International Supreme Council ordained and constituted the provisional Supreme Council of the Philippines. Dad Macario R. Ramos, Sr., was duly installed as the first Grand Master.
On March 13, 1985, the Charter of the Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay, as an Autonomous, Sovereign and Independent Supreme Council with full power and authority in all matters pertaining to the government of the Order of DeMolay in the Philippines was formally presented.
After 70 years in the Philippines, there are now 89 DeMolay Chapters, including one in the State of Guam, Micronesia and four (4) Order of Knighthood Priories in the Philippines. The Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay aims to reach 100 DeMolay Chapters when we celebrate the 100 years of DeMolay in March 2019.
And now, after looking back into a glorious past, we have realized how the principles and aspirations of Freemasonry on making good men better has played a deep role in molding the youth into good sons, better citizens and able leaders of tomorrow.
I could spend the next couple of hours telling you about the long list of prominent names of DeMolays, both Filipinos and foreign, who are not only successful and achievers but more so, made a difference not just in our society today but has influenced the unfolding history of human civilization. They excelled in the various fields of human endeavours, ranging from sports and athletics, arts and entertainment including television and the movies; education and research, business and finance, medicine and healthcare, science and technology including space exploration, inventions and information technology, politics and government, armed forces and police services, and countless other fields of endeavours to humanity and most importantly, they, have all been good sons to their fathers and mothers, a faithful brother, and a very able leader who brought us and will continue to bring all of us to a much glorious tomorrow.
DeMolays are not junior Masons but all our adult leaders are Freemasons. The Masonic Youth Appendant Organizations, which the Order of DeMolay and the International Order of the Rainbow for Girls and Job's Daughters International all belong to, is one of the most meaningful undertakings of the Freemasons. As Masons, we provide support, inspiration, leadership and guidance, which would make meaningful youth development, a reality. We are investing into the future and you, our DeMolay Boys, are our investment into the future. We, as Freemasons do not leave the future to chance, just as history has shown, but we shape the future in our hands.
We, at the Supreme Council of the Order of DeMolay of the Republic of the Philippines, are just doing exactly that duty. The duty of seeing to it that DeMolay remains true to its cause. The duty of continuously providing the relevance of DeMolay youth development to our society. And that duty is we call, love. Our Founding Grand Master Dad Macario R. Ramos, Sr. once asked, "Why are we here?" He said, “you may have varied reasons, but one thing is common. We are all here because of love”. We are here because we love our youth, we love our children, we love our DeMolay boys. And our love for the youth shows our love for our country's welfare.
To all our DeMolay members, let me remind all of you that we all need to continue to be guided by the Seven Cardinal Virtues of DeMolay: Filial Love, Reverence for Sacred Things, Courtesy, Comradeship, Fidelity, Cleanness and Patriotism. Since we first knelt at the Altar of the Order of DeMolay, we have been committed to the high purpose of being a better son, a better husband, a better father, a better man, and a better citizen as the years move on. Our forefathers gave us a heritage that gives to all the sincere hope of being brave men and serving patriots. Let us now rededicate ourselves to the threefold purpose of DeMolay: love of God, love of family, and love of country. Our leadership through the years, if charted on these principles, will make us live worthily for our country.
Looking well into the future, we will observe the celebration of our first centennial at the close of this term. A rare chance, a significant milestone available to our time in our age. I call on everyone to be one with us, to help us in the preparation for this once in a lifetime celebration for DeMolays and for those who love and support DeMolay. Share your ideas, share your talent, share your time, share your resources as we celebrate with you, as we celebrate those who comes before us, and most importantly, as we celebrate with you, all DeMolays, who are the future. We look forward to that day with high hopes and excitement when that historical moment comes.
But after all the planned programs and activities and merriments, it is my fervent wish that the main purpose of DeMolay will not be drown out in our celebration across the world. The DeMolay Centennial offers us a unique challenge, the challenge of looking well ahead of what lies beyond the 1st century. I challenge each and every one of you that we must continue to support the cause of DeMolay, a burden that cannot be borne by the officers of the Supreme Council, Order of DeMolay alone.
Together, we must continue to secure our bright future by molding the leaders of the next hundred years, today. The uncertainty of tomorrow may be daunting, but as DeMolays, what challenges are insurmountable to us, when we work together? What problems are beyond our solutions, when we help each other? It is our shared values, refined through all of these years, that will bring the bright hopes of tomorrow. Today, tonight, now... DeMolay is celebrating one hundred years of molding young men into leaders.
Tomorrow looks bright! Look well into the future, young men!
For God! For Country! For DeMolay!