Wednesday, September 22, 2010

HISTORICAL RESEARCH ABOUT THE ODD FELLOWS IN THE PHILIPPINES


By Louie Blake S. Sarmiento

The history of the Odd Fellows in the Philippines is quite interesting but it will take a lot of time to dig this hidden treasure of knowledge because the Odd Fellows reached the Philippines long ago before the country gained independence and many unfortunate events occurred along the course of time. Many of the records were destroyed and only few are left where we can get accountable information about its first organization in the country.

According to Major O.W. Coursey, author of the History and Geography of the Philippine Islands, the awakening of the Filipinos to a deep sense of injustice being practiced upon them by the Spaniards was the introduction of fraternal societies in the Islands, and to the influence of higher education obtained by those of means in the school of Hong Kong and other Old-World cities. He mentioned that the 'Society of Odd Fellows' spread to the Islands in 1872 and was largely responsible for the petty insurrection of the following year. This could be because many of the military men who fought the war were members of the society. Author Peter Sellars in his book, History of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in San Francisco, mentioned of military men, whom many are members of the Order, had been given proper send-off by the Odd Fellows of San Francisco on their way to the Philippines in 1898. In this year, the New York Times also mentioned that during the 74thAnnual Session of the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the United States, a ‘Mr. Badley’ who is with the United States Army in the Philippines, asked permission to establish the society in the country. The Grand Sire, international president of the organization, at that time recommended that the action be taken by the Sovereign Grand Lodge at that session. He also recommended that members serving in the Army may be permitted to form military lodges or associations. Most members, if not all, were military servicemen so we can assume that meetings were held inside Naval or military base camps and that membership was exclusive to military servicemen. The Idaho Regiment even presented to the Odd Fellows in San Francisco a gavel made of wood from a Spanish garrote and a silver badge of the Odd Fellows Association of Manila upon their return.

In 1899, an armed military conflict between Filipinos and Americans occurred. This war ended on July 4, 1902. The book, 'Official History of Odd Fellowship', mentioned that District Deputy Grand Sire, Charles H. Burritt, officially planted the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the Philippines by forming Manila Lodge (chapter) no.1 in the City of Manila in 1903. Though there were lodges self-instituted before this year, Manila lodge no.1, is considered the first official lodge (chapter) in the country. The last surviving document of this lodge is the roster of members dated year 1926. We assume that the organization was still active in the country until the 1940s because many military men were still assigned in the country. By 1941, Japan declared war against the United States. At that time, the Philippine government was still under the guidance of the United States. Hours after their attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese aircrafts launched a military strike on military base camps located in the Philippines. For how many years, Filipino guerrillas and American soldiers fought together against the Japanese up until 1944 when Japan finally surrendered. Over a million Filipinos had been killed in the war and many towns and cities, including Manila, were left in ruins. With this situation, Odd Fellows lodge activities were definitely abandoned and the lodge hall or meeting place of the Odd Fellows in Manila was most likely destroyed. Since then, the Fraternal Society of Odd Fellows was never heard in the country anymore.

On August 2009, a group of young professionals and college students showed interest in reviving this historical organization in the country. They petitioned the international Headquarters, known as the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows located in the United States, regarding reviving the organization in the country. Members in the United States approved the idea and Sovereign Grand Master Paul Cuminale, Past Sovereign Grand Master Richard Proulx and Sovereign Grand Secretary Terry Barret visited the city and instituted a chapter in the City of Dumaguete, Province of Negros Oriental, Philippines on November 21, 2009. This historical event was held inside Scheide Chapel located beside College of Arts and Sciences building.

On May 30, 2009, a second chapter was founded in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines, known as Mindanaon Lodge no.2.


References:

1. Coursey, O.W. (n.d.).History and Geography of the Philippine Islands.Retrieved August 23, 2009 from http://books.google.com.ph/booksid=914sGKL_8EoC&pg=PA28&dq=Odd+Fellows+Coursey+History+and+Geography+of+the+Philippine+Islands&cd=1#v=onepage&q&f=false

2.(1898). Odd Fellows Convention. Retrieved August 23, 2009 from http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf? res=F60617F63B5811738DDDA90A94D1405B8885F0D3

4. (1926). Roster of members of Manila Lodge no.1 and Manila Encampment No.1. Retrieved August 23, 2009 from http://www.familytreeconnection.com/groups/odd-fellows.html

5. Sellars, P. (2007). History of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in the City of San Francisco. U.S.A.

6. Dumindin, A. (n.d.). Philippine American War, 1899-1092. Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://philippineamericanwar.webs.com/.

7. (n.d.). Japanese Occupation of the Philippines. Retrieved September 15, 2010 from http://www.philippines-travel- guide.com/philippines-japanese-occupation.html

8. Stillson, H.L. (1899). The Official History of Odd Fellowship: The Three Link Fraternity. MA, U.S.A.: The Fraternity Publishing Company.