Friday, January 28, 2011

Louie Blake S. Sarmiento: CONCEPT OF A REAL MAN...

By Louie Blake S. Sarmiento
MA Organizational Psychology I

A man bases his thoughts and actions on healthy philosophical principles. He believes that life is a commitment to improve and elevate the character of humanity through service and example. He is humble in a way that he never boasts about himself. He knows and accepts his strengths and weaknesses and keeps away from badmouthing people and making unreasonable allegations. He understands that certain things in life are unavoidable. He is aware of the vanity of earthly things, the frailty and inevitable decay of human life and the fact that wealth has no power to stop the sureness of eventual death. He then asks the question, “How am I going to spend my life?”

He is an advocate of friendship and never looks at people with prejudiced eyes nor bases his judgment on outward appearances. He supports the idea that all people, irrespective of race, creed, nationality, color, social status, sex, rank and station are equal. He does not take an undue advantage of his power or the weaknesses of those around him. He is gentle in behavior and never inflicts pain. He avoids impurity in thoughts and unchaste conduct. He also knows that he should respect himself by following temperance in his desires, fighting vices of every form, chastity of person and purity in heart and mind.

He is an enactor of love in a way that he feels jointly responsible for his fellowmen and prepared to give attention and help wherever and whenever help is needed. He is a person who treats others, especially women and children, with dignity and respect. He accepts the fact that nothing is perfect but believes that he has an obligation to contribute in making the world a better place to live.

He adheres to equality, justice and righteousness and a pursuer of truth. He sees searching for truth as searching for clarity in the sense of his life. Every time a small piece of truth is found, he will try to use it only in ways where he will be able to be true to himself and his fellowmen. Oftentimes, he thinks before he acts and speaks. He knows that, as a human being, it is a fact that he can think. He gives account to himself and knows that before he starts doing something, he can make the choice what to do and can think it over and consider whether the choice was the right one. He believes that making good and well-considered choices is called "behaving in a responsible way".

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Fraternities started in the Philippines?

An Unbiased Historical Account

By Louie Blake S. Sarmiento, Organizational Psychology

(Note: Writings are based on an educational research and does not aim to disrespect anyone or serve as official stand of the writer or his affiliations. This study is based on liberal and modern approaches in research.)

In all times and among all nations which have reached a sufficient level of cultural development, there have always been fraternal associations formed for higher purposes. The development of Fraternities can be traced from trade unions or guilds that emerged in England. These guilds were set up to protect and care for their members at a time when there was no welfare state, trade unions or National Health Service. Various secret signs and handshakes were created to serve as proof of their membership allowing them to visit guilds in distant places that are associated with the guild they belong.

However, many of these Guilds were suppressed in the 16th Century. In major cities such as in London, some Guilds survived by adapting their roles to a social support function. Some of these groups evolved in the 1700’s into more philosophical organizations focused on brotherly love, charity and ethical living now known as a Fraternal Order or simply, a‘Fraternity’.

By the late 1700’s to early 1800’s, many of these Fraternal Order’s were transported to America by English immigrants. At that time, these groups served important social, philosophical and insurance purposes. Later, the concept of brotherhood was established in colleges. The first among these are the Flat Hat Club (1750) and P.D.A. Society (1773) focused on literary and scholarship. The oldest Greek-named fraternity is Phi Beta Kappa founded on December 5, 1776 but this fraternity do not have any chapter in the Philippines and also converted into an honor society rather than a social fraternity. By the mid-1800's, fraternal organizations flourished in America and established lodges (chapters) in different parts of the world.

In the Philippines, Spaniards and other colonizers established several Philosophical and Fraternal Societies in our country as early as 1850's but these chapters only admitted Spaniards or their own race and did not welcome the natives (Filipinos). According to the book, History and Geography of the Philippine Islands, fraternities played an important part in letting the Filipinos realize the injustice practiced upon them by the colonizers. The book mentioned that the Fraternity of Odd Fellows spread in the Philippines in 1872. The Freemason fraternity followed in 1877 brought by the Americans. The lodges (chapters) are also established mostly by military men assigned in Manila. Most members were basically American Military men and their allies who helped fought the Spanish-American war. The fraternity established their lodges (chapters) and held their meetings in naval and military base camps.

The first brotherhood to be founded by Filipinos is the Katipunan, short for Kataastaasang Kagalangalangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (Supreme and Venerable Society of the Sons of the People), which was founded by anti-Spanish Filipinos in Manila in 1892. The primary aim of the fraternity was to gain independence from Spain through revolution. As many of us know, the brotherhood already disbanded.

In 1899, the ties between Filipino and Americans was disrupted and the Filipino-American war emerged. When this war ended in 1902, fraternities started to rise again. Odd Fellows, Freemasons and even the Elks established lodges in Manila area.

Later, college fraternities began to form especially when American Education (philosophy) reached our shores. State Universities were the first to enjoy Fraternity Life, particularly in the University of the Philippines, when the first College Fraternity Rizal Center, a brotherhood of Jose Rizal followers and who viewed the hero in iconic fashion, was founded (This fraternity is already defunct). The first Filipino Greek Letter Fraternity, Upsilon Sigma Phi, was founded in 1918. This fraternity is now considered the oldest in Asia and continues to exist up until today but membership is exclusive only to UP Dilliman and UP Los Banos students. The oldest sorority in the Philippines is the UP Sigma Beta Sorority founded on February 14, 1932. Membership is exclusive only to UP Dilliman, UP Los Banos, UP Iloilo and UP Davao students.

The progress of fraternities was again interrupted when Japan occupied the Philippines in 1941. When the Filipino-American-Japanese war ended in 1944, Philippine fraternities started to rise up again and many Filipinos started setting up their own fraternities and sororities.

The peak of fraternalism in the Philippines was probably in the 1950's to 1990's when many fraternities where founded. Several American fraternities were also imported to the country such as the Alpha Phi Omega. Also, some locally founded fraternities made allies with some fraternities in the United States. Afterwards, the rest is history...


Coursey, O.W.(1908). History and Geography of the Philippine Islands.

UP Sigma Beta Sorority:

Upsilon Sigma Phi:

Philippine Fraternity Websites

Books on Fraternalism

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Louie Blake Sarmiento is NOT a Liar! Separate fact from fiction!

A modern insight about the claims against Odd Fellowship
by Louie Blake S. Sarmiento

“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”
- Maya Angelou

In my efforts to educate people about the Odd Fellows almost a year ago, I have met some degrees of opposition by some people. I have been called a liar because I do not agree with their claims that the ‘Odd Fellows is a copy of Freemasonry’, ‘a brotherhood for Poor men’, ‘a dead fraternity’ and that ‘joining Odd Fellows is very easy’. Almost a year ago, about 3 members in a forum misinformed other people regarding our fraternity. I am not an expert on Odd Fellowship, but as a member, I have tried my best to explain to avoid other people from following unsubstantial claims about our Fraternal Order. Take note that I am not against Freemasonry but, as a member of the Odd Fellows, it is my right to properly inform the misinformed. There have been many accusations and even reached to a point that they tried to destroy my reputation to discredit my character. Here is my stand:

1. Odd Fellows is not a copy of Freemasonry

Odd Fellows and Freemasons may have some similarities but there are huge differences. There is no single author who has given enough evidence to prove that Odd Fellowship is a copy of Freemasonry. Everything is theory and speculation and until now, the so called 'evidences' seem to lack weight and has been called into question by several authors. Even well-known radical writer, journalist and Freemason member Dr. Bob James stated:

“Moffrey (1910), among many others has claimed that the Odd Fellows' were 'founded in imitation of Freemasonry. There is no evidence for this claim, which I address further below.”

It seems to me that any borrowing at all is unlikely, but that, if it occurred, it would be of what Freemasonry had given up of pre-1717 custom, not what Freemasonry 'created.' We will see that Freemason rites themselves were far from stable or uniform across the United Kingdom until well into the 19th century, making even the idea of borrowing very problematic.”

Let us take note that even if Freemasonry was first formally established in 1717 as the Grand Lodge of England, it was only in 1813 when the 2 factions, Antients and Moderns, formed the current United Grand Lodge of England which made the Grand Lodge of England of the 1717 defunct. Just like Freemasonry, Odd Fellowship also undergone several factions such as Patriotic's and Ancient's which formed a partial amalgamation as the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in 1789. However, Odd Fellowship undergone another faction when the Manchester Unity of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows voted their own Grand Lodge officers in 1814. This shows that both fraternal organizations were struggling in the late 1700's and it was only in the 1800's when they finally became stable organizations.

As it happens, apart from that single phrase and what I've already described as basic 'lodge' essentials, what we have for Odd Fellows’ ritual does not resemble known Stonemason's ritual.”

“The 'Most Noble Grand' here is very curious, as it is not a 'modern' Freemason title, but 'Noble Grand' is used by Odd Fellows. Freemason authors assert it derives from the Bucks. Dermott is not necessarily any more objective than anyone else here presupposing that the Freemasonry was the first with the terms 'lodge' and 'Grand Master'. He seems to have been very early in the queue of authors assuming that any society using the same or similar words to that Freemasonry used must be copying Freemasonry.”

“Spry, a key 19th century example, thought it obvious because of common symbolism and the use of an oath and a degree structure. Such claims reflect the ignorance engendered by the lack of research. It should not be necessary to point out that Freemasonry was, and is, in exactly the same position as those other societies - after nearly 300 years it cannot yet explain from where it 'borrowed' its rites, symbols, etc, or when it did so.

Even the use of apron as regalia by other fraternal or friendly societies such as Manchester Unity of Odd Fellows, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, United Order of Mechanics, Ancient Order of Free Gardeners and several others, are not a proof that they are copies or imitators of the Order of Freemasons because the use of apron is actually also a practice borrowed by Freemasonry possibly from trade guilds and worker’s unions. To use similarities in symbols, regalia and terminology as proof that one is an imitation is like saying "Japanese and Chinese people have similar features, therefore Japanese are Chinese." But in fact, they are two different nationalities.

2. They call Odd Fellows a brotherhood for Poor men

This accusation is an obvious evidence of what we call ‘elitist mentality’ and ‘social discrimination’ by other members of other fraternities. As for Odd Fellow members and maybe even in other fraternal organizations, it is a teaching that wealth should not be the basis for brotherhood. Odd Fellowship does not aim to ‘rub shoulders’ with the rich and famous for satisfaction. Admittedly, Odd Fellows have members belonging to the lower class simply because Odd Fellowship, like many other healthy groups, does not have room for social discrimination and elitism. It aims to cater all people regardless of social status or personal appearance. This connotes that membership in Odd Fellows is really diverse. However, it should not be denied that there are also members who belong to the upper class of the society. In fact, there were several hundreds of men and women of prominence who became members of the Odd Fellows. Approximately five U.S. Presidents were members of the Odd Fellows same as several Prime Ministers and Mayors in United Kingdom. Lucy Hobbs Taylor, the first female American dentist, was also a member of the Rebekahs.

3. They call Odd Fellows a dead fraternity

It is admitted that Odd Fellows suffered a membership decline during the 20th Century because of social changes such as technological advancement. Let us take note that this decline is not just experienced by the Odd Fellows but by all fraternal organizations in general, even the Freemasons, Knights of Pythias and Elks encountered membership problems especially in the United States due to several factors, e.g. technological advancement. There may be a number of Odd Fellow lodges with very few members or some lodges that closed down but this should not be the basis to label the ‘Odd Fellows as a dead fraternity’. This is because there are also lodges that are still growing and there are actually Odd Fellow jurisdictions with a lot of members. Proof that Odd Fellows is still a living fraternity would be that of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Europe and Cuba. The Independent Order of Odd Fellows in Sweden alone has some 40,000 members. In Finland for example, some lodges have more than a hundred members that they decided to breakdown their lodge into smaller lodges by creating more than than one lodge in one City.

In some cities, even in the United States, some lodges even hold larger membership than the Freemasons and other Fraternal Orders. In fact, One Odd Fellow lodge in Finland even sold their smaller lodge hall to the Freemasons to purchase a much larger building because their Odd Fellows membership are more numerous in that City.

While the exact number of members is not certain because not one jurisdiction holds the statistics, the claim that the Odd Fellows only have a quarter of a million (250,000) members was actually exclusive to those jurisdictions under the United States. Take note that Odd Fellows in United Kingdom is not counted there and possibly, the quasi-independent jurisdictions of the I.O.O.F such as those in Europe, Cuba and several other Odd Fellows Orders were not included. In 1994, the total membership in the I.O.O.F was said to be about 400,000. But according to newer sources which I just found out, the current membership of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows is nearly 600,000 members in more than 26 countries. This is an enough proof that the Odd Fellows is not a dead fraternity but still alive. Not the same as in the past during the 'Golden Age of Fraternalism' but still trying to survive like any other fraternal organization. Also, a number of lodges are now being revived while some are exerting effort to increase their membership.

4. They said joining Odd Fellows is very easy

In their efforts to discredit Odd Fellows as an Honorable fraternity, they call it as an organization that is ‘very easy to join’. This may be true in lodges that are in the state of ‘reviving their membership’ or ‘starting up a lodge’. And this may be true since many Odd Fellows do not agree with the 'violent' and ‘snobbish’ procedure of admitting someone to membership. Because Odd Fellows are promoters of friendship, love and truth, it has been the practice of many Odd Fellows to be ‘approachable’ and ‘friendly’ to its applicants, pledges and to non-members as they are to their brothers and sisters. Odd Fellows follow the Golden Rule: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.

In reviving areas and new jurisdictions, it is true and possible that one can receive more than one degree or even all three or four degrees in one day. However, this should not be used to generalize that joining Odd Fellows is easy as the procedure vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The truth is there are actually several jurisdictions that would at least take one year or more to finish all three degrees such as those in Cuba. In a number of lodges especially in Europe, some members there actually informed me that an applicant for membership in an Odd Fellow lodge will need about 3 years to reach the third degree. In addition to the lodge, a third degree member will wait several years, some even up to 10 years, so they can receive the Encampment degrees - a higher branch of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows which offers three more additional degrees. But as said, the length and procedure of joining varies depending on the jurisdiction.

Also, it should be noted that the Odd Fellows is not a competition of the Freemasons nor any other fraternal organizations since Odd Fellows do not aim for 'supremacy'. Odd Fellowship believes that all people are brothers and sisters. The two are totally unrelated and independent fraternal organizations with different traditions, purpose and principles. Historically, the two fraternities have good relationships with each other. In fact, it was not uncommon to find men who were members of both, and also not uncommon for the two to split the rent or share a single building such as the I.O.O.F, J.R. Scruggs Lodge 372 in Orangeville, Illinois, United States. There are also Freemason lodges that meet in Odd Fellows Halls and Odd Fellow lodges that meet in Masonic Temples.

This hopefully educates the misinformed that Odd Fellows is not a copy nor a part of Freemasonry rather it is a different organization with different traditions, purpose and goals.

“Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. education and free discussion are the antidotes of both.” - Thomas Jefferson

(Note: Writings are based on an educational research and does not aim to disrespect anyone or serve as official stand of the writer or his affiliations. This study is based on liberal and modern approach in research.)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Louie Blake Sarmiento: Condemning Fraternity Hazing & Discrimination

What happens if you fight against a practice that has been there for generations? What happens when people are unaware of the inequality and discrimination within the system? Will it be you against the world?