Friday, 27 October 2017

Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of the Philippines Instituted

Odd Fellows Grand Lodge of the Philippines Instituted

 Evolving from the traditions of the craft guilds in England, the Odd Fellows was first founded over 250 years ago. Our branch, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.), was organized on the North American continent on April 26, 1819. The Odd Fellows first spread in the Philippines in 1872 with numerous military lodges, Odd Fellows Clubs and Odd Fellow Associations established across the islands.

When the Spanish-Filipino-American war ended, the I.O.O.F. officially chartered "Manila Lodge no.1" in Manila on July 29, 1902 composed of the government officials, military men and prominent businessmen. The lodge owned a building and the state finances was equally healthy and in sound condition. Manila Encampment No.1 and Luzon Lodge No.2 followed when it was chartered in 1915.

Unfortunately, Japan occupied the Philippines during World War II at the beginning of 1941. 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. Noting the situation, the activities of the fraternity were definitely abandoned and the lodge hall or meeting place of the Odd Fellows in Manila was most likely destroyed. Since then, the Odd Fellows was never heard in the country anymore.

On August 23, 1985, a different group called "Watchdog Committee" was founded but somehow lost its purposes and direction. Eventually, Watchdog Committee merged with the Odd Fellows and was chartered by the Sovereign Grand Lodge as "Watchdog Lodge No.1" on November 21, 2009. The goal of the newly re-established fraternity was to promote fraternity without hazing practices but adopt tradition initiation rites that involve dramatic plays and teaches ethical lessons. A fraternity that is non-elitist and focuses on community service projects. Soon, several other lodges were instituted in other parts of the country. Also, "Manila Lodge No.1" was re-instituted as "Manila Lodge No.8". By the end of 2015, over 600 men and women have been initiated into the Order.

On October 23, 2015, the Grand Lodge of the Philippines was officially chartered as its first step to attaining greater unity among lodges, growth, expansion and sustainability. It is also the aim of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines to unify all Lodges in the Philippines, attain international standards and improve its organizational structure.

The purposes for establishing the Grand Lodge of the Philippines are the following:
1. To act as a source of unity that promotes camaraderie, harmony, equality and justice between and among members, lodges and other recognized branches towards attaining its general mission as follows:
(a) To help improve and elevate the character of mankind by promoting and practicing the principles of friendship, love, truth, faith, hope, charity and universal justice as exemplified in the degrees of initiation and practiced in our daily lives.
(b) To help make the world a better place to live by aiding each other in times of need and by organizing charitable projects and programs that would benefit the less fortunate, the youth, the elderly, the community and the environment guided by the command: “to visit the sick, relieve the distress, bury the dead and educate the orphan”.
(c) To promote goodwill and understanding amongst peoples and nations through the principle of universal fraternity, holding the belief that all men and women regardless of race, nationality, religion, social status, gender, rank and station are brothers and sisters.

2. To act as an agency of service and inspiration that will assist members, Lodges and recognized branches in maintaining growth and development, training and education of its leaders and members, and in promoting and protecting the principles and traditions of the organization:
(a) To protect the use of traditional degrees of initiations, ceremonies, ethical lessons, object clause, logo, signs and symbols and assure that they remain effective in improving members’ morals.
(b) To help generate funding and coordinate the activities, projects and programs in the Philippines.
(c) To promote positive exchange of information and ideas among and between members and develop recommendations to all members for the good of the organization.
(d) To provide counsel and support to members, Lodges and all recognized branches; receive, determine and hear appeals; redress grievances and complaints arising in the several Lodges and recognized branches.

3. To act as an agency of promotion that will monitor publicity, initiate studies and review and adopt such action for the purposes of promoting advancement and expansion of the Odd Fellows in the country and maintaining goodwill and understanding between the association and its public.

4. To act as a central office of records of all members, Lodges and recognized branches in the Republic of the Philippines.

5. To grant charters and dispensations to Lodges and other recognized branches of the in the Philippines; of suspending or taking away the same for proper cause.

6. To have general supervision over the Lodges and other recognized branches in the Philippines including properties and assets such as:
(a) Meeting Halls
(b) Orphanages and Homes
(c) Camps
(d) Cemeteries
(e) Building Associations

7. The Lodges and branches chartered by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines shall be treated as a continuation of this registered national association. The laws of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines and all amendments thereof duly registered shall be binding on all the Lodges and members and in all cases of inconsistency shall prevail over special laws of a Lodge or Branch.

8. The outlook of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines as a national governing body shall be practical, progressive and results-oriented; not focused on status-quo and bureaucracy  but rather centered on ensuring national unity, cooperation and respect for expansion, growth and development; and on preventing stagnation, rivalries and factions among members and lodges.

9. The Grand Lodge of the Philippines shall respect local autonomy for each lodge or branch as long as their activities and decisions are not in conflict with the principles and purposes of Odd Fellowship, unity among lodges and preservation of its teachings.

Congratulations and good luck to the first Grand Lodge officers! In FL&T :)

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