A True Story of a Pagkakaisa Traveler

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As a Sojourner, Bro Arthur S. Callanta has travelled and visited more than sixty (60) Lodges all over the world, and for each visit, his masonic passport was signed by the Worshipful Master of the Lodge as a testimony that he was there and then attended the meeting.

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A certificate of recognition is being prepared by the Grand Lodge of the Philippines for the recognition of his endeavor, his Masonic Passport fully signed by the different Lodges (no repetition of signature) for a minimum requirement of fifty (50) Lodges.

He is one of the few Filipino masons, who conscientiously accomplished the masonic passport whereby signed by the different Worshipful Master of the Lodge.

At present , he works in a mining firm in Australia and if time permits, he attends and participate in different lodge’s stated meetings/conferrals of various English Masonic Constitution which is the governing masonic regulations in Australia.

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Last October Stated Meeting of Pagkakaisa Lodge No. 282, he donated several Australian masonic aprons to be displayed at Pagkakaisa Museum.


A   Letter from Bro Arthur S. Callanta  dated December 7, 2014,  an account of his travel for more than sixty (60) Lodges as of to date.

“On this last stated meeting for this year, please allow me to congratulate the elected and appointed officers of our lodge, headed by WM Gabriel C. Comia, Jr. for a most fruitful and charitable Masonic year.  The zealousness and awe-inspiring community works that our WM have spear-headed has once again proven in our society that we as Freemasons of Pagkakaisa Lodge 282 are a partner of our community in the uplifting and support of all those in need.  Ang inyo pong termino, Kapatid,  ay mag-iiwan ng maraming ala-ala na di maisa-santabi ng basta-basta na lamang.   Mabuhay po kayo, Marangal na Guro!!!

On a separate and personal note, this year marked a milestone in my Masonic life.  Last September, in less than five years, I have visited fifty six masonic lodges in twelve grand jurisdictions in six continents.

Simula ng ako po ay naging isang ganap na Mason, sa nais ko na matuto at lumago sa aking kinabi-bilangang kapatiran, ako ay ay naging masigasig sa pag-dalo ng mga meeting sa ating lohiya at sa ibang karatig-pook, hangang sa lumaon ay kung saan-saan ako nadala ng aking mga paa sa iba’t-ibang dako ng mundo.

My profession demands me to be away from home for most of the time- meaning I would not be able to attend regularly to our stated and special meetings.  But this did not stop me from practicing what we were taught in the lodge.   It is somewhat in atune to this tone ‘pag gusto may paraan, pag ayaw may dahilan.’

I wish to thank the more senior members of our lodge for the lessons that they’ve taught me from our Monitor book.  The trials, the codes, the Esoteric meanings (WB Ramos) and the rituals.  Without these I must say that I wouldn’t be able to visit these lodges for I was always subjected to strict challenges everytime I visit.  There was a time when I visited a lodge that the Tyler got upset with me.  He was demanding of me the ‘word’ I told him ‘I would not give it unless he is in the proper p@$+on- which he refused.’ We were exchanging more challenges, thus delaying my entry when a more ritual-enlightened brother intervened and corrected the Tyler.  Tama po ang aking mga natutunan.  Dapat tayo ay bihasa sa ating mga rituwal ng di tayo madaling maligaw sa ating pagla-lakbay.  Being a Filipino, I am proud that I was raised here in the Philippines.

I learned that each jurisdiction has their own rituals- somewhat different from ours in words and works.  But to the keen observer and listener, it all boils to one.  Different in many ways but in spirit are the same.

In all of my visits, I always bear in mind and person that I represent our lodge and country that I am very careful of my bearing, manners and tongue when in the company of the brethren.  Most of the time I was given the honor to speak in the South Festive Board about our country’s rich patriotic history which I always enjoy.

At present, I’m stuck  in Perth, Western Australia.  In two years and a half, I have visited three quarters of the lodges in the city.  Not to mention those outside.   I have been to most of the lodges here that there seem to be no more to go to considering that the membership strength here is below five thousand (so many lodges, few members), I’ve met the majority of the brethren already and there seems to be nowhere to go to now except to cross to other regional states.

Of all the lodges that I have visited, nothing compares to the one in Cape Town, South Africa.  Please allow me to re-print an old article which I wrote in The Trowel- sometime in 2011. ”

1st Lodge of Good Hope – The Oldest Lodge in the Southern Hemisphere

In the 1600’s, the race to discover new territories was on.  Major European nations out-gun and out-maneuver each other for herbs and spices, coffee, tea, slaves, gold and for the glory of their nations.  During that period, the Dutch was the master of the seas, more powerful than any other nation in the world.  She has major colonies in North and South America, Africa, Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand and South East Asia.  Not to mention the small islands that littered the seven seas of the world.

Reaching these territories was by sea, the Dutch strategically established major ports for stop-over.  One of these ports was Cape Town, in South Africa.  It is located at the southern most tip of the continent where the South Atlantic and the Indian Oceans meet.  There, merchant and military ships on their way to and from the Far East take refuge from the rough seas, and to take in provisions and supplies for their long voyage.  It is not surprising that brother Masons were among those first settlers in that region.

The foundation of Freemasonry in South Africa was laid in 1772 by the founding of Losie De Goede Hoop (Lodge of Good Hope) after receiving an endorsement from the National Grand Lodge of the Netherlands.  Originally the brothers congregated in a rented building, which they decorated for their purposes.  They later rented another building on a lot owned by Bro. Abraham de Smidt, a prominent freemason and a member of the Lodge.  The Lodge later purchased the building but it did not meet their needs.  During 1800 the Lodge bought the grounds on which the temple houses now, within the perimeter of the South African Parliament, from one George Muller.  The members of the Lodge first used the existing buildings as a temple and fellowship room, but later decided to raise a proper temple because the old buildings no longer met their requirements.  Thankfully, among the members they could lean on the skills of the perfect team of three:  Bros. Louis Thibault (architect), Herman Schulte (master builder) and Anton Anreith (sculptor) – who designed and created the seven statues of symbolic figures inside the temple.  On the 7th of July 1803, Brother de Mist initiated the temple and in his opening statement, he described the temple ‘as the most beautiful temple he had ever seen.’

Standing outside and infront of the temple, facing the east, the Table Mountain which Cape Town is famous for, composes the perfect background setting for the august halls.  Fifty meters, more or less from the main door of the temple, stood the gate which Bro. Thibault designed.  At the top of the entrance door is the Star of David.  There are seven steps leading to the main door, five after entering the Tyler-guarded door and three more leading to the east.  The ante room is lavishly decorated with all the Past Grand Masters’ aprons.  Most noticeably, at the door leading to the main hall, displayed is the original deed of sale of the land, hand-written written more than two centuries ago.  Inside the main hall, the walls are colored white; the seats are made of hard wood- neatly lined up in single file; and the vibrant colors of the star-decked heaven cannot be missed.  A single oil lamp serves as light at the altar and the mosaic pavement surrounding all of this is an old granite-like porcelain tiles.  The master’s seat is where it should be.  To the west on the other hand, are the seats of the other two pillars.  There are three statues for the three principal officers of the Lodge, made in white stone and has the same characteristic signature as of Da Vinci’s works.  One represents wisdom, another for strength and the last for beauty.  Each one is representing the jewels of who they represent.  In, describing or to picture the inside of the temple, I would really be in loss of the proper words to describe it.  To get the picture more likely, it is like you were inside the antiquitated but well-preserved White House in Washington, DC, or in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

The Temple has prep rooms for the three degrees.  Each room also has a sculpture in consonance as to what the degree has charged.  These rooms or chambers serves as a meditation place for the candidate.  The most impressive of these is the MM’s where one serves as a meditation room and another where the work is done.  Only the ceremonies of the first two degrees are held inside the main hall.  The MM is done on a separate chamber.  I cannot forget the overwhelming and terrifying experience I had when I first entered that chamber.  It has a very rustic, solemn, sad and morbid ambiance, more so to speak.

At present there are four different constitutions that the twenty four Blue Lodges, that shares the temple, follows-  they are the English, Irish, Scottish and South African / Netherlandic.  Different but in unison to what Freemasonry is all about.  Scottish and York Rite ceremonies are also being held within its halls.  There has been a continuous effort by the brethren to unite or form a single constitution in South Africa.  This has been started by Sir Christopher Brand in the mid 1800’s.  Notwithstanding the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the establishment of the Republic of South Africa in 1961 and the success of the first multi-racial political elections in 1994, discussions between Freemasons from the English, Scottish and South African Constitutions, regarding the formation of a United Grand Lodge of South Africa remain unresolved

As far as I have traveled both local and foreign, I can truly say that it was the most beautiful temple I had ever seen.  But notwithstanding reason, it always comes to my mind that the beautiful temples of Freemasonry, is not of this temporal world but the beauty of what is inside the hearts of men, of whom it opened its doors.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort – Bro. Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sources:  RW Bro Geoff Edwards, GLSA

WBro. Cornelius Goebblar, 1st Lodge of Good Hope

SV Bro. John Smith, 1st Lodge of Good Hope

Jaap Zeeders, Chief Mate AHT Husky, Heerema Marine Contractors

Marijn Perdon, Chief Mate AHT Husky, Heerema Marine Contractors

De Goede Hoop Temple – Wisdom, strength and beauty in the heart of Cape Town

Just beyond Stal Plein (an early site of the Dutch East India Company’s stables and one of the City’s historic squares) lies De Goede Hoop Temple. Built in 1804, it has been described as one of the most elegant Masonic buildings of all time.

The gateway to De Goede Hoop (below) is recognised as a structure of great beauty and a fitting entrance to a Temple used, and loved, by many South African brethren. Together with the Phiroze Gorvalla Temple, a smaller and younger counterpart adjoining the building, De Goede Hoop is home to the majority of Southern Division Lodges on the roll of the Grand Lodge of South Africa.

The gateway lies next to the State President’s Office, which is just a few steps away from the South African Parliament Buildings. Indeed, this is an impressive neighbourhood and much has been speculated about the reasons for choosing this vicinity to house one of South Africa’s oldest Masonic Temples.

After driving through the magnificent archway, you’ll find yourself at the Temple façade:

The Entrance
seen here with Table Mountain in the background.

 Samuel Eusebius Hudson (1764-1828), a novelist, playwright, artist, historian, teacher and customs officer wrote the following about De Goede Hoop Temple:

“There has been built a new Lodge for the freemasons at a very considerable expense. It is situated by the side of the Government Garden and has every convenience for the accommodation and reception of a numerous brotherhood. The whole is admirably planned and finished in a style of simple elegance, strength and beauty and made to go hand in hand. The preparing rooms are superior to anything of the kind I ever saw. The whole was under the direction of Mr. Thibault, the same architect who planned the public fountain. [ Brother Thibault completed the project with the assistance of Bro. Schutte and Bro. Anreith.]

The Free and Accepted masons are numerous in this colony. Nearly the whole of the respectable part of the inhabitants belong to the Grand Lodge. After lectures and the business of the order is done, a grand dinner for the brothers and visiting members; in the evening a ball and supper for the ladies, which is conducted upon a scale of magnificence equal to those kept in Queen Street, London; for it is the pride of our African brothers to make every exertion to excel, even in extravagance.”

A glowing account of a Masonic gem that is shared by (and is the pride of) so many Brethren of our Order. Yet, the outer walls cannot possibly depict the treasures within. Masonic ceremonies are comprised of so much more than mere words and the surroundings in which a candidate is welcomed is paramount to the enjoyment of the degree being worked. So here, then, is what lies behind the Temple doors:

The view from the West (entrance), looking East
and (below) the view from the East, looking West

We think you’ll agree that Samuel Hudson’s kind remarks were not misplaced or exaggerated. We pray that it remains so for another 200 years, so that the glory of T.G.A.O.T.U. may be enjoyed in as pure and as beautiful a place as this forever. S.M.I.B.

Reproduced with grateful thanks to the webmaster of The Grand Lodge of South Africa.