The following text is VW Asiong Illenberger's account of WB Edgardo 'Ed' Santos' Masonic life. This was 1st shared in 'Pinoy Masons', a Yahoo group of Filipino Masons whithersoever dispersed.
Mga Kuya, these days if you attend Labong Lodge stated meetings and her fellowships, you would never imagine that as recent as the early 1990s, she was a weakened lodge.
Labong Lodge No. 59 of the present has her own website, her annual celebrations are hallmarks of prestige and elegance and her community outreach projects are testimony to decades of organizational experience and expertise across a wide variety of endeavors. The network of the Lodge extends to Hong Kong, the U.S., Canada and the Australia-New Zealand area. Her members are recipients of many awards in the Craft. However, this was not as rosy a picture some years back.
Starting in the mid-1980s, the Labong elders who built her into one of the most prestigious among the lodges that met at Plaridel Temple were slowly fading away. The entry of new membership (of the committed kind) were slow in coming. As Labong seemed to bleed into extinction, a few young bloods were the only remaining transfusions that prevented her demise. Bro. Ed Santos was one of those shoring pillars who was regularly recycled as one of the lights or into other critical lodge positions.
When I joined Labong in the mid-1990s, Worzi Ed was one of the more refreshing seniors who made me feel welcome. The rest of the then reigning “nobility” of the lodge always looked at us newcomers with a distrustful eye (you know – “is this greenhorn another of those come and go or will he prove to be a steadfast fellow?” kind of questioning look). Also, I felt that Worzi Ed gravitated more towards certain honorary members of the lodge who always seem to appear when we needed to complete the cast of performers during rituals.
So there I was in the middle of that renewal enterprise of the lodge. I remember the two years of hard work the lodge put in – that Labong may again find her former vitality. Along the way, there seemed to be as many animosities among the lodge members as there were memorable fellowships. This love-hate aura among members appeared to indicate a stressful journey by a group of “trying hards”. There were occasions when Worzi Ed would be at the receiving end of the sniping, but he remained above all that. He would just smile, walk away and join his silent group of “honoraries”. Worzi Ed did not sulk, he remained always available when called upon and volunteer if nobody would (master of ceremonies was his favorite). All that changed in 1997.
In early 1997, the lodge was informed that she had scored a “grand slam” of jurisdiction wide awards during the Tacloban ANCOM. Most Outstanding Master Mason, two of the ten Outstanding Master Masons, Most Outstanding Lodge, Most Outstanding Master and Most Outstanding Secretary. From that time on, there was no looking back. To Worzi Ed, the celebration did not stop. To him every stated meeting was a celebration, and you would see his face exuding joy at the mere company of his brethren. At that time I was a newly made Mason and I found it interesting that our silent group of “honoraries” shared Worzi Ed’s joy.
One evening in 2002, I was notified that I was to serve as managing editor of Cabletow and the editor-in-chief was to be WB Rudy Ong, another of those Labong “young bloods” and contemporary of Worzi Ed. Bro. Rudy and I had this agreement, he manages the business and operations side of Cabletow while I handle the editorial content. Wow! Talk about headaches galore. So for many evenings I was there at Plaridel Temple consulting with the brethren about organizing regular columns. The consultations would always be over bottles of beer under the acacia trees of Plaridel Temple, venue of that other column, Treehouse Dialogues. Enter Worzi Ed and his bunch of honoraries.
These “honoraries” told me to my face that I was just a come-lately in the craft and that I would not know of their hidden pain when seeing those silent Masons who attended many lodges just to be of service to weak lodges who did not have the numbers and the proficiency to keep going, who pass away unknown and unappreciated. Why, Worzi Ed would joke, they deserved the appendage N.B or “ng bayan”. Examples would be Ka Totoy Pili, Tyler N.B.; Mang Nano Ongtanun, Prompter N.B; Manong Vic Tanteksian, JW,N.B.; etc. CHA CHA CHING!!! Idea bells gave birth to the column “Public Properties”.
“Public Properties” ran for a year at Cabletow. It told of the characters in the lodges - from Isabela, to Manila, to Cavite, to Bicol and to Iloilo. The stories were about the lodge habitués who constituted the blood transfusion system of lodge survival. Public Properties earned affectionate honorifics after a life-time of service. “Guardia Fiel”, “Master of Fellowship”, “Paking Electioneering”, “Juansing Bukay”, “Mal-am Buringot”. Etc. The stories about these venerable characters were central casting in the folklore of the brethrens’ watering holes all over the archipelago. Bro. Mark Twain would have relished the materials available and would surely have written a modern day Pinoy sequel to his classic “Innocents Abroad”.
After our term at Cabletow, our successors may have found the column boring, so Public Properties went into darkness (although I promise to revive it if I get to serve in the staff of Cabletow again).
Worzi Ed was a dentist by profession. His services can always be counted upon by Masonic medical-dental missions. He was twice elected WM of Labong and of late I heard he had started to be member of other lodges as well. In hindsight, in the later years of his life, he became more like his bunch of “honoraries” who sported the appendage N.B. Worzi Ed as WB Ed Santos, PM, MDM-NB (medical-dental mission, ng bayan). True to his calling, Worzi Ed dropped his working tools at home, shortly after serving in a joint medical-dental mission with other lodges in Taguig, a Mason who died in the line of duty.
In my book, Worzi Ed has become a Public Property.
Grand Honors, Brethren. The will of God is accomplished. So mote it be. Amen.
Bro. ASIONG ILLENBERGER
From the Land of the Ilonggas