In the foreword to his book Communism in the Philippines: An Introduction, the late historian (and a former rebel leader himself) Alfredo Saulo wrote that the Ten Commandments was far more revolutionary compared to Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto, but without elaborating. As a young student activist already flirting with freethought, I was wondering why Saulo wrote that. Even as a young Catholic, I personally thought that the Ten Commandments was incomplete, constrained, and without any hint of revolutionary thought at all.
Fast forward to last year. A few days before my Tridentine Mass wedding with Yeyette, we attended a pre-Cana seminar at our parish church since it is a prerequisite for couples who are about to tie the knot. The catechist who lectured to us taught us not just the importance of the Ten Commandments but how it encompasses virtually all aspects of daily Christian living. For instance, the Fifth Commandment teaches us not to kill. But it covers more than just taking another man’s life. Maligning or demeaning another person’s character, or shaming him in public (e.g., releasing humiliating private videos, defamation, etc.) is tantamount to “murdering” that person. Another example is the Seventh Commandment: “thou shalt not steal”. Even a seemingly harmless instance of chancing upon some spare change by the sidewalk is already equivalent to stealing. In the legal sphere of the Ten Commandments, not knowing who owns that money or even how nearly worthless those coins are is no justification at all to take them for one’s personal use. One might take that money, but it should be given to charity so that the Seventh Commandment will not be violated.
I was astounded by all this Catholic Philosophy. Truly, my knowledge of Catholicism is still basic although I’d like to consider myself a staunch defender of that faith which I once maligned and hated. Aral-aral din seguro pag may time, ica ñga ñgayón. I still have a lot to learn.
I was reminded of that seminar and the Ten Commandments after reading Ambeth Ocampo’s article in Inquirer.net a few days ago. The article featured an English translation of Apolinario Mabini’s “Verdadero Decálogo” or the “True Decalogue”. In writing the decalogue, Ocampo observed that “Mabini took the Ten Commandments as a model instead of picking another random number like seven or 69″. That is correct. Mabini could have expanded his decalogue to more than ten. Surely, there are many more patriotic tenets that he could have added, not just 10. Or, the genius that he was, he could have easily lumped them all into five or seven because some of the principles can be combined. For example, the ninth and tenth principles in that decalogue could have been lumped together into one thought since they contain similar precepts. But still, Mabini stuck it out with 10. We don’t even have to mention the effusiveness of “love” and “God”.
It should be emphasized that Mabini lived at a time when the Philippines was still in a “convent”. Whatever attitude one had for or against the Catholic Church, it can never be denied that Catholicism had a profound effect and influence over their thoughts, their feelings, even in the overall behavior and mood of the people. That is why, even as a Freemason, the backwash of Catholicism still remained in the recesses of Mabini’s patriotic mind.
One should not even look further because no less than the National Hero himself, Dr. José Rizal, used a Catholic passage as a title for his first novel: Noli Me Tangere, the Latin version of the words spoken by Jesus Christ to Mary Magdalene when the latter recognized Our Lord and Savior after His resurrection. Rizal was then an active Mason, already detached from Catholicism, when he was writing the novel.
Speaking of Mary Magdalene, we also have Emilio Aguinaldo, then a young politician from Cavite el Viejo (now Cauit/Kawit), whose Masonic cryptonym was derived from her: Magdalo. It should not come as a surprise since Mary Magdalene is the patroness of Aguinaldo’s hometown (he was also baptized at the town church named Iglesia de Santa María Magdalena).
There are probably some Filipino freethinkers today who make fun of the fact that in the Philippines, Freemasonry gained the upper hand in its ancient war against the Catholic Church. But browsing through all these facts, it appears that the Catholic Church “owned” Freemasonry.
And the war’s not over till it’s over.