DUMAGUETE, PHILIPPINES - The Independent Order of Odd Fellows of Dumaguete, once again, participated during the 119th Philippine Independence Day Wreath-laying Ceremony in lieu of the "Odd Fellows Memorial Day" held every June to honor deceased brothers and sisters especially members who sacrificed their lives during World War I and World War II.
Evolving from the traditions of the craft guilds in England on or before the year 1700, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (I.O.O.F.) was imported to the United States in 1819 by members from England. From the United States, the Fraternity first spread in the Philippine Islands in 1872 when it was still a colony of Spain. When the revolutionaries unilaterally declared Philippine independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, there were at least 10,000 Odd Fellows from the United States stationed in the Philippines who formed the "Odd Fellows Association of Manila".
After the Filipino-American war ended, the Sovereign Grand Lodge of the I.O.O.F. officially issued a charter to institute "Manila Lodge No.1" in 1902, composed mostly of military men, lawyers, businessmen and government officials. A "Rebekah Club" for sisters was formed in 1905 composed mostly of wives and women military officers assigned in the country. In 1915, "Luzon Odd Fellows Lodge No.2" was chartered. During its heyday, Manila Lodge No.1 had about 150 resident members and some 10,000 transient members who were servicemen of the U.S. Armed Forces assigned in the Philippines.
During the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands, over 10,000 Odd Fellows and Rebekahs fought hand-in-hand against Japanese troops. Many of our members died in the Battle of Manila. The Odd Fellows building in Manila was likewise destroyed due to bombings. Some historians, citing a higher civilian casualty rate for the entire battle, suggest that 100,000 up to more than 500,000 died as a result of the Manila massacre on its own, exclusive of other causes.The Odd Fellows building in Manila was likewise destroyed due to bombings. World War II basically paralyzed I.O.O.F. in the Philippines for about 65 years until it was finally re-established.
Today, we honor our brothers and sisters who sacrificed their lives during World War I and World War II. Happy 119th Philippine Independence Day!