Masonic Year 1930
The financial giant
Catholic Mason! His friends had pointed out to him the “folly” of entering the Fraternity, but he disregarded their advice; for he was a man without religious prejudices, one with ill feelings toward none, a lover of his fellowmen and his country and a worshipper of his Creator. A real Catholic and a true Mason – that is what the 17th Grand Master was.
He started, in May 1901, as a humble messenger in the Office of the Civil Service Board of the then newly established civil government. From there, he moved on to various other positions, including those of Auditor, Insular Treasurer, Secretary of Finance, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the PNB, PNB President (1936-52). Besides, he was President Manuel L. Quezon’s Financial Adviser; member, Philippine-American Joint Financial Commission; member, National Economic Council; chairman, Sugar Rehabilitation and Readjustment Commission; and member, Monetary Board, PHILCUSA. In his association with each one of such entities, never was his integrity questioned.
In 1922, Carmona was elected Worshipful Master of Rizal Lodge No.22. He managed his Blue Lodge so successfully that his Brethren wanted to re-elect him, but he refused because he wanted to give others the chance to serve the Lodge. Even before his election as Grand Master, he was made Grand Treasurer and held that position for 15-odd years. Then, in 1930, he was elected Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines.
In his inaugural address, he earnestly solicited the co-operation of all Masons “for the betterment of mankind and for the dissemination of the principles of the Fraternity.” He assigned Past Grand Masters to various committees: Manuel L. Quezon, Wenceslao Trinidad, Francisco A. Delgado, Teodoro M. Kalaw, Quintin Paredes. Reportedly, there was, during his term, a marked progress in the subordinate Lodges. During his term, too, a Lodge was opened in Shanghai, China. He foresaw this Lodge to be the cornerstone of the Grand Lodge of China. Sure enough, two years before his death, the Grand Lodge of China was instituted and the officers of the Philippine Grand Lodge installed its officers. He also issued an edict requiring each Lodge to prepare its annual budget, monthly financial statements, minutes of meetings, and so on. He worked very hard, too, for the Masonic Hospital for Crippled Children. He went out of his way, in fact, to solicit additional funds and entreated the Masons to extend a generous hands to the Hospital, ”as we believe it to be the noblest thing Philippine Masonry has ever undertaken.” In addition, he encouraged the development of educational programs. His report to the Brethren reads in part as follows:
I am not thoroughly in accord with the assertion that all our troubles will end by simply adding to our membership a thorough knowledge of all that is good and true in the history, tradition, story and principles of our ancient and honorable fraternity. Yet, there is much to be gained by an educated brotherhood. Education along Masonic lines is most useful and has a tendency to greatly increase our interest in all the Fraternity stands for and is endeavoring to do. It may even fill our Lodges with those who do not now attend the meetings, and may result in a far-reaching effect of making masons of our initiates instead of members only.
After liberation Carmona affiliated with Biak-na-bato Lodge No.7. His Brethren in the Lodge gladly welcomed his advice. For, after all, he was a Past Grand Master and Past Grand Treasurer.
It was Carmona who suggested the following in order to solve the perennial problem of non-attendance:
To arrange for inter-Lodge visitations and have either the host Lodge or the visiting Lodge confer all or part of the degree work adds to the sympathetic fellowship that ought to exist among the members of the various Lodges. Group meetings of the Lodges or the members also are a medium of inter-Lodge fellowship.
Through such wisdom, “dying” Lodges were encouraged to revivify themselves, for they saw that other Brethren were interested in their Lodges. The Carmona-proposed inter-visitations did not only provide life to Blue Lodges; they also strengthened individual Masons and broadened, as well as deepened, their social horizons.
Don Vicente refused to retire even when he was already a septuagenarian suffering from heart trouble and high blood pressure. But while he was presiding over a Board meeting of the PNB on the Escolta – the same building where he was installed as Grand Master – he suddenly collapsed. It happened in the afternoon of February 7, 1952. He was forthwith rushed to Lourdes Hospital, where he battled for his life for five days. He crossed the great divide on February 12, 1952 at age 73, leaving wife Doña Salud and 14 children behind. and a mark in the halls of Masonic fame. He lived a passionate and an industrious life – definitely one that is worthy of emulation.