This was one conspiracy the Freemasons could not deny to have participated in, as several Filipino members figured prominently in the revolt against Spain in the late 18th century. Interestingly, it was the Spanish who first introduced Freemasonry to the Philippines in 1856, who were soon followed by other European nationalities. These lodges typically excluded the natives from joining and it was only in 1889 that an all-Filipino lodge was formed in Madrid. Filipinos who went overseas to study or avoid persecution joined Freemasonry mainly because it embodied the ideals of justice, freedom, and equality of all people.
The secrecy and connectedness among the lodges allowed the Filipino members to share and spread their liberal ideas. A number soon returned to the country and set up lodges everywhere, which alarmed the Spanish authorities and especially the friars who demanded complete obedience to the church. Those suspected to be Freemasons were persecuted mercilessly.
However, even the threat of torture and death did not stop the members from sharing their views for a democratic and just society. Soon, two schools of thought emerged within the confines of the lodge—one espoused peaceful reforms and reconciliation with Spain and was headed by Dr. Jose Rizal, and the other advocated violent revolution, which was led by Andres Bonifacio. Both had formed clandestine groups that closely followed the rituals of Freemasonry. When it became clear the Spanish were never going to implement peaceful reforms, Bonifacio and his group, the Katipunan, went ahead and openly revolted. Rizal—who had reservations about the revolution but tacitly supported it in the end—was later executed by Spanish authorities, which only served to inflame the revolutionaries even more.