The Knights of Columbus in the Philippines
As conceived by Rev. Fr. McGivney, the Order was to serve only the Diocese of Hartford, which embraced all of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Two years later after Rev. Fr. McGivney died, the Order expanded to New York and Massachusetts, and twelve years later, there were councils in nearly every major American City from Maine to California. In due time, the Order expanded outside the U.S.A. to Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Panama, Cuba, Guam, the Virgin Island, and the Philippines.
On April 23, 1905, the first council of the Knights of Columbus was established in the Philippines. This was Council No. 1000 located within the Walled City of Intramuros. At the time of its inauguration, they had thirty-one charter members, all of whom were Americans. Emerging as the first Grand Knight was Richard Campbell.
In October 1918, the Supreme Council finally approved the institution of the second council in the Philippines, Council No. 1900 located in San Pablo, Laguna.
One of the few but timely and efficacious blessings which the Order in the Philippines experienced was during the lean years of the 1930s when an American Jesuit priest came in the person of Rev. Fr. George J. Willmann SJ.
Rev. Fr. Willmann was appointed in 1948 as the first District Deputy in the Philippines. Then, on March 1, 1954, he was designated as Territorial Deputy. And in 1962, he was named Philippine Deputy, a position held until his death in 1978.
Upon the demise of Rev. Fr. Willmann, former Senator and Ambassador, Hon. Oscar Ledesma was appointed Philippine Deputy. He presided over the continued growth of the Order in the Philippines. When Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant visited Philippines Jurisdiction on its Diamond Jubilee in 1980, there were 40,000 Filipino Knights. Don Oscar was later appointed Supreme Director Emeritus.
Mardonio R. Santos succeeded Ambassador Ledesma as Philippine Deputy in 1983. Under his leadership, the Knights of Columbus achieved remarkable growth. In recognition of his dedication, he was elected the first Filipino Supreme Director and was concurrently as Vice Supreme Master of the Fourth Degree on June 30, 1989.
When Sec. 14, Chapter III of the laws of the Order was amended by a Resolution approved in the 1988 106th Supreme Council Convention in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Philippine Jurisdiction was officially divided into three territorial jurisdictions, the Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao Jurisdictions.