The Military Order of the Carabao is a social club consisting of members of the U.S. military.
The organization was founded in 1900 by U.S. officers stationed in the Philippines during the Philippine Insurrection that occurred after the Spanish-American War. The idea for a lampoon was conceived by several Army officers one night at the Army-Navy Club in Manila. This organization was founded to counter and satirize the Military Order of the Dragon, founded by other Americans who fought in the short-lived Boxer uprising in China. Only the Carabao survives today.
The carabao referred to in the organization's name is a domesticated water buffalo used as a beast of labor in the Philippines. The group's membership is referred to as "the herd" and individual members are called “bulls.” At each annual Wallow, the incoming Grand Paramount Carabao promises to "keep the herd well-wetted down."
The organization sponsors an annual social event called the Carabao Wallow, a black-tie, military-dress affair attended by members of the U.S. military, the U.S. government, and corporations associated with the military, such as defense contractors. Members perform semi-professional musical skits at the Wallow that often poke fun at national and international issues as well as current events. It is not uncommon for the Carabao players to spoof the high-ranking guests seated at the Head Table.
The group's anthem, sung at the Wallow, is "The Soldier's Song,” which refers to “bolos” (machetes used by Filipino insurgents) and “ladrones” (thieves)
- In the days of dopey dreams—happy, peaceful Philippines,
- When the bolomen were busy all night long.
- When ladrones would steal and lie, and Americanos die,
- Then you heard the soldiers sing this evening song:
- Damn, damn, damn the insurrectos!
- Cross-eyed kakiac ladrones!
- Underneath the starry flag, civilize 'em with a Krag,
- And return us to our own beloved homes.
Members and guests at the Wallow in recent years have included former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Richard B. Myers, former CIA director and defense secretary James Schlesinger, Congressman Ike Skelton, Air Force Secretary Pete Aldridge, NASA director Sean O'Keefe, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Peter Pace, General P. X. Kelley, General Alfred M. Gray, Jr., former Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Admiral James M. Loy, General Jack N. Merritt, General Billy Mitchell and General Carl Mundy.
Some, such as the Village Voice newspaper, have criticized the Carabao as a "good ol' boys" club whose military-industrial complex membership displays imperialistic, racist, and homophobic overtones. The nature of the event is that of a "roast" similar to the Gridiron in which all current news topics are considered subject to well-intentioned caricature.
- "Historical sketch, constitution, and register of the Military order of the Carabao together with songs that have been sung at "wallows" in various places," Military Order of the Carabao, W.F. Roberts Co., 1913.
- "Military order of the Carabao," by the Military Order of the Carabao, 1931.
- Ian Urbina, “The Empire Strikes Back: The Tribal Rites of America's Military Leaders,” The Village Voice, 29 January-4 February 2003.
- Edwards, E.J., "Men Who Head America's Exclusive Patriotic Societies; Descendant of Gov. Winslow Is President-General of the Cincinnati – The Warrior Who Heads the Loyal Legion – An Old Indian Fighter Commands the Military Order of the Carbao," The New York Times 13 November 1910, n.p.
- "Carabao Order Has High Standards; Formed in 1900 to Perpetuate Memories and Associations in Philippines. It Aim to Foster Duty," The New York Times 26 December 1913, n.p.
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