AMC comedy series Lodge 49 showrunner Jim Gavin explains his fraternal influences.
Diveristy in Friendship
by Antone R.E. Pierucci
California Freemason: Before you became a cardiology technician, you traveled the world as a priest. What did those experiences teach you?
Hercules Valdez: I’ve been all around Europe, Guam, Saipan, and the Mariana Islands. I even spent 10 years in Africa as a schoolteacher. I’m not as fluent as I was back then, but I used to speak Italian, French, a Ghanaian dialect called Twi, and Luvale, a language of Zambia. I also studied Hebrew and Greek. Traveling has been the most memorable experience of my life. The value of travel is that you can connect with people more easily. You recognize the way people present themselves, and you’re able to connect with them on a deeper level.
CFM: What inspired you to join the Cornerstone Society and donate to the California Masonic Foundation?
HV: Really, it was seeing my family in the Philippines doing good in their community. Filipinos have a culture of hospitality—of inviting new people over for dinner. Also, I’ve seen poverty up close in many countries. I know what hardship looks like, and I’ve experienced it. So I understand the luxury of being here in the United States, and that drives me to give to charity. I’ve seen people in Africa, for example, who don’t have much. And for me here in California, it’s two different worlds.
CFM: I understand you’re also a very committed member of the Foundation’s Public Education Advisory Committees. What do you find rewarding about that role?
HV: Education is one of the few things no one can take from you. If your parents help you with your education, that’s the most important inheritance you can get. I remind my daughter about the importance of it all the time. That’s why I’m passionate about these public education programs. I struggled to finish my studies when I was younger. That’s why, after I graduated, I said that I would continue to give back, because I have benefitted a lot from the help of other people. Most of the work I do for the PEAC involves interviewing high school students for scholarships. It’s amazing to hear how passionate these students are despite all the challenges and hurdles nowadays. You hear about the difficulties in their social lives or with their families, and despite that, they still choose to pursue education.
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At the 11th International Conference on Freemasonry, expert historians train their sights on the lodge attic.