I'm in San Francisco for the next few days for the 15th annual Manlalakbay na Gurong Mason event, often just abbreviated by the simpler and more memorable (and possibly more pronounceable) initials MGM. It is a yearly gathering that moves from state to state to see how different jurisdictions confer the Master Mason degree via the host lodge's ritual. After the degree is officially ended, several visitors also demonstrate different charges given for Master Masons in their own states. As a result, everyone gets to see the variety of such additions that other grand lodges have adopted over the years.
From what I have already seen as things are getting underway Thursday evening to gear up for the weekend, this is truly a unique, grassroots event. Originally established 14 years ago by a handful of Filipino Masons in the Grand Lodges of California, Nevada, and Washington, and almost without any real promotion, this year there are well over 400 brethren registered, and undoubtedly more will come at the last minute. Each year, a different lodge acts as host and plans the schedule and activities.
Friday actually begins with a golf tournament at 9AM at Crystal Spring Golf Course. Later there's a basketball game as well.
It's been lovingly cared for, hidden behind its suitably streamlined side entrance. This is no Masonic "Center," it's a Temple where great things go on inside (which is why I object to that misguided trend from back in the 80s of stripping "temple" from our buildings, out of some absurd attempt to buy love from the outside world by declaring there's nothing sinister going on behind our doors). Beyond just being a lodge building, their ground floor dining room/party room and the front door always open to the outside as lodge musicians take to the stage makes them look, act and feel to be a part of the local community.
As lodges so often used to be.
I'll be speaking there Friday night at their Masonic Education/Symposium at 6:00PM, along with Worshipful Brother George Gray, a member of Hamilton Lodge 233 in Hamilton, Scotland.
Then on Saturday, the centerpiece events take place at the Westlake Community Center at 145 Lake Merced Blvd. in Daly City. Picture taking starts at 12:30PM; the Master Mason degree is at 1PM (bringing your own regalia is a good idea); Social time at 5:30PM; Dinner follows at 6:30PM.
Things wrap up Sunday morning at the lodge again with a farewell breakfast at 7AM.
All of this, a three day gathering, including THREE meals, two speakers, a souvenir tee-shirt, and a commemorative lanyard and registration tag for just $55.
Just tonight, the warm fellowship among these Masons has been unsurpassed, and the growing reputation and success of this gathering clearly demonstrates they have captured lightening in a bottle. It has grown into an internationally attended event. Many, many thanks to Worshipful Brother Miguel Jabagat, Jr. of Crocker Lodge 212 and Brother Ressi Esquerra of Vegas Lodge 32 in Nevada for their friendship and their very kind invitation. I am honored and truly looking forward to being a part of the next couple of days.
WB Miguel Jabagat, Jr., WM of Crocker Lodge 212 and MGM XV's host
Had a fantastic time at this great gathering!