Guest blog post by the late Rev. Edwin Lariza
Spontaneously three scenarios easily flashed back in my mind.
First was our heated argument at the Camp Higher Ground early in the 1980s (1983, according to a friend who could vividly recall the context) to the extent that I challenged him to a fistfight.
The second was his reported move to disqualify me, knowing that I planned to run as CBMA president in 2001.
The third was an undated incident in Bacolod City when he persuaded me to share the generous accommodation of his friend throughout the duration of an event which I could no longer recall.
The first scenario was a Convention Baptist Ministers Association (CBMA) business meeting where I lost my cool to his trademark skills (albeit annoying) of raising technicalities. He was well-versed in Robert Rules of Order. Subsequently, his good laugh for outwitting his opponent.
The discussion was on pastoral identity whereby issues on involvement on human rights (at that time associated with radicalism subversion) were lumped up to traditional issues like smoking, drinking, immorality. He had outpointed discussants by his knowledge of parliamentary rules.
Being part of a progressive group, I participated in the discussion when acknowledged by the presiding officer. But he cut short my deliberation, insisting that he still had the floor.
In the course of heated arguments, he commented: “Doy, bata ka pa, daw kaisog gid sa imo.” (Translation: Fellow, you’re young, you seemed so aggressive.)
To which I countered: “Ngaa isog ka gid iya haw, dali sumbaganay ta” (Translation: Why, are you really brave. Let’s fight), gesturing to attack him, if not for the intervention of cooler heads.
Only to hear his big laugh and comment in the end: “Tarso nga mga kabataan, indi na malahugan.” (Translation: Silly young people, they can’t take a joke.)
Of course, the argument was just the tip of the iceberg of deeper reasons as during that period, our group was the target for isolation of the CPBC leadership.
The last scenario could have taken place in between the first and second. Yet by order of spontaneous recollections, the first two appeared to connote antagonistic encounters.
The last was a pleasant one, similar to a series of interactions I had with him at his house every time we visited my wife’s hometown, where he also was residing.
From these recollections, I would reflect on the life of Rev. Castillon.
The first two are his trademarks which unquestionably many pastors would confirm.
His insatiable and irresistible quest for what is proper and fitting thru argument most often resulted in tensions, skirmishes, or conflict but ended with his big laugh when you get mad at him.
For all these events, he appeared to hold no grudges.
The last were pleasant memories, including his generosity to help the young pastors in whatever ways he could. He shared his past experiences of his painful struggles and persecution in advocating for truth.
Yet when I reflected on all the scenarios objectively, what appeared to be unpleasant are but reflections of his inner self, true self, principles, and objectivity.
As I assessed the first two, he was being true to himself – to be on the side of truth. He was correct to argue, to suspect, to criticize.
My lifestyle those times did not necessarily fit what I should be. In 1983, I was not living an exemplary life, despite my principled stance and commitment to serving oppressed people.
Similarly, he had the reason to campaign against my first attempt to run as CBMA president. I realized it was indeed untimely. After that 1983 event, I became inactive in CBMA for a long period. Then suddenly, I surfaced from hiatus to aspire for leadership.
Good, I did not make it at that time. I could not imagine what would have happened to the association under my watch.
Analyzing further the two events, I realized the first one took place when we did not know each other personally. In contrast, the second was after we had established a good relationship.
Here lies the true character of this man, the essence of his principle – to stand for what he believes is right without fear and favor, whether you are friend or foe.
And in the context of the Philippines, where pakikisama, euphemism, and related values are dominant, one’s honesty would bring him into trouble.
Standing for what you believe is true, proper, and just along with “the way, the truth, and the life” here in the Philippines is never fun.
For his being consistent in his search for truth regardless of the cost, I now understand why Rev. Malvar Castillon was often misunderstood.
Rev. Malvar Castillon suffered a stroke on November 16, 2002, at 70 years old for those who haven’t known. After 57 days at Iloilo Mission Hospital, he survived, but his mobility never returned. He remained bed-ridden for a year until his passing on January 24, 2004.
ABOUT OUR GUEST BLOGGER
Rev. Edwin Lariza was a pastor and former president of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association. He was a social worker, teacher, writer, and leader. He was the head of the Department of Social Work, Central Philippine University.
After his many achievements in life, Rev. Lariza found a passion for blogging. Read and learn a lot from this person through the “convergence of all our blogs” at Lariza.Website.