(Article first published as open letter for Baptist Pastors on Pahayag, official publication of the Convention Baptist Ministers Association, January- March 2011 edition)
Two words that capped my SONATA 2010 (State of the National Association Address) as a clincher to six years of service as your president. The best years I have ever given to a particular cause in my lifetime. Years that witness the commitment and dedication surpassing my other endeavors, paid or likewise voluntary in nature.
It will be recalled that PADAYON was the word used to close the successful conduct of our 68th National Assembly in 2009. Inspired by your overwhelming responses, I was looking for a punch line to sustain the momentum in delivering the concluding remarks. Then came the text message from my *Ihado when the worship leader innovatively asked us to write a message to a person of choice. All the notes coming to me have common message of encouragement to “keep up the good work.” My ihado gave me a note with one word which captured all other messages: PADAYON
KATIPAN, on the other hand, has become a symbol of our unity and success. It bespeaks of the realization of collective faith and action (Katumanan sang Tingob nga Pagtoo kag binuhatan). It sums up our victory in reclaiming the spiritual heritage of the Camp Higher Ground as icon of serenity, spirituality and renewal. Katipan has even galvanized our relationship bringing our association to the door step of the leadership and politics in Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches.
KATIPAN was added during my swan song in SONATA 2010. Purposely as a recognition of our collective success, it also serve as reminder to stay true to our covenant. I thought that was the last time I would be using the two words, cognizant of the end of my term and my unstable health condition. Not until our CBMA Coordinator invited me to write an article for the Pahayag. I immediately said yes. For I want to use the opportunity to officially thank you for the support you have extended me and my family in the most trying moments in our life. Although not fully recovered yet, the delay has been compensated by the inner healing and renewal which strengthened my faith and determination.
Excited to communicate with you again, I found myself overwhelmed with all the journal, thoughts, insights which accumulated for more than a year of reflections. This is the second time it happened. The first was last February, while making reflections on the 25th Anniversary of EDSA Revolution. Extracting from aforementioned references, those two words dominantly flashed back in my mind.
The significance of EDSA has been carved in the innermost part of my soul. It was the turning point of my life. When I left seminary in 1984, one semester before graduation, I thought it was a goodbye. Aware of the risk of full time solidarity work during the intensification of the people’s struggle, I was not expecting to see the dawn of the new day. By God’s grace, I have seen it and more. After the historic EDSA ’86, I decided to go back to the seminary to resume my studies. Thereafter a paradigm shift in my direction took place. The rest is history
EDSA Revolution is a product of respective struggles participated in by the basic masses gaining support from various sectors of diverse orientation, status, political and ideological leanings, colors and shapes. Youth, professionals, church people, businessmen and women, government officials, military and others. All have contributed their share in shaping the Philippine history. Try to isolate one, and the beauty of the event is gone. Just like the rainbow. With only three primary colors (red, yellow, blue), a beautiful multiplication of colors takes place when they link, interact, and overlap. Try to separate one from the other, and the beauty of rainbow is gone.
Such is the message of PADAYON KATIPAN. The collective faith and action must be uphold in order to sustain the unprecedented success, the changes, the development in our association. The moment we cease to keep up the covenant, we will be condemned to repeat the past.
I decided to keep silent for a year, not just because of my health. But to give more time for my successor to establish his leadership. Although the last quarter of 2009 was a transitory period when my illness confined me to an electronic leadership through text and internet. At that time, Pastor Francis Neil G. Jalando-on and Rev. Rustom B. Ola were already taking the lead together with the CBMA Board.
Undeniably, however, my productive terms had embedded on the organizational culture. More so, with my closeness to him, being in the team leading the change. Hence, a year of rest and silence was the best option for a transition which became effective. For it was marked with the establishment of Pastor Jalando-on’s leadership. The only thing I contributed to him was the turn over of records and unfinished tasks and assurance of my prayer support.
My illness has given me sufficient time to rest, pray, meditate, read the bible, reflect and write. All the wonderful experience my previous hectic schedule deprived me. But it’s lingering effect exposes my vulnerability. There were times when I had already resolved to go to the beyond bringing with me thoughts of our collective success.
The only thing that holds back is the commitment made on that haunting day when I was about to respire my last breath: “Not now, Lord… for my family… the CBMA…there are still evil to fight and conquer.” I believe God took notice of that appeal and sincere desire as manifested in the extension and subsequently slow but sure healing process.
This is the commitment that keeps me going despite the pain and vulnerability experience for more than a year now. It is in this context that I now view your decision to bestow on me the title of President Emeritus. A providential niche for my lifetime commitment to CBMA. As long as I live, you can assure of my service to the CBMA. Let us continue our collective faith and action. PADAYON KATIPAN, ANO MAN ANG ATON MADANGATAN. (Keep up the covenant, no matter what.)