October 6, 2013

Katipan Hall: A legacy of faith in action

True to its meaning, Katipan  has become a symbol of solidarity among pastors. It bespeaks of the realization of collective faith and action (Katumanan sang Tingob nga Pagtoo kag binuhatan). A such, Katipan has   galvanized our relationship. It even boosted the morale of pastors who have been stereotyped to be always in the receiving end. The KATIPAN Hall also stands as monument of the gains in networking. Pastors have exhausted their linkages and network in order to complete the project.

Katipan Hall in 2006
Our faith journey  started from an invitation of the Pastors’ Kids (PK) Association to hold our National Assembly at Camp Higher Ground in 2006 for free. At that time, they were starting to develop the Camp Higher Ground after the mandate to manage this neglected treasure of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches (CPBC) in Barotac Viejo, Iloilo. Few months later, the Convention leadership rescinded their action, forcing the PK to cancel its goodwill.

Having set our preparation on the venue, our Association decided to take matters in our hands. With the projected cost within our reach, we undertook the project. Only to found out later, there was an overly underestimation of the cost. Upon expert advice, we opted to improve the design with permanent materials due to susceptibility of the area to termites. Exhausting our own resources, we engaged in various fund campaign and use our network, both personal and organizational. Concerts, dinner for a cause, solicitation, loans were but a few of the strategies we undertook.

Katipan Hall in 2007
Like the boy in the parable of the feeding of multitude, our initiative, though viewed  with reservation, soon gained support.  Touched by our commitment to share  meager means, other organizations followed suit. Soon the spark  got the fire burning. The Pastor Kids’ commitment to develop the Camp Higher Ground was rekindled. They did not only give donation but took charge of the floor tiling. Women’s group, Baptist Men and Youth likewise contributed their share, as well as churches and related academic institutions and hospitals. Provincial Kasapulanans, individual members and even government officials  also responded to the appeal. The Gilopez Kabayao Foundation showed  support by making our association the beneficiary of their concerts. Pastors abroad sent their contribution. Rev. Danilo Borlado  mobilized the church in Hongkong to shoulder the painting cost. Funds surplus even completed the construction of basketball court beside the edifice. But the bulk of the donation came from pastors.

Katipan Hall is not merely another successful infrastructure project. Beyond the construction issue, the  Hall has been transformed into a spiritual warfare in reclaiming the legacy of the Camp Higher Ground. The place, which serves as venue for camping, conventions, retreats, conferences, has been a living witness to transformation of lives brought about by past experiences in the Camp. It is considered an icon of serenity, spirituality and renewal. However, the place had been abused and neglected for the past decades. Seldom was it used for the aforementioned purposes. Through the project, pastors attempted  to reclaim the spiritual heritage of the Camp. Thereafter, its beauty and usefulness has been gradually restored. Its presence has attracted other organizations to resume retreats, seminar, conferences and other religious activities.

But there is more to the Katipan legacy.  It has brought our association to the door step of the CPBC leadership and politics. Of course, there are  pastors who have been in the mainstream of  politics  in our denomination. Some already identified with a particular group or block. There was even a time when a pastor’s  group that participated in the people’s struggle during the dark years of dictatorial rule in our country  established alliances with leaders in Negros. Later, such alliance dominated the CPBC politics, sustained by new leaders and some members of our group. The rest refrained from politics, some maintain independence while others formed another block or aligned with young progressive pastors who are in the forefront of  Go for Change movement. However, seldom does our  association, as a whole, directly participate in the politics.

Katipan Hall in 2010
Things, however, have changed because of the Katipan project. There was a shift in my personal stand to dissuade pastors to leave the CPBC politics to lay leaders and focus in our association. Every time we were confronted with difficulties in sustaining the project, I recalled the culprit. The leadership flaw, as manifested in the rescindment of the Board in their approval of Pastors Kids management of the Camp on flimsy ground

I then decided to enter the CPBC politics during the May 2006 election running as independent. The pastors did not fail me, some crossing group lines/affiliations. I won in that election which was a show of force and money of organized groups within the CPBC. It was marred with block voting and boat buying, if not vote buying. Thereafter, I advocated for the pastors cause resulting to some significant changes beneficial for pastors.

Katipan in Katipan
Katipan Hall in 2011

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