Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Brother's Legacy: A Steadfast Stand Against Corruption

My elder brother was a quiet and reserved man.  Unbeknown to many, he was a simple family man , a homebody, who  spent more of his free time singing,  reading, gardening, raising pigs and chicken,  and the most recent was fresh water fish culture (of catfish and mudfish) right in his backyard. He lived a frugal life with less hassles and less words. But unbeknown to us, his siblings and family, he was a  civil servant extraordinaire packed with brilliance and action. He was a silent warrior against ineptitude,  against dishonesty, against corruption in government. These extremes didn't make sense to me. My brother's legacy of a lifetime was his long-enduring fight against corruption.

Among my elder brother's work associates and friends I had contacts with, I was easily remembered by them by a rather long address, "the sister of Ben" than my 4-letter name "Lita". There were times then when I got repulsive, feeling that my identity was being obscured, overshadowed,  and seemingly lost to my brother's popularity. Was he really that popular?

The answer was not elusive. I stumbled upon the answer to that question by accident and a lot more accidents after. He was a relatively new college secretary of Pangasinan State University- College of Education (PSU-CE) in Bayambang, when I got a scholarship grant there for my Master's Degree in Communication Arts, English. In my 2-year stint as a grantee, I learned that my brother was well-loved as an honest fellow, not loud but shy and reserved. And he was gaining popularity for his integrity, ideas, and ideals beneficial to the academe he embraced to be the source of his bread-and-butter. He was a well-respected man.

My Brother Was a Good Man

1. First Major Accomplishment

          He lead the hard-core "Magic 7" comprising of 7 young professors of PSU Bayambang, who ousted the university president for wrongdoings no longer tolerable by the staff. He handed a position paper to the then Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos during his incumbency detailing the prevalence of graft and corruption perpetrated by the university president. The complaint was heard and justice prevailed.

2. Second Major Accomplishment

          He was transferred to one of the university component undersiege of corruption, a remnant condition left by the  ousted university president. He "cleaned up" the mess, and PSU Urdaneta is now known to be a haven of his various novel innovations benefiting staff and students as well. Peace, love, security, and success prevails in this component. Again, justice was served.

3. Third Major Accomplishment

          His loyal associates wanted him to run for presidency so that he could cover all 11 component colleges that need his expertise. He preferred the vice presidency position for Student Affairs. He was based at the main office here in Lingayen. His heart was all-out in support to the welfare of students.

            But he worked hard to put in place a new university president he perceived could clear the colleges of scattered hints of wrongdoings. However, he failed, not once but twice. The first beneficiary of his hard work lost in his second bid for presidency, all because of  my brother's extraordinaire strategy and influence.

           The second one he helped to rise from the ranks as university president, (I had  a long conversation with this guy during the wake of our father when he was being  hotly groomed for the position by my brother), turned his back from his promised war against graft and corruption and in less than a year of his term, corruption  not only flourished, it raged like mad in the main office and several others identified as his bulwark of misdeeds. Justice was muddled, spat upon, trampled down.

4. Fourth Unfinished Business (The Mother of All Wars against Corruption at PSU)

         My brother formed the "F-9", a group of honest, hardworking, competent, die-hard supporters of clean and honest government service. It's much larger in  membership than the "Magic 7".  This started with a few originators,  was  founded on February 9 hence the "F-9" and has been gaining support since. A carefully planned rally happened in the annals of PSU in Lingayen, the first ever in history.  I was there. I rushed to my brother's side for filial support after I got our parish priest's (Fr. Rolando Salosagcol)  blessing on my brother.  I felt the maneuverings of the university president, holding at bay, the approaching supporters from the other component colleges.

           PSU Lingayen was a virtual war zone with the president's private army on the roam. The rallyists had only a makeshift platform and the microphone at the closed gate of the university. And their airing of grievances. Perhaps their only consolation was the media coverage that monitored the activities. It was an orderly rally, a signature mark of brilliant minds and peace-loving civil servants.

           Funny, but as the much-celebrated case progressed, I learned that the beleaguered ( or proud ?) president filed an early retirement. Then not long after, he re-entered the university in a much lower position. What would you, my countrymen, make of this?

5. Unfinished But Still Going Strong

The case has now reached  the Ombudsman,  and the F-9, vowed to pursue justice come what may. Their next meeting according to them, could have been last February 15, a Saturday, 3 days after my brother's 66th birthday on February 12, and after his checkup in Manila.

On February 11, my brother succumbed to complications of diabetes. His condition was put at risk , he contacted pneumonia at the ER for staying unattended for 7 hours. Due to his chest pain , he  was supposed to undergo an emergency heart bypass at the Philippine Heart Center where he went for his regular checkup. His angioplasty lasted for only 7 months. He was being prepared for kidney transplant on April 11.

The sorrowful F-9 group still pushed through their planned get-together through a serenata at his wake. They sang the way they used to do until the wee hours of the morning.

My Brother's Legacy

My  brother, Dr. Benigno Ferrer Castro, Sr. , Ed.D., Ph.D., vice president of Pangasinan State University, Lingayen, Pangasinan, leaves a shining legacy in the portals of education, that it's hard to fight corruption but it is possible to put up a steadfast stand to hold it at bay while the slow grind of justice  moves. I hope and pray that in the end, justice would prevail and the perpetrators of this crime against the people and government would get the harshest punishment according to law.

I'm very proud of my Kuya, my idol, my hero. He made a clean name,  not only for himself but also for his family and us, his siblings,  with his  unwavering resolve to run after the  undesirables, those who enjoyed their perk in government offices, surrounded by private armies and living in ostentatious display of their loot through corrupt practices.

And for a lifetime,  I'm giving more meaning and value to his legacy to me, "the sister of Sir Ben".


Related Posts with Thumbnails