Eulogy for Br. Roly Dizon, FSC

By: Clement Yu, Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 07:57 pm PST
Filed under: Corkboard

Eulogy for Br. Rolando Dizon FSC
By Br Edmundo Fernandez FSC
29 April 2012

Treasure in Earthen Vessel

The Jesuit Superior General, Pedro Arupe once wrote: “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.”

Rolando Ramos Dizon, whose life we celebrate today, knew what it is to truly fall in love for Roly had numerous passions or Loves that he intensely pursued throughout his life: a sincere and genuine LOVE for the poor; a LOVE for Lasallian Schools and Lasallian education; a LOVE of sports. But all these LOVES come together and make sense in his biggest and most passionate pursuit: LOVE of Country.

The last three days we have seen men and women whom Roly have touched in the pursuit of his passions, file past his casket to pay their respects to him: the Athlete whom he supported and encouraged through scholarship and by providing the best coaches; the alumnus whom he taught, mentored and Brothered; the teacher whom he inspired by his commitment to excellent education and sound pedagogy; the administrator whom he accompanied lovingly; the activist with whom he shared his love of country; the politician with whom he marched with in the street.

Roly’s advocacies of Justice and Peace and the upliftment of the poor are consistent hallmarks of his educational leadership. In USLS, he built up Balayan and expanded its scope to include streetchildren, fisherfolk, battered and abused women and small underground entrepreneurs among others. He established the Business Resource Center to help micro – financing projects for the poor long before micro financing was in vogue. He was also instrumental in the integration of rebel-returnees in Negros Occidental. When he became President of De La Salle University he established the Caucus for Poverty Reduction. Today we take for granted that a number of our schools have socialized tuition schemes but he was the first to champion this as a way of making Lasallian education inclusive. This, I believe, is one of his biggest contributions to Lasallian education.

His Justice and Peace advocacies often overshadowed his passion for education. In his prime, he was an extraordinary Lasallian administrator pushing for excellence and creativity in pedagogy and curriculum development. He is an academician by heart.

In true Brother tradition, he put a strong emphasis on sports: building up varsity teams and co founding many leagues and tournaments. He understood the importance of sports in the context of a young person’s total formation and in the building up of school spirit. He co founded UNIGAMES to give a chance for small schools to participate in the big leagues. Whatever tradition and reputation we have today in the area of Justice and Peace, poverty alleviation, Sports has a lot to do with Roly’s passions in these areas.

However, his love for the poor, his passion for Justice and Peace, his creativity and dynamism as an educator comes together in his profound love for country. He had a deep concern for the country that seeped into everything he did. His educational philosophy was characterized by the belief that a Lasallian school was not just a venue for learning but an avenue for social change. I don’t think the American Brothers handed down this philosophy to the Filipino Brothers. Together with Rafe Donato, this was a unique contribution of Roly to the District that clearly continues today. Under his Presidency, CEAP became a very active voice in opposing the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship calling for Peace and Justice in the dark days of Martial Law. We all know his involvement with NAMFREL and how it shaped the events of our contemporary history.

As Br. Vic mentioned yesterday, Roly was always the Golden Boy, the Man with Promise. Valedictorian in elementary and secondary, Summa Cum Laude in college, consistent Dean’s lister at Catholic University of America, Fulbright scholar and the only Brother to have received the Ten Outstanding Young Men award, he was a deeply charismatic person. Today, when we speak of Roly, we speak of him in the same vein as Andrew Gonzalez, Benildo Feliciano and Rafe Donato. All pillars of the District of the Philippines. They were all mavericks and Roly had his fair share of independent thinking. In many ways, Roly marched to the beat of his own drum and all the rest, Brothers included, were left to follow his tune. His passion to beat his own path was often misunderstood. I am reminded of what the Ameircan poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said, “If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away.” Roly worked best when he trailblazed and in his prime he was a bright star that brought light to all he touched. When I look back, I am amazed not just at the breadth of his commitments, but also the depth he brought into his passions. Like any man with Big Ideas, he had his fair share of critics and enemies. As one writer states, “The man who is anybody and who does anything is surely going to be criticized, vilified, and misunderstood”

There is one last love of Roly I wish to mention and that is LOVE for the Brothers. As a young Brother, I remember him saying to another Brother preparing to be an administrator, “as administrator, you may fight with people in the school, and for sure you will have fights. But when you get into community you must always make an effort to live harmoniously with the Brothers. In the end they are all you have.” I was a very young Brother but to this day I remember how he said it with such conviction. Community was important to Roly and he made a strong effort to be present to his Brothers. Today, as we celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations, it is good to remember that he inspired, recruited and mentored a whole generation of Brothers, now middle aged.

In his later years, the scope of his passions was much larger than the arena of Lasallian schools and he sought work beyond the confines of the District. These last years of Roly’s life were not his best. But perhaps it helps us to understand that, at heart, Roly saw himself as a Public Servant in the true sense of the word for his passion to be of service did not diminish with the years, and when the District could not provide him with the avenue to productively harness his energies, he sought it outside. We all know there were disagreements and differences with the District but his commitment to his vocation and his love for the Brothers carried him through.

Roly was a gift not just to the Brothers and the Lasallian Family but to the nation as well. I look at Roly’s life and I know he was a treasure that was given to us and I am reminded of today’s second reading: “we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us”. Roly, like all Brothers, are Earthen Vessels. Not perfect, very human and sometimes profoundly fragile, but by the grace of God, His Love and Power shone through. This is what Roly’s life teaches us — that God’s love transcends human weakness and brings forth miracles untold housed in earthen vessels.

I wish to thank the many people who came to visit and shared in our grief. I am sure Roly would have been deeply pleased with the number of people he has deeply touched. Thank you Roly for sharing generously and passionately your life with us. I am sure Ceci Hojilla will be waiting for you at the gates of Heaven with a basket of Balut.

Live Jesus in Our Hearts