Profiles of Courage

Benjamin Barloso

During the Martial Law Period under Ferdinand Marcos, a large number of men and women from the religious sector played a role in raising people’s consciousness over national issues and problems. With the increasing development of Liberation Theology, church leaders began to take up a definition of service which went beyond biblical scripture, and required an active role in addressing social injustices and change.[1]

In this context, Bishop Emeritus Benjamin Barloso of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) served over Midsayap Church from 1983-1986.[2] Also known as Benbar,[3] he became a bishop early in the new millennium, and was recalled to have been unassuming yet determined to pursue whatever was demanded by the situation – organizational, educational or by direct action in nature.[4] He led a simple life, embracing spirituality to respect the needs, rights and aspirations of the Filipino people. What mattered was what needed to be done with respect to the community, geographical- or institution-wise.

On August 17, 1983, Bishop Ben attended a wedding in Libungan Cotabato at the house of fellow UCCP pastor, Rev. Reuben Ong-oy, along with another UCCP priest, Rev. Ruben Genotiva. Before the ceremony was performed, military men besieged the house and ordered all the men out. They were eventually blindfolded, tied, and made to lie down on the ground. According to Leoncio “Jun” Evasco, Jr., one of the guests, they were repeatedly mauled by their captors, which continued even after they were loaded onto vehicles for transport to the military headquarters in Davao City. They were later interrogated for their supposed connection to the underground guerrilla movement, but the military could not obtain relevant information. They were subsequently released.[5]

To some observers, it would seem that decades of solidarity with the poor honed him to blend Christianity and Marxism with passion.[6] Though not in the form of bold and daring displays of confrontation with the state forces, his work in leading organizations in transition shared its own weight in paving more innovative and responsive projects towards people’s liberation.

After Martial Law, Bishop Ben headed the secretariat of the Mindanao Interfaith People’s Conference (MIPC) as Executive Director, and served again as Midsayap Pastor from 1993-1995. He served as the General Secretary of the Consortium of Christian Organization for Rural-urban Development (CONCORD).[7] He would become active in many projects relevant to social justice and peace work in various capacities both as a leader within the UCCP congregation and as a people’s servant approximating liberation theology.

Bishop Barloso passed away on 26 February 2014.[8]

             

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

[1] Liberation Theology in the Philippines drew significant influence from Latin American liberation Theology. It reflected a pivot in the Roman Catholic Church from viewing sin as a purely private matter to accepting the idea of social injustices as a form of structural sin or violence. For further reading, one may look into chapter 3 of Robert Youngblood’s “Marcos Against the Church: Economic Development and Political Repression in the Philippines” (1993, Quezon City: New Day Publishers).

[2] United Church of Christ in the Philippines (website), “History of Midsayap UCCP”. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/uccpmid/who-we-are/treasured-heritage

[3] Ancheta-Templa, Mae Fe (12 March 2014), “People’s Bishop”, Davaotoday. http://davaotoday.com/main/todays-views/todays-view-peoples-bishop/

[4] Ibid.

[5] Promotion of Church People’s Rights, That We May Remember (Quezon City: Promotion of Church People’s Rights, 1989), 207-208. Evasco was the only one the military continued to detain upon suspicions of being the head of the National Democratic Front’s United Front Commission in southern Mindanao..

[6] Ancheta-Templa, “People’s Bishop.”

[7] United Church of Christ in the Philippines, “History of Midsayap UCCP”

[8] Ancheta-Templa (2014)

Arado, Reynaldo

Barloso, Benjamin

Birthday: N/A

Parents: N/A

Spouse: N/A

Children: N/A

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email
Join Survivors'
Discussion Group

Enter your name and email address