While preparing for the Holy Week, I was reminded of an annual joke in Camp Phillips:
“Who crucified Jesus Christ?
This is an insider joke. Engr. Damian Macatol, a Del Monte supervisor was the best sculptor in town. And he carved the Crucified Christ that occupied the church altar in our town.
There were a few artists and artesans in Camp Phillips, at least in our time. I knew Tita Merlyn Paluga was a piano teacher. There were ballet lessons every summer taught by ballet dancers. But the most famous artist in our time was probably Engr. Macatol.
I am not so sure now whether he made a career out of his talent. He was an employee, so probably sculpting was a hobby, and he specialized in religious icons, probably because he was such a deeply religious person. He is known for his faith as much as his craftmanship.
Later, Engr. Macatol also taught at the College of Engineering in Xavier Univeristy. XU students from Camp Phillips were always proud to claim that the St. Francis Xavier golden statue that greets the students at the gate is made by Engr. Macatol. He also crafted that beautiful Our Lady of the Poor, if I am not mistaken.
I was wondering if any of his eleven children inherited this gift. I knew his son Larry, who is my batchmate in his school, was one of the best artists we had together with Troy John Tabanas and Teresa Cabansay. But I am willing to bet none of them made a career out of their artistry.
But if none of Engr. Macatol’s children became artists, I am certain all of them inherited his faith. Daughter Nora is a Carmelite contemplative, and I know Marvin is very active in the Couples for Christ (as with the other three brothers). Marvin also maintains a site called Raising Filipino Boys.
Camp Phillips residents in our time will remember the Macatols, for their faith and for the fact that their father crucified Jesus Christ.