Manong Daton as called by this writer, Dan to others,and DATON A. PALITAYAN to numerous members of the church of our Lord within the Philippine Archipelago and to many parts of the world where Filipino Christians migrated, had gone ahead to our Lord and Savior Jesus. He rested from his earthly toils in the early morning of April 26, 2009 (1:30 AM as informed by Gershom B. Palitayan, one of his sons).
This writer had first heard about this Great Disciple of Jesus in the summer classes of 1967 when he enrolled at Philippine Bible College in Baguio City, Philippines. He looked at the man from a distance when he made frequently visits to PBC at in those years and was awed by the qualifications frequently mentioned as he was introduced to speak. He was (the writer) then in his late teens.
It was only in July, 1970 when the author spoke to the Man when he was introduced by Federico Dagson to him. The meeting took place at the rented house of spouses Andring and Elvie (Adriano & Elvie) Limbawan. During that meeting Manong Daton gave an oral invitation to the writer to be a student teacher of Solano Bible School, a newly operated school of preaching then in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines. The latter accepted the invitation by force of circumstances. He had nowhere to go to continue on his fourth year high school studies.
During that stay for one (1) year with the family of Manong Daton, this writer began to realize that the man is “FIRST AMONG EQUALS”. He later came to know the Latin translation of that idiom as “PRIMO INTER PARES” from books of higher education. All through the years, the idiom was confirmed to be a reality.
1. Manong Daton is Primo Inter Pares when it comes to helping others. Upon arrival in Solano, Nueva Vizcaya in the the first week of August, 1970, this writer came to know about “Tidio”, a native of Nueva Vizcaya. Brother Tidio was taken by Manong Daton as a member of his family. The former enjoyed all the privileges of a family member of the latter. Even after the death of Brother Tidio, one of his sons (Tidio’s) was taken in by Manong Daton and enjoyed the same privileges as Brother Tidio had enjoyed. From 1970 to this day, there have been many “Tidios” in Manong Daton’s home. This writer was one of them as he could not have been where he is now were it not for Manong Daton’s generosity by financing the former’s fourth year education at DALTON HIGH SCHOOL, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya in the school year 1970-1971. Philip Marana who later on became his brother-in-law by affinity is another. These “Tidios” had no blood relationship with Manong Daton, yet, they were considered as bossom brothers by the Man.
2. Manong Daton is Primo Inter Pares when it comes to being a “Tent Maker Preacher”. Manong Daton loved to tell this writer how he survived preaching the Gospel in that part of the Cagayan Valley without any foreign nor local support. When he went to Nueva Vizcaya in the late 50’s he had no financial support. He lived at the graciousness of local members whom he converted to Christianity after numerous debates that he won over the preachers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Manalo). Members of the churches that were established in Malasin, Dupax, Nueva Vizcaya where Manang Aning, his wife, was born,in Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya where the Balgoses, Alcaldes, to name a few, were the early converts from the Iglesia Ni Cristo provided support in part as he went on preaching. He was into farming to augment whatever sustenance these brethren gave him. He worked like a “Full Time Preacher” without any “Full Time Support”, he related. He later on went to Diffun, Nueva Vizcaya (now Diffun, Quirino) because, he said, there was more opportunity to acquire farm land with least cost . With that opportunity, he surmised that his preaching activities will be greatly helped. Indeed, the “Tent Maker Preacher” was responsible in the establishment and development of the churches in Nueva Vizcaya and Cagayan Valley in their present state.
3. Manong Daton is Primo Inter Pares when it comes to the kind of life of a Preacher. Manong Daton had not built “Palaces” for himself and his family. Until his death, he had a modest house at the back of the building where christians in Solano meet for worship. These two buildings had common wallings. He droved a motor cycle (Suzuki) for a long time, then an owner jeep for a while and until his death, he owns a pickup (1990 model) sold to him at a very reduced price by Bother Elmo Duque. The Man was a classic example of a Christian storing heavenly wealth over and above earthly possessions.
4. Manong Daton is Primo Inter Pares when it comes to dedication to his work. This writer was one of those who had the final glimpsed of the Man during the “Panagkakadua 2009” held at 18 Rimando Road, Baguio City from April 8-11, 2009. He was no longer the brisk walking Daton as he was seen walking slowly with a cane. He was no longer the Daton who spoke with clarity and booming voice as he spoke a little bit louder that a whisper. However, his smile as he met with acquintances and new found christian friends was still there as he mingled with the participants. He was seen still trying to guide his son Jonathan as the latter was practicing the choral group from Solano that won the Choral Signing Contest. He was there to lead the flock that he was tasked to feed as an Overseer, a Pastor, and an Elder. This writer still felt that warm and tight hug from the Man. That hug will be felt for a time for there will no more be another earthly hug from him.
There are a lot more aspects in the life of Manong Daton where he excelled and he may be considered as “First Among Equals”. May be there will be more write ups about him like his experiences in the numerous debates he had with the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Manalo), which at times it nearly cost his untimely death. However, at this point in time, this writer likes to emphasize the qualities as enumerated above where, obviously, MANONG DATON stood out among his equals.
Good bye, Manong Daton! I hope to see you in that land called Paradise.