by Oliver Carlos

My basketball nickname is Jetsanity. It was given to me by a bigtime basketball personality, Christopher Juliano, the commissioner of the alumni league in UPLB where I play in. He is also a professional venue announcer. You will hear his crowd-electrifying voice when you watch the MPBL and the ABL games. But half a century before Christopher coined my moniker, there was Jessanity. I’m referring to my Dad, Dr. Jesus “Jess” Castillo, Sr.

I didn’t know that my father was a basketball player. I was surprised to find out that he had a more decorated basketball career, and he was the better cager. I learned this just recently, after 48 years of my existence!

The Paniqui Bats posing in front of their school after conquering the Unit Meet in Moncada, Tarlac in 1964. My father, Jess Castillo is a member of this team. (photo from the Castillo Family collection)

I learned about my Dad’s fabled basketball career after spending time with him in his house. There’s a stockroom with piles of photo albums which I browsed through, with him beside me. I came across an old black-and-white photograph of a basketball team, with the label, “The Bats”. He pointed himself in the photo. He said their jerseys were blue, and his jersey number was 8.

They were called The Bats or The Batmen, because they represented Paniqui, Tarlac in the basketball competitions they joined in. A closer look at the photo shows a banner which says they were the Unit Meet’s 1963–64 champion. This means that they were victors as well at the District Meet level. The Unit Meet was played in Moncada, Tarlac. My Dad was in Grade 6 at that time.

Asked about his recollections of the Unit Meet, he said they played on a dirt court. Lime was used to draw the lines on the court. There was no 3-point line yet, but they had a shot clock. Their jerseys were given to them for free, but they had to bring their own shorts. A few players preferred to play barefooted. I never got to experience playing in the Unit Meet, nor District Meet, not even in my school’s intramurals. This is one achievement my Dad didn’t tell me when I was growing up.

During my teen years, he would sometimes join me in my self-trainings at the makeshift court in our driveway. We would play 1v1 hoops. He had a patented post-up move that would lead to a turn-around, fall-away shot ala-Nowitzki. When we played bente-uno, I observed he had a textbook-form freethrow shot. He’s more than a decent basketball player, he’s a basketball great after all. He just pursued a different sport as he grew older. I always knew him as a champion tennis player when I was a kid.

Aside from our earthly fathers, we also have a Heavenly Father. There’s also a lot more about him that we must discover. What we know about God as our Heavenly Father is limited, and we should exert extra effort in seeking more knowledge about him, about his character, what he can do, and what is in his heart. The apostle John, in his old age, wrote that he had transitioned from knowing God as a Father, to knowing God as “he who is from the beginning”. Let’s look at 1 John 2:14 (NIV):

“I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.”

John mentioned 3 levels in our Christian growth. Stage 1 is when we were like children, we had a simple knowledge of God as our Heavenly Father. Stage 2 is when we were like young men, we now know God as a strong life companion, and our Savior from the evil one. We get to grow to this stage by letting the word of God live in our hearts.

Stage 3 is what we should aspire to reach. By continuing reading the Bible and walking in it, we transition to be fathers in the faith. We would have children of our own, or people we guide in their faith journey. And the most important description of this stage is that we now know God as more than a Heavenly Father, but as who he is- the One from the Beginning.

There are a lot more about himself that God wants to reveal to us. We will get to know who God really is by spending more time with him, reading his Word more often and diligently, cultivating our personal relationship with him.