In 1970, several months before his scheduled ordination as a priest, Carlos Tayag asked for this important rite to be suspended, and instead entered the University of the Philippines, where he immersed himself in political-social organizing while pursuing a master’s degree in Philippine literature.
Tayag had spent ten years studying for the priesthood as a member of the Order of St. Benedict, where he took the name Carlos Maria (his baptismal name was Bartolome). In the latter years of the 1970s, the emerging Theology of Liberation posed a challenge to him, as he embraced a definition of his Christian faith that addressed itself directly to the liberation of, in his words, “those who are losing hope, the poor and powerless, those being held captive.”
Such faith, he continued, was rooted in promoting human freedom within the political, economic and cultural context: “this is a human duty brought forth by the spirituality and the experiences of a suffering humanity.”
He joined the Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, and became a leader of the Kilusang Kristiyano ng Kabataang Pilipino (KKKP) whose newsletter Breakthrough he edited from 1967 to 1972.
The Benedictine deacon was one of the organizers of the Christians for National Liberation, which (with KKKP) was declared illegal when martial law was imposed in 1972. Tayag went underground to continue his organizing work among church people, with the added dimension of mobilizing support for the popular resistance to the Marcos dictatorship.
Tayag disappeared without a trace sometime in August 1976. His family, whom he would contact from time to time while he was in the underground, believes it was the military who abducted him.
After years of searching for him, Tayag’s younger sister says: “We have stopped looking for Caloy, the physical Caloy. After all, he spent most of his years away from home. We are used to his physical absence. Instead we have now focused our search for that part of Caloy which is more real, indestructible and eternal: who he was, what he was fighting for, and why?”