At last Saturday's burial ceremony for Manny Castillo, local writer/artist Nephtalí De Leon read a biographical poem he'd written in honor of the San Anto Cultural Arts founder. For those who missed it, here it is:
unto the world came a child
Nov 3, 1968
and he was named Dios dado
given by the Gods
the sea conch and huehuetl boomed
and the quetzal feathers gleamed
and the gods gathered upon mount teotihuacan
what shall we do with this strange new youth?
and they called upon the tlamatinime the wise
you, xochiquetzal, get your brother xochipilli,
give him the colors of your soul, and Tlaloc,
give him your ayauh-coça-malotl – your rainbow,
let him paint the tepantli -- walls,
powerful forever – tlacuilol-tepantli – murals,
and you cuica-matini, give him the rhythm
and the music of your drums!
and the wind eehcatl came along
and he blew the spirirt life – yoli-liztli –
and they sent him to the west side of San Anto
for it was written so by ipalnemoani,
omecihuatl, ometoeotl, the givers of life…
and he took up his cross after Holy Cross High school
by the Alazan Apache courts he played with a chicken egg
could we have Chicano royalty here? a king and queen huevo?
this had to be something real nuevo, already displaying his roots
he runs into patti and rod, juan ramos, cruz ortíz
he’s got dreams bigger than aztlán, he wants to play the drum…
he’s on the edge of Chicano evolution, got a revolution in his soul
space and time change, walls begin to have a names
“Bright days,” “Sweet as Candy Lowrider mural,”
this quiet and shy cool cat guy got a heart as big as the sky
creates Placazo, barrio news-gram tortilla grafitti
barrio art, prison art, paño art, young cool reporters
fluid mellow hot they put society on the spot
while manny Castillo, his earthbound name, makes his own fame
got his own group -- los Snowbyrds rocking sound band!
he celebrates giants in the urban city street scene
like trine, ram de tacoland, and randy garibay
you know them dudes, them cats who never sleep…
gets mighty talents crews from the highway lands dark
but he’s never in command he’s just the might spark
gets video crews, holiday jams, and stained glass in the park!
36 murals and he’s forty years old, the Gods they think
we gotta make a recall, we need this dude to spruce up our hall!
but titan Manny touched so many – us, the common folks
he reached far and wide to turn the tide, told our barrio we got pride
he pulled the colors from our soul rainbow colors bold
taught the walls to come alive with visionary hope…
if there is a confusion because of his profusion
let me correct the news that say he was no arteest!
he was the greatest artist of all with a giant palette
every person was a brush and a music disquette
he pulled the paint from our souls young and old
magic weaver we were threads in his mighty magic loom
barrio flying carpets he gave wings to our dreams
greater artist our barrio has not seen!
Manny Diosdado Castillo the flags of Aztlán
fly at half mast and the gods will request of us poor mortal folks
that this day never die from the memory of men
from the memory of children the memory of women folks
for you Manny Castillo still have to paint a mighty tapestry
in heaven of the earth-bound things you inspired in us all
and the legends of a wonder native son grow as we speak
when the Gods lent your soul to our San Antonio streets!