CITY of San Fernando’s volunteer flood czar, staunch environmental protection and impact projects advocate, giant lantern festival pointman, socio-civic leader, businessman and top offroader Engineer Mariano Wijangco Castro Jr. passed away on October 23, 2021.

Popularly known as "Lolo Marni" and "Citizen Marni" to stakeholders in the City of San Fernando, Castro was among the people who advocated for the construction of the Mega Dike that was able to save the lives and properties of many Kapampangans after the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in 1991.

His expertise in engineering intervention made him the head of the Task Force Kontra Albug (Task Force Flood Prevention) for the City of San Fernando under the leadership of then Mayor Oscar Rodriguez.

In his lifetime, Castro has been very visible in public service both as a community leader, an environmental advocate and civic official of many non-government organizations in the city.

In 2010, he aspired for a seat in the City Council Magsilbi Tamu (Liberal Party), which unfortunately did not materialize.

Indeed, a volunteer of the highest order Castro makes, shooting to prominence -- of the selfless kind -- in the lahar aftermath of the Mount Pinatubo eruptions.

His off-roading skills were put to good use in rescue-relief operations at each onslaught of lahar from Porac to Bacolor. And even after that, at the onset of every typhoon or habagat, he mobilizes his off-roader groups to be on-call for rescue operations.

He went beyond being among the strongest advocates for the FVR megadike systems to actually monitoring -- daily -- its construction from the digging stage, to the filling and the armoring. No, he did not wangle any contract in any phase of the megadike construction. He just routinely takes the megadike road just to check its condition.

Castro was likewise among the brain trust that birthed the San Fernando-Sto. Tomas-Minalin taildike that helped save the southern part of the city and the two towns from more destructive inundations.

He has continuously but quietly coordinated the declogging of waterways linking San Fernando and the two mentioned towns for floods to be lower and subside faster in the city.

That "Lolo Marni" has done much for the city -- and Pampanga too -- at all cost to him and no cost to the government and the people.

He has left Fernandinos and Kapampangans his famous quote: "I would consider it a regret if I want to serve and then something happens and I could not do it. That would be my greatest regret." (JTD/With Ian Ocampo Flora)