Day 1 of de la Costa lecture series welcomed with a full house

February 09, 2016
Fr. Arevalo gives the first lecture of the Horacio V. de la Costa commemorative series

The launch of the commemorative lecture series for Fr. Horacio V. de la Costa’s birth centenary was a complete success after it was greeted with a full house on Feb. 4, 2016 at the Faura Hall Audio Visual Room.

Ateneo de Manila University President Fr Jett Villarin, SJ, in his opening remarks, expressed his gratitude to the School of Humanities for hosting this event and hoped that the presence of Fr. de la Costa may again be felt by the new generation of Ateneans through the series.

“Let us allow his ideas and dreams to resonate with us today and thus echo his values, our shared mission of being men, women for others,” he said.

The first speaker of the series was Fr. Catalino G. Arevalo, SJ, widely known as the Dean of Catholic Theologians and a teacher to many generations of Ateneans and priests.

Instead of formally delivering his talk, Fr. Arevalo shared his stories about Fr. de la Costa, most about his humility and simplicity, with fondness.

He recalled the instance when the beloved priest wrote his book, “Light Cavalry,” around the time when World War II reached the Philippines.

The audience reads a portion of Fr. de la Costa's "Jewel of the Pauper"

“From what we gathered,” Fr. Arevalo said, “he did not want ‘Light Cavalry’ to be re-printed because he felt that much of what he had written before his theological graduate studies was sophomoric in many aspects and Horacio meant what he said.”

He added though that reading the book was an indispensable and delightful introduction to Fr. de la Costa’s younger self.

Another account during that war was about Fr. de la Costa’s bravery when he was imprisoned in Fort Santiago for 6 weeks.

“I was surprised to learn how much behind-the-scenes activity HLC (Horacio de la Costa) was involved in,” Fr. Arevalo said, referring to the Jesuit’s efforts to personally go to guerilla outposts and bring money, useful information and even large quantities of food and medicine to the resistance groups in Central and Northern Luzon.

“HLC showed remarkable courage, resourcefulness and resiliency. He never spoke of what he had done for the guerillas, the US and Filipino military troops and the civilians.”

De la Costa was awarded the Medal of Freedom by the US Government in 1946 because of these efforts.

Mr. Miguel Paterno, in the place of his father Dr. Roberto M. Paterno, receives the plaque of appreciation from Fr Jett

Fr. Arevalo continued to share more accounts of de la Costa’s experiences during the war and said that these anecdotes could not be found anywhere. De la Costa spoke only once about the war in a manuscript of a book that got lost in New York and was never found.

When Fr. Arevalo finally came to the story of de la Costa’s illness, he spoke with a solemn and nostalgic tone and recalled how the Jesuit and the Atenean community mourned Fr. de la Costa’s death.

“Cardinal Jaime Sin even asked to bring Horacio’s body to the Manila Cathedral,” Fr. Arevalo said, “but bishops of the diocese were the only ones allowed to be taken to the Cathedral.”

It was unfortunate that the request was not granted for, Fr. Arevalo shared, de la Costa belongs not only to the Jesuits, not only to the Ateneo, but to the entire Filipino Church and people.

To end his storytelling, Fr. Arevalo talked about how he came up with his speech. He said he remembered a line from Antonio Machado, “Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino con andar. (Wayfarer, there is no way to go. One makes a way by going.)”

Fr. Arevalo says that he's happy to share anecdotes on Fr. de la Costa because they cannot be found anywhere else

“I think that was the meaning of HLC’s life,” he said. Fr. de la Costa had the ability to cross borders, the courage to cross it and the humility to do so without alienating anybody.

“I think this was a very great man who kept to the last moments of his life tremendous humility,” Fr. Arevalo said. “For us Filipinos, I think those are some of the things we can bring to the community of peoples and, in a way, Horacio was one of the first to do that for us.”

He capped his sharing by having everyone read a few lines from Fr. de la Costa’s “Jewel of the Pauper.”

Earlier before Fr. Arevalo’s talk, a plaque of appreciation was given to Dr. Roberto M. Paterno. He was one of Fr. de la Costa’s distinguished students and friends who accepted the challenge of reading through all of HLC’s work and compiling them into the 4-volume “Horacio de la Costa, SJ” published in 2002.

The award was given by Fr Jett and School of Humanities Dean Maria Luz Vilches. Paterno’s son Miguel accepted the award in his father's place.

Fr. de la Costa’s commemorative lecture series continues next week on Feb. 11, 2016, 5:00 PM in the Faura Hall AVR, with Dr. Reynaldo C. Ileto’s “Fr. Horacio de la Costa, SJ: The Filipino Historian and the ‘Unfinished Revolution.’”


Listen to Fr. Arevalo’s reminiscences below: