Dr. Ziálcita draws inspiration from Fr. de la Costa’s ideas on Filipino identity in 5th lecture

March 14, 2016
Dr. Fernando N. Ziálcita delivers the 5th lecture of the commemorative series

As the lectures commemorating the birth centenary of Fr. Horacio V. de la Costa continue, speakers of the lecture started to turn more serious, focusing on the books, essays and literary pieces of the Jesuit.

The Ateneo Director of the Cultural Heritage Program adopted this tone in the 5th lecture of the series which was about the influence and the diversity of Philippine culture.

To start his lecture, gave a short anecdote during his college days when Fr. de la Costa was his teacher in Introduction to Southeast Asian History.

“I enjoyed taking notes [during his classes]. He had very short insights into things and expressed his ideas in well-crafted sentences delivered in an orderly logical manner. For me, he embodied the Jesuit ideal of sapientia et eloquentia,” Dr. Ziálcita said.

He added that he drew inspiration from Fr. de la Costa’s books, particularly from his ideas on how the Filipinos defined themselves as a people and how they identified themselves in the Asian region.

Dr. Ziálcita shows a quote from Fr. de la Costa

“I turned to Fr. de la Costa to see how he dealt with a mixture of diverse culture parents in our society, how he interpreted our role in Southeast Asia and how he evaluated Spanish influence,” he said.

He then focused on 3 themes of identity, namely the Philippines’ identity as hybrid, Malay as the indigenous background of the Filipino identity and the Spanish influence in the Philippines.

Quoting Fr. de la Costa, he said, “We should explicitly accept cultural pluralism. Our indigenous culture has been enriched by other the contributions of other cultures, however, the minority should seek integration to the national community.”

Dr. Ziálcita also said that there was nothing irregular about having an identity that is the product of diverse influences.

“The challenge for us is to continue the process of assimilating the alien and old traditions.”

Dr. Ziálcita answers a question from the audience

He concluded his lecture by paraphrasing Fr. de la Costa’s idea, saying that the Filipinos must steel themselves against the shock of finding in their part of the world a nation whose matrix was derived from both pre-Austronesian and Austronesian cultures.

“But we must remember that there are cultural influences drawn from 3 continents,” Dr. Ziálcita said. “From Asia largely from the Chinese but also from the Malay, the Arabs and others; from Europe largely from the Spanish but also from others; from the Americas largely from the Americans and the Mexicans but also from others, for this nation will be ourselves.”

The next lecture will be about “The 3 Summas—Horacio V. de la Costa, SJ, Leon Ma. Guerrero, and Jesus Paredes, Jr.: Their Life and Times,” to be given by Ms. Paulynn P. Sicam. This will be followed by a presentation from the junior members of the Society of Jesus and members of the School of Humanities.

Listen to Dr. Ziálcita’s lecture below: