Horacio V. De la Costa came into existence at the 9th of May 1916 in Maúban, Quezon. His parents, a prominent law magistrate Sixto de la Costa and a modest woman Emiliana Villamayor raised and sent him to a public school in Batangas. Right after his elementary studies, Horacio began his schooling in Ateneo de Manila where he pursued academic excellence (being a graduate of Summa Cum Laude in Bachelor of Arts) and student leadership (being a profound writer and editor of the campus newspaper, Guidon). Upon graduation, he realized that he wanted to serve God by exercising his awe-inspiring gifts in writing. He fulfilled his Master’s Degree in the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches, and became a Jesuit and a writer.
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For two years, Horacio stayed in Ateneo de Manila to teach and enlighten students in the aspects of Philosophy and History. In his professional career, this young intelligent Jesuit composed witty programs such as Kuwentong Kutsero, which portrayed humorous and sarcastic stories of the Manila life; and Teban: The Calesa Diver that mirrored the ongoing dispute in the 1940 Rizal Bill. His television shows turned out to be a nationwide sensation.
When the Japanese government invaded Philippines, Horacio was held captive in Fort Santiago for two months because of resistance whereabouts. He assisted in charitable activities such as offering clothes and medical treatments to Filipino and American combatants who have avoided imprisonment. After the end of World War II, Horacio was bestowed the Medal of Freedom by the American Government then, enrolled in Woodstock College, Maryland for theological studies. At age 30, Horacio was ordained as a Jesuit Priest by Bishop John F. McNamara. Also, Horacio attained a doctorate degree in History at Harvard University.
As Horacio returned to the Philippines, he became the first Filipino Dean of Ateneo de Manila University in 1953 then, assumed a role as the consultant of the Philippine province of the Society of Jesus in 1958. A scholarship fund from Smith-Mundt-Fuldright enabled him to become a research assistant in London School of Oriental and Africa Studies. Throughout his life, he obtained honorary doctorates from the University of Santo Tomás, Tokyo’s Sophia University, and Dumaguete’s Silliman University. At age 55, Horacio became the First Filipino Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus. Two years later, he was appointed as the General Assistant of Fr. Pedro Arrupe, Superior General of the Society of Jesus.
Due to his Historical works, he was presented the Republic Heritage Award by the late Philippine President Diosdado Macapagal. Before his death due to Cancer on the 20th of March 1977, he attended the Jesuit’s General Congregation in Rome to deliver a speech regarding The Jesuits Today. Horacio had given inspiration towards his government-employed colleagues in the likes of Raul Sevilla Manglapus, Jesus Paredes, and former Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee.
“But what is success for the college graduate and the professional. Surely it is not simply getting rich; joining the affluent establishment; a bungalow in Makati, a mustang fastback, and Paris in the spring, surely it is service.” ¬ – Horacio V. De la Costa
Teaching with Authority
The best example of teaching with authority would be Jesus Christ. Fr. De la Costa said, “He taught them as one having authorityâ€¦ He did not need to cite sources and other authorities for his authority came from within, from his deep relationship and union with God, His Father.” Fr. Dela Costa believes that teaching should come not from norms but within, like Jesus Christ who based all His teachings from His relationship with God. Also, we can say that Fr. Dela Costa meant that teaching should be a vocation, one teaches not for fame and glory but to be able to share the knowledge that one has also been able to gain from other teachers. This authority is life-giving for one gives and gives without seeking for anything in return.
The Joy of Suffering
Fr. Horacio Dela Costa explains how the Catholic faithful find happiness in their belief when the very symbol of its Church is the Cross, a symbol that usually suggests suffering. Father Dela Costa’s contention is that one must face suffering – “to face it, to take it, and to make it work for you”. He further notes that avoiding or denying suffering into one’s life is not a wise choice as it is an inevitable scenario. He quotes, “Into each life, some rain must fall, some days must be dark and dreary.” This quotation of his suggests the reality of one having to experience suffering in some points of his life.
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Father Dela Costa gave attention to the reality that pain bothers people as they go on with their lives. Some really get a difficult time and asks why God must permit pain in their lives. Father Dela Costa downplays this question being brought up by the people due to the agony they are experiencing. He suggests that the better way to see it is to find out “how to use pain, profit by it, make it pay”. He moves that instead of questioning pain, one may live better using it for his own benefit.
Father Dela Costa clarifies the two ways of dealing with pain: undergoing & accepting. He suggests that the difference lies in getting killed (undergoing pain), or laying down one’s life (accepting pain). For the former it is like dying by accident, say, drowning while leisurely swimming by the ocean and for the latter, drowning saving another’s life. The one who accepted pain died for a noble cause, serving his neighbor. This kind of dealing with pain, acceptance, is exemplified by the Cross of Christ. Through Christ “We learn not merely to undergo suffering but to accept it.” Christ, being divine, understands that He does not need to experience suffering but He chose to suffer for our sake. “By his sufferings, we are healed”, says Father Dela Costa.
Fr. Horacio de la Costa tells us the story of the beginning of the Ateneo de Manila and the Jesuit schools here in the Philippines. He talks about “building a bridge” by which the professors will be able to pass from their living quarters to the school. Over time, “the bridge did not change nor did the stream of learning that ran through it.” This bridge that Fr. Horacio is talking about may not be physically present now, but the image and symbolism that this bridge carries is still with us.
The image of the bridge is being referred to as the Ignatian spirituality in Education. This bridge is used when the Jesuits are talking about the intensifying of the bridges across mountains and seas between the five Ateneos, in Manila, Naga, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, and Zamboanga. It was a bridge between Jesuits, lay coworkers, and co-leaders in the mission of the Ateneos and between different generations of leaders. That single bridge over Anda Street in 1859 has become an interconnected world, a network of bridges across time, space, and cultures.
In this globalizing world, the role of the educational apostolate has always been so vital for the Jesuits here in the Philippines, since one of the most important shifts of this world is the move from the industrial to the knowledge society. Teaching and researching in Jesuit educated schools must point towards the greater good and utmost importance that you safeguard the humanistic tradition so fundamental to our Ignatian educational heritage.
Fr. Horacio de la Costa introduced the idea of Cura personalis, which means, “care for the entire person”. This concept implies that each and everyone should lend a helping hand to those who are needy. By living out this notion, human beings should respect their neighbor’s unique situations and worries as well as deficiencies. This has been the standing ground of Ignatian Spirituality utilized by Catholic conventions.
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