‘Meron Philosopher’ among featured in SOH talks

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Dean Emeritus Fr. Roque Ferriols, SJ is known for his philosophy of meron, but student and friend Leovino Garcia, Ph.D. showed a more intimate portrait of the Jesuit drawn from almost 50 years of friendship.

Garcia is an associate professor in the Philosophy Department. In a lecture titled “Meron Philosopher: Fr. Roque Ferriols” on August 24, Garcia read excerpts from letters that Ferriols had written to him since he was still a student. “The letter really gave a good description of him because he was still very young then, maybe in his late thirties,” Garcia said.

The lecture is part of the “Magpakatao” lecture series that began last July 27 extending until next year. “Magpakatao” includes nine lectures given by School of Humanities faculty members, and aims to look at the links of the University’s past, present, and future in light of issues concerning the humanities.

Roots of ‘meron’
In his lecture, Garcia decided to focus more on the philosopher rather than the philosophy because he wanted to show everyone where the philosophy of meron was rooted.

“His philosophy of meron is rooted closely in culture, in life, and in ordinary people,” Garcia said of Ferriols. “From the letters, you can see that he teaches by example and not just by books.”

“From this lecture, you would really see where his insight on meron and other things really do come from, and it is very nice to hear about it,” said Philosophy Instructor Roy Tolentino.

“Ferriols for me is a teacher, a priest and a son of Ignatius. I met Ferriols when I was 17 in my sophomore year, and Ferriols taught [me] all his philosophy courses,” he said.

The letters that Ferriols sent Garcia were all in English, unlike the Filipino medium that the priest now uses for his classes.

SOH Dean Luz Vilches said Garcia’s talk was also a tribute to the 85th birthday of Ferriols last August 16.

The love of language
In another lecture on September 23, Fine Arts Director Benilda Santos talked about the history of the Filipino Department, from its struggles to its successes. Her lecture was titled “Ang Praktis ng Pampanitikan at ang Institusyunalisasyon ng Wika bilang Stratehiya ng Kagawaran ng Filipino sa Pagtatatag ng nga Kulturang Pambansa.”

Santos is also a professor in the Filipino Department.

Ateneans are currently required to take Filipino as part of their core curriculum. However, Santos said that back then, subjects were taught only in English. She added that there had been several processes and challenges before the language was established as a core subject.

“Our role in the department is to serve as a guardian and protector, as well as [a] preacher of our own language to the students,” she said in Filipino. This was the vision that fueled the creation of the Filipino Department in 1999 to 2000.

“Ateneo has always been active in pushing change for the Filipino language,” said Santos. She cited examples such as Atenean activist group Ligang Demokratiko ng Ateneo and individuals like Rolando Tinio, Bienvenido Lumbera, and Jose Lacaba.

Santos said that she just wants the students to realize how important our language is. “They should have more knowledge of our own [language] because this knowledge will help give hope for our country and ourselves,” Santos said in Filipino.

Santos’ lecture also focused on its rootedness to the Jesuits’ teaching and the life of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Junior Gilbert Que said he learned a lot about Ferriols in that lecture. “I got to know him [Ferriols] and see a side of him before he was known as the legend he is today. It was nice to know that even if Father Ferriols is now considered a legend, he still had a wacky and fun side.”

Freshman Allen Patrick Pascual, on the other hand, said, “Who would have thought that before Ateneans were purely taught in English?”
He added, “I learned a lot of bits and trivia that I... [didn’t know] before. It was a really informative lecture for me and it was nice.”

“It showed many things —the history of the Filipino Department, our own language and the different events that gave way to the Filipino education now given students,” said Theology Chair Fr. Adolfo Dacanay, SJ. “This talk makes you appreciate more where we came from and what we have now.”

While they liked how the events turned out, Dacanay and Santos said more students should attend the lectures.

The first talk, given on July 28 by Fr. Rene Javellana, SJ, was called “Jesuit Churches in the Philippines and the Shape of Catholic Liturgy from the 19th to the 21st Century.” As of press time, only three lectures have been given.

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