[Blueboard] De la Costa Centenary: Lecture Number 3

Maria Luz C. Vilches mvilches at ateneo.edu
Mon Feb 15 21:56:21 PHT 2016


The Dean and the Faculty of the School of Humanities warmly invite you to
the third lecture in the Lecture Series commemorating the centenary of the
birth of Fr. Horacio V. de la Costa, SJ (1916-2016).


*The third lecture will be given by Rev. René B. Javellana*

*Thursday, February 18, at 5:00 PM*

*Faura Audio-Visual Room. *

*Sources, Influences, and Silences **in The Jesuits in the Philippines*

 *ABSTRACT*

*Horacio de la Costa’s two volumes on Jesuit history, **Light Cavalry**,
published 1941 at the eve of World War II and **The Jesuits in the
Philippines, 1581-1768** (Harvard University Press, 1961) make for
entertaining reading. De la Costa writes in the manner of novelists rather
than the staid historians whose writings are weighed down by the burden of
footnotes. In fact, **Light Cavalry** has no footnotes at all and in place
of extensive footnotes de la Costa created an appendix of “Sources and
References” for Jesuits in the Philippines (pp. 629-631), a practice
emulated by Miguel Bernad in **Christianization of the Philippines**
(Filipiniana Book Guild, 1972).*

 *Because de la Costa’s histories are well-written and because of his
reputation as a scholar and lecturer, earning him the epithet “gentle
genius,” his works appear to be definitive and final. No new history of the
Jesuits in the Philippines has been written since 1961. But there are
certainly gaps in that history; many more documents that de la Costa was
aware of but did not analyze and fully exploit. Thus, the search for de la
Costa’s “sources and influences” needs careful examination of his writing.
There are clues that point to them. While **Light Cavalry **and **The
Jesuits in the Philippines** seem to be poles apart; the first is
enthusiastic and idealistic writing from a 20-year old, the second is a
much more sober writing from a 40-year old, Harvard trained historian,
published ten years after obtaining his doctorate. The first has a strong
streak of hagiography and religious propaganda, boasting if you will; the
second has greatly toned down the hagiographic and propagandistic streak.
Yet there is continuity between the two. In fact, there is a deeper
continuity from the earliest writings on Jesuit history in the Philippines
in Pedro Chirino’s **Relación de las Islas Filipinas** (Rome, 1604) to de
la Costa. These histories as sources of data and a historiographical
perspective have shaped de la Costa’s writing. Far from being a break from
these previous histories, de la Costa’s histories continue a tradition.*

 *Using the methods of source and literary criticism, this paper
interrogates de la Costa’s work on Jesuit history. It takes as primary
evidence the de la Costa’s published works but uses archival sources as
verification of what appears in the printed text. This paper will point to
the “silences” of de la Costa—what he does not write about or what he
writes about in a cursory manner. This paper will also explicate the
historical theory or historiography of de la Costa, which was influenced by
the state of historical writing in the 1950s. This was before the advent of
post-colonial criticism in the 1960s. The 1950s was still the era of the
grand geste: the great deeds done by great and extraordinary people.*



*Rev. **René B. Javellana, SJ*

Fr. René B. Javellana, SJ is Assistant Professor of the Fine Arts Program
of the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Humanities.  He is a member
of the National Museum’s Board of Trustees and consultant for history and
heritage.  He is the Province Archivist of the Society of Jesus in the
Philippines. As archivist he is familiar with the primary and secondary
souces used by Fr. Horacio de la Costa’s histories of the Jesuits in the
Philippines, namely *Light Cavalry* (1941), covering the periods 1859 until
the 1940s, and *The Jesuits in the Philippines, 1581-176 *(Harvard 1961).

 For information on all the lectures and speakers, please visit
bit.ly/DELACOSTA



MARIA LUZ C. VILCHES, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Humanities
Associate Professor, Department of English
Loyola Schools, Ateneo de Manila University
Loyola Heights 1108, Quezon City, Philippines
Telephone (632) 4266001, Ext. 5300, 5301
Telephone & Fax (632)4261042
http://www.ateneo.edu/soh

*“Mercy is the willingness to enter into the chaos of another.” *– James F.
Keenan, S.J.
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