Jesuits (2)

Published April 12, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ
Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, SJ

By Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, Sj


A prejudice was built up during Spanish times against becoming a Filipino priest. It was the group of Fr. Horacio de la Costa that broke this prejudice. This group included people like Vinny San Juan, Federco Escaler, Vicente del Pilar Marasigan (grandson of Marcelo H. del Pilar), Teddy Arvisu, and a few others. Horacio de la Costa was the only son of one of the founders of Development Bank of the Philippines. He was provincial superior of the Philippine Jesuits when I got to know him. He was a kind historian and people have regreted that he was not given time to write on Philippine history.

His friends have just published four volumes of his works. Cancer took him away at an early age. They tell the story that a mother was so against her son entering the novitiate that she lay at the door of the novitiate so that her son had to step over her to enter the novitiate. Once he was in, she got President Quezon to issue a special order calling him into the army since he was a reserve officer. It took the experience of Bataan and the concentration camp of Tarlac before she consented for her son to go back to the Jesuits.

I reached the tail end of this prejudice. When my father told my grandfather that I was entering the novitiate, he got angry and blurted out, “Tell that boy never to come back to my house. What does he want to be a muchacho of the foreign priests?” But when I visied him a few month later in my sotana, he was happy to see me.

There are at present over 200 Jesuits – some of them renowned, others obcscure – doing the work of running the province. This is especially true of the Jesuit brothers who run the province doing menial or exective work. There was Bro. Dio who worked for the provincial’s office for many years. Then you have Bro. Tale, who ran San Jose seminary or rather who allowed it to run smoothly while others taught theology. And of course Bro. Batin who helped the fathers in Mindanao in good Jesuit tradition. One of the last Spanish brothers that I still met was Herman Llull who run the retreat house in Sta. Ana.

During the Spanish regime, there were two brothers for each priest in the work in Mindanao. They built churches and conventos and even fortifications as in Zamboanga’s Fort Pilar. Without the brothers, the work of the Jesuit Province would have been hampered as they took care of infirmaries, kitchens, and many other works such as relations with government offices.

There were some outstanding scholastics who died before they reached the priesthood in the tradition of St. John Berchmans. An example is Apolonio Baluyot who is remembered by his South American classmates as an exmple of holiness. He died in San Cugat, off Barcelona, Spain, while he was in his studies during the war. There were also scholatics who died during the war, hit by bullets like, Francisco Lopez and Pimentel.