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Vocations

Written by Artemio R. Leon

Illustrated by Christian Oliver A. Cruz

Horacio Luis dela Costa

Horacio Luis de la Costa, was born on May 9, 1916, in Mauban, Quezon. He was a historian, a writer and a priest.


Specifically, he was a Jesuit priest, and more importantly, he was a Filipino Jesuit priest. This may be common now, but in the early 1900s, there weren’t so many Filipino Jesuit priests. Fr. Horacio de la Costa was the first Filipino Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus, an important title he earned on December 8, 1964 when he was 48 years old.


He lived through the Japanese occupation, helping those who had either evaded or escaped the Japanese forces. For these actions, he was arrested and imprisoned in Fort Santiago for two months, but was awarded the Medal of Freedom in 1946 by the US government.


Horacio wrote a lot! He wrote radio plays that dealt with the life of Teban, a calesa driver; these plays were a satirical commentary on the issues of his time. He wrote of articles on Philippine history and culture, expounding on the rich ancestry of the Filipino people. He wrote for the campus newspaper of the Ateneo, various scholarly publications on the humanities, and even the Catholic Encyclopedia. He wrote books about the Jesuits and the history of the Philippines. “The Jesuits in the Philippines, 1581 to 1768” was published in 1961 and “Readings in Philippine History” was published by Bookmark in 1965.


Fr. de la Costa loved History. He was the head of the Ateneo History Department. Through his guidance and initiative, bibliographies and documents on the Philippines from the 16th to the 18th centuries were gathered from major Filipiniana libraries not only in the Philippines but from Spain, Rome and the United States as well. His writings were viewed not only as scholarly and profound but lively, witty and finely crafted. He was a true historian who not only tried to understand the historic events and people; he would try to explain and to convey that understanding to his readers.


He was well-liked in Ateneo, of course. He taught philosophy and history there for two years. He became the first Filipino college dean in 1953. A hall was named after him after he died of cancer on March 20, 1977 at the age of 60.