Attendees of the 2nd Magpakatao lecture of the School of Humanities were given a unique view of a well-loved and sometimes feared institution in the LS campus.Aside from it being held during Buwan ng Wika, which fits very well with Fr. Ferriols’ penchant for teaching philosophy exclusively in Filipino, it was also Fr. Ferriols’ 85th birthday last August 16 and the talk was part of the LS communities’ tribute to the well-loved professor and Jesuit.Dr. Leovino Garcia shared with the attendees of the lectures his experiences as an “apprentice” of Fr. Roque Ferriols via the letters that Fr. Ferriols sent to Dr. Garcia.Dr. Garcia was shaped by Fr. Ferriols, who corresponded with him regularly, sharing insights or simply telling him the events of the day.Dr. Garcia also traced where in the letters the idea of “meron”, a word that carries very special meaning to Fr. Ferriols’ students and anyone who has taken up Philosophy in the Ateneo.The talk was held last August 24, at 4:30 PM at the Natividad Galang Fajardo room of De la Costa Hall.
The talk was, much like Fr. Ferriols himself, simple yet moving.There were no powerpoint presentations, no visual razzle-dazzle.Instead, Dr. Garcia brought with him copies of the letters from Fr. Ferriols which he kept, perhaps with a mind at publishing them some day.The LCD screen simply projected a scanned copy of the poster for the talk, which showed Fr. Ferriols both as a young man and as he looks today.It was a fitting frame as Dr. Garcia read letters of Fr. Ferriols sharing stories and insights to Dr. Garcia who considers Fr. Ferriols as his mentor and close friend.
The content of the letters themselves were surprising as they were written in beautiful, lyrical English, a language that one rarely hears alongside Fr. Ferriols’ name.The letters covered almost 20 years of correspondence and covered everything from simple anecdotes on the day-to-day happenings as Fr. Ferriols acted as a substitute in parishes in Mindanao, to philosophical meditations.These meditations were cited by Dr. Garcia for the traces of what would eventually become the now legendary idea enigmatically called “meron”.Aside from the beautiful descriptions and turn of phrase exhibited by Fr. Ferriols, who was awarded for his writing in his youth, Dr. Garcia revealed Fr. Ferriols to be a very sensitive and observant individual.
Another intriguing revelation about Fr. Ferriols was his love of G.K. Chesterton, an author who was often quoted in the letters.The quotes were often witty and clever, revealing a side of the philosopher most do not know: his sense of humor.In encouraging Dr. Garcia to finish his graduate studies, Fr. Ferriols quotes Chesterton in saying, “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” He also says of dissertations that, “Not finishing the dissertation (or thesis, as Dr. Garcia adds) is taking it too seriously.”
Dr. Garcia asked the audience at one point on whether the letters should be published, something that was enthusiastically received by the audience. It was everone's opinion that the letters see publication, if only to remind people that behind the rolled jeans and passionate lectures is a funny, sensitive, and brilliant philosopher who will remain in the minds and hearts of Ateneans for generations to come.