Today, Roque Ferriols, SJ, father of Philosophy in Filipino, celebrates his 81st birthday. With great warmth, I thank Fr. Roque in a special way for being a mentor and companion on this journey of wonder and insight. It was he who first initiated me to the intellectual rigor that philosophy demanded, back when I was an undergrad in college.
At our simple birthday lunch at the Philosophy Department, Dr. Leovino Garcia, dean of the School of Humanities, recounted a story that took place around 40 years ago. Doc Leo was graduating from college then. As a gift, Fr. Roque and his companions arranged for Doc Leo's parents to be present for the commencement exercises. Doc Leo's parents came from Northern Luzon. But it was not just this kindness that was etched in Doc Leo's memory. Back then, people who traveled often had to take the bus. There was no such thing as reservations for tickets or air-conditioning in the buses. If you wanted to take the bus to go to the province, you went to the bus terminal and tried your luck. As soon as a bus was available, all those wanted to ride on it had to literally rush in and elbow their way to available seats. Such were the conditions that Frs. Roque Ferriols and Joe Cruz found themselves in as they tried to assist Doc Leo's parents on the return trip home. The two priests ran alongside a bus that was coming into the terminal to make sure they would be among the first to get seats. Quite a tall order, it seems.
Doc Leo adds how Fr. Roque, apart from trying to run as fast as the moving bus, also managed to jump in through the window head first. After getting seats, the Jesuit tandem were seen on the roof of the bus, securing boxes and baggages for Doc Leo's parents. They were both wearing their white soutanes, unconcerned that these may be soiled by what they were doing. An image worth remembering! What Jesuits these were, utterly without hesitation to be of service! Such cura personalis!
After his little story and with the rapt attention of those around, Doc Leo turns to Fr. Roque and asks, "Do you remember, Father?" His response: "In a way." We all laughed so hard. So did Fr. Roque.