Notes from Doc Hornedo’s class

There a three main islands in Batanes, Batan (where Basco town is located), Sabtang and Itbayat. Dr. Hornedo was born in Sabtang. He was a devout man. The last time I saw him was about a month or so at the Santo Domingo church in Quezon city. As usual he attended the evening mass alone.

Upon learning of his passing, I really felt sad – which was quite unusual for me. That sadness helped me realize how much Sir Hornedo shaped the way I live my life now. So I looked up my notebooks and handouts, several years old already, to re-live Doc Hornedo’s insights and to share them with you. These insights were written during class, many were written in a hurry, since Dr. Hornedo rarely writes on the board. Some I supplied with a little explanation.


                “Words are meaningful only when experienced.”

“ Words become necessary only later on in explaining an encountered experience.”

“Why Philippine education is so poor: we can read and write but not comprehend; our way in the Philippines is more verbal not experimental (experiential encounter); in the Philippines truths are artifacts.”

“In the Philippines the parts of the microscope are memorized but very few know how to use it.”

“Proof of mastery is the quality of the work.”

“Symbols are easy to steal and to transfer.”

“The primacy of perception is necessary.”

“People’s minds are shaped by their experience. For example people who live near the sea have a rich vocabulary for things around the sea and in the sea itself. The same way for those who live in the mountains.”

“In Noli and Fili there is not a single Model Filipino.” He wonders whether we can really derive our Filipino identity on these two novels.

“A lot of bad things in the Philippines are brought by bad education.”

“Training should begin and end in research.”

“Sometimes people who have higher learning make this a license to disrespect other people.”

“A librarian should be an intellectual, first class.”

He was proud of the Ad Veritatem  journal, he told the class that Harvard subscribes to it.

               “The mother of universities is the Catholic Church.”

“Education happens in the person of the student.”

“In the guise of good intention we send people out of school.”

“Sometimes the teacher is the best experience.”

“Education is the goal and the means.”

“Learn a few things, one essay is good. But have a good depth of it. And learn a lot.” Obviously fragments I put together, but I hope the message gets across.

                “Publication, must be excellent.”



                “The love of God urges us to preach.”

“Why people don’t find God? It is because we look for a god that we have made in our head. St. Augustine says, “if you understand it, it is not God.” The thing is we have an idea in our head which corresponds to something we have not seen. ”

  Our catechism says Hornedo should be concrete. “Now being concrete means going ‘down.’ Our catechism starts in our community. If we don’t practice kindness here, how can we give it to other people? This is the same with other virtues.”

“St. Dominic wanted to train the hearts. We are more of Thomasians than Dominicans.” He said this on the account that St. Dominic’s followers often outshine him, like St. Thomas Aquinas.  

“Fear of God: it is the fear that you might hurt the one you love.”

“They think that the Church is an abstract body of Christ. But to Catholics it is solid. Real. We have to be one with Peter in order to be one.”

Hornedo quotes Newman, “To read history is to become Catholic.”

“Deepen the heart, heighten the mind.”

Hornedo mentioned in passing that he was doing a personal research on Shakespeare as an ‘underground’ Catholic for, “…at that time Catholics were still being persecuted.”

“All universities were Catholic universities, until Henry VIII….”

There are still many things to write about. But I hope you get to know why I admire Doc Hornedo based on these few insights I’m able to write down. He changed the way I read newspapers and Philippine history; also the way I appreciate Catholic fiestas. I was a bit of an anti-cleric and anti-friar in my younger days, but then I realized that these sentiments were but fed into our young minds with no conceptual apparatus to question them. Learning and devoting some hours to study, (reading both East and West literatures) put my biases in perspective.

Many years ago Doc Hornedo told us to finish the Great Books series with Mortimer Adler as Assoc. Ed. May higit isang dipa ang haba ng mga libro kapag pinagdugsong mo. Then he told us in a half-serious tone, only after reading those books that you are able to ‘really’ read other books. Haven’t seriously started yet, but I’ll try. Many thanks Doc Hornedo.


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