Rest in Peace Dr. Florentino Hornedo

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From: culturalcenter.gov.ph “Gawad CCP para sa Sining Awardees 2012”

I heard nothing but kind words from guards, fellow teachers, former students and school staffs about Dr. Hornedo. He was born on October 16, 1938 in Sabtang, Batanes. He died December 9, 2015 in Batanes. Not arriving on time for his flight back to Manila, his driver went up to his room, and there he was found lifeless. Dr. Hornedo was the first Ivatan I met.

He was already in his early 70s when he became our professor. The first course I had under him was a three hour class, which he finished off without a break, not to our consternation of course, but to our bewilderment. Afterwards he told us that if we’d allow him he could still go on for another three. He knew a lot of things: philosophy, Philippine history, Asia, art, painting, food, education, religion, gold, politics and bits of ‘people of high profile tsismis.‘ He was already an accomplished man, known in the Philippines and abroad, when he became our professor.

One time he brought a half-charred book in class. He said that it was one of the few surviving books he keeps after his house in Sampaloc was partially burned. Some such stories were all told in his low tone voice pleasurable to the ear. His voice was an effective medium that did not get in the way of regaling us with more stories about Batanes, the sea, St. Louis University, his student days when he survived on sardines and books, friendships made at UST that included one of our national artists, his work at the UNESCO, his teaching job at the Ateneo and his affection for the Dominican missionaries in Batanes – I am pretty sure he had other stories told to other students, these are the only things I was able to jot down in class.

Not many know this but he had a deep respect for the Dominicans. Coming from Batanes, a small cluster of islands and hardly accessible to many, he grew up with Spanish Dominican missionaries. When I went there several years ago, I learned that whenever his was in Basco he would stay at St. Dominic’s College, just beside the Sto. Domingo church. It was the school he was talking about where he helped put up a graduate course so his fellow Ivatans need not leave Batanes for further studies. As long as I can remember he started with one peso tuition fee. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it was something I really heard him say in class. One thing I am sure of, however, was that he pulled down the expenses so that poor students may be able to enroll. Besides he used his own resources too.

Given his fame and stature, he truly was a remarkable man for he never lost his patience with the undergrad students. We knew we asked a stupid question when he would give a story instead of an answer. He would tell the story in such a way the government gets the blame or some flaw in the philosophy of education at work in the Philippines is at fault, in order for him, I presume, to blurt out “stupid” at the end. But he would never blame the student. Running through his mind, probably, was that students are ‘below par’ because they did not receive the best education they can have.

He was a man who loved the Filipino people, Batanes, his Catholic faith, the Ivatans and spent his life to one of the most precious gifts he can give to his people – education. Until his death most of his finances went to his scholars.

Dr. Hornedo was a grandfather to us. Probably because we met him at his sterling age. On my part whenever I saw him attending Mass at the Santo Domingo church in Quezon City or bumped into him at the grad school, it was natural for me to make mano. And he would smile offering his hand. He really stops to say ‘kumusta.’

Like all good things in life, you want to share him with others. Lolo Hornedo, your love has saved you. You’re a good man “That’s why.”

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