Saturday, May 25, 2024

On Seeing My Silliman Life Change

by Jean Aldemer Salgados | April 7, 2022

Dear me from two years ago, and to those who have yet to see this town again. This is for you.

Since the second semester began, I’ve started living in Dumaguete again. The liveliness of the city is hurt no thanks to the onslaught of the pandemic. Though I can still walk the streets along Cang’s Daro or up the road in Escaño, it’s different now. The shops that I used to visit are either gone or moved to a new place. Some others are still where they were when I left, same menu and same good quality, but with the absence of the people I went there with also comes the incompleteness of ambiance.

While some old things are gone, the new have come to take their place, eager to make themselves known. A new art gallery by the seawall, a new food court installed, extensions of the boulevard. I do not see the extension as a bright move from the city government. If they think this will springboard into the making of that vast reclamation area then they are wrong. Speaking of the boulevard, I do not go out the same way I go inside the port anymore. You are directed to exit out the other way — the main gate is for entry only.

As with my living experience, this is my first time living alone in a boarding house. It is by no means easy. It’s difficult on my mental focus and on my wallet. I’ve since begun writing part-time to support myself here, but no matter how much I try to be frugal, food always is a constant prick at my budget, aside from the rent, of course.

Food delivery has been a blessing to me. My claim to laziness is obvious here. The increased presence of food delivery services in Dumaguete is a reprieve for many who do not have the time to go out and buy food. A boon for many office workers and BPO agents, this rapid expansion will see their work uninterrupted with the thoughts of having to order in line. The minimum price is a headache for some, but I see it as compensation for our delivery people and their service.

Silliman is a shell of how I remembered it. Empty buildings, halls, streets, and gates. The entrance at North Road is inaccessible anymore. Perhaps this is to conserve the security resources that have also been cut. My only takeaway from this silence is, obviously, silence. I had been inside the University on four separate occasions since I arrived. In all four instances, I was able to take in the scenery in a way the pre-pandemic environment can only replicate on Sundays.

Finally, I missed my friends and my partner. To the few classmates and friends who are here, I’ve sought every opportunity to hang out with them. No amount of coin could ever measure up to seeing them again. They helped shape my Silliman life and I would like to see this life end with them by my side. It is only fitting that I honor my relationships with them further into the future.

My dear self, and to those who have yet to see this town again, your old life has changed, but in becoming so it has evolved into another reason to love it all over again.

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