Saturday, May 25, 2024

Only in Silliman

It is only fitting that Magnemites in Pokémon Go infest various areas in Silliman University. The campus has a homey feel—like shade under an acacia tree or the sea breeze of the Boulevard—which could easily grab hold and attract people like a magnet into venturing through its halls. The campus is an oasis to the deserted; a blanket covering the center of Dumaguete, stretching its fabric out to those cold outside, saying, “there is warmth here. Step in.” But it is not only the campus environment that makes Silliman special.

Prestigious events, beautiful architectural structures, and distinguished facilities—these are some of the things which play a vital role on why the campus is acclaimed as one of the best in the country. There are many, but here are some which have stood the test of time, and have garnered both historical and unique distinctions. These are what truly makes people smile and exclaim, “only in Silliman.”

Regarded as a historical landmark in Dumaguete City—plastered in many websites and posters advertising the city for tourism—is the ever-distinguished Silliman Hall. Built in 1903, the ceiling is made up of metal sheets imported from a theater at New York City, and the upper floors are made of wood from the United States West Coast. It is also interesting to note that in Silliman founder Dr. David Hibbard’s book, he accounted that a classroom, intern dormitory, study room, dining room, church, and quarters for teachers made up that one building at the time.

In terms of architecture, Silliman has a facility which is regarded as one of the most beautifully built outside Manila. Partly serving as a hangout spot for students, the Claire Isabel McGill-Luce Auditorium is the university’s pot of culture. Designed by architect Augusto Ang Barcelona, the auditorium is made to resemble a hull of a ship, and is located at the center of the campus.

Celebrating its 70th anniversary this year, the Miss Silliman pageant is the oldest running of its kind in Asia—even older than Miss Philippines and Miss Universe! Through the years, it has been pristine and regale in spirit. However, it wasn’t always as grand and glamorous in presentation as it is in the Lamberto Macias Sports Complex in the present day. Back in 1946, the pageant was held at the Amphitheater, and it was not, per se, a “pageant.” Rather, it was a popularity contest among the students at the time, with the candidate having the highest number of votes crowned the winner. Grabbing the title of Miss Silliman in its first unveiling was Patria Obsequio, a student from the College of Education. Fast forward to 2016, and we are only a few days away from finding out who the Miss Silliman Sapphire crown will belong to, continuing the legacy of the oldest campus pageant in Asia.

For those entwined in an affair with literature, the Silliman University National Writers Workshop is there to adorn your bedroom with candles and rose petals. Founded 55 years ago by Sillimanian writer and National Artist for Literature, Dr. Edith L. Tiempo, and her husband, the late Dr. Edilberto K. Tiempo, the National Writers Workshop is the oldest running creative writing program in Asia, and the only one in the country lasting for three weeks. An annual event held at the Mary Rose Lamb Sobrepeña Writers Village in Valencia, Negros Oriental every May, it touches the genres of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and drama, and has written into the pages of Philippine literature writers from around the country. The workshop is the perfect retreat for writers—three weeks of peace, amidst the mossy cloak of nature, and away from the beeps and bloops of a loud and dynamic city—and has contributed greatly as to why Silliman is viewed as the creative and literary hub in the nation.

It is only fitting that Magnemites infest various areas of Silliman University. The campus has the ability to captivate, to grasp people’s attention, and to pull them in like a magnet. Our campus truly is a spectacle to behold, both in vibe and history, and for good reason. Let us take a moment to process the soil upon which we walk, the shade of the trees which we rest under. Let us take a moment to breathe in the beauty flowing with the breeze. Let us all realize the small ripples we make in such a colossal and unique campus by the sea.


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