Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Capturing Nature, Conserving History

By Kristia Nina Daymiel and Ma. Dominique Gerochi | The Sillimanian Magazine

Silliman University (SU) sits along the road of Hibbard Avenue, Dumaguete City. On weekdays, amid the bustling sound of vehicles and townsfolk battling the city fuss, SU encapsulates a sense of serenity within—luscious green grass, vintage finishes, cold breeze, and faunas greeting passersby. A picturesque reminder of its rich history and reverence for environmental sustainability.

Upon entering the Katipunan gate, the reputable Acacia trees create a canopy—sun rays through the foliage of hundred year old trees. Dotted over the campus, these are the centerpieces of Silliman’s flora. 

Behind the halls

More than a scenic view, SU envelopes a rich history alike. Behind its colonial american architecture, are stories of how the institution functioned and partook in the conquests of World War II. 

Before becoming the university we know today, SU once stood as a garrison for many Japanese forces. 

Since 1901, SU has cultivated an academic reputation that puts itself today on a pedestal of scholastic competence among other educational institutions in the Philippines. And as it ages alongside newfangled technologies, devices, and modern equipment that help advance its excellence, SU keeps its campus young alike. 

Through retaining infrastructures whose cornerstone withstood the exchanging of bullets during the Japanese invasion, the campus by the sea’s chronicle remains alive till this day and so. Among the buildings retained are Channon Hall, Silliman Hall, and Guy Hall. 

As such, the acacia tree standing at the heart of the Ravello Ballfield—which made itself a name after its perfectly symmetrical shape—is also part of SU’s collective memoirs. Today, this tiling from SU’s notable sojourn isn’t alone a souvenir of the past. More than a hallmark of education, this makes SU likewise a heritage we all honor. 

A home for many

A playground for children and a hiding place for many couples. This is how Abe Cadeliña, SU resident and current head of the university’s Student Organizations and Activities Division (SOAD), put his vision into words when asked about how he would describe the campus back in his days and now. 

Looking back at how the school’s premise was draped in a greener tapestry of plants before, Cadeliña hopes for SU to still have “as many greens as we possibly can”. He clarifies, however, that the declining numbers of greens sprawled on campus is a “welcomed change” considering the vitality of these academic buildings having to be built all over the therein. 

Four decades of living on campus had Abe seen the rows of Ipil-ipil trees become an art gallery and how the rows of gumamelas turned into classrooms. 

Alongside the floras, SU is also home to many animals serenading the steps of passersby. Declared as a wildlife sanctuary in 2019, the campus has grown to become a shelter to cats, dogs, birds, and frogs, with theSilliman’s Center for Tropical (CENTROP) Conservation Studies as home to a various of endangered species like the Negros Bleeding Heart Pigeon. 

In 2023, CENTROP had 77 individuals of the Philippine Spotted Deer in its sanctuary. Likewise, if one looks up at the gutters of the Silliman library, one must find a flock of bats greeting from above. Brace yourself, however, for their striking smell! 

With more than 300 acacia trees, an array of animalia, and rich history, SU is indeed more than a hallmark of education. It is a heritage that weaves stories of competence, character, and faith—strengths gearing Silliamanians to conquer life beyond portals. 

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