Asst. Prof. Hermiesela B. Duran
Call her Gaia, benevolent goddess of the earth and bearer of the Titans and all of creation. Or maybe mother of unconditional love, perhaps fountain of perpetual favor, even angel of mercy. Call her what you want, dispute if you will, but it won’t change the fact that Silliman college students dub Asst. Prof. Hermiesela B. Duran the kindest teacher at the English department. Her friends and colleagues simply call her Hermie.
Hermie started out as an English teacher at Silliman High in 1992, learning the ropes and cutting her teeth drilling doe-eyed freshies on the basics and vagaries of English grammar and usage. Three years later, she decided to level up and transferred to the Department of English and Literature, where she handles Basic Communication courses (BC 1, BC 11, BC 12 & BC 25), including English Orientation for incoming foreign students. In addition, she also teaches Technical Writing (BC 26) to Engineering and IT students along with Ms. Rebecca de la Torre.
As a student, Hermie preferred, and was content, to just blend in and not stand out. Although she graduated as valedictorian of her high school class back in her hometown in Dauin, she kept a low profile in Silliman. The closest she got to being in the spotlight was becoming a member of the College of Education Student Organization. To this day, she still retains the same affinity for obscurity, the same tendency to go low-key, but that hasn’t stopped students from knowing her as a top-of-the-list prospective teacher. Come enrollment time, the line of late enrollees raring to beg English teachers for accommodation in their classes is longest at Hermie’s.
Though she tends to disappear into the ether when mingling with others, still Hermie caught the eye of the then SNAAF screeners. On the fifth of February 2002, she was one of the SNAAF Faculty Incentive Awardees who were commended for their “outstanding teaching Christian service beyond the call of duty,” a recognition which carried a cash incentive. She also got a FADECO scholarship grant when she was doing her MA in TESOL, which she finished in 2011. Her thesis delved into the “Correlation of the English language proficiency test results and Silliman University students’ achievement in Basic Communication 1 and 11.”
But her biggest catch was when she laid eyes on her future husband who was then manning the Control Section of the library while she was still in college. The rest, as they say, is fairy history. These days, when she is not reading her favorite home and lifestyle magazines, she spends her free time bonding with her husband and her two daughters. Otherwise, she passes time watching replays of Ellen Degeneres’ shows (and, before Kris Aquino came into the picture, Boy Abunda’s “The Buzz”). Her favorite family moment is when they go to the beach after church on a lazy Sunday.
To her colleagues, Hermie is a welcome respite from the hectic bustle of a normal teaching day. They find comfort in her unflappable composure, inspiration in her natural motherly demeanor that even the antics of the naughtiest of students could never seem to shake. Even on the worst of days, even when everyone else is on the verge of losing it and flying off the handle, she continues to move in her un-harried ways. And even when she is calling the bluff of ‘clever’ students, even if she’s already had enough, she still speaks as though she’s merely admonishing an errant toddler, never mind if she’s making it clear that she means what she says. For this and for her all-around niceness, she is held dear in the hearts of those who have known her.
In many instances, our choices are held hostage by the caprice of a fickle universe. But when it comes to choosing an English teacher based on sheer likeability, for a lot of students the choice is quite clear – and theirs to make: no one else but Ma’am Hermie.
Describe yourself in three words.
Kind. Approachable. Understanding.
What is your mantra in life?
“Keep moving forward.”
What makes you laugh?
Rowan Atkinson’s antics.
What makes you cry?
What’s your favorite time of day?
What’s your favorite day of the week?
Sunday, because that's the time I spend with my family.
What do you love doing when not working?
Window shopping, sometimes with my daughter.
What is your favorite hangout in the University?
The library. I go there to read up on my favorite magazines.
What makes you blush?
When my hubby tells me I'm beautiful.
If you were an actress, who would you be?
Vilma Santos – she portrays complex roles convincingly.
Tell us a fact about yourself?
I'm one of the only two teachers at the English department who teach Technical Writing.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
Jackstone and Chinese garter.
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
One long holiday – doing whatever I please, by myself or with my family.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I used to be a member of the choir of our chapel.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
“Top of the World” by the Carpenters (also by the Japanese bubble gum grrl band Shonen Knife).
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
Cook breakfast for the family.
What’s your idea of a family?
A group of people united as one.