(A New Year's Message)

Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, President

Capping the year 2011 was a tragedy brought by Typhoon Sendong. It left thousands homeless and grieving. It was a tragedy that made the celebration of Christmas more difficult to a lot of us. It cast doubt over prospects of a better life ahead. But that same tragedy brought out something positive: It united us as one Filipino nation to help, and so brought simple smiles on the faces of thousands badly hit.

A lot can be said about Typhoon Sendong from both scientific and non-academic perspectives. But however it unfolded, whatever it brought about, we can still see the greatness of the Lord in the millions who unselfishly dedicated their lives to give hope for brighter times ahead to the families affected. It painted pictures of heroes in ordinary people in our midst. Pictures of people from different ages and socio-economic backgrounds joining hands, swimming against the floodwater to save lives, tirelessly trekking in knee-deep mud to deliver relief goods, shoveling out debris to put children back to school, and making caring for people whom you just met for the first time a family and community affair.

We have our own heroes in Silliman University. From our teachers, students, alumni, drivers, security guards, and friends in the community – even those who themselves had lost properties during the typhoon… everybody pitched in. It was the time when, indeed, Silliman education showed how it is a ministry. Our relief efforts, for which we are grateful to the many who supported (updates on the University website), saw deployment of our fire and rescue and Silliman Water teams to communities. And all throughout, the source of fulfillment among us has always been the simplest of smiles, of “salamat kaayo”, of handshakes and hugs, of children waving goodbye, of teary-eyed mothers receiving free medicines, and of people like you who never tire to remind us that we are all in this together.

With our unwavering faith in the Lord, 2012 can only be a better year for us. I wish that it will open more doors of opportunities for many of us to make our lives matter to those in need. Let this year bring more meaning to our existence as individuals, as a family, as a community, and as God’s people.