Silliman Turns 111

Silliman Turns 111

Thousands gather at the Silliman campus for the University’s 111th Founders Day, being celebrated on the theme “Empower Me – Spirit of the Living God”.

The Silliman Founders Day has become among Dumaguete City’s major events every year. It contributes significantly to the City’s tourism industry, generating business for hotels, restaurants and commercial establishments.

Silliman is the Philippines' oldest American university, established as Silliman Institute on August 28, 1901. It was named after Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, a philanthropist of Cohoes, New York, who donated the initial amount of $10,000 to establish a school in the country. (Dr. Silliman, until his death, did not have the chance to see the University, nor was he able to step on Philippine soil.) The school was founded by American missionaries Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard and wife, Mrs. Laura Cooks Hibbard. It was in 1938 when Silliman was granted University Status.

From an initial student population of 15 boys, the University is currently home to over 9,000 students and around 800 faculty and staff, representing over ten religious affiliations. Over 300 of its students are foreigners from 35 countries.

This year’s Founders Day celebration lines up 262 recorded activities scattered throughout the month of August and happening around the 62-hectare campus. These are activities that both Sillimanians and members of the larger community of Dumaguete are taking part in.  

Every year, the University registers a steady increase in the number of alumni and guests joining the Founders Day. There is a growing number of alumni groups coming from different batches organizing reunions and reliving their memories of campus life. This practice of fellowship, which extends beyond the Philippines, keeps aflame the contagious Silliman Spirit – an atmosphere of personal closeness, warmth, friendship and concern that one Sillimanian naturally has for another.

Activities have been set as early as July 15 to celebrate the Founders Day. It started with two sports events: the fun run of the Silliman University Law Alumni Association and the College of Law, and the launching of the 111th Silliman Relay organized by the Metro Dumaguete Roadrunners Club and the Dumaguete Amateur Runners and Striders.

Cultural events opened the month of August with the Eddie Romero Film Series on August 2, and the “One String” concert of Kwerdas and Maestra Michael Dadap on August 4 at the Luce Auditorium, revving up the golden anniversary celebration of the Cultural Affairs Committee. (National Artist for Film Eddie Romero is a Sillimanian.)

Bacolod Silliman alumni association punched in as the first alumni chapter to hold its Founders Day fellowship on August 4. This was then followed by other alumni chapters in different parts of the country and those in Singapore, Thailand, Middle East, United Kingdom and the United States.

A formal opening worship service was conducted on August 19, coinciding with the 96th anniversary celebration of the Silliman University Church. Senior Pastor Rev. Jonathan R. Pia was the preacher.

Most of the activities fall on the last two weeks prior to August 28 – the birthday of Silliman. These include significant ceremonies that reinforce the continuing value of a Silliman education as well as the University’s gratitude to its alumni and friends.  Four of them are the unveiling of new names inscribed onto the Heritage Builders Wall, induction into the Order of Horace B. Silliman, dedication ceremony for the Col. Roman T. Yap Hall, and the soft opening of the William Barry Thompson Hall.

Much-awaited is the Parada Sillimaniana taking place in the afternoon of August 27. People border the streets of Dumaguete as Sillimanians across generations give a youthful display of talent and fun. On the same day, the University, through the Divinity School, hosts hundreds of pastors from around the country for the start of the three-day 50th Church Workers Convocation.

The Sunrise Service with Board of Trustees Chairperson Prof. Leonor M. Briones as speaker greets the break of dawn on the 111th birthday of Silliman on August 28. It is followed in the morning with the awarding of the highest institutional distinction given alumni: the Outstanding Sillimanian Award. To be honored at the Luce Auditorium are this year’s Outstanding Sillimanians: Dr. Maria Christina Roble-Esperat for Nursing Research and Administration, Atty. Kathleen G. Heceta for Government Service in Telecommunications, Dr. Enrico C. Sobong for Medicine, and Ambassador Antonio P. Villamor for Diplomacy.

In the evening of August 28, alumni gather at the East Quadrangle for the Tipon Dumaguete organized by the Silliman Alumni Association, Inc. and the Office of Alumni and External Affairs. This annual celebration hosts all reunioning classes from elementary, secondary and tertiary levels, and ends up with Sillimanians dancing the night away. A bi-annual version of Tipon is organized in the United States by the Silliman University Alumni Council of North America (SUACONA). (The Silliman alumni chapter in Alaska hosted the successful Tipon last year which also celebrated SUACONA's tenth year anniversary.) Deviating from its usual practice of holding it in the US, rotating hosting among the different SUACONA-affiliated alumni chapters, the grand Tipon in 2013 will be on the Silliman campus.

Capping the Founders Day celebration is the 50th anniversary of the Silliman University Community Cooperative, Inc., one of the country’s pioneering credit cooperatives.