Assoc. Prof. Rolando V. Mascuñana
“Catch up. Do your best to catch up!”
This statement would always ring a bell to wayward students who have been under Prof. Rolando V. Mascuñana. One thing unique about this teacher is his considerate and kind heart, especially to those whose grades hang by a thread in his Sociology class.
As a sociologist and anthropologist, Rolly, as he is more popularly known to his colleagues, knows how to study people’s behavior. In class, he can distinguish when one, who is about to flunk, is sincere and deserving of a second chance. While he has his own way of dealing with inadequacies of students, he is more often than not understanding. And this characteristic of Rolly is what most of the students who had been under him could recall about him.
A self-confessed student activist even before the Martial Law years, Rolly considers his experience in college as no different from that of an ordinary student. He enjoyed his college years with his involvement in a fraternity.
But the path through college was not that clear to him yet. He was undecided on which course he genuinely wanted to specialize in. He was fond of painting and had thought of architecture, but neither was being offered in Silliman at that time. Then came an opportunity for him to experience immersion in a community in Mabinay with the Negritos. His stay with the indigenous peoples for the entire summer triggered his curiosity of a course that would allow him to know people deeper. That summer was a turning point in his life; that was when he realized his passion for dealing with people, especially the indigenous peoples who play a great role in shaping our national identity yet comprise minority.
Coupled with the inspiration from his professors, he chose to focus on Sociology and Anthropology as his course.
Right after graduation, he was encouraged by the late Prof. Timoteo S. Oracion to take up a master’s degree. He heeded the advice but did not finish graduate school. Instead, he opted to work away from Dumaguete to try his luck in the “City in Bloom,” Davao.
But fate would bring him back to Silliman. After a year of teaching at the Ateneo de Davao University, he returned to Dumaguete and joined Silliman, albeit hesitant at the start. Over time, however, he developed a stronger affinity to his profession — and eventually completed his master's degree in Silliman. His involvements grew. He joined Dr. Donn Hart, an expert in the field of sociology and anthropology, in a national summer field school which was held in Siaton, in Barrio Caticugan, a hinterland community. Along with this, he became active in researches of several visiting professors from abroad
Since 1974, Rolly has not grown tired of exposing the realities of the society outside the campus to his students. Repeatedly, he would ask his students: “What is your place as students in the kind of society that we have?” And though answers vary from apathetic to self-less, he creates an environment of openness that facilitates self-introspection and collective learning.
After over 30 years of teaching, when asked of his purpose in life, he says: “Teaching is my mission. I’ve been teaching for the past decades. There was a time I quitted teaching when I worked in a government agency but after that, I went back to teaching.”
Rolly was referring to the time when he worked at the National Grains Authority as a press relations officer when it was organized. But he realized that government was not for him; he decided to return to teaching.
“Teaching is more challenging than working in any job,” he shares, considering it a vocation. And through his profession, he has been able to travel to different parts of the country, gather significant data, package and pass on knowledge to his students and fellow professionals, and publish and read several researches and journal entries.
Looking forward to his retirement a few years from now, Rolly claims no single regret in his life.
Silliman seems more than memorable for him because this is where he met his wife, Dr. Evelyn Fuentes-Mascuñana, the current Chairperson of the English and Literature Department, with whom he has two children: Mark Lucas and Julienne Pearl.
As a family man, Rolly openly communicates with his children. He was stricter when they were younger, but has given them more space and freedom now to explore their lives, now that they have already grown in age and mind.
At the end of each day, he considers the presence of his family as the main reason why he should feel happy, comfortable and contented with his life, despite the rush of work in the academe.
Let's get to know Rolly more.
Describe yourself in three words.
Orderly. Output-oriented. Understanding.
What is your mantra in life?
“As long as it is workable.”
What makes you laugh/cry?
I cry when I remember my parents and loved ones who have passed away. I laugh at funny experiences being shared by work colleagues, friends and other family members.
What’s your favorite time/day of the week and why?
I choose weekends for it would be the time I would watch movies and relax. It’s the time I am not pressured.
What do you love doing when not working?
Watering plants and bathing my dogs
What is your favorite hangout place in the University?
What makes you blush?
If you were an actor/actress, who would you be?
Harrison Ford. I see myself in his character as an anthropologist and being an adventurous as shown in the movie, Indiana Jones.
Tell us a fact about yourself?
I am a private person.
What’s your favorite game growing up?
“Takyan.” “Oko-oko.” “Syatong.” Bulan-bulan.”
What is your idea of a relaxing day?
Sitting on a rocking chair; reading newspapers; playing the crossword puzzle.
What one thing would people be interested to know about you?
I am considerate and approachable if students show sincerity and if they work hard to earn a grade.
What song best describes the YOU and the life you have now?
“Hey Jude” by The Beatles.
What is the first thing you do right after waking up in the morning?
Sit on the bed and drink warm water.
What’s your idea of a family?
Composed of a father, a mother and children, and where the importance of love, respect and communication dwells.
(NOTE: “Colleague of the Week'” serves as a window into the life of the faculty and staff members of Silliman University. It seeks to showcase colleagues from different departments and units, and present them as “the” faces that form part of the foundation of Silliman. Featured weekly are faculty and staff who have committed themselves to providing members of the Silliman community a campus experience that cultivates competence, character and faith within one and all. We get to know them as people who like any of us also have their fair share of challenges, successes, and an inspiring story to tell. Not all of them may be popular, but not a single one of them lives a life without hope and meaning to share.)