The Silliman Spirit and the Culture of Giving and Gratitude

The Silliman Spirit and the Culture of Giving and Gratitude

By: Ruben N. Bokingo
| Director, Alumni Affairs

It is with great honor to celebrate Founders Day of our alma mater here in Lucerne.

It is just amazing to see all of you keeping the Silliman Spirit alive. It simply blows my mind to travel half way around the world to be with familiar faces from Silliman University. “Ang akong pangutana karon, kanus-a manmo mo-pauli?”

Regardless of your primary roots, Sillimanians invariably know what home means, and that is, Dumaguete, back in Silliman. Being a Sillimanian, one has learned to love Dumaguete, like the place is second skin. Today our beloved University is home to more than 10,000 students from basic to tertiary education with around 300 international students coming from 53 countries. For over a century now, it has upheld competence, character, and faith, which etches among all its graduates.

Sillimanians of all ages, wherever in the world, share the same spirit, of the via, veritas, vita, and this is what keeps us Sillimanians together, no matter what. As I witness here today, or shall I say experienced first-hand, the sense of kinship and instant connection that you feel when you meet perfect strangers, somewhere on the other side of the world, and you find out they are Sillimanians too. The Silliman Spirit, surpasses both time and place. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you feel like you’ve known each other for so long. It brings warmth and an unknown feeling of belongingness, and I’ve experienced this a lot of times, and I know you have too. Zara Dy, an alumna puts it, “Silliman becomes not just a school, it’s a life style.” A careful balance of culture, academic excellence – and decadence par excellence.

Let me share with you an amazing story of how the Silliman Spirit united Sillimanians in war torn Jolo, Southern Philippines. Many years back, Mong Atega a former Alumni Director, visited Jolo to meet with fellow Sillimanians. It was late in the afternoon when Atega and his small group chanced upon a house which they knew belong to a Sillimanian. Considering the peace and order at that time, the house was closed and seemed no one was there. Calling out “maayo” which seemed forever, resulted in nothing. The house remained closed. Without the technology we have today, there was no way of communicating to that resident of that house. After futile attempts of calling out “maayo” Atega came with the idea to sing the Silliman song outside what seemed to be an abandoned home. As the group began to sing, “Where the white sands and the coral, kiss the dark blue southern seas…” As if by magic moved by the Silliman Spirit, the house slowly came alive with its resident’s inside. As the doors opened, they came out with tears in their eyes singing the same song, it was Dr. Estampador who embraced and welcomed the group into her home.

Today, Silliman has continuously changed to meet the demands of a particular time frame. The Silliman you knew may not be the Silliman that is today. It has changed and evolved, yet maintaining its rich heritage. Built on the foundation of God, this has lit the way for the Silliman Spirit to thrive. Silliman would not be what it is today without you.

Your contribution to what Silliman is today, started from one gift, from one man, in 1898. That man was Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman of New York. He started the culture of giving and gratitude which is well a part of the Silliman Spirit. The University continues to grow and develop the same culture of giving and gratitude.

That man has shaped our lives. Isn’t it time for us to shape the future of others? “Mo balik ko sa akoang pangutana, kanus-a man mo mopauli?”

Let us continue to spread the Silliman Spirit in this part of the world.