Tributes to Dr. del Carmen from Silliman University

Tributes to Dr. del Carmen from Silliman University

By: Betty Cernol-McCann, Angel Alcala & Ben Malayang

Silliman University held necrological services for Dr. Rolando Villanueva del Carmen, outstanding Silliman alumnus, former faculty member, and benefactor, on November 19. The afternoon worship and memorial services at the Silliman Church were timed for Dr. del Carmen’s interment in Austin, Texas. The worship service was led by Silliman University Pastor Rev. Noriel Capulong. Silliman students, faculty, staff, and administrators as well as some relatives of Dr. del Carmen gathered to pray for and honor a Sillimanian who inspired and  transformed the lives of many people in the Philippines and the USA. Leaders of the Silliman community present at the rites paid tribute to the man and his deeds, thus:


Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann President

Thank you for coming to this afternoon’s necrological service for Dr. Rolando Villanueva del Carmen.  We are all saddened by his passing and this afternoon let us find comfort in each other’s company. Together, let us remember him and how he touched the lives of so many people and how he made a difference in our world.  Let us remember his gifts to Silliman, which are his way to effectively translate his achievements into an opportunity to give back to his beloved alma mater.

Yet let not the story of Rolando del Carmen end there. Those who knew the man – those who walked Silliman’s halls with him – all agreed that he was unforgettable as a person. They remember his innate graciousness and sincere desire to help others, no matter what his station was: working student, college secretary, dean of men, or faculty member. They remember his modesty despite his brilliant achievements beyond Silliman. They remember him as one you looked up to without being intimidated.

As we join his family, now in mourning on the other side of the world – and some are here with us this afternoon – let  me share with you a promise I made to them. I assured his family that the legacy of Dr. Rolando del Carmen would be remembered in Silliman. Every beneficiary of his assistance will hear from us the amazing story of his kindness and generosity. We will ensure that the Rolando Villanueva del Carmen Honors Hall and his other gifts will inspire Silliman students to study hard and to use their education to be of service to others, as he did.

This afternoon, let us celebrate his life and his deeds. Let us thank God for the life of Dr. Rolando Villanueva del Carmen, truly a man who embodied the Via, Veritas, Via. 

Tribute to a Dear Friend and Academic Colleague
Dr. Angel C. AlcalaVice Chair, Board of Trustees and Professor Emeritus

It is my distinct pleasure to present this tribute before the Silliman University community in celebration and loving memory of the life and works of Dr. Rolando Villanueva del Carmen, an Outstanding Sillimanian Awardee and law scholar.  Dr. del Carmen and I have known each other as academic colleagues in Silliman for a very long time – since the early 1950s.  In fact, he and I belong to the same generation referred to nowadays as senior citizens.

Most of you may have read the brief biography of Dr. del Carmen written by Atty. Mikhail Lee Maxino, Director of the Dr. Jovito R. Salonga Center for Law and Development and published in the Dumaguete newspaper Metropost, November 4-10 issue.  This biographical account contained the details of his life, his family, his academic studies in Silliman University and in the three universities in the USA where he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in law specializing in criminal justice. It also told of his research and publications and his service as professor and mentor of law students in Sam Houston State University, his several awards of distinction as a professor and specialist in criminal justice, his lectures in many states in the USA, and his memberships in several international law organizations. What stands out in these professional activities is that he was well loved by law students and was a well-respected lecturer in criminal justice.

Dr. Rolando del Carmen and Mrs. del Carmen visited Silliman almost every year during the Founders Week Celebrations in August, I think, since 2006. He always conferred with the Silliman President, especially Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, and several university officials including Atty. Mikhail Lee Maxino and myself.  An Outstanding Sillimanian, he loved Silliman, and I think that he was interested in looking for excellent programs of the University every time he was on the campus.  The result was that he was able to identify programs that he could help support with the royalties of his famous book on criminal justice, the  expertise that he developed while on the faculty of Sam Houston State University. I was told that this book is the best book on criminal justice, that it was adopted as a textbook by many institutions in the USA. It was in demand so that it underwent several editions. This shows that Dr. del Carmen was a very careful and highly accomplished author. I know that only a few textbook authors succeed in having several editions of their works, and Dr. del Carmen was an exception.  Aside from this book, he wrote articles published in journals and advised many law students in their research and in the writing of papers for publication. All these taken together indicate that he was highly regarded as a top author on criminal justice. These accomplishments make him a truly outstanding Sillimanian.

The royalties from this book are the source of funding for student scholarships at Silliman, the establishment and construction of the Rolando V. del Carmen Honor Hall for bright students coming to Silliman, the various scholarship grants to Law and Business students at Silliman, the grants to the Salonga Center for Law and  Development, and the grants to SUAKCREM research, advocacy, community participation in resource conservation, publication of research results, and scholarships for marine biology students.  Dr. del Carmen recognized and appreciated the excellent track record of SUAKCREM in its research and advocacy programs that provided measurable benefits to students, the local communities and the Filipino people in general.

Regarding the substantial SUAKCREM grants, these are deposited in Silliman and are strictly for the use of bright but poor students who need financial help for their undergraduate and graduate studies. At present, two master’s students are graduating this school year and two undergraduates are beginning their first- year college courses under these grants.  I think Dr. del Carmen, in giving these grants, was reminded of the hard times when he had to work under Dr. Robert B. Silliman in order to finish his AB and Ll.B. degrees.  He must have made the decision to help students so they need not suffer from lack of adequate finances.  We cannot thank him enough for his generosity. And we thank God for giving us Dr. Rolando V. del Carmen.

I would like to state that all this financial help from Dr. del Carmen was the result of his own observations and what he learned from others on the campus, and none of the offices that received these major grants submitted applications to him. On the contrary, he offered these grants because of his love for Silliman, his alma mater. We are grateful to him for his big mind, big heart, and big spirit, for his recognition of the excellence of some Silliman academic programs, and for being very generous and thoughtful to Silliman.

In the future, we will be reporting the results of our program to his daughter Jocelyn del Carmen Tanabe who lives in Menlo Park, California and also to his second wife Erlyn.  Erlyn accompanied him in his last visit to Silliman in August 2018. They returned to the USA in early September 2018.

Remembering Dr. Rolando V. del Carmen
Dr. Ben S. Malayang III |Immediate Past President and Professor Emeritus

This is how I remember — and will be remembering — Dr. del Carmen:

He lived a life that spoke in the enduring dialect of Silliman. It is a common language among many Sillimanians where certain things mean something in particular, and are spoken with a unique syntax.

  • It’s a language that speaks of justice as a mesmerizing beauty, and injustice as deserving of outrage and to be always challenged and opposed. Dr. del Carmen lived justice all his life.
  • It’s a language that sees excellence as bottom line and mediocrity as repulsive. Dr. del Carmen breathed excellence.
  • It’s a language where integrity is a sacred vow and corruptibility is abhorrent. Dr. del Carmen was uncompromising on integrity.
  • It’s a language that speaks of decency as having scruples, and being unscrupulous as absolutely disdainful. No way was Dr. del Carmen otherwise but meticulously scrupulous.
  • This language speaks of being authentic as like showing the face of God, and pretension in all its forms as repugnant and therefore always to be rejected. This was why Dr. del Carmen was a beautiful person.
  • In the dialect of many in Silliman, serving, sharing, giving, and inspiring others are hallmarks of Christian civitas. Hoarding one’s blessings is a repudiation of the very concept of blessing itself. Serving, sharing, giving, and inspiring were how Dr. del Carmen worshipped God.
  • In the language of Silliman, family is the universe of one’s life, and community and friends are its bright stars. They are blessings; they reveal God’s presence in our world. This was a daily homily in Dr. del Carmen’s life.

Dr. del Carmen lived, breathed, and conducted himself in the common language of many in Silliman, a language that speaks of the ideals of Silliman University. Dr. del Carmen lived justice, breathed integrity and decency, never paused from serving others, sharing with others, giving to others, and inspiring many. He was zealously loyal to his family and friends.

One could readily see the ideals that Silliman holds dear in how Dr. Rolando Villanueva del Carmen dearly lived his life.

He was the quintessential Sillimanian. And in mind, body, and soul, was truly a child of God.