From the Faculty and Staff Service Awardees

From the Faculty and Staff Service Awardees

By: Diomar C. Abrio and Semper Lumine Gaturian
| Assistant Professor, COPVA / Secretary, VPAA

You Made Me Who I Am Today – Thank You.
by Diomar C. Abrio
Dean, College of Visual and Performing Arts
Faculty Service Awardee
February 11, 2019


“There’s a difference between interest and commitment.  When you are interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient.  When you’re committed to do something, you accept no excuses, only results.” (Kenneth Blanchard)


President Betty McCann, Vice-president Earl Jude Cleope, all unit heads, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Thank you so much for this honor. I am truly humbled to be in the company of people who have inspired and built the person that I am now. My fellow awardees and I are thankful to all who are here and to those who have gone before us.  Who we are today are shaped by your brilliant ways of thinking; all of you and those before you have helped me and my co-awardees realize the potential of our professional service and responsibilities.  We have made a difference because of you.

From my end, I would like to express my special gratitude to my COVPA family, specially to Dr. Elizabeth Susan Dimaya Vista-Suarez for the endless opportunities she shared to make me grow and achieve capabilities to undertake challenges; to Ate Ely Tamayo for being such a caring sister; to Sir Joseph Basa for my widened capability to play band instruments; to culture icons like Priscilla Magdamo- Abraham who had been so generous in planting the seeds of excellence; to Lola Bobbie for the values of excellence that she imparted to us; to my batch mates in the Sigma Mu Lambda, Thildz Limbaga-Erojo and Merlyn Perol-Tabada and my small brothers Mark Ian Caballes and Nathaniel Bicoy.

(Special thanks also) to the Culture and Arts Council; I am fortunate to consider so many members as my dear friends. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the vice chairpersons –  Moses Atega, Dessa Quezada, Ian Casocot, Sir Leo Mamicpic, and Sonia Sygaco; to our very inspiring University Presidents – Dr. Angel Alcala, Dr. Agustin Pulido, Dr. Ben S. Malayang III, and now Dr. Betty Cernol-McCann –  together with their Vice Presidents and other administrators  who have supported us all the way. Their contributions have always been insightful and their attitude selfless. The honor of being our University President is well deserved by them.

It’s a privilege to share the awards platform today with my colleagues and friends in the University, whether it is in service, co-working in committees, or simply thinking about the future of our dear Silliman.

I salute all the teachers who are faithful to the Silliman mission even with salaries that are taking so much time to increase to be their own vital reward. The teachers’ diversity in points of view make them some of the greatest people I could ever wish to have as co-builders in Silliman’s teaching ministry.  Pakpak alang sa tanan!

Si Manong Janitor who is there to make our lives much easier; si Manang sa Cafeteria nga nagpakapin sa takos sa sud-an adtong studyante pa ta hangtod karon, si Dodong pedicab driver, si Nanay Labandera…. Silang tanan atong pasalamatan ug pakpakan kay makalipay gyud ang kinabuhi sa DumaGetme!

 I also want to thank my parents, my sister, and my brothers and their children. They inspire me every day and they keep me grounded on what truly matters.

There are times that I ask this question: Why am I still here, or what am I doing here?

I was born and raised on Negros Island and Silliman was a dream school for children in the farms and fishing villages like me. My late father was a sugarcane truck driver, and even with our humble home, he had big dreams for us.  Both my father and mother were very excited when I came back and decided to study in Silliman.  My parents and my Church family in the Iglesia Ni Cristo were happy and proud to see me enjoying my love for music and the passion to teach this gift to young Sillimanians and to the believers in our Church. Of course, given my performing artist nature, I also have an inborn love for singing and for exploring every artist’s potential in culture and arts, plus I have a very dynamic COVPA family with the tireless passion to be the best in the country.  Did you know that Silliman is actually the country’s pioneer in Choral Music Education?  We are here to sustain that excellent pioneering spirit.

There is much of the humble spirit in our incredible journey.  And we will not stop, as the Sillimananian never stops!  This award means more responsibilities to accept, to embrace change as it is unfolding with Ma’am Betty’s leadership, and to add cheers to respecting humanity within and beyond the portals of this campus by the sea!

I couldn’t thank less our God Almighty who has endlessly given us the strength and endurance in conveying our Christian service beyond the call of duty, at the same time upholding excellence in the performance of our teaching tasks.

To my family and friends, thank you for continuously inspiring me to develop myself.

Lastly, to my dear Silliman, rest assured that from this day onwards, you will see a more committed faculty that embodies your Christian virtue and places Jesus at the center of its service.

Again, thank you for this recognition. Thank YOU so much, DEAR LORD; I pray for your everlasting blessings for us all!



My Silliman Experience – My Everlasting Light
by Semper Lumine Gaturian
Secretary, Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs
Staff Service Awardee
February 11, 2019

(Response to SU Staff Service Awards)

It is with utmost gratitude and humility to receive this Service Award, and an honor to speak on behalf of my fellow equally deserving staff awardees.

Like any journey, working in Silliman is not always a walk in the park or a bed of roses. But neither is it all thorns, because one finds a rose from time to time and takes a breath of fresh air along the way. Working in the University is a service in itself. It is faith lived out, and somehow, a comfort zone. Silliman University is interesting because it is the home of the so- called Silliman Spirit that motivates and inspires not only the Silliman graduates and the retirees to look forward to coming back, but also the Silliman staff members to excel and make a difference wherever they are assigned. After all, staff members also are degree holders and professionals in their own field.

Allow me to make my response message on a personal level.

I first worked in Silliman after my graduation in 1980, as a contractual faculty member of the History and Political Science Department for two years. Unfortunately, the University was in a financial predicament in the early ‘80s, and thus, was on retrenchment. Since I was the last one in, I was also the first one out. I then found employment in other schools and in government in various capacities. And to make the long story short, I came back to SU in 1995, when then Extension Director Nichol Elman invited me to initially fill the post as secretary-documenter of the SU-Belgian AADC Reforestation Project. This was an extension project covering the mountain barangays of Candabong, Tanglad, and Lamogong – all in Manjuyod. Taking the offer meant resigning from my teaching post at the Negros Oriental High School (where Mr. Ernel Balinas of the HR Office and Engr. Stephen Ragpa were two of my brilliant students in Social Studies). The functions at the SUEP were not necessarily alien to me, but in some ways, the job wasn’t quite what I had been accustomed to as former Municipal Councilor of my hometown and as a Teacher by profession.

In 1998, before my project contract terminated, and when my daughter was still in the elementary grades, I was offered by then VPAA Dr. Maria Teresita Sinda to work in the Office of the VPAA as a staff member. To be honest, it was the very office that I didn’t long to work in because of what I had observed (kay namauli nalang ang uban, madugay pa mauli sila si Belen and Lorna kay daghan pang gipang-trabaho; daghang mga meetings ug mga minutes nga inug-transcribe kay naghandle man ug FADECO, Deans Conference, Academic Council, Curriculum Committee; daghang mga luha ang motulo while nagtubag sa telepono kabahin ug teaching load, tutorials, and RLE computation; serious-looking ang mga tawo sa sulod kay naay gi-disciplinary action; sigeng hisgot sa mga faculty scholars nga wala na nibalik to serve after completing the degree; daghang gipangtrouble-shoot, etc). Anyway, I accepted the job because Dr. Sinda wouldn’t take “No” for an answer. It included a different challenge, not to mention serving coffee, washing used cups and glasses, which were not in the job description. Pwede man dili buhaton, nonetheless Lorna and I did those voluntarily out of courtesy, graciousness, and love. Indeed, a very humbling experience, but one I took on with the same 100% drive, faithfulness, and gratitude to the Lord to be able to serve. For I believe that doing so does not make me a lesser person; instead, it makes me strong, as it is winning hearts and minds, as well as friends.

I have been in the Office of the VPAA for 20 years now and am privileged to have served five VPAAs. Each of them has evoked memories to me: Dr. Sinda– “We need to bite the bullet, Day (when she meant firmness in decision)”; Dr. Betty McCann – She always had the right words to say, and exuded Intelligence, poise, composure, and calmness, yet was clear and poignant in putting across what needs to be done; Dr. Everett Mendoza – Decisive, frank, pro-Labor. He always reminded Lorna and me that we can go and be off at exactly 5:00 P.M. because our respective families might be waiting for us at home. He would say, “Alas 5:00 na. Dili pa mo? Adto na ko”; Dr. Betsy Joy Tan – Consultative, organized, and motherly. She would unexpectedly serve coffee for Lorna, Ethel, and me when we became so engrossed in our tasks, saying, ”In times like this, you need a break”; and now, Dr. Earl Jude Cleope – the only VPAA who conferred Emeritus status without BOT action on Lorna Denoy as Memo Emeritus; on Ethel Villa as Dispatcher Emeritus; on Bernie Aranas as Accreditation Emeritus; and on me as Minutes Emeritus.

Although I am married, I raised my daughter alone. With God’s grace, she is now a senior nurse at the SU Medical Center. She could not have pursued her dreams, built a lovely family of her own, grown to be a doting daughter, and a strong Christian had it not been for the Silliman education she obtained as part of my benefits as a staff, not to mention the medical health care that benefited my late father, and now my frail mother. My gratitude extends to Silliman for the housing facility through which the University has provided shelter and safety for me and for my daughter since the night a thief ransacked our rented apartment outside Silliman. I am thankful to my colleague and kindhearted friend Lorna Denoy for giving way so I would be in her slot in the priority list for the housing facility. But of course, I paid my rent!

Indeed, In Silliman, we find friends for life, a family to turn to, a shoulder to cry on, and a reservoir of strength and inspiration. Perhaps, this is what keeps us going for 20 years. My 20-year journey in Silliman—as it was with my fellow awardees – is marked not only by our commitment to and love for Silliman but also by God’s continuing presence in our lives.

My experience of 20 years here remains to be that bright light that guides me through my life journey to the Way, the Truth, and the Life – an affirmation of my life purpose: to live up to my name Semper Lumine—Everlasting Light/always bright; to radiate and bring joy to others; to build good relations; to create an impact on the lives of those in Silliman and even those beyond the halls of Silliman, and to serve communities like Christ did. For it is in both our personal and professional capacities that we enable others to experience and embrace Christ. It does not matter if our everyday tasks and responsibilities are not enjoyable. Just ask yourself, “How can this task spark joy in God’s heart and in my own?” It does not matter whether one is a Faculty or a Staff Member.   The bottom line is, we are all employees of Silliman University, and must serve with utmost integrity, dedication, commitment, patience, kindness, respect, understanding, humility, and love. Therefore, if you are a Faculty Member, be the best Faculty Member; and if you are a Staff member, be the Best Staff Member in the world!

Finally, in the words of St. Paul to the Philippians: “Brothers and sisters, whatever is true…noble, right… pure… lovely… admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”   My dear colleagues, these could also be food for thought and a recipe for peace, joy, and harmony for all of us who serve and who love Silliman.

At this point, may I request my fellow Staff Awardees to stand to be recognized?

On behalf of my fellow Staff Awardees, I am extending my heartfelt gratitude to the Administration for the Service Award given to us.

May God bless us all, and Silliman University!