Thursday, August 14, 2008

The 107th Founders Day Theme

The true test of the… ideal is whether we’re able to recognize our failings and then rise together to meet the challenges of our time. Whether we allow ourselves to be shaped by events and history, or whether we act to shape them. Whether chance of birth or circumstance decides life’s big winners and losers, or whether we build a community where, at the very least, everyone has a chance to work hard, get ahead, and reach their dreams.


Many of today’s speeches are inspired by the call of the new icon from America, presidentiable Barack Obama. In fact, when the initial meeting was called for Silliman’s 107th Founders Day theme, I reviewed some of the lines that he has uttered that truly made an impact. Hope on the possibility of a major societal change is rekindled with Obama’s “yes, we can!” call. Even the “In Christ, I Can!” theme of our University Christian Life Emphasis week is inspired by this call. And so were the discussions on this year’s Founders Day theme. With President Ben S. Malayang III’s final touch, the 2008 FD Committee headed by Prof. Carlos Plaridel M. Magtolis has chosen , “Silliman Education: Its Global Reach And Relevance” as theme of the 107th Founders Day.

It’s a theme that calls for a global direction. It is actually not something new to Silliman University for on its first year of operation as Silliman Institute in 1901, the classroom already had an international flavor. Aside from the Filipino students, the teachers were the American missionary Laura Cooks Hibbard and her husband David who was the Founding President. Later, there were two Chinese pupils from Jolo and a female classmate, Ethel Peed, from the home of an American local official. By 1910, a student from mainland China enrolled and two others from Bangkok in addition to students from the Chinese families of Cebu, Manila and Zamboanga. The Sultan of Jolo and all the other prominent families from Mindanao sent their sons here. Then, more American children joined as Dumaguete became a central Missionary station. There was no time in Silliman’s history when the international flavor was not present. Silliman University was and will always be an institution with global reach.

The school year 2008-2009 opened with 8,456 students enrolled, a slight increase in enrollment over last year’s figure and the result of more students enrolled in the Basic Education program this year. We have students from Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. The international population include students from Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Germany, Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Japan, Jordan, South Korea, Myanmar, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Singapore, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Tibet, the USA and Vietnam.

Our alumni have entered through the Gate of Opportunity and many of them went beyond the Gate of Service. And beyond, they have maintained “global reach and relevance.”

Our alumni are our best advertisement, not just for Silliman but also for Dumaguete. Wherever they have come from, all of them think of Dumaguete as home. We are all proud of the following alumni who have made a global impact: Silliman University’s Peace Resource Center founder Dr. Al Fuertes who is the recipient of the 2008 George Mason University Teaching Excellence Award; Vice President and Senior Agency Director of Manulife Philippines Bellaflor Ledesma de los Reyes who is recognized for her outstanding performance in the corporate field and who received a 2007 Star of Excellence award at a recognition Dinner in Toronto; Macarthur "Mac" F. Corsino who took his oath as Philippine Ambassador to Cuba on June 19; and 1989 Outstanding Sillimanian awardee in the field of Medicine Dr. Eusebio C. Kho, who received the 2007 PEACE Humanitarian of the Year award from the Philippine Economic and Cultural Endowment, based in Oklahoma City. Dr. Kho has traveled far and wide giving medical assistance to the depressed areas in El Salvador, Jordan, Kuwait and the Philippines.

We are also as proud of the 2008 Outstanding Sillimanian awardees: Northern California’s Rev. Francisco “Frank” J. Beltran in the field of Specialized Ministry, Southern California’s Efren A. Cordura for inventions in package engineering (he will give a lecture on Package Design on August 14-10 AM at the Silliman University Audio-Visual Theater 1- the event will welcome the local manufacturers. Please contact the College of Engineering and Design for details.); New England’s Ester P. Timbancaya-Elphick in the field of Education; our very own Dr. Marjorie Evasco in the field of Creative Writing; our country’s Father of the Alternative Dispute Resolution and of the Katarungang Pambarangay Atty. Alfredo Flores Tadiar; and in the Community Health Service, we will honor Dr. Romulo G. Villanueva of National Capital Region of the USA.

O’er in high place or in lowly,

Fortune sends us joy or pain.

To our love for dear old Silliman,

Loyal shall we e’er remain.

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