Treasure-Hunting in Silliman

One of my favorite schools is Silliman University. Somewhere within this 52-hectare campus are rare treasures not found just anywhere in the country. I had the opportunity to explore the far ends of the campus one day, and here is what I discovered…

Silliman Hall, the oldest building on the campus, houses several artifacts excavated from areas within Negros Oriental. There are rumors that some have seen ghosts in this part of Silliman since certain artifacts found in this hall are actually burial jars and ancient wooden coffins. One of the burial jars even had a skull in it! Well… I saw the skull but I haven’t seen any ghosts.

Behind Silliman Hall stands the Gate of Service, one of the four pillars of the university. Part of the graduation rites of Silliman includes a walk through the Gate, a symbolic ritual showing that it is time for the graduates to serve their country. In this picture, Publications Officer Mark Garcia explains to members of media the beginnings of Silliman University, and its four pillars: the Gates of Service, Knowledge, Opportunity, and Discovery. And guess what, they say that this university is very active in sending its teachers and students to other universities in the US. Hmmmm… maybe I can take up a masteral study there…

The second-largest collection of Bryde’s whale bones can be found at Silliman University (the largest is in Japan). The photo above shows the skull of a Bryde’s whale, and the surrounding shelves are filled with other bone pieces. This skull is so large that I can’t imagine how it is like to stand beside the living creature – and to think this is just its head!

Behind Silliman’s Marine Lab is a crocodile farm. These predators are so cunning they can stand still that you can mistake them for a dead croc or a lifeless branch. Their unsuspecting prey then comes near enough, not knowing that in the next few seconds, they have just become the croc’s dinner. Good thing these crocs didn’t snap at my hand while I took this picture, or I would have ended up like Captain Hook.

This is one of the rare finds in Silliman University – a copy of one of Dr. Jose Rizal’s books in his own handwriting! You can also see the editing marks that Rizal made on this draft. Such treasure is preserved in Silliman’s library, which houses one of the largest volumes of books in the country.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Dr. Doromal was actually the 6th President of Silliman University. He is a very congenial man whom I met in FEBC where he was a board member and I was the assistant of Caloy Pena, the FEBC President at that time. A very good-natured board member, his witty remarks made the board meetings very enjoyable. When I left FEBC, I met Dr. Doromal again during committee meetings for a musical organized by KilosBayan, an NGO founded by former senator Jovito Salonga. Again, Dr. Doromal made the meetings more interesting with his quips and banters. Seeing his picture as the 6th president of Silliman University, I begin to wonder how it’s like having him as a college professor.

Story and photos by Vanessa Velasco from her blog