The familiar scent of the misty, morning east side grass, the touch of the cool acacia tree breeze, the annoyingly beautiful clangor of hammers pressing nails, the euphoric feeling of the end of midterm exams, and the taste of the first drop of rain – yes, you know it’s Founders Day.
For sixteen years, I have been with my only alma mater. August was never new to me. It almost sounded like a cliché – a routine of parades, a litany of speeches, colorful booth festivals, required activities and events that emptied my wallet, and punctuated by brawling fireworks that awakened my quiet, silver sky.
However, this year marked my turning point. I understood why the alumni keep on revisiting the campus. I felt a thread that only a Sillimanian can tell – a thread bound by history, culture, spirit, and sealed both by etched memories and yet unlived moments waiting to unfold – a thread that binds all Sillimanians from around the globe, and the same thread that brings them back home.
From the Torch Parade, I saw the spark that grew into hot, burning coals. I felt the fire within me.
From Silliman Performs, I witnessed the love for theatre, culture and the arts as the resounding applause echoed through my head. It gave me a sudden urge to show the world, I am what I am. I felt the stage beneath my feet as I rose to give a standing ovation.
From Ms. Silliman, I learned that it is neither the sash nor the crown that defines her. She lives and resides in each of us, the moment we embrace her presence. She is the non-conventional breed of both the ideal and the real — a woman of character, competence, and faith anchored on the way, the truth and the life. I felt the crown on top of my head, and saw thousands more on each of the ladies walking around on campus.
From the Cheering Competition, I felt the price of hard work and determination. I tasted the sweet taste of victory from sweat and blood. At the same time, I felt the pain of defeat, anger and frustration. It was overwhelming. But in the hearts of each member of the competing team is the heart that never wears out. It rejoices at triumphs and maintains a beatific smile in times of defeat. I felt the strong values inculcated and instilled within me early on.
From the Outstanding Sillimanian Awardees, I listened to the glitter in their eyes that seemingly says, “You too, will make a mark in the world. In your time; in God’s time.”
From the Hibalag Booth Festival, I saw sleepless nights of careful planning and heard a cacophony of voices, bickering as to what and what not. I saw hands that worked collectively and brains that merged into one. I saw the brilliance of the students behind every successful event, beyond every sturdy pillar that erected every single booth. I felt death of apathy within me.
And from Parada Sillimaniana, I met the surprisingly blissful gazes of passers-by. Although impeded by the parade, no trace of infuriation can be seen in their eyes. It was as if time stood still. It was as if the world was my catwalk. Thus, with every step I took, I took with pride.
Through the years, I understood the beauty in the vast and rich Sillliman culture that demanded itself to be heard, seen, and felt. August 28th has passed. She is now more than a hundred and thirteen years old. But our dear old Silliman will never get old. Whenever or wherever, we remain proud of the Silliman blood that runs through our veins; once a Sillimanian, always a Sillimanian.
And to Silliman, loyal will we forever be.
Kateleen Marie C. Ogabang