The campus by the sea is not only conducive to for the growth of the soul, mind, and body but also to the heart and over the years, it has become the birthplace of a thousand and more stories. Love stories sprouted from within Silliman University campus. But, there’s one love story I could not help but tell – the simple tale about how my parents met and fell in love, as witnessed by the sturdy acacias and the iconic amphitheater.
I was in my sophomore year in high school when I knew about my parents’ love story due to this requirement in history class. ,I asked my father then and he was kind enough to provide me with the details.
Though I studied in a public school during elementary and in a Catholic institution for the secondary level, I always had Silliman in mind. I never knew how important Silliman was for my parents and their experiences inside its hallowed portals, until Papa told me about their campus-grown love story.
My father, Douglas Philip or “Doughie,” as his peers fondly called him, was a bit older by two years. He was taking up mechanical engineering when he met my mother, Lynette, a social work student. Being boyish and simple at that time, she belonged to the type of women who chose not to wear makeup or lipstick most of the time.
It was in Beta Sigma Phi (Fraternity – Sorority) where my parents met. Papa was the senior officer while Mama was a neophyte. Often, Papa would ask Mama to get the approval of her fellow dormers at Azucena Cottage regarding a visit during the night.
Of course, Mama obeyed the senior officer’s instructions. Later on, Mama revealed to us that Papa paid a visit to this pretty girl who always wore pants because she had countless sores on her legs. On a funny note, Mama didn’t tell Papa until she had already visited the girl several times. Upon knowing about the real score, this made Papa back off from courting the said pretty girl who always wore pants.
Past generations would say, “The bridge is the owner.” The saying perfectly matched how Mama and Papa’s friendship developed into a romantic love affair of sorts. Many of their friends witnessed how sweet the couple was during their dates.
When they went together on a stroll or what they call “joyride-joyride” while riding Papa’s motorbike, despite Mama’s “maldita” and strict looks, Papa made her smile and feel happy most of the time.
My father recalled how they shared moments with each other at the amphitheater—the most popular dating place during their generation. For him, the place had witnessed their growing love for each other while in the campus.
Their campus-grown love story didn’t end there. The couple always had time for each other since my father was already working as an engineer at the extension office of the university, and where most project implementations were done in Tayasan, which is Mama’s hometown.
On the other hand, Mama worked at the local government doing some work in the hinterlands of Tayasan. This setup made their relationship stronger and led to the eternal exchange of vows.
Years later, Mama and Papa sent us to Silliman and all of us, finished our undergraduate degrees in the campus where they first met, became friends and later on, ignited a lifelong relationship.
The campus also witnessed the couple’s joys as they came to each of their children’s graduation rites. Also, the campus, specifically at the Silliman Medical Center, witnessed how love would transcend earthly death.
When Mama was grasping for air and fighting for her life, I saw how profound love was between my parents. My father showed his love as he stood by her up until Mama’s last moments.
In return, Mama showed her love by not allowing Papa to see her expire. She knew that if Papa would see her breathe her last, it would be more painful for Papa to accept her death.
In fact, a week before Mama’s death, she wanted us to celebrate Papa’s birthday. We scrapped the original plan of going to the beach because of Mama’s confinement. But Mama’s thoughtfulness prevailed and we celebrated Papa’s birthday in the hospital room.
Seeing a loving husband look with love at the dead body of the wife he loved so dearly ignited a mix of emotions. It was at first heartbreaking to see my father’s eyes flowing with tears, which rarely happened, but it was a bit sweet and inspiring, in a sense that I have seen before my very eyes how genuine love transpires even after death.
My mother’s death brings me to sad feelings every once in a while, but there’s that comforting feeling now that I live inside the campus that held witness to how my parents’ friendship blossomed into love, the birthing of their children, and up to the very end of their love story on earth.
One thing I could be sure of this that their love never ended after my Mama passing because I knew and I saw that their love for each other, witnessed by the beautiful campus by the sea, transcended death and will go far beyond eternity.
Klein F. Emperado graduated from Silliman University – College of Mass Communication in 2011. He worked at the SU Office of Information and Publications from February 2013 to September 2016 as Editorial Assistant and Broadcast Coordinator. Klein is also enrolled in the Master of Divinity program of the Divinity School and is the current Dorm Adviser of Molave Cottage. His siblings are namely: Killian Marie (BS Psychology, 2015) and Kirk Philip (BBA Management, 2016; former Student Government President).