Lumawag: The Silliman Spirit

Lumawag: The Silliman Spirit

I DO not normally join alumni gatherings. I do find it cringy. (hahaha)

I just don't feel like joining one too. Maybe because I find myself not fitting in or I am too lazy to join one. Probably, I find joining organizations quite a hassle. Thus, I try to limit the groups I take part in.

However, you can say times have changed. I found myself sharing lunch with fellow Sillimanians post-Christmas Day at Tola. It was supposed to be just lunch but eventually extended to coffee and pastries at Hid'n Coffee. What was supposed to end at around 1 p.m. became a four-hour lively discussion of college experiences that led to discussions of serious issues and would find its way to your standard "maritesan."

As we bid our goodbyes and planned for the next get-together, I stood there telling myself, "Wow, you actually sat and talked with alumni whom mostly you met for the first time." The more I think about it, I realize that I did enjoy the company of this group of people.

What has changed? I ask myself. There is still that hesitation in me to join groups or organizations. But why do I look forward to joining the next alumni gathering?

It is not easy for me to get comfortable in a group, especially one that I have second thoughts joining in. It takes time for me to warm up.  

However, there was a sense of comfort and belongingness the moment I saw the people at our table. I know one person whom I have worked with in my previous job. But the other two, I met them for the first time. Maybe it is them switching on their "MassCom hats" but they were very welcoming and friendly.

One by one the rest of the group arrived. I got a bit overwhelmed realizing I was the youngest in the group. Most of them have known each other for a while. But, I did not feel shy though. There was that sense of meeting old friends. It was an odd feeling for gatherings like this.

Despite our group spanning different batches in the 2000s and 2010s, we have shared experiences. Our experiences with some aspects of Silliman and Dumaguete overlap with each other. We shared our love for Scooby's spaghetti, our professors, college life (aka drinking until dawn for some), going to one of the city's cinema houses, and studying at the donut shop. We somehow got the idea of what one is talking about despite not coming from the same batch or course. It was a lively and animated discussion.

And the memories were so vivid, and it flooded my senses! They talked about the cafeteria, I was reminded of the cheese bread. They talked about the theater at Woodward Hall, and I was reminded of how dusty it was. We talked about the campus, and I felt the cool vibe of dear old Silliman. You may say, "Ka-OA ba oy." But whatever we talked about relating to Silliman or Dumaguete, it just drew me in. This is nostalgia but coming from the different stories of alumni.

The more I thought about it, I guess the feeling of comfort or that feeling sense of familiarity comes from a deeper place -- the Silliman Spirit. If you studied in Silliman, we talked about this a lot and is given emphasis when you are about to graduate. However, I did not appreciate it when I was still a student.  

But once I left the halls of Silliman, it was there that I felt this "spirit." It is one fascinating aspect among most Silliman graduates that somewhat bonds them to a fellow graduate. I would describe it as a sense of belongingness, a sense of community. And it was this alumni gathering that further made me appreciate this concept of the "Silliman Spirit."

As the last vehicle of one of the alumni exited Hid'n, I smiled at the thought of laughing with people who were mostly strangers to me before noon. Sillimanians are as diverse as they come, they don't always share the same thoughts and are unique to one another. However, the Silliman Spirit weaves Silliman University graduates strengthening bonds and most of the time, creating new ones.


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