Silliman University (Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental)

A big portion of Dumaguete City’s progress was said to have been due to the presence of the Protestant-run Silliman University, founded as the Silliman Institute (an elementary school) by American Presbyterian missionary Dr. David Sutherland Hibbard and his wife Laura, through a grant, on August 28, 1901, by Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman.  It was later converted into a college in 1910 and into a university on March 1938.  This 61-hectare university, with its 13 colleges and schools, is the first university outside Manila and is also the first and only Protestant university in the Philippines.  It is dotted with many old and shady acacia trees.

Silliman University campus

The university is another showcase of American-era architecture.   Silliman Hall, built along Silliman Ave. in the Southern U.S. architectural style, is the oldest building within the campus.  It was inaugurated on 30 November 1903 and was restored in 2000.  The iron posts supporting the metal ceiling of the south wing was salvaged out of construction materials from a New York theater.  The S. U. Ethnographic Museum, at the building’s second floor, houses an extensive collection of artifacts and archaeological findings, 2,000-year old Sung and Ming porcelain, voodoo paraphernalia from Siquijor and rare shells such as Glory of the Sea (Conus gloriamaris).

Silliman Hall

Other old buildings within the campus include Guy Hall (completed in 1918), Oriental Hall (built in 1921), Channon Hall (built in 1923) and the Schiede Chapel, the former Mission Hospital Chapel (built in 1937).  Hibbard Hall, started in 1930 and completed in 1949, was the former library building (since 1932).  Built on a more modern note is the 900-person Henry Luce Auditorium, named after Claire Isabel McGill Luce, the founder and publisher of Time-Life magazines.  It was built at a cost of PhP5 million from January 2, 1973 to October 6, 1974.  The Chapel of the Evangel, along Hibbard Ave., was completed in 1957 and was designed by world-famous Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei.  The S.U. Main Library and Media Center, built at a cost of US$ 1.275 million through a grant from USAID and inaugurated in 1979, is reputed to have the biggest collection (more than 100,000 volumes) of books and publications in Asia.  The 188-bed S.U. Medical Center Hospital, along Aldecoa Drive, was built at a cost of PhP5.5 million and was inaugurated on 28 August 1976.

Silliman University: Real St., Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental.

The Quiet Charm of Dumaguete City (Negros Oriental)

Dumaguete City

After 2 nights in Bacolod City, it was now time to move on to our next destination (with a change in dialect) – the Cebuano-speaking Dumaguete City, the capital of neighboring Negros Oriental.  Like Bacolod City, this visit was a first for me.  We departed Bacolod City by 1 PM.  To get to Dumaguete, we had the choice of two routes.  Both entailed making an 86.9-km. drive to Kabankalan City.  From here, the first route entails making a further 140.2 km. drive, along the southern underbelly of the island, to the border plus and an additional 140.8 km. drive to Dumaguete (total of 367.9 kms.).  The second and shorter route entails a 25-km. drive from Kabankalan City, cutting through the mountainous spine, to the border and an additional 101.3-km. drive to Dumaguete (total of 213.2 kms.).  As time was the essence, we took the second route.  What a spectacular route it was!  Traveling through Kennon Road-like zigzag roads, we passed lush and spectacular mountain scenery all the way to the coast.   After a 4.5-hour drive, we arrived at Dumaguete by 5:30 PM and checked in our tired, travel-weary bodies into airconditioned rooms with bath and cable TV at Harold’s Mansion.

Rizal Blvd.

Negros Oriental has, in the past, been mistaken (by the national media as well as Pres. Gloria Arroyo) for its better known, and more prosperous, neighbor Negros Occidental, so much so that it is seriously considering a name change (i.e. Oriental Negros).  Even Dumaguete, its capital, is a relative unknown compared to its counterpart, Bacolod City.  However, both city and province are slow waking up to economic potentials domestic tourism brings.  More so with Dumaguete City, a city which, in my opinion, exudes a quaint and quiet charm plus a campus life quite similar to my alma mater, the University of the Philippines.

Bell Tower

Dumaguete, like Bacolod City, is a showcase of Spanish and American-era architecture.  The City Hall, along Sta. Catalina St., was built in 1907.  In front of it is Quezon Park, a flower market and a children’s playground.   The Cathedral of St. Catherine of Alexandria, located across Perdices St. (formerly Alfonso XII St.), from Quezon Park, has a coral and brick Spanish bell tower built in 1811 to warn townsfolk against piratical raids.  The tower was restored in 1985. The Provincial Capitol, along North Road, was built in 1924 in the same Roman Neo-Classical style used by Daniel Burnham, the American city planner of Manila and Baguio City.  It has a park (Ninoy Aquino Freedom Park), 3 tennis courts and 2 schools nearby.

Provincial Capitol

The distinguishing landmark of Dumaguete, however, is the beachfront area along Rizal Blvd., much like Manila’s Roxas Blvd. (before reclamation).  Our National Hero, Jose Rizal, was said to have once strolled here during a stopover on his way to his 4-year (1892 to 1896) exile in Dapitan (Zamboanga del Norte).  Today, Rizal Blvd., a favorite area for picnics, play or retrospection, is also the favored address of a number of cozy places to eat, drink and be merry.  Our favorite watering hole here is Loco-Loco.