header image


This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

Interested in What I Create?


Friday, August 28, 2015

entry arrow9:00 AM | Life in the Early Days of Silliman University Part 2

In celebration of the 114th Founders Day of Silliman University, I'm posting another article titled “Two Reminiscences,” an interview story by E.O. Constantino, published in the 28 August 1957 issue of The Sillimanian.

The Silliman Hall by 1904.

Jose Gamo

Yes, I came to study in the Silliman Institute in 1901, but I had to leave the school after one and a half years. My father took me out the school as advised by Dr. and Mrs. David Hibbard.

You see, I got into trouble with a dormitory mate; Miguel Paterno by name, I think. That was his name, and he's dead now, I suppose. I was six, este, seven years old then, the smallest and youngest among the twelve internos of the dormitory. The others were externos, I think. After classes in the afternoons, physical education was held on the schoolyard. We had boxing, chinning-the-bar, dumbbell and ring exercises. One afternoon, Mrs. Hibbard supplied us with rubber ball, like your baseballs today, but much more soft.

Pupils were grouped into twos, and each group was given one ball to play with and you can imagine that many of us had never before that time laid hands on one. And we zealously guarded the ball assigned to us, keeping it in a joint locker after the period. One time, Miguel Patero and his partner played near where my partner and I were. Their ball rolled past us, and they could not find it anymore. It must have gotten lost in the thick bushes nearby. They wrenched our ball from us, and took it for their own. I was enraged for Miguel Paterno, who was very much bigger than I was, hurt my arm. I ran to our locker, grabbed a small knife that father gave we for sharpening pencils, and faced him. We grappled awhile before Mrs. Hibbard could stop us. I wounded him on the wrist.

That night Dr. and Mrs. Hibbard had me bring my own beddings and told me to sleep in a corner of their bedroom. They feared that Miguel would take revenge on me. In the morning, Dr. Hibbard wrote my father; within a few days my father took me home to Bayawan about 103 kms. from Silliman.

I never came back to Silliman until 1912 when father had already died. Father was right. I realized that it was difficult to remain uneducated. That year, I left my work in our farm to apply as a working student at Silliman. Dr. Hibbard, instantly recognizing me, welcomed me warmly. I told him my problem and he gave me work first as a waiter in the dormitory which was then much bigger, then as a sweeper, and later a helper of Mr. Charles A. Glunz in the Industrial Building.

In 1917 I had a lady classmate, Adela, este, Rosario Ilano, whom I married that year. She has been dead many years, God bless her soul. She was the sister of Dr. Josefa Ilano, a member of the Board of Trustees of the University. That was the end of my schooling in Silliman. I never finished any course for I returned to work in my farm after marriage. But my only two children finished high school there, one daughter, who is a practicing attorney in Manila, and the other who went to study pharmacy there, too. I have a nephew and two nieces who are schooling in Silliman University.

Alfonso Viliran

It seems to me that Mrs. Hibbard spoke a little Cebuano at the start, that was how we understood her explanations. I think there was somebody, a very charming Filipino woman whom she went around with, who, I heard, helped her study the dialect. Of course I did know a few English words for I learned them in the Spanish school where I went to before I enrolled at the Silliman Institute. There were pupils who were only seven or eight years old, they had had no schooling until they came to Silliman. I was already twelve. A few were eighteen, nineteen, or twenty-one, and they knew more English than I did. The Spanish School in Dumaguete where I studied, the caton y catecismo was converted into a government-run grammar school by the American soldiers. It was a young American lady who taught us a few English words. Miss Berry, I can’t recall her first name, carried an English-Spanish book which was used as a text in the grammar class. Later she taught at Silliman Institute after she married a faculty member there, Rev. Walter O. McIntire.

Mrs. Laura Hibbard taught us very well; her teaching was so effective that when I left school in 1906, I passed a junior teacher examination given by the government. I became a teacher that year, holding various teaching and administrative positions. I remained a public school teacher until my retirement in 1928. Mrs. Hibbard taught us geography and standard arithmetic. I knew all the countries and cities on the globe and on the big geography book that we used. Even now I can recite the different continents: Asia, Australia, Europe, Russia, America, and—uh, China. We drew the maps of the whole world, having been told to copy everything, and to include the scalings in the legend of their respective drawings.

I think it was Dr. David S. Hibbard who taught us physiology. We learned all the parts of the human body; you know, today, this subject is required of medical students only. Grammar? Oh, I knew all parts of the speech and could give examples, too. For instance, Dr. Hibbard would read a sentence, then he would ask: “Alfonso, please read this sentence.” I could already read a little then:

“The man who walks on the road is my teacher.”

“What part of speech is ‘The’?”

“’'The' is an article.”

“How about ‘walks’?”

“Verb, third person, singular number.”


“’Man’ is a noun, sir.”

“What case?”

“’Man’ is in the nominative case.”

We enjoyed our schooling very much. I don’t write to Dr. Hibbard anymore for I think he is now very old; he probably spends his days sitting on his chair. He was about thirty years old when I first met him in 1901. It was in 1956 that he wrote me last; I mailed him a very long answer. You know he said that he sits alone thinking of our old days in Silliman Institute. “Alfonso,” he wrote, “I wish we could have classes again in that old school building of ours. I can see you clearly, the fifteen of you sitting on one long bench, a good bunch of barefooted kids; I remember when Mrs. Hibbard and I whipped you for being naughty, or not studying your lessons.”

Labels: , , , ,

[0] This is Where You Bite the Sandwich