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The ghosts of Silliman University

Established by American missionaries in 1901, Silliman University in Dumaguete City is one of the oldest academic institutions in Asia.

When I was a college student there, the same stories would circulate over and over again every Halloween. Almost every Sillimanian knows at least one of the following stories.

The tragic beauty queen

Residents of the Woodward, Larena, and Doltz Halls, the university’s biggest dormitories, have reported hearing loud footsteps in the corridor, usually at around dawn. The sounds were those of stiletto heels on the floor, and it is believed that they are by a past dorm resident whose dream it was to become Miss Silliman.

The young woman, whose name remains unknown, was said to be a big fan of pageants and was hell-bent on becoming Miss Silliman. When she was chosen to represent her college for the pageant, she prepared eagerly, and among her preparations was practicing her walk in the dormitories' corridors in high-heeled shoes. She did this day in and out until pageant day. Unfortunately, however, she failed to win the coveted crown. In her dismay and disappointment, she took her own life.

But even in the afterlife, it seems that she still wants to make her dream come true. This explains why sounds of stilettos can be heard some nights, as the ghost continues her walk down the corridors of Woodward, Larena, and Doltz.

Larena Hall. via Silliman University Facebook

The perfect acacia tree

Silliman University is known for its acacia trees; there are more than 300 of these all over campus. But there is one that stands out: a perfectly symmetrical acacia near Ravello Ballfield and the gymnasium. Its branches extend so perfectly that one couldn’t help but marvel at it. But the university’s Corps of Campus Ambassadors know the apparent reason behind its symmetry very well.

According to a campus guide, the reason why its branches are so symmetrical is because the Japanese hanged prisoners of war from them during World War II. Some of the victims would stay hanging for days. This pretty much explains why albeit its beautiful symmetry, not a lot of couples hang out under the tree, out of fear that the restless souls of those killed prisoners of war might return and haunt them.

Acacia tree. By Raffy Cabristante

The old lady of Carson Hall

Most spooky stories on campus circulate among dormers, and one of those most famous—and perhaps the creepiest—is about a freshman who just moved in to Dumaguete from her distant hometown during enrollment period. The first dormitory she approached to inquire about lodging was Carson Hall, named after Edith Carson, wife of Arthur Carson, who served as university president from 1939-1953. An old American woman answered her inquiry, and more than that, she gave the student a tour of the dormitory. After their conversation, the prospective dormer was satisfied with how she was served; she promised the old woman that she will return there in a couple of days.

True to her word, she did return, but she was surprised when it was someone else who approached her to assist her in moving to the dorm.

“Where was the old woman who toured me around the dorm? She was so nice,” the freshman asked.

“There’s no old woman here,” the dorm manager replied.

The freshman found a picture of the old woman and pointed to it, insisting that she was the one who toured her around. And, as it turned out, the woman was Edith Carson. From then on, dorm admins hid the photo so as not to freak out the dorm's residents.

The horror hospital

One of the more well-known buildings in Silliman is Katipunan Hall, which started out as a mission hospital but now houses part of the College of Arts and Sciences as well as the College of Education and the School of Public Affairs and Governance. Word around the campus is that there have been eyewitness accounts of haunting lost souls in the building.

A friend (who claims to have the third eye) says she saw blood dripping from the walls of one of the classrooms. It was eventually discovered that the room used to be the old hospital's operating room. When I first heard this story, it gave me the goosebumps.

The Katipunan Hall's significant (and spooky) history is also why Psychology majors use this building for their Horror Chamber, one of the more well-known attractions during Founders' Week every August. However, there have been stories circulating on campus that some of the students volunteering to scare guests in the building were also spooked themselves... by the "real" ghosts.

Katipunanan Hall. via Liwaliw Facebook

These are only a few of the many stories that circulate around the 114-year-old institution. Sure, when a place has a history that’s more than a century long, you’re sure to get some spooky tales about it. But let's admit, these spooky stories are part of what makes the college experience more memorable, whatever university you may be from. —BM, GMA News