Recognizing her significant contribution as one of the forerunners and partners of the institution's development, Filamer Christian University (FCU) conducted a Memorial Service for American missionary, Dr. Alice Marjorie Milne Giffin, who died last February 28 (Philippine time) at Pilgrim's Place, California, U.S.A. at the age of 101.
The service was held at the University Roblee Hall last March 8 with a testimony from Mrs. Noemi Billanes Fegarido, wife of the late FCU Board of Trustees member, Mr. Felimon Fegarido. Mrs. Fegarido shared to the congregation some instances and encounters she has with the missionary during her stay in Roxas, specifically at Filamer.
"Miss Giffin came sometime in the early 1950s from China. I was a high school student here in Filamer Christian Institute. She was beautiful, soft-spoken and younger than the other American missionaries who were already here. Those missionaries who were here served in different terms and in specific areas while Miss Giffin went around different churches and stayed also in Iloilo for sometime," recalled Mrs. Fegarido.
"I remembered we were living in the campus dorm and became close to her, we called her Manang Alice. While here, she spent time with students - counseling, teaching, encouraging us for a work well done. One time she called us to find out what our plans were after high school, what course to pursue and where. She was like a mother to us. In fact, she was one of our wedding 'maninays' (godmother) in 1959," she added.
Mrs. Fegarido also relayed that when Giffin returned to the U.S., she continued communicating to churches and friends in the Philippines. Giffin even had constant contact with Fegarido's sister until such time it was impossible for her to talk. Below is one of the correspondence from Giffin and her attendee which was sent to Fegarido's sister:
In the memorial service, University Chaplain Jasper Martin stressed to the Filamerian community the contribution of the founders to the university's mission and reminded the faculty and staff of their respective roles and ministry.
Born on April 12, 1915 to missionary parents, Alice Giffin received her early education in China. She went back to the United States for further education and returned to China as a missionary. War conditions in 1945 forced her to return to the U.S. but she went back to China until communist domination forced her final evacuation in 1951. It was then that she went to the Philippines to continue her mission work. It can be recalled that Dr. Giffin served as director of the women's work of the Convention of Philippine Baptist Churches from 1952 until 1962, general missionary of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society from 1966 until 1970, and mission correspondent and finance secretary in 1971 until 1973. She has held various positions for East Asia as appointed by the American Baptist Board of International Ministries, one of which is becoming the East Asia representative in 1983 onwards. It was noted that she has stayed at Filamer in 1963 and was stationed in Roxas City in 1966 where much of her work is focused in the mission field.
In 1979, Dr. Giffin sent a message to the Filamerians, and the excerpt goes:
"As you look back to the history of the school, sometimes passing through trying times, may you not be satisfied. May you say with the Apostle Paul, 'I do not say that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself'. This is my message to you as individuals and to Filamer as a school. May you continue to strive for excellence and for perfection..."
Records and chronicles may come short of the contribution that Dr. Giffin has done to the school, but one thing is sure, she has touched and inspired the lives of many and as Filamer's gesture of recognizing her contribution to the mission of the institution, the old high school building which was constructed in 1974 was eventually named Giffin Building.