Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Schools I Attended, Part 1 St. Theresa's College

The Schools I Attended - Part 1, St. Theresa's College Cebu and San Marcelino

Click here for Part 2 - UP & Maryknoll
Click here for Part 3 - UCLA

First there was St. Theresa's College in Cebu, which was run by Belgian nuns. My mother, who loved business, entrusted us children to the Belgian nuns. She enrolled me in kindergarten when I was four years old.  The alternative was to leave me in the care of yayas (nannies) and maids and Mama figured the nuns would do a better job of rearing us.

The Belgian nuns (Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary) were strict disciplinarians. Early on we learned about rules and regulations and respecting authority and doing homework.  We were also taught that we were privileged and had to give back to society, an idea that stayed with many of us. 

We wore blue and white uniforms, starched stiff, with a blue ribbon at the collar, and with a school pin right smack in the center.  The white blouse had long sleeves, and thinking about it makes me wonder how we survived the tropical heat, given we played hard before and after class hours and during recess.  There was a playground with a merry-go-round and swings, and the campus had all sorts of interesting cubbies like the grotto area and a mysterious bamboo grove, more or less forbidden to us and which therefore became highly attractive.

The only stark memory I recall of kindergarten was my undoing my blue ribbon to fix it, and an irate nun flying at me; she scolded me and proceeded to fix my ribbon, a task I felt capable of doing.  I was extremely offended at the assault.

St. Theresa's College, Cebu was co-educational until Grade 4, but the boys were in one classroom, the girls in another.  There were around 50 students in a classroom. I marvel at how those nuns and lay teachers controlled those squirming children, but they did. The primary reason was because the nuns didn't hesitate getting rid of the "bad" kids. Now and then we would hear of a student being expelled.

Class hours were from 8 to 11:30, with a lunch break until 2 p.m. Classes resumed at that time and ended at 4 p.m.  We stayed in the same classroom, and the teachers were the ones who appeared and reappeared every 50 minutes or so. We had subjects like Science, Arithmetic, Reading, P.E. Social Studies, Tagalog, English, Religion, and Music. After school hours, there were extra-curricular activities such as Theater or Sodality (a religious group).

Even though the nuns and teachers were strict, they fostered a creative energy, which nurtured me early on.  Theme writing, for example was a favorite of mine.  We used to have theatrical performances too, which I loved. I recall playing Meg in a Little Women Class Theatrical program. And the nuns had all sorts of pageants, wherein the students could participate.

It used to be that the students graduated when they finished Grade 6; but at some point the nuns added a Grade 7 class.  I was placed in the Grade 7 group because I was one of the youngest in my class. After finishing Grade 7, I went on to St. Theresa's College San Marcelino in Manila.  By this time there were some Filipina nuns aside from the Belgians. They were strict all the same, but I got excellent education at St. Theresa's College.

Despite the rules and regulations we had to follow, somehow we were also shown the doors and opportunities of life. They had speakers address us, and that was probably where I got the idea that I would be a scientist, an idea which morphed into becoming a chemical engineer, an idea that was discarded, until I finally settled on what seemed the easiest (and appropriate) major in college for me, Communication Arts.

This meant that from St. Theresa's College, I went to the University of the Philippines to try to be an engineer, and then I transferred to Maryknoll College to study Communication Arts. Maryknoll College was another exclusive girls' school run by the American Maryknoll nuns. The Maryknollers had a different style from the Belgian nuns, but they too had the hidden message that we needed to give back to society--- but more on that tomorrow.

If you look at many women leaders or wives of leaders in the Philippines, there are many of them with ties to St. Theresa's College and Maryknoll College.

Read also
The Bachelors and Femina Days of Cebu - Memorabilia photos
Old Photographs and Memories
Saying Goodbye to Papa
Where the Daydreaming Came From 
Death of a Carnival Queen

All for now, more tomorrow,


P.S.  I know many of you are wondering what happened to the mole on my nose. At some point in my life, it was removed.

Photos: top show my high school graduation picture; next is a picture of me and my mother, Concepcion Cuenco Manguerra

Be sure and read Part 2 - UP and Maryknoll

tags: Philippines, Cebu, Manila, education, St. Theresa's College, Maryknoll College

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