Category: Features


MANILA, Philippines – Real passion is when after getting a degree in a certain field of discipline you still pursue another because it is where your heart truly belongs. Though some never find the courage to take that brave step, Chic Francisco, a 1972 graduate of AB Communication Arts from Maryknoll College (now called Miriam College) took every step she could towards her real passion: dressmaking and fashion design.

Coming from a family of art critics and enthusiasts, Chic (whose real name is Eloisa) recalls that it was her cousins’ constant encouraging and positive assessment on her sense of fashion and style that drove her to putting up her first fashion-related business: a made-to-order dress shop.

“Why don’t you put up a dress shop?” Chic remembers her cousins asking, and so she did.

Through it, she acquired invaluable knowledge on how to operate within the industry, and then later on she decided to take on greater heights by closing her dress shop and by starting her own fashion school, the Golden Hands Fashion and Arts School.

Chic said she’s always been a hands-on dressmaking teacher. However, her deeper objective in teaching pattern-making and fashion design was to equip her able and talented students with ample expertise in the field so they would later on be able to utilize their skills for their own livelihood.

Though she decided to close her school in 2009, her objective remains the same.

Chic is now a mother of three equally successful individuals.


During the 20-year run of her fashion school, Chic also ventured the field of book writing. Over the years, she authored four dressmaking tutorial books: “Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Pattern-Making and Sewing of Various Skirt Styles;” “Simplified Pattern-Making of Ladies’ Pants;” “Simplified Pattern-Making of Basic Men’s Wear” and “Complete Step-by-Step Guide to Fashion Designing”.

Now in the age where digital is king, Chic made it a point that her efforts to share dressmaking knowledge will reach more and more talented individuals. And so, she decided to go digital.

Through her official website and a YouTube Channel: Chic Francisco, Chic publishes her pattern and dressmaking lessons online which, for now, are free.

Pride in method

For Chic, before kicking off a full-blown dressmaking lesson, it is important to teach students first how to properly take body measurements. And this was what she did with the first lesson she uploaded online:

And when the students are ready for the actual pattern-making and sewing, they can choose to try creating:

Basic dress with waistline

Straight Blouse with a notched collar and basic short sleeves

And the Ladies’ Pants lesson which can be viewed via paid subscription.

Online crowd reception

After two years of going digital, the fruit of Chic’s sweet labor, you can say, are the messages of gratitude sent to her by aspiring dressmakers from around the globe:

When she was still running her school, a man visited her school and asked if Chic has an advanced book on fashion design. Unfortunately, Chic answered she had not produced another book. Then out of curiosity, Chic asked why he wanted an advanced book on fashion design. He answered, “Actually, I am a fashion designer in Dubai and I am on vacation now. You just don’t know, Madame, but I learned fashion design from your book alone.” This really made Chic very happy that day.

More from Chic

Asked if she plans to continue releasing video tutorials and e-books online, Chic shared with that her next e-book on “Simplified Pattern-Making of Ladies’ Wear” will definitely be out within the last quarter of the year. But whether she sees herself doing online tutorials for long, the teacher/pattern-maker/entrepreneur with the golden hands answered, “Yes, definitely! That is if I still enjoy what I am doing!”

Chic Francisco’s online tutorials are available via and ChicFrancisco.


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way."

The opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens may just as well be describing the global scene of today, a society of extreme social contradictions.

We are in the midst of a rapidly changing, increasingly complex & competitive world, where more & more of the old structures, traditions & coherence of life seem to be giving way to the new, to the uncertain, to the great Unknown: climate change, the threat of Ebola, unending war in many parts of the world.

These last few days we discussed challenges our Catholic schools face and ways of responding to Christ’s call.

Let me return to them briefly:

1. The Challenge of Mission

It is easy to get lost in the quagmire. We need clear direction. We need a clear Vision. This is provided by our Mission.

A Catholic school is different from other schools. We have a long history of providing excellent education, where trust and collaboration exist between families and school, and order, duty, responsibility are all taken very seriously.

But we need to be more than that. Our goal should be more encompassing than those of secular institutions. What is essential is the Catholic dimension of our school. We have to constantly ask ourselves: How can we be effective so we are not Catholic in name only, but shining examples of our Mission & our Faith? We need to create vital faith communities within our schools. Religious instruction, values formation, faith development should all be fully integrated into the academic development of our students. We have to take on the role of “cultural catalysts,” and look for ways of enhancing our Catholic culture and demonstrating core consistency.

There are many ways of being Catholic, and each institution has to find what best expresses its own Catholic identity. A critical test to ask ourselves would be: do “Identity and Mission” drive my school’s strategic planning process?

An excellent resource for thinking through the issue would be the online initiative of Boston College, their “Church in the 21st century courses (C21)”, based on Dr. Thomas Groome's "What Makes Us Catholic?”.

2. The Challenge of Relevance

We are educating the youth of the 21st century. The Millennium Generation, often seen as narcissistic, coddled, even spoiled. Easily bored, with short attention spans, shallow (Nicholas Carr) - our constantly web-surfing, tweeting generation. Notice how so many get into trouble because of their Facebook/Twitter postings. (But then again, so do many adults).

We have to teach them to analyze, to reflect & dig deeply. They need to aim for long-term goals and be aware of possible consequences of their actions. They have to discern what is most important in life. 

Brought up in a world where social structures have changed considerably, they have little sense of stability and rootedness. So many families are torn apart in order to survive. They contribute positively to our GDP, but at what personal and social cost. Our schools must provide specialized counseling & support to this group.

How do we influence the youth, educate them, and become relevant to their lives? EMForster’s advice to writers applies equally well to teachers/educators: “Only connect!”

What worked for our campus minister was simply to make the room next to hers comfortable - a “safe” place. She made sure there was a lot of food. (That always
works!). They began organizing themselves & soon she had a team to help with mission work. Their ideas have been great! They took charge of Peer counseling & did a good job! First of all, they knew who were at risk, they knew who to look out for, they knew how to reach them. 

There are many positives about millennials. They are far more tolerant than their parents. They are team-oriented and seek collaboration. Wired to the world, they tend to think global and are quick to see the world’s problems as their own. (Fournier, 2013). It is easy to tap them for projects that inspire and need new ideas.

Our school’s core values of Truth, Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation are advocacies our students have fully embraced. We have four (4) institutional Centers that help us concretize our Mission-Vision.

A project of our Center for Peace: a Lugawan fundraising activity for our sister school in the South. This is an initiative started in the 90s. Friendships were formed
through the mail (now it's email). In the end these girls came to know, respect, and appreciate each other's faith & practices.

We are not only a green school; we are a dark green school: green in our philosophy, curriculum, activities, and research. Last Christmas, our campus turned red
and green using recycled materials.

Even our preschoolers have taken as their mantra: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

“Mixed waste is garbage; segregated waste is resources” reminders are abound in our campus. These messages are there to help us internalize our mantra which then becomes a way of thinking & behaving.

3. The Challenge of Inclusion

The main driving force in the Church’s movement - very visible at the moment - is the move towards increased pastoral care & inclusion (Evangelii Gaudium). We are all sheep needing care - and the Church has taken steps to be more informed and in touch with the lives of common people.

Being inclusive means creating an environment fair to both genders. Pope Francis himself said that the role of women should be seen as one of service, not servitude. He points out that the Church is a Mother, nurturing and accepting. It's time to fully empower women and make use of women's strengths, which is that of bringing people together. This is a prime advocacy for our school. 

Our Women and Gender Institute has a program that trains & gives women in Mindanao a central role in the peace process, where they sit at the peace table as full
participants, not hovering at the sides like they used to.

And remember: Educating a woman is more than just educating A woman - its effects are multiplied and benefit all those around her - children, spouse, and ultimately, Society.

The same empowering philosophy applies to persons with disabilities, as well as the poor and marginalized among us. When we help others achieve their true potential, they surprise us with their abilities.

We have two (2) units that fulfill this function: our Miriam Adult Education for out-of-school youthand our Southeast Asian School for the Deaf.

We have to recognize this truth: We cannot change others without changing ourselves. The need today is for a leader / a teacher of a different kind - one whom the youth see as truly authentic.

The Sheep are different - but so are their Shepherds (us). The Shepherdess has assumed a different image, has become more diverse, more grounded in the community, more ordinary. 

Thus we see the Voice of the Laity assuming a different proportion. This year celebrates the Year of the Laity. And that explains my presence onstage.

The Church as people of God is composed of 3/4 laity - ordinary men and women. We welcome ways to learn from and work with the Church. Our gifts need to be nurtured and nourished. We need effective training programs so we become committed agents of renewal who will add balance, depth, and reach to the Church.

Lay ecclesial movements such as Couples for Christ (with its origin in the Philippines) have become a major force in Christian family renewal. Vocations will come
from happy and generous families belonging to this type of Christian community.

Challenges will arise in such partnerships but this will produce a strong, dynamic, and life-affirming faith to the whole community.

May I share with you a little bit of the history of our own school, a story of lay leadership and transformation.

Founded 88 years ago in this Agustinian Convent in Malabon, in the 1970s the Maryknoll nuns decided to go back to their original mission: to minister to the poor &

They had 3 options:
Option 1 - to give us to Ateneo de Manila.
Option 2 - to give us to another order to manage
Option 3 - to allow the Laity to take over.

And they chose the 3rd way. This became the vehicle for the school’s continued transformation.

We now have a Lay Board, lay administrators and a new name.

The name may have changed but our Mission remains the same.

The Maryknoll nuns - trailblazers in habit - had great faith in the Filipino Laity.  Through commitment & hard work, we continue to bring fulfillment to our founders’ vision.

4. The Challenge of Sustainability

Sustainability issues have become more real and urgent today. We all need to find ways of maximizing use of our limited resources. One effective way is through
Collaboration & strategic Networking.

Catholic schools have to start thinking of themselves as a whole - not operating in separate silos but as part of a larger community with a common goal. We take strength and support from having each other, aware that together, our work is amplified and will
have greater impact. 

Our CEAP has been very active on many fronts: clamoring for ethical behavior in public service; providing training for member schools in all areas; and now, advocating for true public & private complementarity. Yes, together we are a River.

At this point, I want to announce another great opportunity for Collaboration. We have the endorsement & support of Cardinal Tagle & CEAP to launch a Family Congress (Kapamilya Kita) which will take place during the Papal visit. This will showcase the contributions and critical role of families in moving our Faith forward. Flyers are on your tables.

Service Learning

A last word: Education consists of 3 important domains: Academic, Research, & Community Work & Practice. The thoughts, concepts & ideas that originate in our
classrooms should lead to Action. Precepts must lead to Praxis. The best of these practices are in Service Learning. Here are some examples of what we do.

The challenge of each institution here is to stay alive and well & keep thriving in the face of rapid change that both enriches and dilutes our identity. 

Let me now circle back to Dickens, a great observer of human nature who lived in a similar era of uncertainty & chaos.

For me, this is the best of times. I end with a heart full of Hope.

For we have a Leader who is compassionate and forward thinking, who fully understands the “human condition.” Pope Francis has been calling for greater creativity
and openness, and a “pastoral conversion” in papal ministry. We find great strength and comfort in his solidarity with us.

And We are today’s Shepherds: those few afforded the wonderful privilege of accompanying the youth. We are called upon to create an environment so they can grow in Faith & in their personal and academic lives. And that, fellow Catholic educators, is our sacred Mission. God bless us in our work.

Dr. Lapus gave this talk at the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) National Convention on September 26, 2014 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. 


Admit it. the first semester of freshman year went by quickly. It seemed like it was just a few days ago and now we’re nearly approaching the second semester. Yes, we’ve all learned a lot, but there are some things that you just realize along the way – on your own.

1. One word, four letters: WALK

Unlike in high school where we’d wait for our teachers to enter the classroom each period we now have to walk from classroom to classroom. It’s pretty tiring especially if you’re like me who ends up practically dragging her feet to the next room. At some point, we know we have to start to getting used to it.

2. It’s not kiddie to bring baon

In College, I learned that breaks mean complete freedom … and food! Although going to the cafeteria sounds fun, it would cost you more compared to bringing your own baon. Since the first week of school, I’ve already started to bring my own packed lunch like I’ve always done since grade school. Honestly, it has spared me so much waiting time. I make it a point to only eat out or at the cafeteria on “special occasions” (i.e. free cuts, after tests, after presentations) to avoid the hassle of waiting and to save money.

3. Don’t judge

Entering college means encountering a new wave of people. I came from Miriam College High School and there’s just 40 of us in our class, making us just a tiny percentage compared to the hundreds of freshmen out there. With this whole meet-new-people thing, judgment will always be present – good and bad. I’ve learned that you can’t always base your friendships on first impressions. It’s best to reserve judgment after spending some time with the person.

4. Leftover “senioritis” can come in handy

Senioritis, as defined by the Urban Dictionary, is a “crippling disease that strikes high school seniors. Symptoms include laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. “The only known cure for this is “graduation.” From experience, senioritis does not completely go away after graduation because I still have traces of it inside me. Sometimes it would be better to do your homework last minute because your brain is under pressure and it gets all the right things out faster as opposed to over-preparing where too much information can confuse you all the more. If you still have leftover senioritis, use it wisely!

5. It’s okay not to buy all the reference materials

Unlike high school, we don’t get our textbooks upon enrollment. We have a choice on whether to buy them or not; borrow from someone else, or photocopy the chapters needed for that subject. I’m not going to lie, some books are just so expensive that you’d think twice before buying them even if you think you really need them. From my first semester experience, I only had to buy two books out of the five subjects that required a reference material. The rest I just photocopied. This strategy saved me precious money.

6. It’s not uncool to stay in the library in your spare time

Got nowhere to go to over the break? Got a test in a few hours? Student, meet Library. Rather than going out and spending money on food and transportation, why not use that time to chill at the library or take time to review with some classmates there for a test. The quiet (and cold) atmosphere will really help you concentrate. If f the silence is not your thing, you could listen to some music that would help you focus on your work.

7. Don’t wait for your professor to find out what your name is

Be an eager-beaver and volunteer to read out loud, answer questions, give your opinion, or be the class beadle. Do whatever it takes for your Professors to notice and know you. If they know you as an active student it will make it easier for them to put a grade beside your name.  And if you get on their good side, it would be easier to approach them for inquiries about the lessons.

8. You will not the same person you were in high school

If you are the quiet type in high school, the one who would just go with the flow of it all, you have the power not to be that girl anymore. College is all about changing for the better. “Bagong buhay na ‘ko” as a lot of people would say as they enter college. College is your last stop before the real world, so make the most out of it. Run for council, aim for the Dean’s List, be part of a team. Go for whatever you didn’t aim for in high school. College is a good time to prove yourself to the people around you.

Maria Selina Almario

Selina is BS Psychology student. She plays the piano, and can watch 24 20-minute episodes of a TV series in 24 hours. She enjoys reading BuzzFeed articles, reading books, watching movies, and wearing black.

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Humans have always been fascinated by superheroes. Generations never seem to tire of the stories of Spiderman, Superman, X men and even locals like Lastikman, Darna and Inday. In this world, these fictional characters are yet to be met in the flesh but the closest character you can to one is in the guise of a teacher.

Superheroes answer to the call of danger, often involving another person’s life or death. As a teacher I realized that in a real classroom, you can’t afford to fail, be late, lax down or miss out on anything because there are REAL students who would get disappointed, REAL students who are expecting from you. It’s not in the literal sense of life and death but it does spell out what kind of life may be up ahead for the children entrusted to your care. In your class there are the future doctors, engineers, architects, artists and teachers. What guides me every time I wear my teacher superhero costume is the thought that the next Cory Aquino, Leah Salonga, Marilou-Diaz Abaya or Gabriela Silang may be in my class.

Clark Kent’s transformation to Superman often requires the presence of a phone booth. For teachers, this transformation happens in the classroom everyday. Most of us shed our personal troubles, set aside our inhibitions once we step inside a classroom in the presence of all the students who are often mindless of what persona we are outside the room’s four walls. They are clueless of one’s boyfriend/girlfriend heartaches, trepidations over a sick child, or anxieties over unpaid bills.

A few years back, the movie “Sky High” showcased a life of future superheroes and sidekicks in-training in a special school to hone their superpowers. Most of us did receive prior training in college. But theories we learned prepare us for what to teach for once you are there, you begin to expect the unexpected for anything may happen in the middle of a class. College may equip you with the theories and logical answers but once in the classroom, no single textbook or behaviorist can offer the best solution. It will all be up to you.

After training to become the teacher-heroes, our lives become affected by who we choose to become – agents of change, side kicks, villains or observers. When one is a student, one fails to see the arduous plight of teachers. Only when fills in teacher’s shoes can he truly discover the torture of daily lesson plans, the throbbing headaches caused by students, the bore of unremitting routines, the vexations of unpredictable times and the complexity of budgeting one’s measly salary. So as a teacher superhero, are we really up to that challenge?

No super hero is completely infallible. The Incredibles seek to keep their abilities under wraps; however, it is striking that their humanity shows. Like this heroic family, we as teachers seek to strike a balance between our personal lives and being the exceptional yet under recognized heroes that we are.

Spiderman started to gain confidence as he realized his powers. As teachers, our confidence has been a product of years of interaction; as our teaching experiences which slowly reaches and affects the development of one’s self-identity.

One of the differences of a superhero and a teacher is that after the former has “saved the day”; he/she no longer follows up on the people. The mission often serves for a short time. Teachers in guise of normal people like me need to maximize efforts and time to help students achieve their potentials as individuals. I am only a means. In the end it is my students’ choices that would completely define who they are and what they will become.

Superheroes are often caught off guard when they underestimate super villains. In the same way, every year, I realize that we must never underestimate the capability of children. We must never downgrade what they know or what they may be able to do or observe. I have students who have attention to detail and value aesthetics. A grade 2 or 6 student can make comments that would surprise you and you would wonder if you are indeed conversing with children. Even in class discussions, side comments and students’ spontaneous reactions would make you realize that they know a lot of things sometimes even more than what you do.

Some heroes have their tools- swords, hammers, belts and the like. A teacher’s tools are varied. From crude tools such as chalk, manila papers and blackboards to evolving pocket charts and manipulatives to laptops and LCDs, we choose our tools based on our daily battles. So one can be a technologically-savvy Ironman in one day, or a gadget-endowed Batman in the next one or a sword buckling She-ra in the next.

Some grand world-saving schemes involve superheroes spending time to plan for their action. Teaching demands a lot of creative outbursts. I had to brainstorm and plan my lessons weeks beforehand and even criticize and contemplate on my charts’ aesthetic quality aside from its content. Without personally knowing the students and their abilities, one cannot truly understand and comply with their needs and adjust accordingly to their capabilities. Class exposure and the teaching experience has taught me to be cautious- calm that I might be able to think before reacting to any given situation, and cautious not to make mistakes that children will notice.


Sometimes superheroes work in teams. Just look at the Justice League, the Avengers, the Power Rangers and the X Men. Like them, teachers need to work in collaboration with their co-teachers and supervisors to ensure maximum results and success in the teaching mission. With these alliances, teaching strategies and lessons are developed. Programs to explore other students’ talents and aptitudes best result from this mental and physical collaboration.

Science explains behavior using the phrase “nature and nurture”- that you are defined by what you have been born to be and by the experiences that come your way. What sets a superhero apart are the genes he/she has or the super stone or item that he/she has been bestowed with. But a teachers’ heart may be more than what is inside of a being given abilities by nature or nurture. I may not have mutated genes or in possession of a magical, transforming article, but as a teacher I am much more. Because I have the will, the passion and the dedication to make do with what I have in order to affect lives.

The teacher superhero analogy is not a paradox but a metaphor in itself. Where superheroes are fictional characters, teachers are the existent embodiment of what true life saving is all about. We have the power. And as what is said in the movie Spiderman, “With our great power comes, great responsibility” While this is true, teachers bear this phrase the other way around, “With great responsibility, comes our great power”.


Maria Regina Corazon Sevilla-Sibal

Ms. Reg Sibal is the current principal of Miriam College Nuvali.

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Looking Back

2014 gave me a lot of opportunities and challenges which helped me grow as a person. I encountered challenges that I thought at first glance as the end of the road but it's actually not. If it weren't for the obstacles that I encountered last year, I wouldn't be the person I am right now which I'm enthusiastic about. The different circumstances I got to experience in 2014 proved that no matter how many times you fall is not as important as on how you'll grow as a person.

How will you make 2015 an awesome year? As my professor in management says "What's the one thing that you will do that you would not expect anything? That's your passion.

Let me share with you what the past year brought me and some of my tips which I think will help anyone to make 2015 a great year.

1. Have a very clear goal

Focus and prioritize on having very clear goals on what you want to achieve in 2015. Then the next step is to ask yourself the question: What are the skills that will help me achieve my goals?

You must be very clear about the skills you must acquire that will get you to the mountaintop. Think about your skills and strengths and on how you can make the most in using them. Open yourself to learn and acquire new skills so that you can increase your learning potential.

2. Go beyond the horizon

It is funny to think that if Ferdinand Magellan did not have the tenacity to prove that the world is round, history wouldn't be the way it is now. He was laughed at because of his 'insanity' to think that there are things beyond the horizon because people at that time thought that the world was flat. They assumed that if you go beyond the horizon you will fall but Magellan proved them wrong. His curiosity changed the world and so can yours.

Look and go beyond the horizon. Leave your comfort zone and develop a positive energy and attitude in every step of your journey.

3. Strike a balance

While it is good to be ambitious and driven, don't be too much glued in studying. Spend and enjoy quality time with your friends and family. Get pleasure on the simple things that make you happy like in my case, drinking a double cocoa fudge shake after a long and tiring day. Let's not miss the little things!

4. Give back

This just doesn't apply on material things but also on relationships as well. Express your gratitude and love to the people you value most. Help without asking anything in return and learn to exhibit heroic acts of generosity by being aware and understanding of other people's situation.

Share your ideas and don't keep your gifts to yourself. There's a reason you have those gifts so you might as well use them wisely because the one who gave them might take it back from you.

Franchesca Pauline Cantos

Franchesca Pauline Cantos finished her secondary education at Miriam College High School in 2014. She is currently taking up a degree on Financial and Investments Management at Miriam College. Her interests include writing and reading for self-improvement.

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  • Tracy, B., & Linked in. (2015, January 6). 4 easy steps to reach your new year’s goals & perform better in 2015 | Brian Tracy | LinkedIn [Web log post]. Retrieved from
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Going to Japan was a whirlwind of excitement and marvel that left me falling in a torrent of wonderful sensations and experiences. The feeling of it was similar to falling in a rabbit hole; I was unprepared for its impact and found myself in a strange yet fascinating world that spoke in a different language, had different practices, and was surrounded by unique people. Nevertheless, I immersed myself in the experience and did my best to abide to their customs. As the famous saying goes, “In Rome, do as the Romans do” or in this case, do as the Japanese do.  Although my stay there was short-lived, I was able to pick up on some important values that the Japanese revered and that I wish to share to others.

1. Kirei

The first value, and one which the Japanese particularly hold in high regard, is the importance of beauty and of being clean.  In Japan, the word “Kirei” is used very often and means beautiful or clean. For the Japanese, being clean in itself is considered beautiful.  Being organized, keeping your area tidy, and even being pure of heart are traits that are widely upheld in the country. Although I tend to be a laidback sort of person, I learned to put more effort in keeping myself neat including my surroundings.  It actually helped me a lot because compared to before when I would just scatter my things in a room, I learned to arrange my stuff in a particular order and had an easier time remembering where I placed certain items.

2. Shizuka

The second value that I picked up on was the value of being quiet. During my stay, I observed that many people in Japan were soft-spoken and quiet. Seldom did they speak and most of them would use non-verbal cues like nodding or waving a hand. Personally, it was calming to be in a quiet and peaceful environment. It gave me time to hear myself think, to ponder on even the littlest of things and it helped me reflect. I was also reminded that it is not the length or the weight of our words that ultimately define us but rather our actions.

3. Kenkyona

Despite learning the value of being clean and of being quiet, I felt that it was the value of being humble or “kenkyona” that became the highlight of the JLCP. In Japan, I learned the importance of giving respect to other people especially to those who were older than you or had a higher status. Most importantly though, I was able to experience the feeling of being completely and utterly clueless when I first arrived. I had a hard time understanding the language and I was a stranger to the Japanese customs. Regardless, it made me reach the epiphany that there is still a lot of things I don’t know and that’s why I shouldn’t stop learning.

All in all, my experience in the JLCP was no less than amazing. I was able to venture to a new world and embrace the unknown. Although I’m back home right now, the values that I have learned and the moments that I have experienced in Japan will never be forgotten.

Japan Language and Culture Program or JLCP is a program under the Institutional Partnerships and Programs Office (IPPO). To know more about JCLP, go

Gianina Concha R. Limbo

Gianina is a BS Psychology student who enjoys traveling and reading books.

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Good morning graduates, parents, faculty and administration. It is a great honor for me to be standing here in front of you as your graduation speaker. I too am a proud Maryknoller and always happy to be back home. A long time ago, I was at what was then called Maryknoll College from kindergarten to Grade 7. That period was probably one of the happiest years of my life. I loved the open spaces, the kalachuchi trees that were always in bloom, the yellow bells outside the small grade school library, the calming sound of the creek that flowed near our classrooms, or the roar it made during typhoon season, and the chapel where I had my First Communion.

My Maryknoll education was very different from that of my cousins and friends. They went to schools that were run by European nuns and had as part of their curriculum cooking and sewing. They were, I now know, preparing their female students for domesticity, to be good wives and mothers. However, in Maryknoll with the American nuns there were no cooking or sewing classes and we played baseball as part of our PE syllabus. I disliked this sport but we all had to be out in the field that extended from the covered court but I made sure I was at the farthest place possible. We had an intensive reading program that required us to diagram entire sentences, vocabulary tests, and the one SRA box which went from classroom to classroom and which I eagerly looked forward to even if I never reached gold. I now see these experiences as subtly preparing us for a life other than that of a wife and mother, and more importantly, told us that we had many options. I know this now, not then.   Wisdom comes with the passage of time. So I hope to share with you wisdom that I have gained through many years of experience that were both happy and sad and everything in between. If you remember only one thing, then I would have done my job as your speaker here today.

Fairy tales are wonderful stories that have embedded in them symbols that help us survive childhood and adolescence. Have you noticed that all the fairy tale princesses are adolescents much like yourselves? In the fairy tale of Sleeping Beauty, the fairy Merryweather is given a chance to break the spell of death that the evil fairy Maleficent has bestowed on the adolescent Aurora. Merryweather cannot break the spell but she can change it from death to sleep. Sleep is the symbol for unpreparedness to be an adult and as you step over the threshold, which is today’s graduation, from childhood to adolescence, you will begin the long awakening to womanhood. I will do better than Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather combined and bestow ten wishes upon you that will hopefully allow you to awake from girlhood to becoming a triumphant, empowered woman. So what would I wish for you?

  1. The first wish is that you all become whole and centered persons by taking care of your bodies, mind and soul. It will take a lot of hard work, a lot of courage, and a lot of self-love. Moving from childhood to adolescence is a difficult process. Your bodies are changing and along with that your psyche. You will at some point think you are ugly – your face will be filled with pimples, your hair seems to belong to someone else and everything about your body is too long, too short, too fat, too thin. This is called the Ugly Duckling stage and everyone goes through it, even boys. Don’t worry. It will pass. You will have mood swings, mostly angry, and banging doors will be a common sound at home. I have a memory of throwing stuff around in my room and screaming so much that my grandmother gave me a scolding I will never forget.  What I did forget was what that tantrum was all about. Probably a case of raging hormones or my ugly “apple” haircut. That will all pass. In the meantime, there are certain things you can do to make sure you turn into beautiful swans.

  2. My second wish for you is that you take care of your bodies the proper way. In my time, a fat child was considered cute and a sign that she was well cared for. Modern medical science shows that this is no longer true. A fat child will have many health problems as an adult. Make it a habit to eat the right food, especially if your family is genetically pre-disposed to certain diseases. My family, for example, is pre-disposed towards diabetes. Had my parents known better and then later myself, I would have avoided so many bad eating habits like drinking soft drinks with meals and eating ice cream for dessert almost every day. Today I am a diabetic. Only exercise keeps my sugar levels down. Exercise or indulge in a sport in the same way as you need to brush your teeth every day. Exercise not only strengthens the bones and muscles but also massages all the internal organs to keep them functioning efficiently. Exercise not only allows you to know your body, it also allows you to use it as a tool with which to master your environment – run the marathon, climb that mountain, walk a hundred miles. Your body is not a project which you have to continuously beautify and alter for the benefit of others. Love your body in whatever shape and size in the same way it loves you.

  3. This leads me to my third wish for you which is to accept yourself with all your imperfections. All those pictures in fashion magazines are photoshopped; those whitening products are only a temporary solution to dark skin. What is so bad about dark skin? Embrace who you are and your uniqueness. I know uniforms promote sameness but that is the only thing the same about us. And aren’t Maryknoll uniforms the coolest? Tan socks rock!

  4. My fourth wish for you is to find something you truly feel passionate about and work on it as best you can. God gave us all a gift, a talent. There are those who are lucky to already know what it is they are passionate about while still in grade school. Think of the artists, dancers, singers, writers, chefs, athletes among you. You may not know what it is right away but the point is to keep looking for it and one day, the universe will reward you.

  5. One of the things you can be truly passionate about is saving the environment. In the same way that we need to take care of the body, we need to take care of the space in which it thrives. Today, we are experiencing climate change. We have not been able to stop it so we need to prevent it from getting worse. Let’s do all the little things that add up – throw garbage properly, save water and electricity, car pool or commute when possible, not use plastic, etc. And tomorrow night, we can observe Earth Hour – from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm we shut down all electricity in our homes. This is a great chance for the family to verbally catch up on each other’s activities without technology. Or, with the help of a flashlight, read a story aloud.

  6. Reading is necessary even essential habit if you want to be empowered women. Make reading a habit. It is the basis of all education. How can one study science or business or architecture if one cannot read and understand what she is reading? Never take your education for granted. There are still about 61.6 million primary school age girls all over the world who are not in school. Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head at 14 years old by the Taliban because she blogged about the need for girls to be educated in Pakistan. Today, at 17 years old, she is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate. She is an example that no one is too young to make a difference.   

  7. My seventh wish for you is to remember the message of Pope Francis to be merciful and compassionate. Treat everybody whether of different class, race, religion equally and with kindness. Be kind not only to people but also to animals, to all God’s creatures. Be kind to yourself as well.

  8. I wish for you to love, obey, and respect your parents always. Everything they do is because they love you even when you think they don’t. Spend more time with your family than with your gadgets. Your iPad can’t hug you back or tickle you. When this event is over, hug your parents.

  9. I wish for you to love your country. We live in a third world country and the only way we can move up to being a first world country is if we all work at it together. Will you stay to help make it a better place or will you leave for greener pastures? Where else can you make a difference but in your own country.

  10. How do you manage all this? With prayer. Prayerfulness is my last wish for you. There is a Being more powerful than ourselves who we can always call to for help or consolation when we feel sad or helpless. I am certain that if I had been prayerful as an adolescent I would have avoided many bad choices and therefore the sad episodes in my life. Part of this prayerfulness is to be grateful for God’s blessings even how small. Every night, before you fall asleep, think of the day’s blessings. Hopefully, this habit will continue to adulthood and lead to a spiritual life.

With all my wishes for you, I hope to have set you on the path to being the triumphant, empowered women your parents and school are preparing you to become. 
Congratulations to all graduates on your next step to an empowered womanhood!

Ms. Carla M. Pacis
Maryknoll Grade School Batch 1970
MCMS Commencement Exercises | March 27, 2015

Carla M. Pacis is a writer for children and young adults and has published more than a dozen books some of which have won awards. She is also a lecturer at De La Salle University where she teaches literature, creative writing and art appreciation. On occasion, she gives creative writing workshops for children and adults.

Carla is a founder-member of Kwentista ng mga Tsikiting or Kuting, a council member of the National Council for Children’s Television (NCCT) and, a fellow of the Bienvenido N. Santos Creative Writing Center (BNSCWC) of the De La Salle University.

She is currently involved in the production of four new publications that have to do with food (Chopsoy), philosophy (Mulat), business (ImproveUp), and Taste Baguio.

Ms. Pacis graduated from Maryknoll Grade School in 1970. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Assumption College and her master’s degree in English Studies, major in Creative Writing, from the University of the Philippines.

She has received a Don Carlos Palanca Memorial Award for Literature.  

Greetings, Sr. Marisa R. Lichauco, Maryknoll Missioner, Dr. Rosario O. Lapus, Miriam College President, school leaders, parents, guardians, teachers, dear graduates. Thank you for this opportunity. I never thought you’d ask. And don’t worry, girls, this isn’t going to be a sermon. As editor in chief of, I am all about how to do things. If you look at our feed every day, it’s always “How To Dress Up A White Shirt,” “How To Prepare Chia Seed”, “How To Talk Like A Conyo Girl,” etcetera. So for today, I thought, what do I want to teach the class of 2015? What did I want to learn back when I was in high school from 2001 to 2005? And I thought, I got it. This speech shall heretofore be entitled: How To Be Popular and Win at Life.


When I was in high school, I was part of a popular Barkada called “the vixens.” Definition: Female foxes. (Parents, I promise, there’s a moral to this story.) There were 12 of us “vixens,” and we all met in first year, section 1-8. Our group included:

1. The future captain of the football team (She was a major dictionary reader and the one who in fact named us, when she landed on the word in the middle of third period one day).
2. The heartthrob chinita
3. A future TV host
4. A varsity volleyball player
5. An amateur model
6-7. Two girls who were always picked to be muse for intrams in Ateneo. 
The remaining five of us, while not exactly the kinds of names vandalised by the boys on their bathroom stalls, filled other roles that made us popular within Miriam: 
8. The funny girl
9. The athlete
10 - 11. Two forever class officers
12. Me, the nerd. 

Now to many, being popular in high school was like achieving the quintessence of life. And in some ways, that is so true! But I very quickly learned that it was by making unpopular decisions that I was to truly stand out.

To backtrack, during my four year career in high school, I became the batch representative, president of the student council and class valedictorian. I was known for being smart, but in the summer of third year I did something completely “stupid.” But - it is the one decision that brought me to where I am today, at a job that I love and that loves me back. It was the answer to the question: “What course should I apply for?”

See, I applied to the University of the Philippines, but instead of picking a math or science course, some pre-med, or even business, I ticked off, as my first choice, Broadcast Communication - the study of how to be a professional in the television or radio industry. I always loved to a) write, and b) dress up - as in, I would plan my daily outfits for the school fair - and it was only the week before!" Anyway, putting those two together, I thought, I want to work in media someday.

But when I would compare application forms with classmates or even friends, they’d all respond with a similar expression: raised eyebrows, but a polite smile, while saying a carefully phrased, “really…?” They felt like I was throwing it all away. It was worse when I would meet my aunts. All of them were or wanted to be nurses or doctors. So they couldn’t wrap their heads around the fact that I was going to take a course that trained hosts, DJs, or newscasters. All good and challenging jobs, but they weren't impressed.

“Hindi ka mag-me-med?” they’d ask in the classic way of Titas. I’d reply with a confident, if not mataray, NO. And that was that.

To be honest, it stung to be doubted. I hated seeing their faces, judging me for not picking something that wasn’t serious or smart enough, and that I couldn’t make it in the real world with such a playful choice of career.

Now some of you may have experienced that same push - maybe to take pre-med or pre-law if you’re in a family of doctors or lawyers, or a business course if you have a family business. This was just like that. But know this, dear graduate: it is these very moments when you are being doubted that you are actually improving your chances at success.

Let me explain. If you are being doubted, you are probably going against the norm. If you are going against the norm, you are carving out a niche so that you don’t end up as one of thousands in a saturated field; in effect, you future-proof yourself. In the same way as my high school barkada wouldn’t have come to be if all of us were Ateneo muse-material - you’ve got to find your market.

On another note, there’s something to be said about choosing a field that you are so passionate about that you will defy people’s expectations of what will get you status and money, just so you can keep doing it. But then, how do you figure out what your passion is? More importantly, how do you become smart about being stupid?


A man who studies TED Talks for a living, Carmine Gallo, said that passion is an obsession that you must share with others. A management professor, Melissa Cardon, calls passion something that is core to your being. As in, it defines you. You cannot imagine life without it, even if people try to tell you otherwise. When you tell your friends during recess, a little dramatically perhaps, “I’m sooo obsessed about blank.” Try to catch yourself when you’re saying that. What is blank? Then explode that idea into something that could be a career, and not just a hobby. In journalism school, it’s called “notice what you’re noticing.” If it’s something other than a boy, that may very well be your passion.

Are you captain of the football team, obsessed with your player’s stats? Maybe you'd do well to pursue a career in Statistics. (That’s a true example, by the way. Statistics is exactly what my football player friend with the dictionary ended up taking in UP - on a varsity scholarship.)

Another example: maybe you’re really, really into shopping. As in, you don’t eat lunch so you can save up to buy a cute skirt from Topshop on the weekend. Have you considered a career as a retailer or fashion buyer? That’s what they call the people who buy clothes for a living. They have them for department stores or those boutiques where you keep eyeing that Celine bookbag, and go, one day… one day…

My point is, your passion is what naturally provokes you. Things that you do in your down time and don’t take seriously - yet. Of course, it isn’t just for members of the creative class. If you were born to a family of artists, but really want to be a doctor - then that is your unpopular decision. Choose that.

You, dear graduate, are a driver of the future; you represent your generation; and your interests are the compass for where the world will go next. What is unpopular will be popular. When that happens, you will wish that you made it trend.


This brings me to my own experience. Remember my course - broadcast communication - which a lot of people doubted? It turns out that studying how to present the lighter side of the news coincided perfectly with a new topic that all of a sudden became the darling of the media in my university years: that is, fashion.

When I was a sophomore, Devil Wears Prada came out, as well as a show on MTV called The Hills, where the main character interned at Teen Vogue. After I watched a few episodes, I was obsessed with working at a fashion magazine, too. See! That word - obsessed - again. Then in my senior year, September Issue, the documentary about Vogue editor Anna Wintour, came out. I was so hooked that I decided to intern at my favorite local magazine, Preview. When I was there, blogs like the Sartorialist, then Lookbook, then Instagram became popular. Basically, these were platforms where people posted pictures of their outfits - or OOTDs, as they’re called. And now years later, as the editor in chief of Preview Magazine’s official website,, almost all our stories are about OOTDs - something I would never have imagined back when I was your age. Fashion wasn’t important at all, but now it’s a main agenda. Back then, I just thought, this is what I love. Even if people think it’s not as important as being a mathematician or a scientist, it’s important to me. And most of all, I will make it important.

Girls, there are three kinds of successful people: Those who are the first, those who are the best, or those who are the most energetic. Whether with psychic or real income, each of these peeps will always be rewarded. You have to be unpopular, to be popular.

Class of 2015, every single one of you is graduating from the popularity contest that is high school. Congratulations! But don’t think for one second that you will not walk into another one when you leave these covered courts. Everyday, there is someone who will think you are weird, or stupid, or not good enough, for making a choice that isn’t the safe bet. But always remember: being popular is not the goal. Being secure in your choices - actually choosing your choices - is so much more important. That is how you win at life. If there’s one thing you should keep in mind, it’s this: Don’t be popular, be true. This is coming from a girl who has seen both sides. Don't be popular, be true.

These high school students from Miriam College competed against 300 teams from all over the globe.

IMAGE Scholars Cup (left); Courtesy of Miriam College (right)

It took attitude, dedication, and independence for 16 all-female students to take home the glory from the World Scholar's Cup (WSC), says Amity Yap, one of the coaches of the Middle School and High School students from Miriam College who competed in the international event. A total of 2,200 scholars from 50 countries all over the world competed at the event, which was held this year at Yale University in the U.S. last November 10 to 14.

The team of high school students Mary Katherine DJ San Miguel, Aleeza Moira Tiongson, and Alyssa Santana ranked 9th in the final rounds of the WSC Tournament of Champions where there were 300 senior division teams. They earned a total of 29 gold medals, 21 silver medals, and three trophies. They were declared top 1 in Southeast Asia after competing in team debate, collaborative writing, and group quiz bee, among others.

IMAGE The Miriam College senior division team (from left) Aleeza Moira Tiongson, Mary Katherine DJ San Miguel, and Alyssa Santana

“It was overwhelming to be among other scholars from various countries, but we did not let that dishearten us,” said Tiongson. “The team is indeed delighted, grateful, and proud that we were not only able to bring honor and pride to our families but also to our school and country.”

The junior division team, composed of 13 middle school students, age 14 and below, also experienced their share of victory. Students Jiana Lim and Katrina Asedillo won 2nd and 7th place, respectively, for the literature category. Lim also grabbed 12th spot in the overall individual ranking among almost 1,200 competing scholars.

Overall, the junior division team took home 22 individual gold medals, 23 individual silver medals, nine team silver medals, and six team gold medals.

IMAGE All 16 World Scholar's Cup participants with Miriam College President Dr. Rosario O. Lapus

The World Scholar's Cup sets itself apart from other competitions for placing value not just in textbook knowledge, but also in the joy of learning. The tournament tests students in science, literature, history and social studies but also in topics like modern mythology. To prepare for the competition, the students had the theme as guide, "The Unlikely World."

“WSC does not measure 100% academic knowledge but the attitude, dedication, and independence of its scholars when given topics that are not exactly taught in schools. These three qualities cannot be taught, but are acquired by the students – to win in WSC is to reflect how holistic the learners are,” said coach Yap.

Aside from team and individual events, community-building activities also take place at WSC, according to the event’s website. They hold talent shows where skills range from dancing to reciting math constants, student fairs where participants get to share their culture and traditions with fellow participants, and opportunities to attend talks by guest speakers from leading universities.

Nine other schools from the Philippines also competed at WSC, with Immaculate Conception Academy making it to 10th place in the senior division.


Miriam College opened 2018 with a talk like no other, featuring YouTuber, Fear Facer, and influencer Michelle Poler.

Known for her project 100 Days Without Fear and for the social movement Hello Fears, Poler gave a talk before 400 girls composed of middle school, high school, and higher education students from Miriam College and other partner schools to teach and inspire them how to face their fears and realize their full potential.

“Miriam College believes that Michelle Poler has a unique and beautiful story to tell that will surely resonate with our students, especially girls.  Not only is she young, but her energy is also infectious and we know that our students will listen well to what she has to say, and hopefully in the process be inspired to face their own fears — especially those relating to their peers, studies, and the future,” said Dr. Rosario O. Lapus, Miriam College President.


Titled Girls Be Brave! Poler taps into her personal experiences as a young girl who feared so many things growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, but had to deal with it as a student starting a Master's Degree in Branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York.  She shared how she overcame her own fears to live her life to the fullest.

Poler became popular on YouTube when she began her #100DaysWithoutFear school project wherein she had to face one fear a day for 100 days. She filmed herself on each challenge and posted them daily on her YouTube channel. She braved different kinds of fears from holding a tarantula and skydiving to posing nude for a drawing class and helping people in need.

“You tube can be extremely intimidating but it can also be a very powerful tool that can help you inspire or  teach something to someone from one end of the world to the other, thanks to YouTube that my project resonated with millions. On day 40, I wake up and realize that every website I follow is sharing my story –not only website including celebrities,” she said during her talk.

Her YouTube posts caught up with celebrities like Ashton Kutcher, Zooey Deschanel, Sofia Vergara and Lil Wayne who shared her story through their accounts. In a matter of days, Poler had over 4.5 million views in her YouTube channel.

Since then she has been invited to TedX, Facebook, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, and to schools and universities within and outside of the US, teaching audiences how to tap into their full potential in both their personal lives and their careers.


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