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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Civil society groups, including the Center for Peace Education (CPE) of Miriam College and WE Act 1325, gathered to commemorate the National Day Towards Healing for Justice, Unity and Peace last March 6, 2015. The event, which is also part of the All Out Peace campaign, marked the 40th day of the Mamasapano incident as well.
A series of activities was held throughout the day at the Quezon City Circle, leading to the culminating peace caravan at the EDSA People Power Monument.
Morning activities opened with a Peace Fair. Booths were set up holding activities that promote healing and unity, as well the pursuit of the peace process.
International Studies students from Miriam College took part in WEAct 1325 booth activities that provided a space for dialogue on the Mamasapano incident. A photo booth displayed messages supporting the peace process was also put up.
CPE Executive Director Dr. Jasmin Nario-Galace, in her message during the event, said that the quest for peace should not be abandoned and that the Mamasapano incident can be used as an opportunity for change and unity, and for the framing of a legislation that will end the war and poverty in Mindanao.
Other prominent personalities showed their support for the event. Among them were former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., Charito Planas and Santanina Rasul. To symbolize solidarity, students, peace advocates, and members of the police and armed forces exchanged whites flowers to symbolize unity and peace.
Capping the morning activities were messages from MC students Jessa Rasul and Danica Gonzalez who expressed support for the pursuance of peace in the country, linking this with the school’s core values of peace, truth, justice and integrity of creation. They also stressed on the importance of the youth’s involvement in peace issues.
CPE continues to be part of the All Out Peace campaign to promote a culture of peace within the college community and the larger society.
The Center for Peace Education- Miriam College, together with members of Pax Christi-Miriam College and students of Ambassador Mariano Dumia and Atty. Christine Lao, participated in the BEEP, BEEP, BEEP Motorcade last March 17, 2015. The activity was organized by the ARMM Liaison Office in Manila.
BEEP stands for Bangsamoro Extensive Expression for Peace. The students held up placards with messages to support the Mindanao peace process. They also encouraged motorists to honk their horns to show their support for peace and gave flowers to those who participated in the motorcade.
Representatives of the ARMM, namely, Secretary Jojo Sinolinding, Assistant Secretary Juni Ilimin, Regional Commission on Bangsamor Women Assistant Secretary Irene Tillah Tungutan and Office Chief Jolly Lais presented the Manifesto and encouraged members of the school to support the signature campaign calling for all out peace in Mindanao. Some members of the PNP also were present to show their solidarity.
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 StyleBible.ph, 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, StyleBible.ph, 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.
International Studies (IS) faculty member Celito Arlegue recently spearheaded a communications workshop for Asian political leaders in the Philippines. The workshop, with the theme, “Political Communication, Elections and Governance,” took place at The Blue Leaf Filipinas, Paranaque City on March 13-16, 2015. Around 30 participants from Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand attended the said gathering.
“We wanted the workshop to serve as a venue for sharing of experiences and best practices in political communication, especially as a number of Asian countries are holding elections this year and in 2016,” said Arlegue on the main objective of the event.
Arlegue is also the Executive Director of Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), a regional network of political parties in Asia.
Miriam College Communication students Clarissa Coscolluela and Andrea Punzalan, alongside editors Nicole Kamille Santiago and Beatrice Foz, bagged the Best Female Disk Jockeying Award at the intercollegiate competition of the 3rd Podcast Convention (PodCon) held last February 23-24 at the Albertus Magnus Auditorium, University of Santo Tomas.
The winners were mentored by Cha Sinon, Communication faculty, and Yannah Patricia Sagger, president of Radio MC. The school along with PUP and Adamson University also won for the radio drama and radio documentary categories.
The two-day event was open to all Communication and Media students, enthusiasts and broadcast media professionals. This year’s theme was “Modern Modulation: Empowering Radio & the Youth.”
PodCon is an intercollegiate competition made possible by the UST Communication Arts Student’s Association and sponsored by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). (By Patricia Coscolluela and Andrea Punzalan)
Miriam College unveiled a commemorative marker at St. James Academy (SJA) in Malabon last February 21 to honor the Maryknoll nuns who bravely pursued their very first mission of putting up a school in the area.
“It was the people of Malabon who took notice of the Maryknoll nuns and welcomed them to the community and entrusted their children to the nuns’ care,” said Dr. Rosario O. Lapus, Miriam College president, during the unveiling.
Then named Malabon Normal School, the structure was renovated from an old Augustinian convent and was the very first school established by the Maryknoll nuns who came to the Philippines in 1926. It enabled the them to carry out their mission of putting up a teacher training school while providing a Catholic education for young women in the area. When the Malabon Normal School was transferred to Manila, the school in Malabon was renamed St. James Academy. The nuns administered it for 54 years before turning it over to the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Sienna, and later, to the Dominican Sisters of the Trinity.
“Through the years, St. James Academy and Miriam College have produced thousands of amazing alumni, many of whom helped transform society. We owe it all to those gutsy, warm and generous-hearted Maryknoll nuns who were trailblazers of their time,” said Dr. Lapus, who is also an alumna of SJA.
Present were around 60 SJA alumni who were there to witness the blessing of the marker and celebrate Mass officiated by Bishop Rolly Santos.
Top left photo shows (from left) Dr. Lapus, Bishop Santos, Sr. Bambina Lapera, SJA directress; and Cynthia Mariano, SJA Alumni Association president.
The Department of Communication celebrated its 52nd year and Comm Week from March 2 to 7, 2015. In partnership with the Communication Society, the department prepared a line-up of activities and events for the Communication students and the rest of the MC community to enjoy.
Opening the celebration was the campus tour of PTV 4’s The Veronica Chronicles. Veronica Baluyot-Jimenez, host of the investigative documentary show, together with her team showed their production coverage of “Dasal sa Santo Papa,” a feature on the Papal Visit and an episode on the very controversial topic of PDAF titled “Kaban ng Bayan o Kabaliwan”. The team was composed of executive producer Archie Madrid, researchers Cayenna Quiling and Jerry Pongpong, videographers Cyril Piernas and Carlito Ramos, writers Joecen Dalumpines and Kristine Mariano and Editors Phillipe Quintos and Peter Sicat.
The Communication students asked questions from the team members regarding production, research, and showing of each of the episode.
Other highlights of the week were activities organized by the sub-organizations of the Communication Society.
Radio MC (RMC) invited DJs Josephine Alas of Magic 89.9 and Justine Quirino of Play FM to give a talk on the “The Millennial Twang”, focusing on the new generation of morning program radio broadcasters. Simultaneous event with RMC is MC TV’s “COMM and Play”, a variety show that entertains and informs.
An exhibit, which showcased the winning paper and other papers presented by the Communication students during the 4th National Communication Research Conference, was put up in the Hall of Achievements at the 4th floor of SMT.
The activity Communicators in Action (CIA) featured talks on service learning and community development and was dubbed “Social Media and Change Agents”. Speakers were Kelsey Pennington and Tina Pasion of MC’s Institutional Network for Social Action.
Rec@p was a seminar on “Google 101” that tackled the proper use of Google. The speaker was Google Ambassador of the Philippines Paul Edgar Pastoral.
MCinema showed award-winning films by students. Themed “Challenges and Successes of Student Filmmakers”, former MC Comm alumni Kaye Gumaho, Regina Pagtaluhan, Queenie Quitoriano, Nika Miranda discussed the edge of their film work. In a separate activity, the MCHS class of faculty Dada Ulili partnered with the MTRCB for “Matalinong Panonood” an informative roadshow.
C*CATT held several activities: a dance workshop called “Dare to Move”, a modeling workshop dubbed “C*CATT’s Next Top Model”, and the “The Voice”, a singing contest for the First Year Comm students.
One of the highlights of the event was a talk by host, editor and writer Bianca Gonzalez-Intal. She surprised one class and gave a short talk on the experiences of the youth. She also distributed copies of her book Paano Ba ’to signing each with a personal dedication.
The week-long celebration aptly ended with “Highlight”, an EDM concert held at the PA grounds with special guests, the “Zombettes” and Igor Peralta.
United Nations Security Council Resolution on 1325 is up for review this year, 15 years after its adoption. A research team led by Radhika Coomaraswamy, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict was appointed to lead the Global Study to identify good practices, implementation gaps and challenges and priorities for action.
A regional consultation was held in Kathmandu, Nepal, to listen to the perspectives of more than 60 women and men from various peace, women and human rights organizations across Asia-Pacific. CPE Executive Director and WE Act 1325 National Coordinator Jasmin Nario-Galace participated in the consultations where she shared perspectives and gave recommendations grounded on WE Act 1325's experience of implementing the resolution and its National Action Plan.
The CPE is the Secretariat of WE Act 1325.
Last February 4, 2015 at Bangkok, Thailand, the Southeast Asian Human Rights Studies Network (SEAHRN) in collaboration with the ASEAN University Network (AUN) launched the SHAPE-SEA program, short for Strengthening Human Rights and Peace Education in ASEAN/SEA.
The SHAPE-SEA program offers to SEAHRN and AUN-member schools a range of grants in the following areas:
Research grants for graduate students and faculty members;
Research exchange fellowships in the ASEAN region for faculty members;
International conferences on Human Rights Studies and Peace Education;
Publication of a peer review monograph series on Human Rights Studies and Peace Education;
Publication of text books for Human Rights Studies and Peace Education; and
National Seminars on Human Rights Studies and Peace Education;
The Miriam College–Department of International Studies (MC-IS) is the newest member of SEAHRN, along with 17 other educational institutions from across the Southeast Asian region. Representing the MC-IS at the launch of SHAPE-SEA was Asst. Prof. Tesa Casal de Vela, Chairperson of the Department of International Studies.
The other SEAHRN-member schools based in the Philippines include the University of the Philippines - Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University- Manila.