Tuesday, May 1, 2012


They were once “colegialas” – girls from nun-run schools who developed their own language and redefined the image of uppity pre-Facebook Filipina teens. Some – alums of St. Paul College – are getting together in Tyson’s Corner next month to help the nuns who helped mold them.

This is the first time “Paulinians” from all over the United States, Philippines and other countries are mounting a global, fund-raising reunion in the Metro DC region.

Gather former school chums – wiser and perhaps mellowed by the years – under one roof (in this case, the Marriott of Tyson’s Corner, Virginia) and you’re almost guaranteed a rambunctious party

But Virna Lisa Mananzan, a Northern Virginia resident who’s perhaps best known as the voice behind “Magkaisa” – that banner song of the 1986 People Power revolt – adds it’s also for a worthy cause.

“The main objective is to lend financial support to the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres Vigil House in Bgy. Tikling, Taytay in Rizal Province,” she explained.

“This is where our ailing nuns spend the remaining years of their lives.  We hope that through these reunions, we are able to regularly provide for the sick and retired nuns and give them the quality of life they so richly deserve,” Mananzan stressed.

The various St. Paul’s all-girl schools in the Philippines are run by the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres established in France in 1696. The group’s ministry revolves around education and caring for the sick and elderly.

The Sisters of St. Paul have been in the Philippines for over a hundred years, first arriving in Dumaguete, Negros Oriental in October 1904. Today, more than 500 Filipino nuns help run 39 schools, 11 health care facilities, 10 pastoral centers and 9 houses.

Mananzan (St. Paul’s College-Quezon City ’82) said ex-classmates approached Soledad Ilagan (SPC-Manila ’65) in 2007 to enlist her support for raising funds for the nuns’ retirement home. Ilagan had earlier established the Paulinian Global Foundation Inc.

“It’s always a wondrous thing to breeze down memory lane and reminisce about the good times. What makes this reunion twice as wonderful is we not only get the chance to re-live our salad days with people who helped shape who we are today but we also extend a helping hand to them and give back,” she averred.

Mananzan recalled her “best years” as a senior.  “I was elected to be the President of Himig Club – that’s our Glee club – and I remember having activities almost every month,” she enthused.

“The most memorable was when we represented our school in an inter-collegiate competition that happened at the PICC and we won first place in the female division,” she told the Manila Mail.

It was also a time when she worked with classmates, some of whom would branch into the entertainment world. 

“The rehearsals were fun, the competition was fun.  Rica Arambulo played the grand piano and she was the only one who didn’t have any sheet music up. 

“Also in our batch were Milette Francia-Belmonte, May-Ann Casal who sings with Gary Valenciano in his concerts, Suzette Hahn-Lopez, Stella Abesamis-Jaleco, Pat-P Daza, Mylene Abiva, Leah de Leon-Lorenzo, Leah Alberto-Nuyda and Judge Joy Sundiang-Dilig.”

The St. Paul’s reunion will be held May 25-26.

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