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Over the weekend, I saw people who don’t know any better question your ways and I couldn’t help but laugh a little at their fake concern about my fellow Kulasas.

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Seeing Scholasticans hold a noise barrage last Friday to protest the burial of the dictator made me remember all those noise barrages we participated in, long ago—banging pots and pans and encouraging motorists passing outside our school gates to show their support by banging their car horns. I turned nostalgic seeing the present generation of Scholasticans do the same.

Soon, I will celebrate my silver jubilee year, graduating high school from your hallowed halls. They say the most important education happens at primary school. I owe much of who I am today to you, my alma mater.

I was in Grade 3 when the EDSA Revolution happened. I remember hearing my parents and their friends discuss the impact of the assassination of Sen. Ninoy Aquino on our country. I remember seeing photos of the huge procession that accompanied his burial in 1983 and thinking, that is a hero. At home, we were surrounded by books and in St. Scho, we discussed it a lot, too.

I remember hearing then Mrs. Corazon Aquino address us at the field in the Manila campus sometime in 1986. She talked about the need for democracy to return to our country. I remember that far back.

In Grade 5, I learned to respect the different people of the Philippines by studying the tribes and their various practices, including regional dances with the help of Mr. Ramon Obusan. We even put on costumes from our assigned regions and paraded outside the campus, along Vito Cruz Street.

When I worked as an NGO volunteer in the Cordillera as an adult, locals appreciated that I am open to their unique dialects and practices. Thank you for teaching me that Kalinga is a separate province from Apayao—among many other information that others never bothered to learn.

I remember some time in grade school, we stood outside the campus for Science class. There, along Leon Guinto Street, we logged the plate numbers of the vehicles that were emitting dark and nauseous smoke. We even had placards condemning smoke-belching and air pollution. Our science teacher collated the lists and submitted them to the government. This was years before the Clean Air Act was even filed as a bill in the legislature.

I remember we had adopted communities in Apelo Cruz in Pasay and Smokey Mountain. We went on trips there, walking between small houses and over mountains of hot trash to meet children who we treated as equals—this was how our Saturdays were spent.

All of this, of course, was with the signed consent of our parents. Our parents, God bless them, who worked so hard to send us to a school that fostered our individuality and instilled in us social awareness—both things proving to be very, very important these days.

There, we were encouraged to live simply and to share what we had. Though no school is perfect, in this regard, there can be no dispute.

Thanks to you, there was never any question in my mind that women and men have equal rights. I learned early on that men and women should have equal opportunities.

Later, I realized you taught your students beyond what was prescribed—few others read Ang Mga Ibong Mandaragit or Dekada 70 in high school, or at any point in their lives.

Thank you, St. Scho, because when I later enrolled at the University of the Philippines, I had no doubt that, as a citizen and a taxpayer, I had a stake and my opinions mattered and that, I should stand up for what is right.

I am so happy that this education continues today—an education that goes beyond the walls of the classroom or the school campus.

I have met many Scholasticans from different generations who now contribute to inclusive growth in the Philippines. I am happy to stand side by side among them and be heard. May many more generations find this strength of character within them.

My education was not confined to the classroom. My character was built through life experiences.

I appreciate the life lessons I learned from St. Scholastica’s College and I know that until now, they value individuality, personal opinions, social awareness, and responsibility.

I hope more people will have convictions they will stand up for, without people dictating or stifling them.

The author is a graduate of St. Scholastica’s College grade school and high school, and the University of the Philippines Diliman. She recently finished her MA Advertising and Brand from the Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu in Romania with an Erasmus Mundus scholarship. She has worked extensively in various development fields: in education in Romania; in education, children’s rights, people empowerment, community development, and environmental education in the Philippines.

Illustration: Madel Crudo

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