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Kindhearted ladies at the Birds of Paradise pop-up |


Kindhearted ladies at the Birds of Paradise pop-up

PERSONAL CHOICE - Frannie Jacinto - The Philippine Star
Kindhearted ladies at the Birds of Paradise pop-up
Classmates and organizers of the Birds in Paradise pop-up: Merce Melian Tovey, Madlen Faustmann, Tessa Tayag, Marian Aboitiz, Beng Aspillera, Jenny Paradies, and Sylvia Singson

On Valentine’s Day, the tight-knit group of Beng Aspillera, Madlen Faustmann, Jenny Paradies, Sylvia Singson, Ging Hizon, Marian Aboitiz, Katy Paradies, Tessa Tayag, Merce Melian Tovey, Cherry Salazar and Becca Jose from Assumption High School (San Lorenzo) 1968 met at the Makati Garden Club with an important goal to accomplish: organizing, fixing, and displaying the one-of-a-kind assorted European items for the weekend’s pop-up bazaar, aptly named Birds of Paradise.

The merchandise offered were chosen with the fine eye of Jenny and Madlen in England, and Beng in Spain and France, who scour antique shops and flea markets with their discerning taste that makes the bazaar’s fans and followers return yearly to get first dibs on the European treasures and collectibles that are offered at very decent prices.

For the past decade (except during the pandemic), these kindhearted ladies wanted to not only get together regularly, but also do something worthwhile by sponsoring scholars, since education is a primary step in improving one’s life. Gemma Suzara gave them the idea to help with their personal funds, and the Manila-based girls decided to go official by registering with the SEC in 2005.

Graduation 1968: Peter Villa, Cita Baretto, Ditas Singson, Cherry Pelaez, Marivic Villanueva, Dinky Castillo, Chona Valdes, Stella Vibal, Maryann Meer, Becca Favis and Mench Diokno

Scholars are referred from poor communities with a strict policy that candidates cannot be endorsed by the group’s friends, family or from their own employees.  The main criterion is that scholars should “have absolutely no one to turn to.” Currently, they support 15 scholars who are enrolled in various universities with courses ranging from Education, Nursing, Agriculture, and Software Engineering to master’s in Management and Public Administration.

The tight-knit classmates have bonded further through the decades by traveling together to various parts of the world. Beng happily discloses the secret to their united friendship: “Our group works hard and celebrates big-time after a successful fundraiser. Work and fun are what have kept us happily together since grade school.”

Early birds: Rocio and Babot Joseph, Peewee Caspelich, Maryann Meer

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