fresh no ads
St. Theresa’s College: 75 years of polishing diamonds in the rough |

Sunday Lifestyle

St. Theresa’s College: 75 years of polishing diamonds in the rough

Jing Castañeda-Velasco - The Philippine Star
St. Theresaâs College: 75 years of polishing diamonds in the rough
The St. Theresa’s College (STC) campus, home of “women of deep faith in God and the voice of the voiceless in society,” according to STC Directress Dr. Ma. Teresa Bayle.

Often, as a journalist, I am asked how can I be so calm and composed even when the worst things in life happen right in front of my eyes? Despite the temptations, how can I say no to bribes and remain committed to the truth? I always say, “I learned them as a kid, from my second home, St. Theresa’s.”

Fellow Theresian and ABS-CBN colleague Korina Sanchez would also proudly answer, “Because of St. Theresa’s” whenever she was asked how she could be fluent in both English and Filipino.

Right at the heart of D. Tuazon in Quezon City lies St. Theresa’s College (STC) — a place where nurturing students to unleash their fullest potential is just one of the best things they do. They educate young minds, they encourage souls, they excite life, and most importantly, they bring fire to hearts. A fire that inspires one to always be of service to others.

“Be a blessing to those in need, especially the underprivileged,” the sisters and teachers in my second home would always say.

As we celebrate STC’s 75th founding anniversary, it continues to be guided by the teachings and values of our patron saint, St. Teresa of Avila. Since its founding in 1947, my alma mater has been committed to producing Christians who uphold the standards of excellence, leadership and nationhood.

As our Directress Emeritus, Sr. Josefina F. Nebres, ICM, wrote in STC’s 75th-anniversary commemorative book, the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (ICM), who run STC, have succeeded in keeping their mission alive. “The Theresian formation program put together many decades ago has been successful. I find joy in seeing our girls develop into women of faith and seekers of truth. They leave STC armed with a strong sense of mission and a keen awareness of the environment and current events. Their hearts are open to the poor and genuinely respond to their needs… They are self-directed and compassionate, life-giving in their relationships. They are nation-builders in their own individual ways.”

With the inspiration of ICM foundress Mother Marie Louise De Meester, my alma mater has quietly continued to produce astounding women who make an impact on the different fields of society.

As further stated by Sr. Jo, “Our goal in ICM is ‘Education for leadership and service that is strongly missionary in character.’  Our core values are faith, love, peace, social responsibility, simplicity, service-oriented, compassion, and care for the integrity of creation.”

A toast to 75 years and beyond! (From left) School Directress Dr. Ma. Teresa C. Bayle, Estrella Alcabedas, Elizabeth Mendoza, Marissa Go, Teri Symaco.

As I have experienced myself, STC doesn’t just mold children through their formative years; rather, STC takes students on a life-defining journey, through what then become uniquely transformative years.

For 11 years, I spent my prep until high school in STC. I was molded to be the young girl who is humble yet courageous, simple yet full of integrity, and steadfast and faithful to the Lord. As a student, there were times when I complained about the tremendous amount of schoolwork, which was greater than the workload in other schools. But little did I know that I was being prepared for something that would be much bigger than school: life.

I now credit that rigorous academic training — the very same kind my daughters are now receiving — for my strong work ethic, drive for excellence, and never-say-die attitude. I’m confident these values will serve my girls well, as they have definitely helped me in going the extra mile in the service of our kababayans through my work as an anchor, broadcast journalist, multi-platform producer, and as head of ABS-CBN Foundation’s Bantay Bata 163.

My love for writing, involvement in social issues, and passion for service came from St. Theresa’s. Back in 1986, my stint as editor-in-chief of our school newsmagazine, The Theresian, started my career as a journalist.

But apart from me, STC has produced its own roaring lineup of notable Theresian journalists and writers like Maria Ronson, Chit Roces-Santos, Chay Hofileña and Patricia Evangelista of Rappler, Anna Ruth Cabal from CNN Philippines, press freedom icon Letty Jimenez-Magsanoc, Thelma Sioson-San Juan and Nikko Dizon from PDI, Mel Tiangco from GMA, Korina Sanchez from ABS-CBN, and Millet Martinez Mananquil from Philippine STAR. We owe it to our educators who encouraged us to write, hone our craft, and awaken our eyes and minds on important social issues.

Some of STC’s alumni were invited to write about their experiences as Theresians for the school’s diamond jubilee commemorative book.  One story that I found hilarious was that of Shayne Sarte’s, now one of our famous cinematographers in the country. In her write-up, Shayne narrated the time she left her P.E. shoes at home in grade 3, and how her teacher didn’t allow her to call back home for someone to bring her shoes to school.

“There I was in P.E. class — in my white t-shirt, blue shorts and black Gregg shoes. I stuck out like a sore thumb. Being the class president, I was mortified. And I promised myself, this would not happen again.”

“It has been life-changing in a positive way.  To this day in my adult life, I also made sure I would not sleep until I had prepared my clothes, organized my things and went over my checklist for the next day. My work as a cinematographer would involve meticulous preparation and proper selection of equipment and technical requirements.  If there’s anything forgotten, overlooked or unprepared for the actual filming day, it would translate to time and money wasted. That experience at a young age and the way Ms. Mariano, my teachers and the ICM Sisters at STC had instilled discipline in me have gone a long way.”

It may seem like a little thing, but truly, it’s the little things that matter. Every word said was a lesson, and every lesson was made to bring impact to our lives.

We were taught to use these lessons to transform lives, just as what our directress, Dr. Ma. Teresa C. Bayle, has shared: “The transformative education that Theresians receive from STC should find its way in their effort to transform systems, values, and mindset, towards a change in a materialistic lifestyle that continues to creep into the fiber of our being, forcing more created wants than needs which continue to hurt the environment. We hope to produce more Theresians who will be bold to decide and make a stand to do something more for others and society.”

Alumna China Gabriel also echoed this in her article: “From founding nonprofits for social change, becoming small business owners of sustainable, low-impact brands, to coming together as women speaking out against misogyny and advocating for safe spaces, Theresians have been outspoken and involved, and believe in things bigger than themselves. Times may change, but the most important values crucial to a young woman’s formation remain the same whatever Theresians’ chosen path may be — the values in the song of Mother Foundress and in St. Teresa of Avila’s life story: great courage, deep love, and a strong sense of mission.”

(From left) With STC’s Directress Dr. Ma. Teresa Bayle, my mom Rose, me, my youngest daughter Fae, Directress Emeritus Sr. Josefina Nebres, and my older daughters Fiana and Fiona. My three daughters are Theresians like me.

The quality of education and the formidable culture of instilling proper values are the reasons why there are more amazing women from St. Theresa’s who have excelled in various fields, namely, former Health Secretary Dr. Chit Reodica, former PCSO Chairman Margie Juico, former Marinduque Rep. Josephine Sato, former FEU President Lydia Echauz, triathlete Joyet Jopson, award-winning writer Norma Olizon, food advocate Nancy Reyes-Lumen, artistic director and conductor of the UP Concert Chorus Jai Aracama, UP Assistant Professor in Historical Musicology Pat Silvestre, artist Kankan Ramos, prima ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, and award-winning cinematographer Shayne Sarte.

On STC’s diamond year, reliving the happiest moments and even the embarrassing ones were a joy to recall. We surely had different memories, but we are connected by one home that developed us for countless possibilities.

When young students enter school, they know little of why they are there, and what school is for. That’s why having the right educators in the right environment are important in the formative years of children. As time goes by and as they grow in the hallowed halls of school, when they begin to question things, I believe that is when they start to become hungry for more answers and reasons in life. No matter how simple and innocent their questions might be, we should be ready for the right answers.

To end, allow me to quote from the article Korina wrote: “According to Google, the five steps in mining diamonds are crushing, screening, scrubbing, concentration and collection. I felt all those, figuratively, in over a decade of formation in school. Hopefully, St. Theresa’s, with its well-crafted curriculum, continues to ensure that the diamond in the rough it believes exists in each student it welcomes every school year is revealed, although each diamond isn’t the exact same one as the next. Every time I gather with classmates, it becomes clearer to me that, after high school into adulthood, it has been up to us to determine our value with our own cut, color, clarity, carat. Not everyone can be a concert pianist, a Miss Universe, a business tycoon, a literary star, a prima ballerina. Not all jewelry is for public viewing. There are those who are medical front-liners, teachers, stay-at-home mothers, social workers, clerks, real estate brokers who are diamonds within their worlds. I have no doubt that the most brilliant among them are Theresians.”

* * *

Check out “St. Theresa’s College QC Diamond Jubilee” video (produced by Shayne Sarte and Niq Ablao) at YouTube @STCQCschool.

vuukle comment


Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with