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SSC and woman power.

February is always a special month for St. Scholastica's College (SSC) because the feast of its patron saint is on Feb. 10. Thus, the annual homecoming is also held on the Sunday closest to the feast-reason enough to throw the school into a frenzy (and even more traffic congestion on Leon Guinto Sr. Street), except that an even more star-studded event transpired before then.

The visit to the campus of Caroline Kennedy, daughter of assassinated US president John F. Kennedy and a former US ambassador to Japan, on Feb. 7 momentarily eclipsed all other comings and goings. A guest under the SSC's 'Conversation with the Ambassadors,' she came to launch the International Poetry Exchange Program, which she began in Japan, is also being implemented in South Korea, and aims to bring together young people from different cultures. Addressing the 35 Grade 10 young poets and an audience of over 100, she said: 'Poetry turns out to be a wonderful way of bridging our differences, learning about each other, sharing our innermost thoughts and feelings and dreams for the future.'

Highlighting the value of poetry, Kennedy recalled how she and her brother John Jr. were read to by their mother Jackie and how they recited poems on special occasions from memory. She then recited Edna St. Vincent Millay's 'My candle burns at both ends/ It will not last the night....'

Kennedy was accompanied by US Ambassador Sung Kim, who is a familiar presence in the school. It was his third visit, said Mariasun Azcuna, college dean, and one of the lucky few who had Kennedy sign her books.

Mother Mary John Mananzan, OSB, proudly reported that she presented to Kennedy the school's centennial book, 'Daughters True,' a recipient of a National Book Award and edited by four SSC alumnae (Ma. Karina Africa Bolasco, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, Paulynn Paredes Sicam and myself). Kennedy presented the school a copy of her book, 'Poems to Learn by Heart.' A graduate of Harvard and Columbia Law School, she has edited books on constitutional law, American history, politics and poetry.

An interesting event after the school visit was an embassy-initiated tea with the daughters of the late president Cory Aquino, a request that Kennedy herself had made. One was immediately struck by their shared painful experience of loss. It was unfortunate that the youngest and most public sibling, Kris, was unable to attend because of her blood pressure; her account would have taken a different perspective, as typical of her.

Ballsy Cruz, Pinky Abellada, and Viel Dee had a memorable afternoon talking about the family's years in Boston, the Kennedy relatives who had some interaction with their parents, Cory and Ninoy, as well as their brother, the former president Noynoy. They discussed with Kennedy her stint in Japan as well as their special advocacies, with Viel talking about her projects involving indigenous peoples. Pinky was most impressed with Kennedy's grace and warmth: 'She has been through a lot of tragedies and has lived all her life in the public eye, yet she seems so normal... And all these with no sibling around for support.'

Next, the SSC campus geared for the annual homecoming hosted by the HS '93 silver jubilarian class led by Happy Lacson Mabulay. The program theme was to highlight the women that the Scholasticans have become. How proud my class was-HS '63 Esmeraldas- inspired by Victor Hugo's 'Hunchback of Notre Dame' and taking off from a mash-up of the folk song 'Dalagang Pilipina' and Helen Reddy's classic 'I am woman, hear me roar....' The song was reworked for the class by our creatives in residence, Elsa Lava Mapua and Paulynn Paredes Sicam. There we were, singing and dancing to 'We can do anything/ We're Pinays, we are Scholasticans, esmeraldas!'

Every time the class gathers for such events, we remember alumna Sr. Christine Tan, RGS, who always complimented us for 'always making sense' on stage. That night, I could see on front row Mother Mary John, political activist and founder of SSC Institute of Women Studies, flashing the widest of smiles.

February on campus was a proper prelude to the Women's Month of March.

Apologies for last week's column head, which should have read 'Why addressing students matters.' Also: Glydelle Amon is president of Ateneo's Talakayan ng Bayan, and Dustin Abad, the Aisec Ateneo president.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Mar 3, 2018
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