Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls

Edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard & Marily Y. Orosa
Anvil 2005, softcover, 222 pages

What a fascinating collection of colegialas’ memories! It is interesting to note the nuances of language, the cultural forces, the forms of discipline, the passions and issues, that defined each generation of colegialas––from Mila Enage of prewar Holy Ghost College to Eunice Noelle Lucero of post-People Power St. Scholastica’s. So different one from the other, and yet, in essence, so unchanging from one generation to the next. Whether or not we want to admit it, much of what we convent-school alumnae have become can be credited to––or blamed on––the American, Belgian, German, Dutch, and Filipino religious women who formed us. That is the happy––or bitter––truth.~ Lorna Kalaw-Tirol, writer and 16 years a colegiala

The stories in this book will give readers an inkling of how and why the colegiala women think, speak and act as they do. The nuns have definitely put their stamp on our psyche - for good and for not so good. But most of all, they taught us how to live and how to overcome. ~ Loida Nicolas, Chair and CEO, TLC Beatrice Foods Philippines & China

The allure of exclusivism lives on in the desire to join and perpetuate the colegiala network. Once the strict domain of a few upper-class ninas, the all-girls convent school has now found diverse middle-class variants with differing degrees of attention to what distinguished it from coeducational public schools: etiquette and elegance. Certainly not bred to be street-wise, the colegiala however has made her mark as political activist, astute public servant, charity leader, art patron, environmental vanguard, and gender crusader despite the socialite stigma. Behind the Walls sneaks a peek at what makes the convent-school grad succeed or flop in the real world after she discovers that nuns do have locks beneath their veils and sins to confess despite devotion to a prayerful life. ~ Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, writer, columnist

This collection of essays has long been overdue, and should fit very nicely into that special niche of Filipiniana that uncovers the mystique behind a Filipina. What influence and reach these “colegialas” or “convent-bred” ladies have had, and continue to exercise, on the Philippine societal landscape! Our two lady presidents thus far have been products of that special, privileged education that took place “behind the walls.” And it is likely that the next will also come from an exclusive Catholic girls’ school. Beyond the elitist tradition of education under foreign nuns and their successors is that continuum of poise and grace, good manners and right conduct, knowledge and moral strength that has come to characterize our women of substance. May the tradition live on! ~ Krip Yuson, writer, columnist