CECILIA MANGUERRA BRAINARD: PHILIPPINE AMERICAN WRITER CALIFORNIA CEBU

 

BEHIND THE WALLS: LIFE OF CONVENT GIRLS

Edited by Cecilia Manguerra Brainard & Marily Y. Orosa

Anvil Publishing, softcover, 222 pages; email: anvilpublishing@yahoo.com

 

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

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Press Release:

BOOK ON COLEGIALA LIFE LAUNCHED


The anthology, Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, was launched last March 5, 2005, in Makati, Metro Manila. The event was co-sponsored by the publisher, Anvil, and the art gallery/bookstore Mag:net which hosted the event. Mag:net overflowed with some 200 guests to celebrate the release of this new collection of 29 essays by Catholic convent-school graduates. Some of the contributors present were Julie Ann Sarte, Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Evelyn Morales-Del Rosario, Milagros Delgado-Enage, Lolita Delgado Fansler, Angelina Goloy, Bettina Rodriguez Olmedo, Lourdes Busuego Pablo, Erlinda Enriquez Panlilio, Leah Sia, Neni-Sta. Romana-Cruz, Gina Ylaya, and Linda Villanueva. The editors, Cecilia Manguerra Brainard and Marily Orosa, were also present.
The other contributors to the book are: Herminia Meñez Coben, Penelope Flores, Maria Concepcion Abeleda-Beltran, Maida Paulin Antigua, Imelda Nicolas, Amiable Ross Ybasco, Rosemarie Montañano, Sonia Carreon, Norma Celis-Sawitz, Elenita Belgica, Alma Clutario-Patist, Karina Africa Bolasco, Micaela Barretto-Almazan, Eunice Noelle Lucero.
The essays in the book describe colegiala life in Philippine Catholic convent schools over a period of 70 years, from pre-World War II days to contemporary time. The contributors graduated from schools such as Assumption College, St. Theresa’s College, St. Paul’s College, Maryknoll College, Holy Spirit College, St. Bridget’s, and St. Scholastica’s College.
The editors of the anthology are familiar figures in the Philippine literary scene. Cecilia Manguerra Brainard is the award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books, including the novel Magdalena, now available in National and Power Bookstores in the Philippines. Marily Orosa is president of Studio 5 one of the leading graphic firms in the Philippines. Studio 5 has also published award-winning coffee table books.
Commenting on Behind the Walls, Loida Nicolas, Chair and CEO of Beatrice Foods says, “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.”
Likewise, writer-editor Lorna Kalaw-Tirol says, “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.”
Columnist Krip Yuson praises the book saying, “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.”
Writer-columnist Felice Sta. Maria agrees that the colegiala has made her mark as political activist, astute public servant, charity leader, art patron, environmental vanguard, and gender crusader.
The book, Behind the Walls: Life of Convent Girls, is available in the Philippines in National Bookstores and Powerbooks. In the U.S. it is available from PALH (Philippine American Literary House; www.palhbooks.com). For further information, contact palh@aol.com or anvilsales@eudoramail.com.
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Photo courtesy of Anvil, taken at the Manila Book launching of Behind the Walls, in Mag:Net, Makati, Saturday, March 6, 2005. Picture: clockwise (l-r, starting with left foreground): Milagros Enage, Angelina Goloy, Leah Sia, Linda Villanueva, Cecilia Brainard, Marily Orosa, Linda Panlilio, Eunice Lucero, Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz, Gemma Cruz-Araneta, Gina Ylaya

Photo courtesy of Krip Yuson. l-r: Marienne Pimentel, Editors Marily Orosa and Cecilia Brainard

 



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