To the Theresians in bikini from a true-blue Theresian
By Raïssa Robles
So the universe seems to have crashed all around you.
The entire school knows who you all are and the whole world has been told of your folly (thanks to the foreign wires).
I’ve just heard that one of you is even contemplating suicide.
Don’t. Please let me tell you why.
When I first heard of what had happened to you, I immediately thought – poor parents. To have labored for years just to see their daughters graduate. And then to have that joy taken away, all because snapshots – of them casually holding beer and cigarette while clad in bikinis during a fun family outing in the sun – were unwittingly uploaded on the social networking site Facebook.
But I can also understand the good nuns of St. Theresa’s and how cleverly they bind all their students to a contract to behave a certain way.
Seeing these pictures of the girls wearing their baggy, shapeless STC uniforms brought back a flood of memories. The skirts always had to be worn below the knees – the lower, the better.
But I know that come school bell time, a number of girls would always roll up their skirts at the waist and turn them into mini skirts before sashaying outside the school gate into their waiting cars and waiting boys who seem to clutter the perimeter like pigeons on a wire.
I was amused when I read that the STC School Handbook now contains an explicit prohibition against “posing and uploading pictures on the Internet that entail ample body exposure.”
What does that mean exactly? Perhaps the nuns could be more explicit and say – no bikinis, no two-piece apparels with the navel exposed and the neckline plunging, no transparent or translucent blouse showing undergarments like Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City.
As for the other rules like no smoking, no drinking, and no “engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts,” those rules were always there.
For some girls, the rules against smoking and drinking are there for breaking. It’s part of growing up. I recall, some of my classmates sometimes smoked inside the chemistry lab with the only male teacher in the entire high school.
But they are none the worse for it today. In fact, some of them are leaders in their profession.
I take exception though, to the idea that wearing a bikini falls under “engaging in immoral, indecent, obscene or lewd acts.”
In that case, all the noontime TV shows would have to be banned by our society.
But I can very well understand why the school authorities defied the court and barred the students from taking part during the graduation. The issue had become public knowledge. The nuns did not want to risk the possibility of the girls being applauded or booed by the audience. It would have ruined the entire graduation and would have grossly undermined their authority to impose discipline on the entire studentry.
That said, the nuns underestimated the parents of the girls, that they would fight for their right and the right of their daughters to walk up the stage and receive their diplomas. By the way, is the penalty clear in the School Handbook that these kinds of transgressions are punishable with non-participation in the graduation?
As for the girls and her friends, they wrongly assumed that Facebook is private.
Nothing on Facebook is private even if your settings are private – meaning, only for your family and close friends. Pictures ALWAYS have a way of leaking out into the public domain.
And please remember, girls, never upload or write anything on the Internet that you would not want your future employer or boyfriend or husband to read. It is very difficult to erase anything that you have put out there on the Web.
Before I close, let me share with you a secret that the nuns haven’t told you. It has to do with why they have all these strict rules of behavior that seem to date back to the Middle Ages.
Looking back at my own 12 years in STC, I realize that the good nuns hammered at academics and required everything else to be sublimated to that.
And it’s a good thing. Before they came along, girls’ schools in the Philippines had merely emphasized catechism and rote learning. But the nuns of STC actually demanded that we learn to use the sexiest part of our body – our brain.
Keep your chin up, girls. One day, you will laugh about this and the pain will be gone.
Painful things have a way of turning out to be blessings, if you let them. One of my classmates in STC got pregnant and the nuns made her drop out of school. We spoke about her in hushed tones as we secretly followed her pregnancy and her giving birth to a daughter.
Years passed. We lost touch. But thanks to Facebook, we found her again and had a reunion. She proudly showed us pictures of her lovely daughter, now grown-up.
What I’m saying is, this is not something you would want to kill yourself for.
Life will be wonderful, you’ll see.
the issues are simple:
1. was there due process when the school decided to impose the sanction?
2. did the school take into account the possible reactions of the parents and how it would affect the outcome of this situation?
i am neither pro or against these girls.
For those who are still not in the know about the due process:
The students were made to explain the pcitures, in their own penmanship. After their explanations were deliberated upon by the school, their parents were shown their explanations, were informed of the school’s sanctions, and they (parents) agreed on the punishment. I think they signed a document as well.
i would like to see the actual photos.
confessions done without the presence of counsel are not valid admissions. they do not constitute as a valid waiver of rights. thats just what basic due process requires.
yes, i would like to see the photos and decide for myself.
ano rin po ba masasabi nyu tungkol naman po sa isang catholic school na pinagbabawal ang paggamit ng cellphone saloob ng campus.Isa rin po itong catholic school.
Nenita M; Rafinan says
Mali naman iyan kung pati cell phone sa loob ipagbabawal. What i want to say is sa loob ng classroom closed okay, I agree! pero sa loob ng campus that’s wrong. invasion of privacy na
iyan; of course pag may class all cellphone must be closed, kasi kung mag-ring iyan makakadisturbed naman. pero kung wala na sa loob ng classroom okay na iyan, puwede na
marami sa mga students ay ‘absent-minded’ kaya nakakalimutan i-silent mode o i-off” ang cellphones. ito kadalasan ang kinaiinisan(pet-peeves) ng mga teachers habang nasa classroom. para walang gulo, pinagbabawal itong dalhin.
reasonable naman ang patakaran na yan kung nasa classroom pero hindi yata sa campus.
I really think this school needs to come into the 21st century, ok have rules for kids whilst they are in school once they are outside the gates it’s their lives.
How can the wearing of a bikini be so bad it’s a fact of life and if you look most kids of today look to America for fashion and the way of lifethat is lived in the STATES, they see themselves as an offshoot from there.
As for the nuns well we do not live in a century that castigates people for minor things that happen in life and unfortunately religion in this country is all to powerful I have listened to nuns castigate people because they did not marry in a catholic church or because they have lived together for years but never got married, and then they have the cheek to say that all persons should give 30% of their hard earned cash to the church or they will be damned in hell WHAT UTTER GARBAGE
@apat: Can you please confirm or clarify your statement re: “As for the nuns . . . they have the cheek to say that all persons should give 30% of their hard earned cash to the church or they will be damned in hell”?
Can you please be specific? This is the first time I’ve heard about this claim against the nuns or the Catholic Church!
Elena Lemi says
As I had said b4 am not siding the school or the students concern. I am also what you call a rebel in my time but we need to choose a path. Whether we be successful or not but it depends on each & everyone’s ability. Just go on w/ life. Mahaba pa yon no,
I never thought you studied in STC. Are you a cebuana Raissa?
Loud Too says
I think I need to think of a new school… outside of the catholic fanaticism that gripes of hypocrisy
•It’s not true that the school banned the girls from attending the graduation rites simply because they posed in bikinis. The girls were not in a beach. They were inside a hotel room. The photographs were obscene and sexually provocative. STC said it could release the photos but chose not to because they want to protect the dignity of the five students. This matter was purely internal until the students filed a case in court.
•STC did not hack the facebook accounts of the girls, contrary to the insinuations of many news articles. Some STC students who didn’t like the photos reported the matter to the school admin. The school has always reminded the girls to uphold responsible use of social networking sites for their own protection and security. To ensure the students’ adherence to this, the student handbook prohibits “posing and uploading pictures on the internet that entail body exposure.” [In addition, some acquaintances saw the photos, which means these photos were not private.]
taken from http://attyatwork.com/academic-freedom-and-the-stc-bikini-girls/#more-2313
Two wrongs do not make a right, if you consider wearing beach wear to the beach a wrong. Anyway girls, if in life, you have a TRO filed against you, remember it is ok to ignore that TRO just like the Nuns did. They are afterall the ones who “taught” you a lesson in values. NO, do not ignore laws, just joking, rise above that. Girls you have to consider the source. Your graduation rites were stolen from you, pure and simple, by a few over zealous members of a school administration. Others will try to spin it or sugar coat it, but still it hurt you. Your loss is miniscule however compared to theirs. Laugh about it as you rightfully should and move on. May I attach an article which I found a bit thought provoking in an effort to demonstrate how petty of an issue, wearing beach wear to the beach really is. All things are relative. You girls do not need to shield yourselves from any wrong doing. Not only what we are teaching students, on how “fitting” it is, or is NOT, to wear beach wear to the beach, but perhaps some priest may also take a lesson on rules far larger and more becoming than from an educational instution. It is called the institution of society. Look on the bright side, maybe the Nuns really were protecting you girls from other horrific and creepy elements in society.
oh really, and how would you define ‘obscenity’ and ‘sexually provocative’?
i think those are highly relative things. there is no basis for this as a public statement. you cannot withhold the photos because they are the basis for sound decisions. one cannot form opinions by mere hearsay. it just makes you a ‘tool’.
what is provoking for the religious may not be necessarily so for the general public. if it aroused prurient desires in them then that is their problem.
the term provocative would also be in the same class. not all women are blessed with features that can really provoke. like they say, its either you are born with or without it. there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you are at STC, you have to follow what’s STC’s definition of “obscene” and “provocative”.
It is not the general public’s definition. If that is your norm, go to liberal-minded or money-minded schools who are open to accept them
Loud Too says
Do they also have a separate meaning for TRO?
Are they not under the same law that governs all?
Di porket di sila nagbabayad ng tax eh di na sila under ng constitutions of the Philippines?
Loud Too says
Talk about following the rules when they themselves broke a law? Ano ba tinuturo nila sa studyante nila, its ok to break the law because you are a catholic?
Have you seen the contents of the TRO?
Please don’t drag religion or affiliation into this mess because it is not whether one is catholic or not.
indeed, ‘mrs. crumplebottom’ has her own set of values. its a reality one has to live with.
To settle the question of whether or not the photos were obscene, maybe either the school or the girls should publish the photos once and for all.
yea, can i friend you girls on FB?
just because they are nuns, they should follow the law. what they did in defying the TRO is unlawful. it sets a bad precedent to our justice system.
but more importantly, i think they should be jailed for causing such major damage on the psychological health of these young minds they were entrusted to mold.
Elena Lemi says
Had been in an exclusive girls school from kindergarten to high 1. Brought up by the nuns w/ very strict rules. In our time mas grabe. Then I went abroad to continue my studies but also with the nuns but a coed 1. This time it’s an American School kaya much more freedom but the strict rules are still there.
Now with this, my opinion is at present, everything is different but we still have to abide the rules of our alma mater whether we like it or not. Maybe the girls see nothing wrong but remember you are in an exclusive school who will strictly implement their rules.
Am very neutral about this. For the school, they will preserve their honor of implementing their rules. For the girls, they see that their freedom is being trampled on. My advice is just go on w/ your life because it’s still a long way from here.
To tell you frankly, I did not attend my graduation because I came back home on an ieergency. I was not able to go back for my graduation rite due to martial law. Just go on with life to the fullest for life is too short nowadays.
Go, go, go, girls..Go naked even, and show those nuns what it sometimes takes to be a woman…
Ah, the beholder speaks.
zeus a. salazar says
Ano ka, sinisuwerte?
Nenita M; Rafinan says
Hi Yes, go, go girls show to the world that u have nice body beauty is an ART di ba?
Bakit ninyo itatago ang beautiful na katawan ninyo. Show it ? kaya mali iyang mga madre na iyan. Dapat bigyan ng lesson.
nelson ongpauco says
yan ang napapala natin sa kapapanoond ng american movie at panggagaya sa mga kano wala tayong orighinality pati na ang mga game show dancer ay halos hubad na gaya ng mga dancer noon ng wowowie na kung sumayaw ay pakajotkajot pa pati na rin ang sayaw ni michael jackson na hawak hawaak ang kanyang alam nanatin na ginagaya ng mga pinoy ..pati ng rin ang batas at ugali ng mga tao sa america ….siguro pagnakakita sila ng mga naghihiraman ng asawa ay gagayahin din nila dahil karamihan ng artista ay kung sinosino ang mga asawa at kabit na ganagayan ng mga tao..papayagan kaya ng mga magulang ang nude resort .kung may magtatayo nito dahil dito sa america ay marami kang mapupuntahan kahit nude3 beach marami dito ….noong bago ako dito ay maynapuntahan ako at ang mga pilipino ay akala mo ay mga nakawalang aso .hindi marunong ng desenteng kilos …sapalagay kaya ninyo ay papagan ito ng gobyerno at mga magulang na katulad ng estudiaanteng nakabikini??????
Maria A. says
I came from an exclusive girls school and I and see both sides of the coin. I understand both the position of the school and the sentiments of the parents/teenagers. Not knowing the entire story, it is difficult to judge though.
I agree with your message and would like to add a few thoughts. Back in high school, there were girls with disciplinary problems – smoking, drinking, tattoos, pregnancy, drugs. There were many who wrote them off. However, many years later, I see now that they’ve done so well with their lives in spite the challenges. A tattooed friend became a spunky litigation lawyer. My friends who got pregnant early turned out to be devoted moms. Some of my friends who drank, smoked or did drugs told me that they’ve left all of that behind. They are now successful businesswomen. What you were in high school will not define who you will be. Don’t give in to the people who would like to label you. Instead, show them your true worth.
Girls, you still have your college graduation (and post-graduate, if you so wish) to look forward to. Work hard in college so you’ll have a memorable graduation ceremony to look forward to.
Yeah because being a devoted mom is a GREAT career that will feed your children!
Maria A. says
To be sure, I’m not condoning the early pregnancies. I’m just saying they rose above the difficult situation they were in. They didn’t let the stigma dictate their lives for them.
It might interest you to know that one of the girls I was talking about not only became a devoted mom but went on to study in UP law and became a successful corporate finance lawyer. There was tremendous support from her parents of course, who helped her a lot financially and emotionally. She never failed to acknowledged that it was a mistake but she learned a lot from it. What I admired was her determination to prove wrong those who were quick to brush her off.
Maria A. says
I think the sarcasm is uncalled for. I’m just sharing my experience about my friends who were once in the shoes of these STC girls. To be sure, I’m not condoning the early pregnancies. I’m just saying there are people who rose above the difficult situations they were in. They didn’t let the stigma dictate their lives for them.
It might interest you to know that one of the girls I was talking about not only became a devoted mom but went on to study in UP law. She is now a successful corporate finance lawyer (I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s earning much more than you!). There was tremendous support from her parents of course, who helped her a lot financially and emotionally. She never failed to acknowledge that she made a mistake but she learned a lot from it. She said that her life would have been so much easier if she didn’t have a child to care for throughout college and law school but she did not shirk from the responsibility.
Like many things in life, you deal with the consequences of your actions. Her having a child to care for at an early age meant goodbye to parties, gimmicks, outings and all the tomfoolery we all went through in college. Instead, she worked doubly hard to excel and graduate on time. In law school, she was a working student. Her path was definitely more difficult than most of ours but one can’t help but admire her determination to prove wrong those who were quick to brush her off and her refusal to give up her dream, despite all odds.
Being a devoted mom IS a great accomplishment.
simply lang ang gusto kong ipaabot sa inyo mga “hija” – naalala pa ba ninyo ang Panatang Makabayan:
“I love the Philippines. It is the land of my birth. It is the home of my people. It protects me and helps me to be strong, happy and useful.
In return, I will heed the counsel of my parents. I WILL OBEY THE RULES OF MY SCHOOL. I will perform the duties of a patriotic, law-abiding citizen.
I will serve my country unselfishly and faithfully. I will be a true Filipino, in thought, in word, in deed.”
whatever will be your station in life 10 years from now i wish you can still reach out of the true meaning of being a Filipino.
You have to move on now!!!
I think some of the younger girls in stc were just about ready to follow the example given by the senior girls, maybe even do better. they’re impressionable at that age. children always wanted to have more friends, the more the better, be famous, be seen and have more hits in facebook. thankfully, the nuns put their feet down. I bet the nuns are extra careful. don bosco school for boys is not far from stc and some of the boys there are really good looking, rich and worth flirting. he, he.
I think the school administrator wont give up the white flag that is why they defy the TRO , I just hope they wont Jailed for doing that
Loud Too says
Oh its jail indeed. Its a direct violation of the LAW. No religious beliefs can shield you there
Have you seen the contents of the TRO? TRO is one thing and not able to enter the compound for the ceremony is another thing. That may not have been addressed in the TRO.
For the sake of argument:
Some of the audience booed the girls when their names were called to receive their diplomas.
In retaliation to spite the crowd, the last girl, instead of bowing to the audience, openned-up her toga and exposed her undies or wiggled her bottom.
Would it be acceptable?
No I haven’t seen the defied TRO … but I’m with you desper … I would be one of those girls who would do just that …
STILL can’t get over the finality of this punishment … so they failed in their conduct according to the STC standards but passed academically … that doesn’t say much about the wholesomeness of the whole STC curriculum …
For everyone’s information, the girls are allowed to graduate, they were ONLY not allowed to attend the grauation ceremony!
For everyone’s information, the girls are allowed to graduate, they were ONLY not allowed to attend the graduation ceremony!
Johnny Two III says
You have great imagination! You wish!
Ducky Paredes says
That’s the way the law should work. But, someone please ask the judge who issued the TRO why he did not send the nuns to jail. One of our problems with the Law in this country is that many times napapaki-usapan ang mga hukom. Then, paghindi sumunod ang TiniRO, wall naman pals slang magagawa!
Don’t blame the nuns. It just tired out that they’re smarter and have more balls than the judge!