To the Theresians in bikini from a true-blue Theresian
By Raïssa Robles
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?
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.