by Jenny Rivera Singson

2023 Velada witnessed a rare wave of white and blue as the College Batch 1998 joined in celebrating their silver jubilee in spectacular fashion. The alumni buzz far and wide was infectious, and we all wondered how this homecoming feels genuinely sincere and heartfelt for many. I connected with some alumni, gathering thoughts of nostalgia and hints of the indelible mark from the lessons past. The theme “Women of Faith, Women of Action” doesn’t just apply to our service to society, but to each other as well.

Bloom where you are planted

Behind the medley of songs and dances in Velada, the story of our faith and action throughout the years is told, ensuring the legacy is carried on by the strong women this batch generated, all growing and thriving in their chosen paths. “Stepping into the Assumption ground after 25 years was such a blessing,” said Michelle Octaviano. She still remembers her interview in 1994 with then College Dean Chinggay Lagdameo. “After saying that I got accepted, she told me, ‘Bloom where you are planted.’ I’m grateful to God and to my parents for the quality education [I received].”

Anna Dato recalled how seamless it was transitioning from college into her teaching role at the high school, “The integration of the three Pillars: learning about inclusivity and self mastery, … where to educate is not about ‘clipping wings, but redirecting flights, to liberate persons and to change the world and allow the good in every person to break through the rock that imprisons it… These all came from days with Assumption mentors, educators, teachers, and friends.”

Beyond theory, Giselle Samia had fond memories of her role models in school. “Our professors and deans were active in their own fields. We toured radio stations, witnessed government projects and even performed in some such as the Pasig River restoration project,” she shared. ”Then there was Eugenie the Musical where I played young Eugenie together with most of my choirmates from Voices, combined with some AC choral members
from high school and also professors.”

Mia De La Cruz also found strength and inspiration in the community, “AC prepared me to be as resourceful, resilient & creative in every aspect of the word, may it be professionally or personally.”

“AC taught me to embrace mistakes, overcome failures and how to truly love,” shared Nicole Revilla Cabrera, now a mother to an Assumption elementary student. “To this day, I carry with me the values and learnings taught to me in College.”

This is why Johanna “Jana” Ortega Purugganan naturally felt the need to organize an outreach as part of the homecoming celebrations. Recently voted into the AAA Board of Trustees, Jana and a group of alumnae ran a feeding program at Barangay Vasra in Quezon City.

Reconnected in Faith and Action

Giselle recalls her special days in shared, “When I heard about the College being included in this year’s Velada, I got excited because as much as I got excited to come home for my HS Velada 4 years ago, the years I spent in college were equally memorable.” Though she lives in the US, she excitedly connected alumnae like the batch representative she was in 1998.

Contacted by Giselle, Jana made it her mission to grow the hype for Velada and rally fundraising so that everyone can celebrate to the fullest. “This is the first time the batch from different courses met,” said Jana. I can say that there’s like an invisible string that connects everyone. Even if we really didn’t know each other way back in college, there’s a spark and a feeling of closeness and unity amongst us instantly.”

It was still a wonder how this homecoming meant more than connecting with fellow students, but with the rest of the Assumption College community as well, staff and faculty alike.

“I never lost contact with AC folks from the Dean to Asst. Dean to professors to classmates to Admin Representatives among others as they remember to invite me to participate in their professional endeavors,” declared Mia. “I can definitely count on them even during the darkest hours of my CA journey. They formed my Medical Support System and initiated different fundraising activities on my behalf.”

“What makes our batch unique is our ability to band together and stage a Velada performance AND mount an outreach activity all within a span of shared months!” shared Wilyn Garcia.

“I feel blessed to have had this time to reconnect with old friends from College Batch ‘98. We are no longer just batchmates who graduated together 25 years ago, we’ve now become like sisters, faith being our rock and experience becoming treasures. My heart is filled with joy and gratitude,” shared Nicole.

The Velada experience

Mainly reserved for Old Girls from the high school, this year’s Velada was celebrated by the silver jubilarians of the College with pride. Planned only a few months in advance, the batch managed to pull off mini reunions, a community outreach, cool batch merch, video and song productions, and a Velada performance that touched everyone who came and saw recordings afterwards.

“How can just two nights of dancing together have just a lasting effect on us all?!” gushed Ace Yatco. “This Velada experience is such a great teacher to all of us. I think of all the lessons it gave – camaraderie, humility and how to resolve differences. You develop a strong sense of trust, accountability and togetherness which requires intentional effort.”

“After three Saturdays of rehearsing, I found myself looking forward to going to Assumption not to dance anymore but to see, and dance with these beautiful ladies whom I’ve known more personally,” said Michelle.

Mia delighted in the love and support her batchmates have shared throughout, “I feel happy and honored to have played a part however small because truly the rehearsals more than anything made me feel like ‘everything is surely going back to normal for me’, and what a nice treat to be spending these little pockets of joy and laughter with familiar faces from my college years.”

Anna looked back at Velada fondly, “It was a true ‘coming home’ when batchmates became like sisters… hugging, catching up, sharing life stories and milestones… as though 1998 was just yesterday…”

No question these reunions in meet ups and meals, dress and song rehearsals, and non-stop chatter on social media rekindled friendships and connections, whether long lost or ever lingering. And the legacy of our learning in Assumption remains.

Wilyn put it best, “That’s what reunions do to you: Remind you to value what really matters.”

Batch Kudos

Special thanks to AAA President Carmella Araullo, AC President Dr. Ola Regala, HS Silver Batch Rep Elaine Von Grabowski, Ms. Tina Garcia and Ms. Nina for their guidance to be aligned with everyone in the Velada.

reACquaint Reunion by Kail Kalalo Verzola. Velada Outreach by Jana, Kail, Xchosa Taganas Deniega, Ingrid Inis Panuncialman, Kar Kar Garcia, Mhel Rapiz Parel, Tin Gesmundo Crystal, Jona Menez Perona, Reina Putong, Lorraine Caracta Macapagal, Danda Buhain, Korina Sibulo, Chinggay Hernandez, Willyn Villarica, Ingrid Cua, and Aileen Concepcion.

Velada Choreography & Director Coach Batche Tan. Vocal Coach Ms Vicky Salvador. AVP by Cristy Villablanca Deocareza, Ingrid Inis Panuncialman, Jana Ortega Purugganan, Nicole Revilla Cabrera, and Sir Joseph. AVP Script by Anna Dato and Jenny Rivera Singson. Voice Over by Anna Dato. Costume by Wilyn Villarica, Macy Cruz Villar and Ametros Inc. Social Media & Graphics by Aileen CB. PR & Brand Sponsors by Xchosa Taganas Deniega. BTS by BS Management. Merch by Jana, Ingrid, Cristy, Rio Gergel and Nicole.

The author

Jenny Rivera Singson has a long global career in sustainability and external relations in the energy industry and now in fashion, inspired by her college days as Times and Assumpta editor and as a volunteer at the AC Center for Social Concern. She lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, and they have two kids, Justine (24) and Jacob (19).