REMEMBERING HERRAN: A RETROSPECTIVE Part 3 of 3
Introduction by Ana de Villa – Singson
With Contributions by Marina Magallanes, Sandra Garcia Escat, Rita Bautista Poblete, M.D., Marijun Ignacio Mallari, Aye Yap Azurin
Having celebrated Old Girls Day, we recall the many things about Assumption that have shaped us into who we are today. Standing tall among the hallmarks of many Old Girls’ memories is Herran. Herran, the fond name lifted from its address, 405 Herran corner Dakota Street ,was the rustic Assumption Malate with its idyllic lagoon, sun-dappled walkways, canopies of majestic acacia trees and the magnificent Neo-Gothic chapel. With its operations twice stalled by the American Occupation in 1898 and the Japanese Occupation in 1941, Herran shut its doors in 1974. It has since passed into history. But while the brick and mortar of the school no longer stand as edifices, the real essence of Herran lives on. It lives on among the shared memories and collective experiences of its many Old Girls. Herran…the name is mentioned with reverence and true love, made more poignant perhaps because it so no longer there for Old Girls to revisit. But what remains is far stronger than any physical monument. What remains is a way of life, deeply ingrained by the Assumption education. What remains are Herran’s greatest achievements, its greatest testaments; the products formed and honed within its fabled and beloved halls…the Old Girls themselves.
In these pages, Herran comes to life again, in vivid recollection by Old Girls.
This video is published with the gracious permission of the Assumption Sisters and Assumption College
Life in AC Herran as an Interna
Life as a boarder or “interna” was difficult being separated from my parents as we would only go home twice a year due to the distance.
However, being a boarder while in elementary and high school was of great help in my own character formation. It taught me to be independent, disciplined, neat, punctual, creative, organized and prudent with my time allowance.
Everything was on a schedule.
Silence was strictly observed in the dormitory and during study periods.
During meals, everyone was assigned a permanent table while our seat mates were randomly chosen by the school as a way for us to get to know other students.
It was a routine of silence – talk- silence then after our meals, we all leave the refectory simultaneously.
We learned to bathe in 10 to15 minutes to avoid a long queue by the bathroom door.
Recreation time after supper was the highlight of the evening. We would play some games and/or simply chat with our friends outdoors.
It was during our last year or so that film showing was introduced by the late Mother Inmaculada, our Mother Superior then.
As a result of this unique experience of being a boarder, some of my closest friends up and until now are my co-boarders. We have become “sisters”, an invisible bond that has kept us together after 50 years.
Marina Suarez Magallanes
AC Herran 1970
President of the Boarders Association
My Life at St. Raphael Dorm in AC Herran
I still clearly remember my dorm, the St Raphael, a big cavernous room with wide open doors & wide windows on both sides. Within are 3 rows of barrack-style beds. A table beside each bed & a chair in front of it. I was boarder Number 46.
At 6AM, Mother Milagros would strongly hit my number to wake me up to go to Mass.
The Refectory where we had our meals was unforgettable. We were assigned a seat and a table. We had to remain standing behind our assigned seat until the nun would clap her hands.
Then we’d sit down and pray:
“Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts for we which we are about to receive from Thy Bounty through Christ our Lord, Amen.”
A simple but very meaningful prayer!
Of the meals, I have to mention the hated cauliflower soup and the beef slices in brown sauce which we would jokingly call “carabao meat”…oops!
In the evenings, the boarders would anxiously wait for the after dinner walk around the beautiful Herran campus. We would chat and joke around among ourselves including the assigned sister/nun escorting us. That was fun time for us.
I recall there were also naughty boarders in the St. Raphael dorm. One late evening, while the nuns were sound asleep in the convent located beside the kitchen, a group of girls quietly sneaked down to the kitchen. They feasted on the different ice cream flavors in the freezer. I cannot remember if they were ever caught.
So, I can say that my being a boarder and a student for many years in AC Herran left a strong impact on my life today:
I learned to be organized and neat.
I learned not to be wasteful. (I remember this…“eat everything in the plate”, the nuns would say. So we needed to finish the cauliflower soup even if we did not like it).
Lastly but truthfully, I learned to be patient in dealing with the dorm maids especially the head maid named Rita. This virtue of patience has helped me throughout my life.
After all, the life I lived in the AC Herran dorm has made me who I am today…a patient, organized, neat and prudent Sandra.
Thank you, Herran!
Sandra Garcia Escat
AC Herran 1970
My Boarder Life in Assumption (1965-1970)
Being a border at the Assumption was as close to military training as one can get at such an early age of 12.
Everything we did was done within specified times: eating, sleeping, recreation, studying, dressing up & taking a shower (15 minutes only).
These were the rules, rules, rules. Silence at all times. There were interesting times when we broke the rules & never got caught like eating at the refectory in the middle of the night, cramming for the exams inside the shower rooms, talking after lights were turned off. Likewise, the times we got caught & punished were also interesting.
My most traumatic experience was during the night of August 2,1968 when the Ruby Tower 7.3 Earthquake struck at night. Our beds fiercely shook with our mosquito nets, children crying “mommy”. It seemed like the end of the world!
In the midst of our fears, a tiny light held by a nun calmed us down with a steady voice praying the rosary. Then we knew everything would be well.
Rita Bautista Poblete, MD
AC Herran 1970
1955: Mission Day Barrio Fiesta. Students dressed in Filipininana flank the Tombolo booth. Tombola was a popular game wherein numbers where pick out of a box tambiolo in exchange for prizes.
Remembering Assumption Convent Campus in Herran
My family is from San Jose City Nueva Ecija, which is a 4-hour drive from Manila at that time.
Wanting an Assumption education would require us to become boarders or as our parents labeled it then, as an interna.
Assumption dormitory would be an essential factor to avail of its education — our home away from home. Being an interna became an additional learning process that perhaps complemented us boarders of who we are today.
What I remember most being a boarder in Herran is whenever my dad would bring me back to the dorm, I would run after the car to the gate (which I learned later on happened to some friends of mine too). Am hesitant to write my thoughts as it was truly a boring life as an “Interna” also known as Boarders.
I remember our daily routine:
6AM Wake up
7AM Silent Breakfast
12PM Silent Lunch. Wait for the clapping of Mother Bernarda before we could talk.
Then another clapping to stop talking. Ugh!
1-5PM Resume Classes/School/Benediction
6PM Dorm and the > 15 minute Bath or else the nun will knock at your door to say your time is up
7PM Dinner & Walking
8PM. Study Period
9PM. Lights Out/Sleep
Next day, start all over again!
I remember a classmate who had very long black curly hair wearing a white long gown who would sleepwalk. I would be so scared.
Remembering Miss Catherine, our sewing class teacher who would always watch us with her forever Kleenex on hand.
We would always make sure to peep into the nun’s room out of curiosity.
On most weekends, I would be alone in that big dormitory with only the mistress of the dorm in her cloistered room. I had to bear those times because I was not allowed by my strict parents to go out with anyone even relatives. I focused on playing the piano in the school to help in my boredom.
Our only thrilling adventure at AC Herran was riding the small boat anchored at the pier of the lagoon with ducks swimming relentlessly. One has to rock the boat for it to capsize to enjoy a free swim with the ducks. One must experience this to claim that they are true-blooded AC Herran girls.
Some of my co-boarders felt that being in the dorm was a form of punishment because we were young then and always ready to party. But then we also realized and found out that we gained an extended family and genuine friendships in our lifetime.
Marijun Ignacio Mallari
AC Herran 1970
1968: Hawaiian-themed Mission Day festivities.
Remembering AC Herran
Growing up in the province, a romanticized notion of being an “interna” was planted in my head. You know – going to a big school, studying and playing with all your friends, nuns to watch over you, etc. But lo and behold, it was also to be a disciplined, rigid and time bound life. Everything we did from waking up, to eating our meals, to playing on to lights out, were at given times and for a specified period. As much as we could, we all faithfully complied less we be disciplined and be made to stay for a weekend. A most dreaded punishment!
Beneath all that angelic behavior though, would also be some moments of adventure and rebellion. Our share of gizmos (tiny pocket transistor radios and mini flashlights) came in handy.
When our mistress of dorm turned in and put off her lights, out came our books (you know those banned Mills & Boon and Emily Loring) and the flashlights. We read to our hearts delight under our blankets. On other times, the radio underneath our pillows would help lull us to sleep and muffle the evening sounds.
The most memorable of our rebellious escapades would be our midnight snacks in the roof deck. Prior to such date we would plan who will be the lookout, who will round us up and what food to bring. We would smuggle in our suitcase with what we had to bring. Thank goodness, our manangs who helped bring our suitcases up did not have sniffer dogs then. I was always assigned pastillas de leche and Finina Ocampo, the butong pakwan.
Sometimes the trips to the roof top were simply to see if the pool was still lighted or to create tales around items we saw hanging in the laundry lines of the sisters.
Our groups’ adventures would give us such highs. Sometimes though, I wished our group did better than what another group did – one April Fool’s Day, we all woke up with our slippers all piled and mixed up in the middle of the dorm. That was great clean fun for all of us! For the first time the dorm came to life with squeals of laughter and also irritation. Our poor mistress of dorm could not contain the ruckus it created.
Life is what we make it!!
*A number is assigned to a boarder upon enrollment that marks our assigned bed, locker, hook to hang our laundry bag and everything we had – uniform, cutlery, linens, etc.
Aye Yap Azurin
AC Herran 1970
Part 2 of 3
PART 1 of 3
In this first installment of a 3- part series, Cora Lopa (HS ’55, Coll ’59) , Cristina Estrada (HS’ 67) and Aurea Magsaysay del Prado ( HS ‘ 70) reminisce about their days as students in Herran.
A Day in the Life… Herran Revisited
7:00 Monday morning.
‘Round the corner of Herran and Macario Adriatico Sts.
Through the wide wrought-iron gates.
Past the welcome smile and wide-brimmed straw hat of Mang Segundo.
Past the Grade School building on the left, dotted by little red plaid skirts
and little hands being led by mommies and yayas to classrooms where purple habits, white veils and gentle smiles met their “darlings”.
Past the Flag quadrangle, rimmed by those watchful old acacias,
Onto the wide-open space in front of the Auditorium where you got out of your car;
made a mad dash to your classroom in the High School Building…
7:20 and the bell rings.
Morning Prayers and the Morning Talk of your Mistress of Class.
Followed by “character formation”; early training in accountability and transparency, thanks to Mother’s reading of “the dreaded Observation Notebook”.
Then regular classes began. Bells rang. Mistresses of Class quietly roaming the corridors, observing all…
Wooden Permission slabs often used in-between, collected from the teacher’s desks where they hung temptingly.
Mid-morning Recess! Lunch boxes emerged with matching thermos bottles.
Some even negotiating an exchange of sandwiches with classmates.
12:00 noon. Chapel bells rang. Everyone stopped, stood: the Angelus was recited.
Some nuns then disappeared. Soon, you could hear the distant sound of intoned chanting from the chapel as they recited their Noonday Office.
Back in the classrooms, lines were formed: Boarders and Day Boarders were led in silence to the Refectory for lunch.
Seated at pre-assigned tables, Grace was said and eating began in silence.
Until Mother Bernarda clapped her hands, signaling that talking could begin.
Second clap: back to silence as lunch ended. Lines back to classrooms.
Break time – when games of Bataille , Warball or Volleyball were fiercely fought
on the dappled grounds in front of the High School Building, underneath the shade of those stately acacias and their caterpillar residents.
Study Period – some studied, some napped, some secretly played games
of Hang-man with their seatmates.
Bells rang. Classes resumed.
In-between, a 15-minute Adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament every week.
4:30 pm. The end of the last class!
Time for daily Benediction:
Long white organdy veils emerged and were strapped on with elastic bands. Lines moved forward in silence to the chapel.
An organ sounded the opening chords of O Salutaris Hostia …
In one voice, a hymn of praise was raised to Jesus, Our Lord – the unmistakable Center of every day in the Assumption, together with His Mother Mary. This reality was constantly reflected in the ubiquitous, personal attention of every “Mother” in Herran; every Religious of the Assumption, who loved every child entrusted to their care and education as a precious child of God.
In the words of “Old Girl” Gizela Gonzales Montinola (HS1974):
“The old Assumption is now gone… But we would manage to carry like a talisman, a small pocket of Grace within us, the old Assumption Herran…”
By: Cristina A. Estrada
AC Herran ‘67
AC HERRAN HS 1967
Sixty-six years after graduation, I can still vividly recall my Assumption schooldays as if they were only yesterday. And as I summon up these memories, I cannot help but become wistful as I remember, among other things, the nuns teaching us the distinct Assumption handwriting that we copied in those red-and-blue-lined notebooks; our First Communion ceremony, with all of us in our long, white dresses and veils, so ethereal looking; the “battaile” games that we played under the shade of the century-old acacia trees. Assumption traditions that I wish could be carried on.
I remember all this with a sweet sadness that nostalgia brings, and I am grateful for these wonderful and irreplaceable memories. But what is far more valuable that I take away with me and for which I am indebted to Assumption is the love of PRAYER that took root, slowly, gently, then deeply in my soul.
Through these many years, prayers have been my lifeline to Heaven. In good times and in bad, I turn to prayer, as it has become second nature to me, for guidance in doubt and conflict, for hope in the darkest of times.
How did this love of prayer grow in me? Not through grand lectures from strict and demanding nuns, to be sure, but from simple, consistent practices that were part of my Assumption, Herran school life.
We had assigned times for Adoration, where we knelt at the foot of the altar to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. What would a ten-year-old be praying for, you might wonder. No, you just talk to Jesus about anything, we were told. So talking to Jesus became a most normal thing. We attended Benediction everyday before departure time, where we learned to sing Latin hymns that I remember to this day. We had regular masses and confessions, too. At times when we misbehaved, our Mistress of Class would take us aside for a talking to. Then we were told to go to the chapel to reflect and do some soul searching before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. And for all these visits to the chapel, we wore our long organdy veils, which we kept neatly folded under our desks.
We went through all the motions not really understanding what these practices were all about. Years later, as I grew older and life became more complicated, turning to prayer at various moments in life became a habit, then became a way of life.
A LOVE and NEED for prayer is what I learned from my school and which I treasure most. It is for me a most precious gift. Prayers make life, even when difficult , beautiful because prayers make us feel the ever-comforting presence of God.
CORA B. LOPA
ac herran hs 1955 | college 1959
“Assumpta Est Maria” … our school song sung by generations of Assumption girls, their meaningful words now assimilated into our very being, never to be forgotten.
And what about the hallowed Assumption grounds in Herran? The buildings may have been torn down, but we relive their fond and precious memories as if they were just yesterday. We would watch bataille and volleyball from these halls. Lessons in the classrooms were conducted by all sorts of teachers – the stern, the kind and the funny ones. Mother Ana, our class mistress all throughout our high school years, would simply clap her hands twice and she had our immediate attention. To this day, she is still our class figurehead, as she leads us through the remaining chapters of our lives.
One of my favorite places was the chapel, where we had our regular general assemblies and masses. But there were the quiet moments too, when I had those rare opportunities to visit Him one on one and have a heart-to-heart talk with our Father amid the stillness and solitude of Adoration.
I miss the old auditorium. What a treat to listen to Oscar Yatco and his orchestra! One day, he conducted “Peter and the Wolf”, which was Prokofiev’s ingenious way of introducing the Strings, Woodwinds, Brass and Percussions to children like us. This same venue gave way to report card days when we would either beam with pride or shrink with embarrassment while we listened to our individual grades.
The old acacia trees have disappeared. The Italian marble from the chapels have been dismantled. Herran is now named Pedro Gil. There is no lagoon to speak of. Just one thing endured through all these years. “Fidelity to duty, love of simplicity”. The Assumption spirit lives on forever in our hearts.
AUREA MAGSAYSAY DEL PRADO
AC HERRAN HS 1970