Memoirs of an Octogenarian

The following is the speech delivered by Mrs. Ligaya Balce, a senior alumna of St. Scholastica’s College during the Blue & White Winter Ball of Ateneo and St. Scholastica. Mrs. Balce was one of the invited guest speakers.

Good evening everyone – my fellow Scholasticans, the Ateneans, distinguished guests, dear friends!

As the oldest alumna of St. Scholastica’s College living in Sydney, I was invited by Cita Hoersch to talk to you briefly about the good by-gone years in St Scholastica’s College, Manila.

So, tonight, let us remember our student days with fond memories and recall the precious lessons of our youth.

During my time (from 1937 until 1941), most of the nuns were Germans: Sr Willibalda (high school disciplinarian), Sr Withburga (college disciplinarian), Sr Ehrentrudis, Sr Leonarda, Sr Jovita and my favourite Sr Canisia. There were only a few Filipino nuns and very few lay lady teachers.

The German nuns were true disciplinarians. They taught us to be respectful, polite, clean, neat and orderly. You should have seen our dormitory!

As part of the discipline, there was the dreaded “Protocol.” It was a book signed by students who seriously broke the school rules. Sign it three times and you’re expelled. However, we never knew anyone who was expelled and the nuns never mentioned those who have signed the book.

As interns, we started our day at 6 o’clock followed by Holy Mass (in Latin) then breakfast and classes. We had free time from 4 until dinner.

After dinner, we had social hour. Someone played the piano and we all sang along or we would play the record player. We learned the latest songs and taught each other to dance the latest dances. They were the happy times that everyone remembers.

We had another hour before lights out which we spent studying, doing our homework, doing more reading or taking our shower.

An hour of study was never enough for some of us. Sr Willibalda caught me one night reading in the toilet after lights out and confiscated my book. I went to get it back the next day and, before giving it back to me, Sr Willibalda said “You told me it was a story book.” I guess she misheard me when I said it was a history book.

During that time the NCAA games were already very popular and the Blue Eagles and Green Archers rivalry already legendary. La Salle would hold a torch parade, singing & cheering, around their school grounds and around St Scholastica’s to make sure the girls knew they won a game. It was always exciting to see something happening outside the school walls.

In college, we were allowed to go out on weekends in groups of 2 or more. We would sometimes go to Rizal’s statue in Luneta where we would memorise La Ultimo Adios which our Spanish teacher wanted us to do.

Or we went to the movies. Each girl brought her weapon as protection against boys blocking our way on purpose. When you heard an “ARAY!” you knew somebody used her weapon. It was a pin and it worked.

My college days ended when I left in the summer of 1941. You see, I met someone. My father didn’t like him, so we eloped! I was only 18. That was the naughtiest thing I’ve ever done in my life! No regrets though for we had 7 wonderful children, 14 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

In closing I ask that we do not forget the St. Scholastica’s motto: “Ora et Labora” meaning “Pray and work” and the nun’s reminder: “Order is Heaven’s first law.” Add Australia’s motto: “Never get tired of doing the right thing.” All these are worthwhile keeping in our hearts.
Thank you. – Ligaya Balce

Updated: 2011-09-04 — 02:32:24