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‘Cloistered and safe’: Holy Spirit alumni look back

Their stories will live on after the school, founded on 17 June 1913 by the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit, closes down for good in 2022.

Kathleen A. Llemit



Melanie Padayao-Florentino graduates from her AB Psychology course. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OFMELANIE FLORENTINO

Though their beloved alma mater is closing in 2022, alumni of the College of the Holy Spirit in Mendiola, Manila (CHSM) keep its soul burning with fond recollections of their school.
Many gamely answered the question, “What is your favorite story of CHSM?” on Facebook.

Ramona Arceo wrote that she had the “best elementary education” at CHSM. She thanked and named each of her teachers. Her priceless memories include “lollipops and roses during Valentine’s Day that should never be forgotten.”

Others mentioned the “mushroom” area, or cemented stools outside the SJ Building and the library.

Tricia Serranilla said: “Mushroom, ghost stories at the dorm and dark room, library, Manong fishball, gulaman sa San Beda, mga carinderia sa 1st St. among others. Of course, the friendship we all built during our college days. Happy times!”

Melanie Florentino shared the same sentiments. She told Daily Tribune in an online chat that, like her fellow alumnae, she spent most of her time at the library.

“I loved the library. I can still vividly remember the smell of books mixed with the smell of its clean and well-maintained furniture and fixtures. I used to hang out there during vacant periods,” she recounted.

SAYING goodbye to a Manila institution. The College of the Holy Spirit Manila will cease operations in 2022. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF FACEBOOK COLLEGE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT MANILA

She liked the ambiance on campus, and said CHS helped shaped her future. She’s now an accomplished university administrative executive.

“Whenever inside the CHSM campus, I felt like I was in a retreat place or a convent,” she said. “Every little corner was peaceful and quiet and you got to meet charming German and Filipino nuns along the corridors and hallways. The huge old trees, greenery and open spaces gave a cool and refreshing ambiance. Overall, it was a very conducive place for studying and you feel cloistered and safe.”

What were the lessons learned in her years as an AB Psychology student?

“I guess most CHSians live and breathe by the motto Veritas in Caritate or Truth in Love. In my younger years, I was reserved and soft-spoken. CHSM taught me to become assertive and to always speak my mind, to speak the truth without condescending judgment or being offensive. Studying in a non-threatening and peaceful environment must have molded me to become composed and patient even when confronted with stressful situations. My level of maturity and independence also started to evolve while in college,” she said.

CHSM made such a good impression on her family that she has relatives who are “proud alumnae,” including her younger sister, Petronila Padayao, a doctor based in the US; sister-in-law Joyce Chua, a nurse in the US; and niece, lawyer Charlotte Fiel.

Their stories will live on after the school, founded on 17 June 1913 by the Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit or SSpS, closes down for good in two years’ time.

Current Grade 11 and third year college students will still be able to graduate, but there will be no Kinder to Grade 11 and 1st to 3rd year college classes for academic year 2021 to 2022.

“Be it known that the College of the Holy Spirit Manila will voluntarily cease operations at the end of [academic year] 2021-2022,” said a statement the school released on 22 November.