Journal 5: Gathering of old classmates

(I wrote this for my April 28 column in Sun.Star Cebu)

After more than 30 years, there we were there for the first time around one table at the Majestic in Ayala to recall “those days” and track old elementary school classmates. My “igso” Brenda Tamara (I prefer to use the maiden names; they’re familiar) just came home from Norway and linked up with her former Cebu City Central School pals.

There were only a few of us Saturday night: Edwin Colipapa, Emerson Dionaldo, Anthony Bargayo, Wilfreda Lepiten, Lilu Itaas, Brenda and me, but that was but a start. The consensus was that there should be a reunion for the batch of 1972, notably the classes that occupied the room near the corner of Osmeña Blvd. and P. del Rosario St.

How long is more than three decades? For the mind, not very long. While there is a chasm between our present looks and our grade school features, there are scenes of youthful frolic that, when dredged up during gatherings like the one we had, are still fresh. Indeed, the child we once were always lurks within the man/woman we are now.

But we have gone a long way. Some of us have become doctors, lawyers, top government officials, mentors, employees of private firms, etc. We have experienced the pains and joys of growing up and raising families. But while our paths branched, we responded to the same societal stimulus, our attitudes shaped by the same environment.

When then president Ferdinand Marcos placed the country under martial rule, I had moved from City Central to the Cebu City National Science High School. I didn’t survive, eventually transferring to Southwestern University. The formative years of my batch therefore ran smack into the formative years of Marcos’ “Bagong Lipunan.”

I don’t know how successful martial law was in shaping the thinking of my batch. But it must have failed in some respects because I ended up rebelling against the status quo. The young Pinoys that we were then populated the protest actions waged against Marcos in the streets of the country and the guerilla war that exploded in the countryside.

Anyway, I would have liked to listen to the growing up stories of my former classmates during that Saturday gathering, but time was short and all of us were conscious that we have our own priorities to attend to. Maybe we will meet again after three months. In the meantime, we will have to continue tracking the others in our batch.

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