Monday, January 25, 2010

The Boys of Batch 66

In Pretty Women, I wrote about the female members of our elementary batch who have become close after organizing two consecutive class reunions in 2004 and 2005. Now, this is about the male members of the said core group. Since the hubby is part of this group, might as well introduce them alphabetically ( by surname), to be fair.

Lito De Dios is an architect by profession. He is also an all-around artist.Whenever there is a scheduled meeting or an outing ( read: eating) everyone in the group looks forward to Lito's multi-colored stories (oftentimes, they're green). He is not allowed to be absent in any of our soirees because he is the fountain of all joys. Laughter is easily generated whenever he tells a story. He weaves magic in his storytelling. He can make a short, short story into a novela, ( sometimes with a little help from Hermie E. and Rading I. ( the hubby). Almost always, it is not the story that makes us laugh, but the way he tells them. He is so animated and theatrical, you'd think you are in a comedy bar that charges a hefty sum for very talented stand-uppers. But Lito isn't just a comedian. He performs any assigned task to the very best of his ability. On our way to being senior citizens in a few years, the group surely treasures him for always making us feel young by sheer display of his laudable talents.

Hermie Esguerra 's name is synonymous with success. In 1966, when we graduated, I bet no one from our graduating class thought, even for a moment, that we have someone amongst us who, in the future, will be the fulfillment of each and everyone of our individual dreams. Once a seminarian and an erstwhile actor, Hermie hit the bigtime really big. Today, he is at the helm of Herma Group, a multi-billion conglomerate with businesses as diverse as petroleum, shipping, maritime and environmental services, information and communications technology, broadcasting ( he has recently acquired ESPN Phil.). Being an accomplished sportsman, his fun time in his Batangas farm is spent with horses, which is quite a money-making endeavor, too. ( Windblown, his retired racehorse is now a stud, living the best life in his airconditioned quadra.) Hermie has not only gone to many places. He has also has gone up to higher places. He rubs elbows with the Joneses of Philippine society. Because of his interest in various sports, he has met, dined and wined with the best in every field. One very fascinating anecdote about Hermie took place in December, 2008. During the weigh-in for the Pacquiao-DelaJoya fight, an aging boxer, Bernard Hopkins, with a lot of help from other Mexicans, boasted and hurled insults at Filipinos, saying " My partner, (DelaJoya) will knock out Pacquiao at seven, and whoever disagrees, see me outside". Hermie stood up and took on the challenge. The mellee could have turned into an interesting match had it not been for the announcement of Pacquiao's arrival on the PA. What the unruly Mexicans didn't know was that Hermie has been a very gracious host to Pacquiao's opponents when they visit the country.

Genie Gatmaitan is the most quiet boy in the group. He is a seaman but heart problems forced him to take an indefinite leave. He has gone through both an angiogram and an angioplasty last year. Genie is my youngest son's baptism ninong. Ding is all praises for his character and demeanor. And he really is very prim and proper. Whenever we are together enjoying Lito's stand-up acts, he stays put in his seat quietly laughing ( if ever there is such a thing) at the goings-on.

For me and my hubby, Ding Inocencio, going out with Batch 66 is our social life together. It used to be the ME group in the 90's, but it fizzled out in just a few years. Our main activity is eating out regularly, punctuated by some other 'walks' such as going to a 'lamayan', and when invited by Hermie, visits to his Batangas farm or his WackWack residence. There are times when the hubby does not feel like going, especially when he has something urgent to attend to, but I have his full approval to go with the group as he is assured that I am in good company.

Bandong Tan's name is as tough as his profession. He is a policeman, but has retired upon reaching the age of 56 in October, 2009. Loosely speaking, he is my uncle because he is the brother of my stepmother. But I doubt if he will allow someone as old as he to call him tito. Bandong can be both quiet and talkative depending on who he is with. He is unmarried but certainly not unattached. Two years ago, the group, especially the girls, were so excited about his plans to marry his long-time partner, but it did not materialize for reasons he never told us. But he always seems happy so we thought maybe it doesn't matter if they didn't have that piece of document. His civil status doesn't seem complicated to us, anyway.

Whenever we're together, we have great fun and laughter when someone dishes out a story, oftentimes with much support from the other boys. It's a wonder how the minds of these boys can work as one while weaving a funny story. One would think they brainstormed first but the truth is that they are just playing it by ears.

Maybe fate brought us altogether at this point of our lives to relieve us of our individual stresses. Or maybe it's nature's way of telling us life has come full circle for us.

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