Sunday, July 10, 2011
The Class of 39
No, we weren't graduates of the pre-war years. We graduated from the Marcelo H. Del Pilar High School in Malolos, Bulacan in 1970- just when the First Quarter Storm was brewing in the country, just when the world was expressing its disgust over the Vietnam War- the war the US never won.
39 refers to us- the 39 students brought together into one section- IV-1. First, let me make a roll call of the class based on the picture above (with all due respect to the class monitor-Vicky Almazar)- Bulaong, Ibanez, Galang, San Pedro, Santiago, Santos, Mariano, Victorio, Quetua, Cruz, Aldaba, Torres, Paguiligan, Almazar, Adviento, de Guzman, Pascual, Constantino, Capule, Ferrer, San Diego, Tenorio, Toribio, De Guzman, Dela Rama, Enriquez, Clavio, Laquindanum, Clemente, Roque, Gatchalian, Santos, Aguilar, Calalang, Reyes, Mendoza, Martin, Galvez and another Santiago, who is not in the picture.
I figured it would be doubly fun to blog about this class and mention their surnames instead of their first or nicknames. After all, the teachers of yesteryears always did their power trips by calling us with our surnames. I don't know why they did, but what I am sure of is that when I was still in college preparing to become a teacher, I promised myself never to call a student by his/her surname without a Mr. or a Ms. In fact, I am remembered by most of my students as the teacher who calls them with their nicknames. It worked for me.
Our class size is very ideal. Maybe it was the reason why we all did well. The four years we spent together (except for Reby, Cristy and Ester who were with us only from the 2nd to the 4th year) were fun-filled. The anecdotes aren't that clear to me anymore, but what I remember most were the joyful days we had. I sometimes attended school without a preparation for a homework, especially in math and the sciences, but it made me feel secure that the top ten were always ready to open their notes to us (i was not the only lazy bone) just before we entered our classroom. I remember those days when we would wait outside the building for our classes to begin. There was never-ending talk- about teachers, classmates who made boo-boos, about our crushes, about anything we fancied. IV-1 was a very happy class- that much I can say now.
Reunions were organized by the time we reached our 20th graduation anniversary in 1990. A few made it then and in the succeeding class reunions or get-togethers of our section, we tried to make at least a mental list of those whom we haven't heard about. Today, we still don't know the whereabouts of Rolando Aguilar and Cristina Galang. Each time a number of us meet, we would always wish for that one special day when we, all 39 of us, would meet again and reminisce on the things we did from 1966 to 1970.
As different as we were back then, so we still are now. Twelve among us are now based in the US- Angie, Riza, Joji, Louie, Boy, Rene, Frank, Pearlie, Yollie, Nemy, Deyot and Bert. Almost all of them, except for Louie, has gone back home for short visits- an awaited moment for those of us based in the country- for such were the times when we would gather in one space to talk about things we've talked about many times before. New alliances were forged by our circumstances. Reby, Vicky and Vida emerged as the new "triumvirate" since more often than not, they were always on the forefront of each gathering. Emong and Virgie are both working for the same government agency. Virgie and Celia oftentimes attend gatherings together (and leave together) since they both live in Meycauayan. So with Dolly and Norma whose ties with Matimbo are still tightly bound. Ding and Ver, both in business and the practice of their respective professions, plus Emong and Vic, are always present in our soirees. Judge Luis still provides us with merriment and exuberance whenever he dishes out his stories- whether about the past or the present. Ruth, now a lawyer, has been gracing our parties for two years now. So does Paula. Romy V once visited me at home and has gone to a couple of reunions before. Vic is the link between Romy V and the group so that as long as Vic knows where to find him, chances are, he will be another constant in our parties.
Our muses- Angie, Yollie and Beth have not aged despite the years. I surmise that they still are the "crushes ng bayan" till today. Many among us who are still here in Bulacan seldom attend reunions. Nina, a college prof today, and Sonia, who is said to be based in UP, are a no-show in recent years. Vicky Tenorio, we heard, is not in the pink of health. We have not seen Cata and Alice for the longest time. For some time, Quirino and Romy Martin were visible, but have slowly faded away, too. One good news, however, is Fely Roque's presence in our recent assemblies, despite the fact that she, the 40th member of our class, dropped out after 2nd year high school.
As i've stated before, the details of all the things that happened during our four high school years are now hazy and unclear. But I distinctly remember that on the night of our graduation day, after I have shed off my graduation dress, I cried and cried in my room. It was such a lonely and forlorn moment for me knowing that after the two months summer vacation, I won't be donning my high school uniform again and that I will be dealing with another phase of my student life without the 38 classmates with whom I spent the sweetest, most remarkable and fascinating four years of my life.
Looking back on that night, I reckon that my tears fell simply because my journey, together with my 38 classmates in all of those four years, was one hell of a ride.