By Rene Calalang
May 23, 2016
Malolos City-February 7-8, 2014: Among the many reunions that we (MHPHS Class ’64) had, and we had many, the most successful, the most fun, and the most well attended, for obvious reasons, was our golden anniversary.
It was a two days affair, held at Barcie Hotel (which to some, especially those living abroad, I included, also served as our residence for a few days) in Malolos City, on February 7 – 8, 2014.
It was a two days celebration made possible after months of planning and hard work by the hardworking volunteers, whom I called as the unsung heroes, for they worked tirelessly and sought neither recognition nor compensation.
It was also made possible by the generosity of many members, channeled through two different groups identified by the country of residence – Those Living in the Philippines and Those Living Abroad.
It was a reunion where there was no compulsory contribution so that there was no financial excuse for not attending, neither there was a formal dress code, and just wearing the Sunday’s best was all the Organizers asked for.
It was a gathering of old friends, many separated by dreams and necessity, because to people with dreams, one must find a way.
This reunion was about remembering the days when we were young and innocent, when life was simpler, when men were gentlemen, when women were ladies and when people had so much respect among each other. Ah! Those were the days.
DAY ONE started very early in the morning of February 7, 2014 with a registration, which was sometimes slowed down by the excitement of finally seeing each other - that after fifty years, we were again face to face with each other.
Emotions ran high, with some screaming, some giggling and some who cannot control their emotions cannot help but shed some tears. And who would not, for at one time, we were part of each other’s life as classmates and as friends who shared the happiest moments of our lives – that of high school days. And to some, it’s more than friendship, but almost as a member of a family. Still to some, the attachment was never broken, with neither time nor distance and other personal reason could put a dent on it.
After registration, attendees were moving from table to table. Driven by eagerness, many were trying to maximize the number of friends and classmates they would be able to meet, as if time would end in an instant.
The atmosphere was vibrant, the noise and excitement was music to the ear and the laughter and the giggling were drowning the weak voice of the few.
AROUND noon time, a mass, conducted by a young, modern priest (my type) the type whose sermon is about doing what you preaches, rather than just preaching. In short, words are not enough.
Following the mass, buffet lunch of Filipino foods were served. Ah, what a lunch it was. To us, who had been out of the country for decades, it was eating the original Filipino food, and that while we eat similar food abroad, this seemed to taste different. “The original is always better”, I remembered hearing from a lot of wise people.
After a short rest after lunch, the program started with Jimmy T and Erlinda A as co emcees. Jimmy T, as usual, made everybody laughed with his never ending jokes.
After singing “Lupang Hinirang,” our National Anthem, led by Eloisa Q; and the Invocation, led by Cecilia C, Nilo F, our chairman the last twenty five years and future Chairman Emeritus, welcomed everyone.
One of the highlight of the program, in my opinion, was the introduction of guests and alumni, but the organizers, perhaps realizing the big number of attendees, decided that only those (together with their spouses) residing abroad would be introduced.
Connie Y, perhaps notified of this part of the program earlier, had made a list of the names of those residing abroad. And so Connie Y, together with the emcees, called us one by one, and in random order, to come forward and speak as if we were celebrities or conquering heroes.
But no Virginia, we were neither both. We were just like others who stayed except we left because of necessity and dreams, and the belief that grass across those mighty oceans were greener.
MEMORIES of our high school days, mostly the good, the fun, the exciting and a few not so nice like the giving of cigarette money by a few to the toughies (it’s up to you to guess who) of our class were reminisced by our class governor Jose Javier.
Cora L, our class valedictorian did the Class ’64 Throwbacks. Originally, she was supposed to make a video presentation of this, but because of some technical difficulty, she had no choice but to do it orally.
The other highlights of the first day of the reunion, in my opinion, were the speeches delivered by both of our guest speakers: Mayor Christian Natividad of the City of Malolos, and Mayor Jocelle Vistan Casaje of the Town of Plaridel.
I, and most likely all others, was extremely proud of these two young politicians as they are children of our two classmates – Mayor Natividad, being the son of Matilde N, popularly known as Baby Dionisio when she was very active in the art of singing; and Mayor Vistan Casaje, being the daughter of Tess V, who herself was once the undisputed mayor of Plaridel, so undisputed that on her last term, she ran unopposed.
The two mayors were eloquent speakers, sign of their high education and knowledge of the subject they talked about.
Judging from the way they spoke, I could proudly say that they are members of the new breed of young politicians – idealistic and with great visions for our country - traits that our country so badly needed from our leaders.
Yours truly, being the Chairman of Those Residing Abroad, delivered the closing remarks.
To conclude the program and the first day, Connie Y and Eloisa Q, led us into singing our school hymn, which made many attendees emotional.
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