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Retired nurses’ good old days at Pamantasan

By Willie Jose
June 13, 2016


For us seniors our concept of a good  vacation is having a never-ending chatting  with friends, filling up  gastronomic appetites,  going sightseeing tirelessly despite wobbling knees -- and dozing off at anytime, anywhere we want it.

A few weeks ago,  my wife Lilia and I, joined  a mini-reunion  in Ottawa with  some  alumni-friends who are mostly  retired nurses; they all  belong to the PLM’s First Batch of Nursing Class ’72 – and  they all  came from all over  the US and Canada .

 We had the grandest time of our lives, re-connecting  with friends  again, many of whom we have not seen for  many years .

Once in a while we need a stress-free get-together like this one to have some breaks from the humdrum activities of daily living .Of course, attending this gathering would surely give us all the time  to mingle and reunite with friends and  batch mates.

We want  to  share with them stories about our life’s struggles and anxieties, even  ailments :  diabetes, high blood pressures, plus of course, our unforgettable   love stories.

Although, Dani and I and our wives, Ping and Lilia are also alumni ,  the beloved husbands of some of these nurses—Ron, Boying, Freddie and Chito-- were there too,  giving  their full support  to make the reunion a success .

Since it was  a nursing  gathering,  these men just stayed  in the background ; they simply observed , listened to the going-on and sometimes, butted in in some conversations.

As these retirees began reminiscing their  good old days  at the PLM when they were  still  a bunch of  27 young and struggling  nursing  students  in the late ‘60s,  all they could  think about then  was their grim determination to succeed in life .

Being skolars ng bayan, the free-tuition education given  to them by the university could be their only lifeboat as they begin their  journey through life .

In telling  their stories, some anecdotes  would even trigger  laughter and nostalgia specially when they  talked about  surviving  their  studies despite the school’s apparent  lack of materials such as books and journal, an incomplete laboratory  and   the amusing antics  of some “terror” profs.

“Since we don’t have enough books, what we would normally  do is to hold a group study--six of us, my classmates  would gather together to  study that one nursing  book and to do some researches, we would go to the National Library,  the Kamaynilaan at the City Hall or  the Thomas Jefferson Library .” Telay said. 

Irene shared her experience of having told to stand for a few minutes at the back of class when a “terror” professor  caught her  talking to a seatmate . And a few years later when  Irene became a professor herself, teaching nursing at the PLM,  she would often see  that  prof  at  school’s faculty room—Oh what as twist of fate  as some people would say it .

Love stories? We shared some amuzing anecdotes  whose circumstances could be enough to merit to be shown at the TV show Maalaala Mo Kaya—just like the story shared to us  by Zennie S  on how Bennie, wooed her by frequently sitting in in her class, though he didn’t belong to that class. On her graduation, Benny offered to take her home together  her parents . And  when her parents asked her , who Bennie  was, she responded, “ I don’t know” but the same Bennie took them home. Well, the rest is history.

 So what could be the title of Zennie's   story ? “ Sit-In” we suggested

But in the case of Telay, the story title could be “Tayo Na” because  her husband , Boying used a different strategy in trying to win her --“wooing” her father and that was why Boying became her father’s favorite. After a while, “ when I confronted him, sino ba ang pinupuntahan mo dito sa amin ?” He meekly responded “ikaw “, so I said eh,  gayon pala, di tayo na “And the rest is history too.

Danny, Bennie and I are also PLM alumni  but we simply allowed  our wives to  enjoy the company of their  classmates in reminiscing the unforgettable  memories of their students’ days .

But what was commendable in this reunion was  our sense of community spirit  specially when we would do some household chores like cooking and preparing meals, washing the  dishes, setting up the tables or cleaning up the rented house-- in short,  everyone joined in.

How could we ever forget the delicious dishes, such as Adobong baboy, Apritadang manok and lugaw whipped up by  Bennie; the mouth-watering Pata Tim cooked by Celia, the meticulously-prepared fresh lumpia and Palabok by Zeny A  and  Estre’s specialty, Sinangag with lots of garlic.

Aside  from sharing  stories, we turned this get together into some sort of a kitchen  cooking show displaying the  culinary skills of our talented alumni .

The Tea Party hosted by Celia and Ron for the group in their home in Ottawa is something we can all look forward to in the future—with all its well-focused attention given to details in preparing this kind of party, what came to mind was the Tea parties of some 5-Star hotels .

What about our food? Well, the food we had was enough to feed a whole battalion of soldiers, some of these foodstuffs—Goldilocks’ sweets, suman, rellenong bangus, daing, longanisa Atchara, pandesal—had been brought by these  alumni all the way from Los Angeles, Texas, San Francisco and Toronto.

Almost every day, someone would do  grocery shopping to buy goodies . One day came when we thought about the problem on how could we possibly consume these foodstuffs that had been stocked and  the leftovers in the ref. Two days, before the end of the reunion, we had boodle boodle lunch, and all the leftovers, except the halabos na hipon  were all put on top of the rice laid on banana leaves .

And that was how we solved  the leftovers’ problem; a few minutes of busily devouring our food, all the leftovers were wiped out; we even heard  Ron saying “ I want to finish off this fish but I’m already full ”

Anyway , before  anything else, we would like to say  a big thank you to Celia and her husband Ron for doing almost all the reunion’s preparations -- arranging the rented house, booking the boat ride and the bus  trip to Montreal, contacting restaurant for meal . Thanks also  for being   good hosts to us—Dani, Ping, Del, Lilia and I—in  allowing us to stay  in your home during the entire 7-day reunion .

Our salute goes also to Dani and Ron for being  the reunion’s   tireless drivers—giving rides to all of us, dropping us off to different places in Ottawa.

With their decision last year to hold this once-in-a-lifetime gathering, organizers immediately put in place all the needed preparations: the house to rent, foodstuffs to bring, flights to book: schedules of visitors  arriving at the airport .

Even  their Facebook and E-mails accounts  started burning as they began busily exchanging notes from time to time, making sure everything was in order. .

While we enjoyed all the walks visiting the beautiful spots in Ottawa and Montreal such the Parliament, the Tulip Festival, Notre Dame Cathedral , the main concern   bothering some of us was our mobility; everyone was almost complaining about the difficulty of walking and the heat and glare of the sunlight .

The night before the reunion’s last day, these nurses had a meeting led by Tess and they discussed all the expenses  they had incurred  and after doing the accounting, Tess told  them how much would be their respective  shares, in short, “it’s all hating kapatid”

And with the success of this reunion, some of them were thinking, why not hold a bigger reunion, let’s say an International Convention of PLM Nurses in 2020 to be   held either in the US or Canada-- inviting  all the Pamantasan  nurses worldwide  with the First Batch of nurses hosting  the affair .

Well, with the kind of bonding shown by these nurses: Lilia, Ping, Delia, Irene, Celia, Bine, Zinnie S. Telay,Tessie Non , Zeny A, Marta, Mina, Judy, Menchie  and Estre— more reunions and get-togethers  are in the offing .

Yes, Lilia and I will definitely attend the International Convention  of PLM Nurses in 2020. See you all there!

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