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!
PARTNERS FOR CHANGE. Undersecretary Joel B.Maglunsod and OWWA Administrator Hans Cacdac, together International Labor Affairs Bureau OIC Director Mary Sol D. Dela Cruz, meet with the group of repatriated workers from Saudi Arabia who sought assistance in claiming their unpaid wages and benefits from their employers.
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