MANILA, Philippines - Where were you in 1968? It was a year of many highs — and some firsts. The sky’s no limit as Boeing 747 jumbo jet makes its maiden flight. NASA launches its first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7. On Christmas Eve, three astronauts circle the moon 10 times (I wonder if they found their way home for Christmas). The Beatles (yeah, yeah, yeah!) records Hey Jude as the first single on their Apple Records. The first Big Mac goes on sale at McDonald’s at 49 cents. The 911 telephone service is launched in the US (please don’t ask what number to dial). The first ATM machine is installed in the US. The musical Hair opens in a London theater — just grin and bare it! London Bridge is sold to an American billionaire for one million pounds (two million dollars). So, yes, this 930-foot-long behemoth is no longer falling down but is standing tall and proud at Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
And, yes, University of Santo Tomas (UST) High School Class of 1968 is set to leave the portals of high school and brace themselves for the challenges of college life. (But they say, you never really leave high school — those tween years when you’re no longer a child but you’re still not a adult, and you’re so full of life and dreams.) Out of this fine batch would come outstanding doctors, nurses, medical technologists, bankers, entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers, environmentalists, government officials, newsmen, musicians, artists, designers, etc.
Marking their golden jubilee next year, USTHS Class ’68 has held pocket reunions over the past years in different parts of the US (where a lot of the members are residing now): Las Vegas in 2009, New York City in 2010, Chicago in 2012, San Francisco in 2014.
This year, it was a weekend to remember in Toronto for the fifth North American reunion of USTHS Class of ’68. With the iconic Canadian National (CN) Tower on its flyer, theme of the reunion was “Scaling Heights.” “We look forward to creating new memories, rekindling old ones, and celebrating almost 50 years of friendship,” Marie Rañoa-Roque of the host committee addresses former classmates/batchmates. With Marie on the host committee were Bing Calcetas-Esteron, Connie Romana-Saavedra, Cesar Fernandez, Nick Navarro, Raul Rahinel, and Jesse Salonga.
And so, former classmates/batchmates relived the good old days, rekindling the sterling Thomasian spirit. They looked back on those days when their much-feared (but well-loved) principal, Mrs. Araceli Murillo, a very strict disciplinarian, would give them a sermon for being late. When she would check and measure the lengths of the girls’ uniforms — woe to those who didn’t follow the requisite length. When there were separate gates for the boys and the girls so they didn’t really see each other.
It was truly a weekend to remember as the whole group went on a tour of Niagara Falls (and fell in love with this awesome natural wonder that straddles the boundary between Canada and the US) and Niagara-on-the-Lake, capped by a humongous dinner at Betty’s; a hop-on-hop-off city tour; and a 45-minute boat cruise through Toronto’s harbour and islands.
And what better way to celebrate the ’60s than with nonstop disco-a-go-go dancing at the Marriott Courtyard in downtown Toronto? Theme of the night was true high school retro fashion — remember your bellbottoms, minis, op-art, halters, empire, palazzo, etc. A live band played old high school favorites (think The Beatles, The Beach Boys, The Bee Gees, Spiral Staircase, The Supremes, The Rolling Stones).
Everybody could have danced, sang, and laughed all night!