Nostalgia & Romance in a Homecoming

- Tingting Cojuangco () - February 26, 2012 - 12:00am

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Friends may well be reckoned as a masterpiece of nature.” 

Last weekend was the PMA Alumni Homecoming. It was a time for going back to where it all began. My Mistahs of Class ‘83 reminisced about days as plebes, ducats to the thirdclassmen, chickens to the upperclassmen and good neighbors to the firstclassmen and the inevitable question, “Are you resigning?” “No Sir, over the dead and rotten body of fourthclassmen, Sir” was the   answer.

They were teasing and prodding as they always did, especially at reunions. Police Superintendent Poch Lukban said, “Life is too wonderful to spend it sulking”. 

February is the time of the year when these noble warriors, as Mina Alcasid called them, reunite to celebrate friendships, thickened waistlines, and rainbows of acquired personalities that have withstood confrontations where they had to half step, back step, side step, even change step. Finally, Class ‘83 is all forthcoming generals with a few newly promoted, like Police Senior Superintendent Boy Vaño who, as a cadet scholar, sneaked into the college kitchen, a prohibited area to “take life” for slices of bread.

Every homecoming is meant to gather PMA’s gallants even for some romantic recollection. “Old tunes that linger for keeps,” said Jeffrey La Peña. A homecoming is a license to be silly among your kind, to act foolishly without tactical officers and subordinates observing their bosses. It is meant to trigger good memories, sometimes even sad ones, when they remember where their camaraderie began…on a bus from Camp Aguinaldo to Baguio’s Philippine Military Academy with mistahs who passed away from gunfire and vehicular accidents.

Homecomings include wives and children. The Matikas Ladies had their share of fun with the Baguio chill. The bonding they learned to cultivate was a lot tougher to form since they didn’t have the years together like their husbands. Nevertheless, they have managed to create solid relationships brought by years of being in the same circle — 25 years to be exact. Some even pair off their children, match them as partners for proms. As a wife to Brigadier General Romy Tanalgo, Lulu Tanalgo observed, “Unfortunately like any other grouping one can’t be friends with everyone.” It is impossible. There are friends and there are friends the ladies make. How does the saying go? “You find one friend in a lifetime, you’re lucky, find two and you’re blessed, and find three it’s impossible.”  

“It can’t always be caviar,” said Col. Ricardo Bagnol Jalad. Tess Paglinawan, wife of Navy officer Captain Kenneth who is stationed in Singapore, says, “Accept people as they are — no war on human nature. I have learned not to judge, lest I be judged.”

My friends Lulu, Agnes, Tess, Anna and Arlene, my female mistahs of ’83 know the value of silence or sudden disappearances and sudden reunions. Our long friendships have seen their children grow to as tall as 5’ 9” from 4-foot. We don’t need to speak to each other every day. We just pick up where we last left off, with no feelings of awkwardness. Yayang Moral, wife of PMA 83 Navy Captain Michael Morales, who is now a pastor, said, “I cannot imagine not running to a friend’s aid when I am specifically asked to do so. Actually, even when not asked to do so. And I cannot imagine my friend not being there for me when I need them.” So we’re around for each other while it is easy to be sympathetic, give comfort to the anxious, it’s with pride we celebrate a Mistah’s success without envy. 

“It is a factor we posses in Matikas.” Army Colonel Dan Lucero told me. Colonel Dado Iriberri commented, “Sincerity is the key, it’s a mark of real friendship.” 

Ever heard Show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” Senior Superintended Alex Ignacio responded, How about birds of the same feather flock together.” We challenged each other with common sayings we hear about friendships and had a good laugh.

Is this a better one? Chinese philosopher Confucius said: “Have no friends not equal to yourself.” He must have meant, choose your friends well, let them be on equal footing with you. Lulu insists Confucius meant to find friends who have the same moral values and same interests. Whichever basis for friendships, for me, my friends are special. The greatest of all friends is up there in heaven.

Gen. Romeo Tanalgo of the Marines suggests, “Reach out. God’s delays are never God’s denials.”

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