Forever friendship of St. Scholastica’s High School Batch ’53
A POINT OF AWARENESS - Preciosa S. Soliven (The Philippine Star) - February 14, 2013 - 12:00am

There is an exciting collection of high school reunions all over the Philippines, drawing home many “balikbayans” from America and Europe. Why? Most of them are celebrating either their “ruby” (40th year), “golden” (50th year) or “diamond” (60th year). I have met several whose alma maters are Jose Rizal University, University of Sto. Tomas, University of the Philippines, Assumption College, St. Theresa’s College, and Bintog, Plaridel High School.

Last Sunday, Feb. 10, our high school class ’53 celebrated its “diamond” jubilee at the wonderful St. Cecilia’s auditorium along Leon Guinto Street, formerly Pennsylvania Street, on the feast day of St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, both of them from Italy. We saw 35 out of 98 classmates in a series of rehearsals for our so-called dance presentation labeled “Our Recipe for Life: Forever Friendship Preserve.” Two recipe books, “Scholastican Treasured Recipes,” made up of our own family favorite dishes — inspired the theme.

For the whole month of January, there were weekly Tuesday practices hosted by me at the O.B. Montessori, Greenhills auditorium. About a dozen of us could still kick and sashay the French dance to the tune of “Under the Paris Skies” and Offenbach’s “Can Can.” The rest, including seven classmates who entered the religious life (out of 13 who became nuns) were cast as bakers and cooks, preparing salads, entrees, kneading dough, and baking pastries in the background.

Our recipe for life

Our class alumnae “president for life,” Rory Cojuangco-Lagdameo hired SATB Artists and Managers Unlimited, Inc. headed by Ms. Cynthia Lim, as the production manager with Agnes Suarez, including Nicky Uy, the dance choreographer to arrange the video. Rory read our message while a video close-up of everyone actively working in the kitchen — all dressed in Mila Trinidad-Puyat’s version of “Can Can” skirts crowned with coquettish head pieces.

“If it were a dish, what would “forever friendships” be made of? This is our special dish...fond memories of get togethers, with loads of food and laughter. There were always stories to tell over a bite or two...or three...or four...or so much more! Each spoonful - memorable, every moment then....still as precious, even after all these years. This is our special recipe of... “FOREVER FRIENDSHIPS” preserve.

“INGREDIENTS — 3 lifetimes supply of SINCERITY, the main ingredient for lasting relationships; 3 everlasting loads of HONESTY, something sincerity cannot live without; 60 cups of PATIENCE for every trying moment, to see each other through; 60 pounds of UNDERSTANDING, one for every passing year; 60 tablespoons of CARING each day, to make sure everyone’s okay. (Truly a patient and caring classmate is Lourdes “Lulu” Lozano, fulltime housewife, married to Jun Muñoz, a retired IBM country manager in Indonesia for 28 years. They have five professional children, including Margarita Aldeguer, vice president of Chartis (formerly AIG) with 2 children and Juan Bartolome, a consultant at San Miguel Corp. who has 2 children. Jun and Lulu have eight grandchildren.)

“PROCEDURE — Pour all ingredients slowly into a bowl, making sure everything blends well. Proportions should be just right for that perfect combination. Stir and whisk until smooth.

“When the temperature gets too hot, fold in more PATIENCE and UNDERSTANDING, to cool things down. (Even when the “heat is on” Delia Buenaventura who is struck with colon cancer, cheerfully joins in the “kitchen” pantomime. She is married to Apolinario Dorion, an export businessman, now retired. Their daughter, Dr. Lourdes D. Diaz is an internist and cardiologist at the Makati Medical Center and Asian Hospital; chairs the Makati Medical Therapeutic and Medication Committee. Emilia Dorion manages an American based import company.)

For sure in the end, CARING will shine through and things will be just fine. When the mixture cools, it’s ready for CANNING, to keep happy memories locked in. (Classmate Marietta Adriano married Marquitos Roces, skilled in creative embroidery and baking, she set up the well-known “Sugar House” in Greenhills Shopping Center, which her three daughters further developed into “Gusdare” commissary and Cook Exchange Kitchen Shop with branches in Glorietta, Megamall, and Rockwell. Daughter Josephine R. Chavez is an opera singer in Toronto, Canada.)

Spices...spices...add flavor to my dish! To our families, spouses, children and grandchildren...Thank you for being the spice of our lives. Thank you for the sweetness and warmth during days when there was more than a dash of salt and pepper. This is OUR story of FOREVER FRIENDSHIPS... our special dish, our recipe for life that we will forever cherish and preserve.”

Borderless friendship

Let us review Esmirna “Minnie” Lopez Martin’s Diamond Jubilee impression. Minnie and her husband are both social workers of the Veterans Administration Hospital. From Long Island, New York, they were posted at Redlands, California. Now retired, they live in a lovely neighborhood in Ventura, California, where she provides us, her classmates, five-star hospitality during weekend stopovers we make in Los Angeles. They are proud grandparents of two boys from her daughter Terry.

Terry Austin, a forest ranger and Environmental Studies Major of University of Sta. Barbara is married to wildlife biologist, Greg, who takes special charge of conserving California Condors. Her daughter, Marybeth has been a movie production accountant of Hollywood.

“We are the High School Class ’53 of St. Scholastica’s College. Yes, 60 years ago, we said goodbye to our carefree, innocent, vibrant and happy school days. We all looked elegant in our graduation gowns, designed by the top couturier Valera himself ­— long white flowing gown of butterfly sleeves and a long black ribbon sash crossing the bodice. We asked Aurora Cojuangco if we could copy the dress design which she wore mourning the death of her father. Some of us have known each other since 3rd or 4th grade elementary school and up to college and graduate school. We are “sisters through and through.” We are separated by long distances whether in the Philippines, United States and Canada but we are always near at heart, especially in times of need and life’s personal crises.

For example, when Linda Hoops had her stroke on the plane in Chicago, her daughter called Ellen Soriano to tell her the shocking news. I remember I was vacationing in Las Vegas with Ellen and sitting at the casino at the time. We both had a good coy, and immediately made plans to travel to Evansville to be by the side of Linda. Our week-long stay with Linda and her husband helped by us doing little chores like sending thank you notes and during her physical therapy.

Other times, we have been fortunate to have a get-together whenever a classmate from the Philippines was visiting California or Nevada. Over the years, we had reunions with Merceding Catanjal-Alvarado, Rory Cojuangco-Lagdameo, Tere Chuidian-del Rosario, Mila Magsaysay-Valenzuela, Delia Buenaventura-Dorion, Maggie Guzman-Carlos, Zenny delos Santos-Curameng, Teresita Boncan-Benitez, Angie Borlaza-McAdoo, Carmita Francisco, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Aying Reyes-Paez, Precious Silverio-Soliven, Mila Trinidad-Puyat, and the late Cora Villegas-Nazareno.”

‘My friends are my family’

“This is the same way in Manila, when someone from abroad is in town, a reunion always happen. Rosita Vito is our patient telephone communicator.

Our friendships are limitless. Whether in times of need, joys or sorrows we’re there for each other. When a classmate needs assistance for medical expenses or the burial of a loved one, we are always ready to help when we can. At weddings or coming out parties of our children or grandchildren, classmates are always represented. When my eldest daughter got married, she wanted a short guest-list of only “immediate family.” I strongly objected “But Marybeth, my friends are my family!”

 Thus, Minnie concludes, “We shall always be connected to each other in sickness or in health; in joys and sorrows; in triumph and defeat. We are best friends forever. We are family. We are Scholasticans batch ’53, and we love life!”

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