When ruby is golden

NEW BEGINNINGS - Büm D. Tenorio Jr. - The Philippine Star
When ruby is golden
Philippine Ambassador to Portugal (left) Paul Raymond Cortes with Edwin Santos and Sister Guia Moreno.
STAR/ File

Every reunion is a magical experience. The moment becomes golden — even if it is a ruby jubilee.

The alumni of Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati Batch ’84 seemed to celebrate Valentine’s Day — or Chinese New Year — in advance when, in flaring red shirts, they attended the 40th year since they left the portals of their alma mater. The joy they had, clearly written on their faces and crisply heard in their laughter, was a combination, according to some alumni, of all the happy holidays the world has known.

Hyperbole notwithstanding, the reunion of Don Bosco Makati Batch ’84 was a tapestry of classic tales among batch members and updated tales of their lives. Joy was at such a fever pitch that the alumni who attended — including Philippine Ambassador to Portugal Paul Cortes, retired Philippine Air Force Commanding General Lt. Gen. Connor Anthony David Canlas and award-winning film director Mark Meily — were in stitches remembering their juvenile follies.

(From left) Glen Melendres, Wayne Jose, Andrew Buencamino, Allen Dalit, Boks Lauron, Randy Estacio, Leo Navarro and Byron Bautista.

“(The reunion) is a way to help me discover little stories to give me clarity on how the world works,” said Mark Meily, director of acclaimed films Crying Ladies and Baler.

He added: “My Bosconian education gave me two things that I still carry with me after all these years. First, a strong Christian/Catholic foundation that keeps me updated with the church’s role on our spiritual and moral growth. Second is a keen talent for abstract reasoning.”

My good friend Edwin Vergel de Dios Santos, a businessman and physical therapist from Tyler, Texas, flew to Manila days before the event “because I simply cannot just miss it.”

Edwin said, “Our Bosconian bond has been fortified by history and understanding the ups and downs of life. We admit how coming home together is a healthy dose of life’s elixir!”

Award-winning film director Mark Meily and Edwin Santos..

“The reunion gave us joyful moments in reminiscing on our youthful playground days to intermittent moments thinking of our departed brothers and our lists of current maintenance meds. Indeed, we are all much more alike than different in passion for Christian joy and Bosconian charisma,” Edwin added.

How did Don Bosco prepare its alumni for their life and career?

“Paramount to formative maturity is an established sense of healthy relationships. With the hallmark ‘student diary’ for every Bosconian of our time, which was checked daily in school, we appreciate steadfast communication among parents and teachers. Our Don Bosco education instilled in us respect towards authority while asserting personal home values,” Edwin said.

The reunion saw the Bosconians of Batch ’84 from various cities around the world. After 40 years, unbridled laughter, lots of banter, surprises riddled with warm welcoming hugs took over Cardamon Catering and Temple Tree venue in Las Piñas. Events center owner and operator batchmate chef Ramil de los Reyes had been planning the smorgasbord menu for months and the evening of reckoning had brought immense fulfillment.

(From left) Jerry Salazar, Nel Maligaya, Perry de Leon, Jaime Dumlao, Michael Suarez, Jake de Jesus, Anthony Linzo, Cez Martinez, Epoy Benzon and Gen. Connor Canlas.

Every Bosconian is part of a Salesian family because Our Lady Help of Christians welcomes their heart and soul into the fold. The night of Jan. 27 was a testimony of a true coming home, living up to the motto of St. John Bosco: Da mihi animas, coetera tolle (Give me souls and the rest take away).

Also in attendance were the batch’s “Voodoos,” including couturiers and entrepreneurs Richard Papa, Roland Lirio, Ramon Esteban, Cebu-based Arnold Trinidad, Jonas Sta. Ana and nurse Rodel Angeles (they were in charge of setting up the stage, the altar and LED wall). DJ Allen Dalit and brilliant emcee Jeffrey Tan from Davao were spontaneously crafting the program sequence for the night. Edwin promptly got busy with printing labels and nameplates in precious calligraphy.

Also jetting in from abroad were Erick Francisco and US Navy’s Wayne Jose, Jose Roel Villaverde, Jonathan Young, Apple Corp.’s Ernest Trias, Jun Garcia and Bebo Jiandani.

Don Bosco elementary valedictorian Bernard Velasquez and high school valedictorian Cez Martinez were engaging, hilarious in their exchanges.

Edwin said high school graduates of Don Bosco Makati receive two distinct diplomas. The academic achievement for completing secondary education as prescribed by the Department of Education and the very unique Technical Diploma for satisfying the requirements for vocational aptitude excellence including two years of general drafting and general shop, then another two years of more focused electives among which are machine, automotive, electronics, drafting-mechanical and architectural.

There are quite a few who have become physicians like Oey Pena, Rhoel Nunez, Vincent Macalintal, Elis Maghirang and Franco Felizarta.

Salesian Fr. Vester Casaclang commenced the liturgy by sharing a batch trivia: the most seminarian aspirants historically are from Batch ’84. To which Edwin injected “Pinakamarami ring pinalabas – o lumabas. Oh, Lord, have mercy!” Los Angeles-based Fr. John Ernesto Cordero has also persevered in the noble priestly calling.

Celebrating with the jubilarians were their beloved faculty family members including Mr. Rudy Sadili, Mrs. del Rosario, Mrs. Alice Enriquez, Ms. Fortune Quion and their grade school assistant principal now Franciscan nun Sr. Guia Moreno.

The ruby celebration of their reunion was so magical that this early Don Bosco Batch ’84 is gearing up for their 50th jubilee.

While waiting for their golden moment to come in 10 years, Don Bosco Technical Institute, Makati Batch ’84 will continue to live the Bosconian core values of spirituality, integrity, involvement and collaboration.

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