Class reunion, fifty years from high school

WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - January 17, 2016 - 9:00am

Tomorrow, a group of senior citizens who belonged to the Baby Boomers' Class of 1966 from Southwestern University will gather together somewhere in Cebu City, after attending the SINULOG and preparatory to our participation in the International Eucharistic Congress. Fifty years is a long time and we expect our faces to have already metamorphosed from the larvae and pupae that we all were in 1966, to the ageing butterflies and caterpillars that we all must have become. What matters most is that we all still belong to the same animal kingdom, the same phylum and the same class, pylum chordata, class mamalia. We were all virgins then, in body and spirit. Today, some of our classmates have remained immaculata. The others, "ang nawong morag gikulata."

In 1966, there were no cell phones, no lap tops, no internet, no automatic teller machines. But we were all happy, joyful and hardworking. We never complained even in the height of student activism. Our girls were all wearing uniforms, which were maroon skirts, strictly three inches below the knees, and immaculate white blouses with starched "almirol." The boys were mostly in short pants, except the overaged ones who insisted to wear long pants. But all pants were in khaki and with white sidewall haircut and black shoes. Nobody came to school in slippers or with hair unkempt nor with dirty nails. We were a disciplined group, well-behaved and law-abiding. Our teachers were strict and uncompromising. We did our assignments and followed the schools' rules and regulations.

Our most serious offense was cutting classes when, after our first grading and second grading examinations or even finals, we just wanted to express our dissent to the very hard questions we wanted to give ourselves a treat by skipping our Vocational Classes or our PE in order to go to one of those second rate, trying hard movie houses in Colon or Leon Kilat to see the movies of Susan Roces or Amalia Fuentes, or Dolphy and Panchito. The girls in our classes were evenly divided between the fans of Susan and the fans of Amalia. They competed in inviting us, boys, to join them to the theaters for twenty centavos for a double program of a whole afternoon enjoyment, plus peanuts and softdrinks.

A bag of peanuts then cost us a whopping amount of five centavos and soft drinks were two bottles for fifteen centavos. Our lunch was five centavos rice, five centavos viand consisting of fish or pancit, and we allowed ourselves the luxury of another five centavos dirty ice cream. For that misdemeanor of cutting classes we would be guilty the whole school year and we would regret for squandering our parents' hard-earned money. To think that we just walked our way from Urgello to P del Rosario then to Leon Kilat and Colon. But after the escape, if we still had some coins in our pockets, we would take the tartanilla from Colon to Urgello to hurry up to be reprimanded by our parents, guardians, landladies, or older sibings.

We have allowed fifty years to pass without having corresponded with each other, except, of course, our Class Valedictorian, Carmen Sumalinog, now Cotapte, who discovered each one of our hermit kingdoms via the magic of Facebook. Today, Southwestern University is no longer solely owned by the Aznar family. The great institution that Don Matias H Aznar II founded in 1946, and developed by his wife Dona Anunciacion Barcenilla  Aznar and his son Commodore Bombey and his daughter, the late Lydia Aznar-Alfonso, is managed by the PHINMA, a very successful and professional conglomerate. We can no longer hold our reunion inside as we do not know the new owners. We just have to reminisce our sweet and bitter memories of high school from 1962 to 1966. From a distance.

I want to see the girls that first made my heart palpitate and caused me sleepless nights, even if they never came to know about it. I want to tell them now even in the presence of their husbands. I wanted to sing TO ALL THE GIRLS I LOVED BEFORE but USAHAY would suffice. I want to see the faces of the boys, the more handsome and the more moneyed who made us angry, jealous, and spiteful because they monopolized  all the girls' attention. We also want to see our old teachers; I hope they are still alive. I want to see what difference could fifty years make. I want to submit my experiment in metamorphosis, from the larvae and pupae of our innocent dreams and idealisms in 1966 to the caterpillars and butterflies of realities in 2016. Whatever it is, it is the love, the affections, and the fellowship among the golden jubilarians that really matter most. Yes, Carmen, all else is peripheral. Not the food, not the drinks, not even the program, it is the love that really matters most.


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