Why are reunions more popular than before? Is it a sign of ageing or is it an affirmation of being forever young? Is it still that boy and girl thing that never goes out of style? Or is it the bond that’s hard to describe, but so easy to feel with the heart?
Members of Ateneo de Naga High School ’73 known as the Golden Boys of Quiborak (GBQ’s,) myself included, are holding a reunion on September 13, 2008 in Naga City, Philippines. It’s an auspicious time to meet the flashy dames of Colegio de Sta Isabel (CSI) Class’73, the magagayons who for years never escaped our minds.
In a gesture of amity, reconciliation, and love, we agree to meet with the ladies. Like before, we’ll have another kurumustahan—this time in a random mix of classmates, friends and families, unsupervised by our teachers, very much unlike the occasions of pabiristohans in soirees we know.
A milestone that definitely tickles the imagination, for the first time we’ll encounter the popular girls in blue that we used to ogle in front of la porteria, at el campanario of Naga Cathedral or at el canto of Ateneo Avenue. The four imposing pillars of the west end near Quiborak seem to draw us like pubescent fireflies in pursuit of the blue girls in their pheromone-rich enclave a stone’s throw from Colgante Bridge.
The reunion not only gives credence to the belief that memories last, it also reminds us of the downside of having same-sex schools at the height of adolescent social awakening. We, the students, sequestered by a compulsory gender divide of our time, still have that persistent longing for pure friendships out of our exclusive cocoons, away from the tangled allure of a strip joint.
The drive to relive the remembrances of our juvenile years is so great that we make ways to meet and be cozy with each other. Away from the watchful gaze of the Catholic nuns of the Daughters of Charity (DC) and the priests of St. Ignatius’ Society of Jesus (SJ,) we have built a shadow co-ed school of our own—the Ateneo-CSI University.
It’s a utopian school that we have established. The Ateneo-CSI University doesn’t have boring lectures. Except for foul behavior, no one has to pay tuition. Wearing long hair or being bald isn’t an infraction. We don’t have to take periodic tests; uniforms aren’t required. There’s no pressure to attend convocations or join protest rallies. Absence and tardiness aren’t punished.
As if to break open a precious time capsule left in the sand dunes of the past or rescue an old surf-beaten bottle that has finally rested on a rugged shore, the reunion will be celebrated in muted grace, pomp, and style. On this unique day, there will be no pain and discomfort— only boundless happiness of having to return to where we are most comfortable, right at the cuddly bosom of affable classmates and supportive friends.
After 35 years we will reach out for the past that will make us laugh and cry. We’ll go back to the roads we walked before. We’ll point the trees we climbed and the steep mountains we scaled. We’ll go back to the woods we explored, glance at the homey blue sky, feel the breeze on our faces, and recall the meandering rivers we roamed.
Some of us will visit the abyssal depths of our fears if only to remind that we’re all human beings who stick together, through thick and thin as though we’re tied in an unbreakable blood compact of Magellan.
We encourage and help each other in good days and bad times like a herd of gazelles grazing in the vast plain. Deep into the vestiges of our own insecurity and personal triumph, we will mark a phenomenal passage. In this reunion, three decades after we left high school, what we have is unity and love, a reward of being bonded and truly alive! =0=
Ateneo de Naga University Northeast USA Alumni Reunion Away from Home