Archive for the ‘UP Ibalon reunion’ Category

The Ibalonian Reunion in Culpeper, Virginia

September 23, 2008




Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon took time out from mentoring students in British Columbia, Canada and so did her sister Dr. Leida Paje who had to be away from her private dental practice in California. Dr. Vines Nolasco-Reis, a toxicologist from Indiana drove alone to Culpeper to meet Dr. Totie F. Mesia and Dr. Marietta F. Mesia from New York.

The Ibalonian doctors’ visit turned out to be off from what was originally thought by Min’s brother, warm-host Errol Paje with gregarious wife Coreen in their beautiful new home in 808 Persimmons St, Culpeper, Virginia on September 21 and 22, 2008. Dr. Ray Rayel of Wisconsin couldn’t leave his cardiology patients for a weekend getaway. Fems didn’t have the chance to separate from her WHO-Geneva group who were in CDC, Atlanta, GA for a conference.

For the love of her OB-Gyn patients in Naga City, Dr. Eden B. Fernando went home too soon from her visit in San Diego, CA without seeing us. Busy! Leida and Vines arrived earlier, but didn’t have the time to wait for Totie and Mariet who got stuck with the delays of air travel in JFK airport in NY. That was in addition to the irksome routine of security checks against terrorists and the malfunction of the GPS in that rented Hertz car.

The most endearing part of the visit however was being with Min’s mom Eusebia “Nanay” Paje whom I haven’t seen for more than 30 years. The last time I met her was in Naga Airport on my way to Manila. To give the mellowed but perky lady the big smiles before her vacation to Bicol, I had the piano too noisy with old favorites like Sarung Banggui, Born Free, Yesterday, South of the Border, Crazy, Londonderry Air, No Other Love, I Could Have Danced All Night and a few more which made me remember my own mom before we comfortably retired late in the night. I had the song-hits ready, but only Min, Mariet, and I remained.

The next morning, Coreen and daughter Megan was a delight as they prepared to go to school. Vines gifted me with something saccharin right from grandma’s kitchen. Just as the sun was up, Min, Nanay, Mariet, Errol & son Matthew and I happily drove together as a family to Dulles, Washington, DC to catch our respective flights for home. The experience was certainly perfect as the fond memories that went with it.

We thought it could have been better if other Ibalons were there. The chilly breeze of autumn’s onset was there. Under the pale sun, the cornfields of Virginia were fragrant with ripening bulbs from a distance. We certainly missed you all! =0=

AdeN-CSI University: a boy and girl thing that never goes out of style

September 10, 2008


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=

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Ateneo de Naga University Northeast USA Alumni Reunion Away from Home

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Nostalgic Connections

June 11, 2008

April completed her pre-college schooling in Cardington, Ohio. It was in this quaint beautiful midwestern American town where the Rotary scholar, Dr. May Magdalene V. Yorobe’s daughter, started learning about the world away from home. Dr. Yorobe, a UP Ibalonian, came to visit her only girl right before graduation. She traveled the north central states to Ohio and went as far as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York to discover, learn, and answer a few questions.

What is the most helpful tool in your travel bag?
A cell phone.

Why did you come without George, your hubby?
George wanted to be with me, but he’s busy in Manila. With his tight schedule, he can’t even go home to Bicol as much as he wanted to.

What comes next for your daughter April now that she has finished school in Ohio?
She’ll proceed with nursing when she returns to Manila this June. She desires to help the sick and perhaps take care of me when I grow old (laughter.)

You’ve been in many places in America. Which was the most memorable?
Washington, DC. I loved the energy and message of the Memorial Day celebration. The historic pieces of Americana shown in the parade were stunning. I was elated by the sights and sounds of native Indians in their colorful feathered costumes, the contingent of old war veterans, and the beautiful song “God Bless America.”

Did you connect with Filipinos in your travel?
Definitely. I made many connections even with people I met for the first time. I couldn’t forget the petite Filipina sweetly wrapped around a burly black guy I saw in Maryland. In her tight-fitting tube blouse and matching miniskirt, the Pinay looked more American to me than most of the people around. Yet, she gave me a friendly, warm, and generous smile which I thought was lacking among other Filipinos I encountered elsewhere.

How did it feel to be in Broadway this summer?
The warm weather made my light clothes from Naga wearable in Manhattan. On sunny days, the tall buildings stood with ample shade to make sunblock unnecessary. New York City looked massively claustrophobic, but the spires and glass buildings were awesome. In that crowded strip of earth in Times Square the giant neon lights were ablaze even at noontime. The Phantom of the Opera still stalked viewers at the Majestic Theatre and to my surprise, a number of Filipinos lined up to watch the show after a very long run.

What were your thoughts when you stood at the site of 9/11?
The rugged huge hole in the ground where the Twin Towers once stood made me sad. I recalled the 4,000 innocent lives which were lost when the terrorists crashed the airplanes into the buildings. It’s good another edifice, a magnificent memorial for the fallen ones, is about to rise above ground zero and reaches out for the sky.

How did you react upon seeing Ibalonians you never saw for many years?
I couldn’t help, but yell on top of my voice during the reunion. I wanted to recapture the past that suddenly materialized in front of me. It seemed eternity that I waited so long to see them. No wonder loads of stories came flowing in— They brought back the wonderful past and the glowing present. The future, we talked about with hope, optimism, and great joy.

Who were the Ibalonians you met and those you missed?

In Wisconsin, I visited Dr. Ramon Ray G. Rayel and his family. Ray has still that gracious voice that tickles my funny bone. In Indiana, I found Dr. Divinia Nolasco-Reis brimming with hospitality. Her stories were plucked straight from the heart— red-hot and spicy. In New York, Dr. Totie Mesia got a trove of memories which made me feel good about how friendships evolve, mellow, and last through the years. We planned a huddle with fellow-Ibalonians Raniela Barbaza and Bingbing Badiola-Bretan somewhere in Queens. It didn’t happen. We simply lacked time. I wanted to see Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon and Gods A. Lanuza in Vancuover, BC, but they were off my itinerary.

When will you come back?
As soon as possible, preferably when George is ready to go with me in USA. =0=

UP Ibalon Reunion in Long Island

April 13, 2008


by Totie Mesia

The bare trees lining the road have their buds ready. They’re about to display new leaves and flowers as the soft wind blows and the weather turns mild. The daffodils, dandelions, cherry blossoms, peonies, and tulips have returned aplenty to mark the season’s harvest of joy. It’s springtime!

On our way to Long Island on April 5, 2008, I was twinkle-eyed thinking I would see Bingbing and Annelee Badiola again. I felt our dinner in Flushing, Queens wasn’t enough and I lamented not having much time. We had to part with a plan of meeting again.

At #4 Monette Street, Plainview, Long Island, off exit 44S, the plan turned real. Bingbing Bretan welcomed us to their beautiful home, a comfy enclave where Brandon, their little boy, had trees dancing in the breeze, a wide lawn to run around, and a sky to watch as birds flew by.

Suffused with warmth and hospitality, the place had the pleasant smell of home-cooking. Bingbing prepared delectable sotanghon which was damn good for the palate. David had his hands busy on the red-hot barbecue grill for those juicy steaks. Dixie came up with a rendition of crispy fried chicken, far better than KFC.

Alfred and Suzanne Bretan regaled us with amazing stories and so did Rommel, Alec, Jojo, Andre, Abel and other family members whose names escaped my recall. The company was good. The troop proved to be very impressive hosts.

Narratives floated like awesome comet dusts in the air. Franz Badiola, the mom of the troop, was visibly glad about anything which crossed our minds. We weren’t finicky about leaving for Monet Septimo was there!

The ebullient Monet drove all the way from Toronto, Canada with Abel, her husband and two adorable children, Bruce and Bea. It was timely that she and my sister, her godmother, found each other after 43 years.

“Ay ninang!” she screamed and they hugged with unabashed affection!

The youngest among the pretty Septimos, Monet had the sparkling eyes of her mom and the bubbly laughter of Josephine, her eldest sister. I missed her parents Ramon and Sally Septimo who were our friends and next-door neighbors many years before.

I asked for pharmacist-sister Susan (Tootsie) Septimo who’s many miles away in beautiful sun-drenched Fort Lauderdale, Florida where the winter birds escaped the December freeze.

“Will you and Tootsie sign-up for the UP Ibalon alumni website? Everybody is looking for you,” I said.

“Yes, we will.” Monet gladly promised.

“We used to run around in that old wooden bridge in Naga… and we played school like it was the real thing. If not for your sister Marjorie, arithmetic would have been a pain!”

“How’s Butchoy? Pidong, Coco, Bong, Pipay…What’s up with our neighbors-friends?

Time flew fast to ever know the last apt words about the wonderful memories we shared. The moments were so precious to waste for the evening passed so swiftly. Friendships were reignited like newly refurbished gas burners which banished the cold. Bonds were glued strong; the memories we couldn’t paste in our hands, we kept in our hearts! ==0==