Archive for the ‘Yasmin Paje-Banzon’ Category

Holiday Photos from UP Ibalon & Friends Part I

January 7, 2009

Robert and Vines Nolasco-Ries from Indiana

UP Ibalon’s toxicologist Dr. Divinia N. Ries and hubby Bob have reasons to be happy. It’s not because the lovely Indiana family has Chamrin Rae (child of Pat and Myra) has those round huge eyes and blonde hair, but because the little cute babe has the smile of grandma Divinia.


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Gods, Julie and Thia Lanuza of Vancuover, BC, Canada

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The Gotico Family of Stockton, California



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Dr. Rey and Doreen Tolentino-Gonzales

New York psychiatrist DTG with hubby Rey in a memorable picture taken from Los Angeles, California with wonderful children Jun Rae and Dorothy Rae. Doreen looks forward to a busier, but happier year as she assumes a new job close to her home in July 2009.

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Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association of New York, New Jersey & Connecticut (OLPDA)

In a festive Christmas party on December 20, 2008, officers and members of OLPDA, all Ina’s devotees came together for a celebration of gift-giving and sharing in Jersey City, New Jersey. The decades-old religious organization continues to draw Bicolanos of faith in the Northeast area.




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Sarah Pavilando of Cola, South Carolina

Supermom and former Naga City resident, Sarah happily leads her brood in South Carolina. The bubbly smart Bicolana is an alumna of Colegio de Sta Isabel, HS batch 1982.

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The Banzon and Flotildes Children in Vancuover, British Columbia

Settled in Vancouver, British Columbia are Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon (CSI’72) and hubby Joel. Just like Sofronio Flotildes, Jr. (AdenUHS’73) and wife Rose, they raise cheery healthy children in the Canadian Northwest.

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2007 Holiday Fun of AdenUHS’73 in Naga City

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Ben & Baby Gulfo of Alberta, Canada

From Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Ben and Baby Gulfo with son Mark played host for Ferdie and Jill Bermillo Ocampo, Karen Delvo Ocampo and Divine Borja of Bombon, Camarines Sur during the 2009 new year celebration.



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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=

The Ibalon Children

July 16, 2008

Alas! James Baldwin was right about children when he said:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

I was in New York University Langone Medical Center psyching myself up, casting away worry while I was in the hospital. That was before I got my boost of two units of PRBC’s—irradiated packed red blood cells, blood type O pos, E-, K- Fya- Fyb- Jkb- S-, and CMV-.

Like before, the nurses complained of the blood bank’s difficulty for a compatible blood type. Vicious antibodies were wrecking my red cells. Testing and matching were hard. But I was unwilling to dwell on that. Instead, I quietly stared at the cerulean reflection of the shimmering East River below, 14 stories down my window, feeling the joy of that bright sunny summer day.

Before the Benadryl and Tylenol pills hugged my senses to sleep, I was miles away, dreaming of wonderful things the world had shown me. I was able to put my illness at the back of my head. I rested comfortably at the onset of the transfusion like the guy in that very old movie, Soylent Green, except, I was there not to die, but to pursue life.

Buried in my reverie, I had my laptop in front of me. I got emails streaming after the right electrical outlet kept the machine running. The one from Gods Lanuza was particularly interesting. He sent me a very late birthday greeting which was more than compensated by a few attached beautiful pictures.

My Ibalonian pal showed his latest family picture with wife Julie Surtida from Vancuover, BC. Thia, his special little girl was with a profusion of blooms. The field of spring tulips was breathtaking. Looking at them, I felt I wasn’t in no immediate need of blood at all. Their fiery red color quickly bathed my pale ailing RBC’s to life.

From Manila, Dr. Arnel V. Malaya and his wife, the former Dr. Josie Canlas, sent me the picture of their only daughter Tintin, another Ibalon angel who lives in Katipunan Road, just a stone’s throw from UP Diliman Campus. In her yellow blouse, cute Tintin looked so innocent and smart like the budding little lady next door. She was a toddler, barely able to rise from her crib when Arnel and Josie showed me her picture a few years ago.

In a separate file, I looked at the picture of 7-year old Andre Mesia-Romano, my nephew who arrived from Florida with her mom Annie a week ago to visit me. I wished I had Andre’s boundless energy and sharpness of mind. When he knew my laptop’s audio wasn’t working well, he handily fixed it so he could show me his favorite videos. The smart little boy from Jacksonville’s Trinity Grade School reminded me of Garrison Keillor’s loving thought about children:

“Nothing you do for children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”

Close by in Long Island, New York there was this picture of Bingbing Badiola’s little Brandon with loving dad Dave. I remembered Mommy Franz Badiola and her Ibalon brood in a recent reunion: Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Adolfo (Totoy) Badiola, Monette Septimo-Badiola etc.—and their families.

Then, I dug into the calmly family picture of Dr. Yasmin Paje in Canada (see top photo.) One of my favorite Ibalon dames, Min exuded her grace and maternal instinct to the hilt—far more than the mothering and deanship she showed us when we were in UP. Her three smart children, including only boy Alfonso, had grown so fast under the care of Poppa Joel Banzon, the doting father of the brood.

All the photos made me impervious against fear and doubt. I went home strong and energized after the procedure. It was good I had that small cache of pictures which I wanted to show you in this wall. I recalled them all—those who continued to touch and brighten the way for UP Ibalon’s next generation. =0=

Part I: The Mighty Guy of UP Ibalon

June 29, 2008

Apolonio (Mighty) Baylon carries different tags like admirable multicolored feathered ribbons on his sleeves. Many call him the “father of UP Ibalon.” Some think he is the “Yoda of the Bicol group in Diliman.” Others assume him to be the “college day’s vessel of poignant memories,” and another the “merchant of friendship and goodwill.”

Once the indefatigable leader of Bicolano students, the mighty “idealist-CEO-enforcer” from Guinobatan, Albay takes real life head-on. In a two-part interview, more than 30 years after UP, here he is—cogently enlightening, down-to-earth, and thought-provoking.

Sabi ninda, ika da’a an “Ama kan Ibalon.” Ano an si’mong komentaryo?-Magayon dangogon. Maski bako lang ako an founder ta 20 man kita kaidto (o 24 ngani ta me nagtarabang na invitees na dai nag-member arog ki Dr. Jean Cortes o naghale like Prof. Egay Rosero.)

Baka dakula man su naging papel ko in setting the vision, setting the tone and the oplan/concept on how to establish UP Ibalon amidst a very difficult situation. Kadto dae baga mai-deklara tulos ang threats hale sa ibang grupo.

Mga siisay kadto saimo an nakatabang sa pagpundar kan Ibalon?
-An sarong leader siguro tata’o man magpalataw kan maitatabang kan iba. I recall the admirable contributions of the likes of Nestor Raneses and Steve David. The original members had their valuable inputs. And so was the support of the Molave Kurahaw. Si Grace Princesa-Escalante, pasalamat ako sa mga tabang satuya, an Mata Hari kan panahon.

I also want to recognize the subsequent contributions of Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon in normalizing relations with Alpha Phi Beta (APB.) Her effort eliminated the threat of another group, assuring us that there’ll be no other varsitarian except UP Ibalon.

Mac Pavia was helpful in defining relations between the politicals and the non-politicals. He was partly responsible for fostering the goodwill and friendship which brought unity to all the personalities in the group.

Sa mati mo, sobra daw su panahon mo na tina’o sa UP Ibalon?
-Dae. Pero iguang nagsasabi na sobra-sobra da’a an itinao ko. Dae ko aram kun ano an tama. But history spoke later ta in later years whenever I’m recognized for my role in the group, namamate ko an trust, respect, and love na itinatao sako kan meimbros lalo su mga naka-iba ko sa UP.

An confirmasyon kaini iyo su pag-aasikaso ninda sakuya whenever may problema ako sa health. Nagiging mover pa man guiraray ako maski mayo akong gayong resources. An puhunan ko lang: naipundar ko an tiwala sagkod respeto. Nakua ko siguro ini, hale sa pagta’o ko nin oras para pakusugon an pag-aramigo sa grupo.

Ngonian yaon kana sa cuidad de Davao, may pagbag’o an hiling mo sa grupo?
-Sa pagrayo ko sa Bicol, lalo kong na-appreciate an UP Ibalon.

Dae ka man napupung’aw, harayo kana sa lugar na si’mong guinikanan?
-I miss Bicol terribly. You can only understand this if you know my history. I was denied normal freedom of movement or travel. Nag-iwas ako kan yaon ako sa lugar na yan.

Living in other places made me feel like an exile. Kun saen naghaloy nag-grabe su longing ko sa satuyang native place, tongue and taste. Not hearing our language for a long time, any spoken Bicol feels like music to my ears. Pag nasa Bicol nahanap tulos ako nin Bicol na kakanon.

Yaon pa su copya mo kan constitution ta? Ano, iguang kaipuhan bag-o’hon duman?
-I think may copya ako kan iba’t ibang constitutions kan Ibalon alumni. After all these years kan pagtabang sa Ibalon, I realized an magic sa pagbuhay nin grupo dae masusumpungan sa constitution. Nasa vision yan, nasa mga tawong nagpapadalagan.

Hil’nga an chapter sa Naga. Nadalagan baga maski kadaklan dae man nahiling na constitution. Uyogon mo, mayo nganing regular set of officers may naguiguinibo sinda. The constitution is secondary. Padalaganon ta na ngona an pag-iriba.

Ano an prosopuesto mo para abuton su mga Ibalonians na dae pa nakakabalik sa grupo?
-Primero, kaipuhan ta an marhay na database. Natapos ko na su sa generasyon ta pero kulang kitat duman su mga masuronod. Segundo, kaipuhan na mag-assign nin mga respetadong personas na ma-reach out duman sa mga mayo.

Importatent ibalik su dating pag-aramigo, recuerdos, pagka-buronyog, dangan, siempre—an interes sa organisasyon. An pag-kaigwang mga proyecto arog kan naguinibo na Butch Robredo, Dr. Andy Gimpaya, Ann Mariano, Alaine Alberto, Dr. Eden B. Fernando atbp.(halawig an lista) an makakatabang makaburunyog satuya.

Iguang mga Ibalon na yaon sa Diliman nag-aadal pa, ano an dapat guibohon para sainda?
-Complikadong hapot. I-reserve ko na lang an pagsimbag digdi. This is a weighty and controversial topic. Although nasabi ko ki Butch Robredo minsan na we can act like a donor agency. Aram ta man na nata’o lang an donor agency kun gusto—if someone is deemed worthy to be given assistance. Sabi ko okey lang na mapa-rani an mga jovenes kan UP, para madangog man ninda an senior members.

Igua kang gustong ipa-abot sa mga jovenes?
Kaipuhan ma-araman ninda na bakong totoo an naglalakaw na kaputikan—idtong pigsarabi na an Ibalon da’a “po’on-sa-po’on ay political organization.” Iyo ini an saro sa mga razon kun ta’daw nagka-igua kita nin ibang provincial Bicol orgs.

Sa UP, ano an pinakadefisil mong inaguihan?
-Maski bright ka, dae mo puwedeng biruin an academics sa UP. Madali lang ang ma-cinco. An mga teachers duman sanay na sa pagbaragsak nin estudyante. Hard if one is a student leader. (to be continued…) =0=

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=