Homecoming Speech

(I delivered this speech during our 25th high school reunion. Though it seems like it was just last night, but that was already 7 years ago this month. That nostalgic event is one of the reasons I was inspired to start this blog. I am posting this here for the sake of the memories.)

 

Dear classmates, beloved teachers, special guests, family and friends.

It was 25 years ago when we left the portals of this academy, but somehow it seems, our hearts have never left. And today, that love for this school, brought us all back here.

It does not matter whether you crossed the Pacific to be here, or you crossed seven mountains or seven rivers, or you crossed seven traffic lights or even just crossed the street to get here. It does not matter where you came from to get here today, because the only thing that mattered tonight is where you came from 25 years ago.

Some of you have added titles to your names, some of you have even changed your names, and then some of you may even lost your name. All that is not important, for the only name and title that matters tonight is we are all alumni of PCA*.

I know there are many new stories to tell. Stories that stem from the different paths we chose to follow, or stories from taking the paths laid before us not by choice but by the consequences of life. But the best stories to tell are the same old stories we shared together more than 25 years ago.

Twenty five long years.

To some of us the ravages of time is evident. We lost some, we gained some. Some have lost hair (ouch!), and some have gained silver hair. We may have lost our model-like stature, and in exchange we gained wrinkles, and extra pounds. Though I can still see in all of you, your inner beauty beaming through. Yes, we may have lost our innocence, our youthful vigor and glamour, but we have gained wisdom, experience and respect in the college of hard knocks, we called life.

The flood of memories may be overwhelming. When you look around this hall, you may even remember the exact spot where you sat, while Ma’am S* was teaching Florante at Laura, while you look out of the window and your mind was wandering to Harrison Plaza. These walls were witnesses when we were sweating and struggling in our Algebra exam, or when we made an errant glance at our seatmate’s answer during the test, but Ma’am F* did not catch us, or maybe she did, but she just have a forgiving heart.

You may have retraced your steps as you climb the stairs and walked down the corridors, for those stairs and corridors remembers the bounce and the echoes of your feet, even though your pace may be slower now. When you wandered in the basketball court, did you have the urge to pick up the litter, as you remember Sir B* made you pick up the litter, as punishment for being late?

When you entered the gate, do you remember familiar figures standing there? Kuya Ely our guard asking you to pin your ID, and Mang Isko, who sells the best sorbetes in the world. I hope they did not ask for your ID when you entered the gate today.

My dear classmates, as I look into you faces, the memories are rushing in. The mischievous escapades we did together, like when we cut classes during sir P*’s class. The secrets we kept together, like your first crush, but you don’t want others to know. The joys and laughter we celebrated, like when we beat Sir T*’s team in volleyball. The heartaches and tears we shared, like when you got rejected by your first love. I can still picture in my mind the way we look – ala Bagets. I can still hear our favorite songs that we sing. I can still remember the jokes that you and I have told, that even up to this day makes me smile.

It was just like yesterday.

I know that not all memories are sweet. In fact, there are few that are downright painful. And perhaps time have partially healed those wounds. Maybe tonight, we can bring closure to those bitter chapter of our lives.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everybody that helped in organizing, or have contributed time and effort, and or donated financially, to make this event possible. I may not be able to thank you one by one but you know who you are. Please accept my sincerest gratitude.

And now, I would like to personally thank each one of you, for just being here.

I would also like to acknowledge some of our classmates who are not able to join us tonight for some reason or another, but they did send their warmest regards. Let us remember them too.

As we spend time with each other tonight, may we share the wonderful memories we have and make new ones that we will share for the next 25 years or even the next 125 years.

Mabuhay tayong lahat!

pcareuniontarp2

 

Kwentong Baon

Isa sa kasiguraduhan sa musmos kong buhay noon, ay ang bitbit kong baon para sa tanghalian. Dahil may kalayuan ang aming paaralan mula sa aming bahay, kaya mula Grade 1 hanggang 4th year high school, ay kasama sa laman ng aking bag ay ang aking baon.

Nandiyan tumulo ang sabaw sa aking mga aklat, tumapon ang laman sa loob ng aking bag, o mamawis sa sobrang init, ngunit ang mahalaga ay mayroon akong pananghalian. Pati nga ang aking PE t-shirt, na nasa loob rin ng aking bag, ay nag-aamoy baon. (Pero hindi ko naman tinangkang kainin ang baon kong t-shirt.)

Naging iba’t ibang klase ang aking naging lunch box sa paglipas ng maraming taon. Mula plastic na parang tupperware, hanggang sa lata na gawa sa aluminum. Naging iba’t ibang kulay din ang mga ito, mula sa puti, asul, berde, pink (pink? ah…..eh…..sa utol kong babae pala yun!) at “stainless”. Minsan ay may “cartoon character” o “super hero” pa ang aking lunch box.

Naging sari-sari rin ang aking naging baon. Mula sa hotdog, fried chicken, tinolang manok, nilagang itlog, piniritong itlog, sarsiadong itlog, (buti na lang at hindi puro itlog ang naging grade ko!) tapa, bistek, corned beef, tinapa, daing na bangus, piniritong galunggong, paksiw na tilapia, pinakbet, adobong sitaw, eskabecheng talong, ginisang munggo, at siyempre kanin. (Hindi tanghalian kung walang kanin!)

Kapag may sabaw ang aking baon, ay binabalot pa ito sa plastic na supot ng aking nanay, at saka ilalagay sa lunch box, pero paminsan-minsa’y kumakatas pa rin. Tunay namang masarap ang pagkain kahit pa nakulob ng ilang oras sa loob ng lunchbox, huwag lang mapapanis.

baong manok at kanin

(photo from here)

Naging iba’t iba rin ang mga lugar kung saan ako kumakain ng aking baon. Mula sa loob ng classroom, sa ilalim ng puno sa labas ng school building, sa bahay ng aking kaklaseng nakatira sa malapit sa aming eskwelahan, sa tabi ng basketball court ng school(tapos maglalaro na ng prisoner’s base pagkatapos kumain), o sa paligid-ligid na mga canteen.

Pero nang ako ay nasa high school na, ay naging regular at naging suki na ako doon sa “Quintos’ carinderia” na nasa tabi ng aming paaralan. Pinapayagan kaming kumain doon kahit may bitbit na baon, basta ba bibili lang kami ng softdrink o iba pang panghimagas.

Noong ako’y nasa elementarya pa ay hindi ko iniinda ang aking pagbi-bitbit ng baon. Ngunit noong ako’y nasa high school na ay para bang akin nang ikinahihiya ang pagdadala ng lunchbox.

Sa aking murang pananaw ay hindi “cool” ang may bitbit na baon. Bakit ba hindi na lang ako bigyan ng aking magulang ng perang pambili ng tanghalian sa mga canteen o karinderia, tulad ng iba kong mga kaklase? O bakit nga ba? Diyahe naman itong laging may nakasuksok na baon sa bag!

Subalit sa pagdaan ng maraming pang taon, nang aking sariwain ang mga nakaraan, ay aking naisip na mas malaki ang malasakit at sakripisyo ng aking mga magulang, lalo na ng aking nanay sa paghahanda ng aking baon.

Sa araw-araw na gawa ng Diyos na kami ay may pasok sa eskwela, ay walang pagod na inihahanda ng aking ina ang aking baon. At kahit minsa’y hindi ko siya kinarinigan ng reklamo sa pag-gawa nito. Totoo, hindi ko dapat ikahiya ang aking pagbi-bitbit ng baon, kundi dapat ko pang ipagmalaki ito, dahil ito’y tanda ng pagmamahal ng aking ina.

Dahil din sa pagdadala ko ng baon, ay nabuklod kami ng aking mga naging kaibigan. Apat kaming mag-kakabarkada noon ang laging magkakasamang kumakain na may bitbit na baon. Natagurian na nga kaming “Baon Boys.”

Ang mga kaibigan kong ito ay naging kasangga ko sa mahabang panahon at napalapit sa aking puso, at hindi ko ipagpapalit ang aming mga pinagsamahan, kahit pa sa isang linggong baon. (Kahit pa relyenong bangus o kare-kare, peks man!)

our highschool reunion tarp

(photo from gogirlcafe.jennyo.net)

Noong 2009, matapos lumipas ang 25 taon, ay muli akong nakabalik sa aming paaralan para sa aming reunion. At kahit pinagwatak-watak kami ng tadhana (may nasa Amerika, Australia, at Pilipinas), at kahit pinakupas na kami ng panahon, ay muling nagkita-kita ang “Baon Boys.”

Nagbago na ang aming mga itsura. Tumanda, bumigat, naupos ang buhok. Nagbago na rin ang mga problema naming kinakaharap. Dati’y problema lang namin ay kung kasya ang aming pera na pambili ng softdrink doon sa Quintos’, nguni’t ngayon ay problema na namin ang pambaon ng aming mga anak at ipapabaon sa aming pamilya kung sakaling kami’y mawala na.

At kahit marami na ang nagbago, ang samahan ng aming pagkakaibigan ay hindi pa rin nagbago. Sayang nga lang at hindi na namin nabalikan ang dati naming paboritong hangout. Ito ay dahil wala na ang karinderia, at isang night-club na ang nakatirik sa lugar na iyon. (At hindi naman kami papayagan ng aming mga misis na pasukin ito.)

Oo nga pala, may isa pang malaking pinagbago — wala na kaming bitbit na baong lunchbox.