happy birthday Carmi Sio !

Carmi is second from left, back row with other batchmates during a reunion for a States-based kabatch, Ms Jocelyn Sy !

Happy birthday (27th June) to kabatch Ms Carmi Ching – Sio !

Carmi has always been the owner of one of the brightest smiles in Saint Jude Catholic School batch 82, so it’s no wonder we remember her easily.

She is a regular face on all those reunions and batch events pictures, and is always ready to lend a helping hand.

Between our high school years and today, there is almost no trace of the decades that have passed, a tribute to how well Carmi has passed the time, and how elegantly she has handled the roles of career woman, wife and mother.

Warmest birthday greetings to you kabatch, God’s blessings to you today and every day thereafter, regards to your loved ones, and many happy returns!

belated happy birthday Kathryn Que !

Dragon baby Kathryn in one of her many trips abroad, I think she’s based in Chicago USA..

INTERNET AND FACEBOOK bring to life the science fantasy of not only returning through mileposts of time, you can also freeze memories and, in special cases, bring them forward to the present.

Even before I had the chance to reconnect with Kathryn my friend from fourth or fifth grade, I already preserved good memories about her.  We weren’t BFFs or anything, but it was remarkably easy to remember her.  She was like me one of the smallest in class, so we always had to sit in front, she was one of the prodigious note takers on whom a good portion of the class depended for accurate recording, this was way, way before the era of iPads and touchscreen tablets.  And lastly, she was one of the friendlier classmates we had, with whom we exchanged more than just routine conversation or humphs and grunts, and more like how your day was going and wonder how long the rain was gonna last.

Years and years later, we were amazed to know that through instant emails and status updates, she not only remained the same person we knew from SJCS, we also retained the same golden memories that we knew about each other.

The only slight difference in the time intervening being that, she evolved into the successful career person that we always envisioned her to be.

So sorry to have missed your birthday (18th May) big time Kathryn, thank you for being the same wonderful classmate we’ve known through the years, hope you had a wonderful birthday, and many happy returns !

YLB Noel

happy birthday Dr Evelyn Venes – Catuira !


Doc Evelyn (center) with (from left) Annette Sy, Arlene Ayuste and Oliver Uy !

Belated happy birthday (19th June) to Dr Evelyn Venes – Catuira !

She was my classmate only once but it was enough to remember her for life.  She owned one of the most radiant smiles in school, possessed an indescribable charisma that attracted quite of few of the dashing members of the male species in and out of batch 82, and was tomboyish enough to laugh hard at your corniest antics between classes.

It didn’t hurt that two of her brothers were our buddies in the school drum and bugle corps, and that she also lived in our neighborhood.  So that meant free rides home and lots of snacks courtesy of the fresh bread from their family-owned chain of bakeries.  It also meant being an official member of her tight-knit family, an experience we will always treasure.

So  many good memories we have of you achie Evelyn, and the best part is there are more to come!  So great to see you happy with your awesome family, and working in a profession that you love.  God bless you always and have a great birthday !

YLB Noel

a Pinoy appreciates Dad on father’s day

Dad is the handsome guy in red next to Ganda. Behind them are Tito George (Apostol), his wife Tita Amy, forever pretty Tita Dely (Imperial), Renato (Jhun) Montenegro Jr carrying daughter, his mom Ernani B Montenegro, Tita Beth (Javier) and Bunso.

[ Note : Please indulge a blog we wrote a few years ago on our high school Yahoo!group, condolences to the family of the late Asuncion C Sy – Ang, mom of our dear kabatch and friend Ms Pilar Ang – Si.  Happy father’s day to all ! ]

MY EARLIEST recollections about Dad are quite ancient.  Very early in the morning, hardly out of diapers, he would bring me to the Luneta (Manila‘s biggest public park) to enjoy the sea air from Manila Bay.  I was particularly enthusiastic about these trips as I would be bundled up together with my walker, and toughen up my toddler’s gait under his benevolent eye. This was probably 1965 or 1966.

Years later, on rapidly microwaving Sunday dawns just before the 1980s, Dad and I would be in the same venue, jogging around the block right in front of the Luneta Grandstand (measured by him to be 1.2 kms in circumference) but not before I went through the drill of being woken up by marathon crazy Dad, peeling off me my bedcover, pillow and blanket and sprinkling water till I had no choice but to get up.

Still a few years later, on sunny weekday afternoons, to the same Luneta breakwaters, Dad would bring little Panganay, only his second grandchild, for kiddie boat rides, viewing nearby Cultural Center and Corregidor Island in the distance.

For a pre-postmodern dad such as mine, there was no such thing as quality time.  He had nothing BUT time, when it came to me, and probably the same thing was true with my other siblings.  You just didn’t realize it till you were all grown up, and your kids think nothing of asking the same of you.

As fathers, though our bond with our kids may not be as strong as the mother-child relationship, it is equally emotional and nearly as dramatic.

We are there initally to lend mothers a helping  hand in the raising and nurturing, but in equal parts we educate, inspire and guide our children into becoming the human beings the world expects them to be.

Without a doubt we take a back seat to moms in the development of our young, but by being the best that we can be, we stand tall as models when the next generation looks for people to emulate.

By being the first people they are exposed to, we can do no less. I can only think of a few examples.

The picture of the affable, authoritative yet approachable (not authoritarian) dad belongs to my high school classmate and now Dr Evelyn V’s dad, who I addressed as Mr Lee. Bumming rides with them , I would often see him in the car ride home from school. I would hear him crack jokes with his kids, ask them about school, and sometimes ask me about my own dad, who he got acquainted with in the 1950s. Mr Lee no longer fit the remote, stern profile most Chinese Filipino dads of the 60s and 70s assumed, and could easily bond with his kids.  I liked him for that.

I had less encounters with another high school contemporary Dennis (Sy)’s dad, and will probably not do him justice.  If memory serves, he was a soccer enthusiast, and supported his two sons’ many interests, which probably inspired them to pursue varied sports and music.

The chummiest Dad I can remember though is bosom buddy Raymond (Ong)’s, who would often pause from his work to strike up a conversation with me whenever I chanced to visit their Ermita store, as if I were a long-lost customer. He exuded a warmth that would disarm the gruffest exterior, and it would be a legacy to all his sons.

Almost gods in our eyes, we later discover, sometimes sadly, that they are as human as we are, prone to the same failings and temptations.

We can only strive to do as well as they did, and hope that in their eyes we do not fail too miserably.

Thanks for everything Dad, and Happy Father’s Day !

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belated happy birthday Marilyn Chingbingyong !

Marilyn, hubby and sons. Still pretty after all these years! 🙂

belated happy birthday (10th May) to Ms Marilyn Chingbingyong – Villanueva !

For all the corny jokes laughed at, all the unfunny antics that won you over,

All the puns that you went along with, and the boring stories you pretended to like,

All the smiles that inspired and melted a lot of SJCS hearts,

All those e-mails and hellos exchanged, and the high school years that flew past,

All the birthdays remembered and missed, and the future reunions,

thanks for being our batchmate, Marilyn, so sorry for the late greeting, regards to your family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

( PS. Thanks Marianne for the lovely pic ! )

belated happy birthday Rosemarie So – Cheng !

Our lovely birthday celebrant Rosemarie (left) with equally lovely kabatch Rowena Ong Siong – Co

Belated happy birthday (9th May) to one of the nicest SJCS 82 batchmates we’ll ever know, Ms Rosemarie So – Cheng !

We’ve been classmates with Rose only twice in St Jude if memory serves, once in pre-school and the next time almost 10 years later in high school.

Both times were memorable.  She was the sis we never had, woke us up to the reality of having pretty seatmates that you could both admire and be friends with, copy notes from and share baon (bagged lunches) with.

Years later, we are so happy to see her as a wonderful wife to classmate Ricky and awesome mom to their beautiful children.  Rose and Ricky have gone through good and bad times, and all of these experiences have strengthened their love for each other.

But you don’t have to take our word for it, you only have to look at them to know for sure, which we hope to see on our 30th anniversary reunion! 🙂

So sorry for the belated greeting Rose, hope you had a wonderful birthday, regards to Ricky and your family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel


belated happy birthday Mary Ann Ong – Carranceja !

Hope you don’t mind Mary Ann our using your Grade V pic with Noemi Bolanos and Marilyn Uy Lee! advance thanks !

belated happy birthday (6th May) to a ultra-nice kabatch, Ms Mary Ann Ong – Carranceja!

We don’t easily forget people like Mary Ann.  She took great  notes, never lost her composure when called on for recitation by the teacher, and was always ready for a laugh or too, even with the rowdiest bunch in class, be it the boys, girls or both!

Years and years later, her smiles and happy online one-liners always make your day, and you thank God for a batchmate like her.

So sorry for the late greeting MAO, hope your birthday was lovely and memorable, as each birthday should be, blessings always to your loved ones and family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

happy happy birthday Achie Hedy Ong – Soliman !

Could a pair of lovelies look any lovelier? Our b-day celebrant with another kabatch Jocelyn Sy-Chionglo during a visit to Toronto Canada

Happy happy birthday (21st April) to a cherished high school batchmate, Ms Hedy Ong – Soliman !

Among the people I knew and befriended in high school, the results of QueenHedy’s life so far seem to be one of the most impressive.

Overachieving children, feel-good family life, an outstanding marriage with her high school love Jack, an age-defying figure many women half her age would love to have, and the proud results of half a lifetime of hard work and diligent saving.  Could anyone want more?

But if you go a little deeper, you could tell that our kabatch did it the normal way, which is inch by inch, drop by drop, day by day and step by step.  All you need to do is ask her.  The tried- and-tested (but not always obvious) tools like migrating to a better land, hands-on and caring motherhood, and working at your relationship, were the things she set her sights on as early as years ago, and remain with her today.

Of course, it helps that she has always been easy on the eyes, deceptively disciplined (makes it look effortless), and isn’t afraid of asking advice and help from whoever is around to offer it.  That’s why she still looks good by the way, and if you can believe it, actually looks better than she ever did.

A bonus of all the above is whenever you need an email of inspiration, a chat to make your day, or a hi for no reason at all, she is almost always there, like she reads your mind.  This is what Achie Hedy has been for me, and the least I can do is wish her well on her birthday, for she makes the world a happier place.

Happy happy birthday dear friend, hope this short greeting picks you up like you have picked me up many times, regards to Jack, Renee, Ashley and your other daughter 😉

Love always

YLB Noel



the asymmetric loveliness of peklat bungi & other imperfections

SOMEBODY CLOSE to me has been on pins and needles recently for a few reasons, most prominent of which is the stress of going through medical exams and tests, evolving into worries about not measuring up to the test requirements, and preoccupations about imaginary imperfections and flaws, cosmetic or otherwise, in this person’s otherwise ideal-looking appearance.

I want to tell him that he looks better than half the people in his generation, he’s fit, and has 90% uncharted rest of his life ahead of him, but this person just wouldn’t understand, from the vantage point of needing to see everything mapped out before him, having all the options available, and looking his Sunday best at all times, albeit with nowhere (yet) to go.

In short, not having seen the ugly side of life, he is at a loss with what he sees as his many imperfections.

Swallowing hard and begging your kind indulgence, I’m going to tell Person Close To Me (PCTM) a few warts and scabs about myself.  He’s seen some of them, but I will remind him about such, in order that he realize that he hasn’t got such a bad deal, and that there are worse things than being 17 :

Deviated septum – this is actually a kind way of saying I had the pleasure of having the bridge of my nose bent 10 degrees by a wayward elbow in halfcourt basketball, circa 1984.  The nosebender had this distressing habit of swinging his elbows around everytime he collared the rebound, and my face happened to be in the way.  I had to have cotton swabs in my nostrils for 48 hours and breathed through my mouth the whole time, and eventually it straightened out, but I never poked my nose (literally) into a loose ball situation again.

Rolled ankle – bulbuous with angry veins wrapped around it today, I landed on my left ankle hard and cruelly (tapilok) one wet afternoon many years ago while playing the same game above, and was immobilized for a week.  The swelling subsided, but the veins remained where they were, and I would never be a foot model again.  These are the wages by the way, of recklessly playing on slippery, sunbaked and sometimes muddy concrete that a teenager’s love for basketball never complained about.

Bicycle accident – I lost one front tooth and chipped another  while using my face as landing gear, flying out of a bike that thought it was a plane two years ago, ironic because I thought the last vestige of my lost youth would be my winning smile, instead it was one of the first to surrender to the ravages of time.  To top it all, I fractured a pinkie finger without even knowing it as I was so worried about the tooth I thought I could still recover, and because I failed to properly do the exercises taught by the physiotherapist, it remains bent out of shape to this day.

Miscellaneous – My thunder thighs go to sleep 15 minutes after I sit down.  My gimpy knees start screaming when I don’t jog on the softer grass.  I break out in a rash when the thermometer goes below 14 degrees Celsius.  And whether it’s because of blocked sinuses, fatty tissue or some other obstruction, my sleep apnea-snoring concerts are world class, and esposa hermosa needs to either sleep ahead or wear factory earmuffs to stay sane at night.

***         ***         ***         ***         ***

There you go.  You wanted imperfections?  Everybody has them my dear, and it’s what makes each of us unique.  If we were all Bradley Coopers and Megan Foxes (who blew $60,000 on cosmetic surgery and still hated the way she looked afterward, ayeeeee!), the world would certainly be a less interesting (but more sigh-inducing) place.  We lose weight, gain it back, get buff, go to flab.  In short, we’re never happy and never sad about the way we look, constantly justify and torture ourselves with our self-image.  It’s our lifelong preoccupation, and the day we stop making ourselves look better, in our eyes, is the day we start to die.

To be perfectly honest, PCTM, the way you look now is as good as it gets.  My unsolicited advice is savor it , because as much as you’re eye candy material now, it’s all downhill from here 🙂

Thanks for reading !

bleeping your thought bubble every 7 secs

OUR VALEDICTORY year of 1982, Saint Jude Catholic School (SJCS) batch 82 was caught in a perfect storm of defining actor and unique moment.

Our hormones-gone-haywire and fascination with puberty was the unstoppable force that moved into the immovable object that was the set-in-stone policy of our Beloved Leader/s, principal Fr Peter Yang, to implement boys-only (and girls-only) classroom plans and chuck in the garbage the co-ed environment that had served SJCS’s students so well the previous dozen years.

Out the window went the soiree-like atmosphere that kept the inmates normal; preserving the reality that you grew up with members of the opposite sex (as well as yours); that you could eat, speak and act better and more sensibly if the fairer (or stronger) gender made you conscious; and finally that being around people other than those of the same sex prepared you to be a normal member of civilized society.  We were the convenient guinea pigs in a social experiment : separate the yins from the yangs, don the safety goggles, step back and see what happens.

Three decades later, no one’s the wiser, we can’t qualitatively or quantitatively determine if separating the boys from the girls did any of us a world of good, if teaching us the way they did in Ateneo, Xavier, Miriam, St. Scholastica’s or any of the other so-called “exclusive” schools made us more focused, less naughty, or less predisposed to fornication, which was (and remains) probably the prime directive of all Catholic schools and their downstream industries.

The only thing that remains crystal-clear from that senior year so many years ago was that, from Day One, with very few exceptions, in Section B ( of which Your Loyal Blogger was a member ) from 7.30 am morning prayers till 4.30 flag retreat, we joked about, thought about and of course, talked about sex and most everything related to it.

By sex I don’t mean graphic images of sex acts, pornographic material or obsessions with sexual dysfunctions, but how we perceived the forbidden world of sexuality and how soon we would enter it.  Some of us, obviously the ones who had matured sooner, had already entered such world and were naturally the sort-of authority on the matter.  Others, like me, were late bloomers who didn’t have a clue on why this or that was sprouting out of our bodies or why some “default settings” were springing to life whenever certain persons, images or memories were brought to our attention.

By the way, I’m talking about these things because I heard on one of the thousands of mass media outlets we’re desensitized to, the oft-repeated urban legend that men think about sex every seven seconds or that only :07 separates one sexual thought from the next in the average man’s brain.

While it’s not an outrageous stat, personally I think there are too many other things that occupy modern living for us men (incidentally, your crazy blogger happens to be a circle-and-arrow) for us to think of doing the nasty every-so-often.  A more revised number, around 19 times a day, seems a bit more plausible.

But back to our St Jude days.  We were a disparate and motley crew of neophytes to the world of the worldly, each one of us harboring a unique universe of preconceived ideas regarding sex. The only common ground among us was that each was insatiable in our thirst for knowledge about what was happening with our rapidly evolving hearts and minds (and other organs).  Well at least, that’s how I saw it.

On the one hand, you had classmate X, taller and bulkier than the rest, who knew almost everything that you needed to know as a man on the cusp of young adulthood.  Then there was comrade Y, who was brooding and thoughtful, but also athletic and creative, and so attracted admirers like ice-cold Coke attracted thirsty construction workers in the middle of the summer day.  Seatmate Zwas the wholesome boy-next-door and was humble as pie, but already had a pair of relationships under his belt, so he knew what he would be talking about every time he opened his mouth.  And then there were wide-eyed babes-in-the-woods like me who were just tagging along for the ride.

Every time a joke was cracked, a double entendre was uttered, or a popular girl’s name was mentioned, you would expect the usual gaggle of snickers, follow-up jokes or punches-in-the-arms to follow, but more than that, the discussions generated would likewise never end.  Why was the joke funny?  (if you have to ask…) Are they really an item now? (What planet have you been on?)  Or I get the joke, but can I repeat it to the girls or the folks?  (better not.)

All in all, it was a time for secret thoughts, forbidden jokes and hurried peeks at verboten pictures that we dared not think, laugh or stare at, but when you think about the mind and sense-numbing of our culture today, hardly elicit more than a chuckle or twinkle in the eye now.

It was the age of magical mystery, wonderment and discovery, when everything was new to the eye and hot to the touch, and not just the obvious enticements.  Higher knowledge, sophistication, financial independence and of course, sex or sexuality.  They were all part of the intensity of adolescent attention.  And depending on how we turned out as scientists, fashion gurus, captains of industry or oversexed suburban dads, the charter members of Batch 82, section 4B, the very first gender-separated SJCS class, are probably as OCD when it comes to their favorite distraction, as they were 30 years ago.  Seven seconds, far from being the new normal, is the old normal.

Thanks to all my 82 kabatch, especially 4-B, and thanks for reading !