wanderlust notes from all over on a rainy Tuesday night, Tao Yuan Ermita

clockwise from back row extreme left: Ricky Cheng, Roderick Ko Pio, Dennis Sy, Lucy Linda Lee, Hedy Ong-Soliman, John Sy, Kathryn Que, Doc Peggy Ting, Mel Asiddao, Maribeth Ang-Wong and Carol Ng Sy. Thanks Dennis for the pic !

IT STARTED OUT a bit awkwardly, and everyone was just figuratively shuffling their feet and thinking of something clever to say.  Or maybe it was just because we were more than an hour, embarrassingly late for the small gathering?

In any case, as soon as we sat down, we warmed up to both the food and the great company, and things flowed naturally from there.

One of the batchmates around talked about how hard it was to manage fine dining establishments, shuttling between Singapore and the Philippines, and spending quality time with the family.

Another kabatch talked about how hard it was to quit a vice that was a disadvantage to both health and career, something all of us, regardless of age, could relate to.

Still another friend marveled that despite all the far-flung outposts, wild adventures and life dramas we had reached and experience, we were all back home ready to trade stories and inspire each other.

Such was the stuff of our dinner with classmates from overseas, as distant as the Americas and Canada, as far down south as New Zealand, and as close as four hours away in Singapore.  Pagkalayo-layo man ng narating, sa simbahan pa rin ang tuloy..

Thanks SJCS 82 officers led by Ricky Ko Pio for the generous treat, and Ms Maribeth Ang-Wong for hosting !

Now, onward to the grand reunion!

Thanks for reading !


belated happy birthday Marivic Ching – Chua !

Lovelies all: Clockwise from left: Penny Rose Tan, Annette Sy, Mary Jone Tan, Eunice Cobankiat-Pacual, Arlene Ayuste, Stefanie Victorino, the birthday celebrant, and Evelyn Go-Sy

Belated happy birthday (6th June) to Ms Marivic Ching – Chua !

MY FIRST memory of you is you punching me in the arm for some forgotten, lame-brained joke during our humid and muggy adolescent years.

My next memory of you, strangely enough, is also of you punching me in the arm, our senior year in one of my many visits to your classroom two floors up, to mooch and appropriate half-eaten snacks and lunch leftovers hardly touched by dainty appetites.

My last memory of you, in cozy reunions and after-dinner coffees years past is well, punches in the arm.

Through all those punches you’ve been a devoted batchmate and an even better friend.

Belated happy birthday, so sorry for the late greeting, regards to the family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

happy birthday Teresita Sy – Chingkaw!


Tessie with her date, I think. If you can look this good after 3 decades of married life with kids, it’s probably as good as it gets. Woohoo!

Happy happy birthday (27th June) to a beloved kabatch, Ms Teresita Sy – Chingkaw!

BY HER lovely self, Tessie would’ve been enough to have been one of our most popular batchmates, I’m referring of course to SJCS Batch 82.  Without trying too hard, she was one of our loveliest, most charming members, not to take anything away from our other kabatch, who do stand out among many batches as one of the prettiest Judenites bar none.

But Tessie has added value to her luster by being one of the most dedicated, pro-active and self-driven batch officers around, always giving 101% of herself in each and every worthy project of the batch.

She is never absent from any batch party or reunion, whether it be Christmas / New Year’s, Mooncake Festival, or any other commemoration, and is one of the prime movers behind this years 30th Anniversary reunion.  She and her fellow officers certainly deserve our kudos.

But for today, the stage is hers alone.  Thanks so much for the wonderful memories classmate, for giving our batch your blood sweat and tears, and just as awesomely, for being our friend.

Happy happy birthday, have a great one, and many happy returns!

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!

between dreams & wakefulness, on edsa, ayala, philcoa, paco, marikina & cainta

[ Note : If you’re reading this you have to indulge me yet again, this is a blog exercise on dreams and post-dream remembrances.  Thanks for reading and your patience ! ]

DO YOU sometimes wake up from the half-awake / half-asleep world (not from a dream) and discover that you’re in a dream? You know you’re not awake, but you’re not so sure if everything’s just in your mind either.  I’m not smoking funny cigarets, and I haven’t had one too many brown bottles.  Come on, you know you’re sometimes in a very vivid halfway inn-type of situation between our world now, and what many of us perceive as our nocturnal habitat (unless you’re a forever night shift person, in which case it’s the opposite of nocturnal I guess).

To proceed, this neverwhere-sort of place that I’m always just leaving or just entering, one time seemed remarkably like the place I grew up in, Metro Manila in the Philippines.  I knew I wouldn’t be here for long, so I thought of doing five things which I hoped I could stretch out along the few moments I would be here :

Buy lunch for one in Dencio’s.  I almost instinctively willed myself ( I didn’t need normal transportation) to that area between Buildings A and B of Megamall in Mandaluyong / Pasig Cities, have they decided where it is actually?  I knew that was where I saw Dencio’s the last time, and when I came in I didn’t even have to order, because inexplicably the waiter knew what I wanted : the house specialty of crispy pata and kaldereta.  I wanted more, but (1) I didn’t how how well the food in this Bizarro Dencio’s was going down my tubes, and (2) I had other things to do.  Use all the right words : crispy on the outside and succulent on the inside, pork skin baked just right, vinegar with garlic combined with fragrant, perfectly boiled rice.  And the kaldereta melted in your mouth, with the ideal blending of tomato, pepper / capsicum and potato, of course supplemented with rice.  That was the easiest part of the sort-of dream.

Visit Ninang.  I did this right after the meal, cuz I might forget later.  Mom had a best friend during her dalagahood, someone who didn’t have her luck with the love of her life, or a family, or health.  Hard-luck, no?  Golden heart that she is, Mom, remained her best buddy and confidante through Ninang’s best and worst times, and was seeing her through a rough spot, maybe her last.  I was also Ninang’s godchild (of course, that’s why I called her such), and she was very nice to me.  I visited her and even brought her meals homecooked from Mom’s kitchen, and I was happy to see she still recognized me.  She asked me where I had been all these years, and I gave her the short version : raised a family, worked, got out of work, went abroad, now in a sort-of dream visiting her.  Something told me this would be one of the last times I would see her, realworld or otherwise, so I went beyond the small talk and told her how sorry I was we didn’t bond more often, because she really was a decent, always-positive and compassionate friend that depended on my mom, and vice-versa.

After that, I flew over Philcoa, College of Arts and Sciences or A.S., the Narra Dorm, Vinzons Hall, School of Economics and the College of Law, all lining the the Academic Oval on Diliman where the University of the Philippines campus had been sitting since the 1950s.  I never excelled in what started out as a promising academic career, but there were certainly good memories there.  I had an even better time chuckling to myself going around good old Saint Jude Catholic School near Malacañang, where I experienced a wonderful high school life, warts and all.

After that, I went to all the places I lived in right after I became a family man.  Before settling down in Cainta, we moved in and out of quite a number of places, including Caloocan, Sta Mesa, Marikina (twice), and Paco with my folks.  I loved living in each of those places.  Well, except Caloocan, which was right along EDSA, which was the equivalent carbon monoxide wise of smoking two packs of cigarets daily.

The last place I visited and I knew the meter was running out was to Oroquieta St on Sta Cruz where I lived as a toddler.  The apartment adjoining ours shared a small vacant square into which windows looked down on and on most mornings I did so, and each time there was a young boy roughly my age ( I later learned he was a year older).  We would talk the way six or seven-year olds do, full of hot air and empty boastings, yet eager to learn about each other and the rest of the world.  Looking back, he reminded me of a Chinese Filipino Bart Simpson : hair slicked back everywhere except the top, Oriental eyes but bugged out in the middle, and he had a small Buddist talisman pinned to his tank top.  He had all the great toys which I could only look at but sometimes he let me touch them, and he would cry insufferably for the silliest things, sounding like the siren of an old firetruck with the switch stuck, so that he would go on and off forever.  His yaya would, everytime he launched into this acting-out phase, dutifully ignore him but never slapped or hit him, something I always marveled at considering his neurotic weeping.

I never dreamed about him before, and so I told him that after 1972 when we moved out of the apartment I always thought of him, and although I had a vague idea of where he went to school after that (St Stephen’s in Chinatown I think) I never saw him again.  True to form, he ignored my senti statements and just continued playing with his toys.  His name I won’t easily forget, Henry Chong.

Soon after that neither-here-nor-there episode, I either woke up or entered into real, actual sleep.  Funny though, I knew there was a clear demarcation between that halfway stage and actual, more fantastical dreams, because I clearly discerned (in the first stage) that I was back home in the Philippines.

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 !