belated happy birthday Stefanie Victorino!

Stef is in the middle between Maribeth Ang-Wong (checkered blouse) and Arlene Ayuste (denim blazer), among high school batchmates. ;)

Stef is in the middle (in white) between Maribeth Ang-Wong (checkered blouse) and Arlene Ayuste (denim blazer), among high school batchmates. ūüėČ still pretty after all these years!

I’d like to say I’m good at remembering birthdays, but that would be stretching the truth. ¬†In fact, it would be a real whopper, since besides my own, my immediate family and a few others, anything with a month and a number besides it are good only as holidays, discount-voucher deadlines and due dates for library books I haven’t finished.

It happened again last month when I completely forgot the birthday of a dear friend, Stefanie Victorino. ¬†I’ve known her since late primary school, and she has been a funny, thoughtful, and constant companion in the journey of life. ¬†I have not always benefited from her physical presence the last few years, but because of the magic of the internet and SMS messaging, she has provided a ready ear and her unfailing counsel almost instantly, as if we ¬†had never been apart.

Whenever I come home and visit the homeland, she is always among the first to organize a get-together with contemporaries during which we laugh, rebond, and share thoughts with friends who have always been such and will be friends for life. ¬†As a friend, you can’t do much better than that.

Stef has always aimed for and earned the best, whether at school, at work, or anything she has attempted in life.  So much so that she has met with success in academics, her job, and in social life.

The only area where I can claim to be a bit better than her is in selecting bosom buddies.  I can safely claim that this is the solitary activity I have bested her.  Because in Stef, I can have the best possible friend there is.

Belated happy birthday, my dear dear friend. ¬†I’m sorry to have missed dropping you a line on your special day, and I hope you had a great time with loved ones and (of course) your friends.

Love you always!

belated happy birthday Eunice Cobankiat – Pascual !

our birthday celebrant Eunice with fellow high school classmate Pilar Ang Si !

belated happy birthday (14th November) to a fabulous high school friend, Ms Eunice Cobankiat – Pascual !

I THINK I’ve said it more than once, but on your special day, it bears being said again.

With looks like yours, a beautiful family, a talent that people appreciate, universal high regard among the people who count, and friends that have stood the test of time, what more is there to ask?

Not much I’ll venture to guess. ¬†So that, if our last meeting during our recent reunion can be basis, ¬†just let me wish for you the following : that you remain as youthful looking as you ¬†are, that your talents continue to bring you fulfillment, that your family remains close and tight, and lastly, with a bit of selfishness, that your friends stay as true as always.

Belated happy birthday beloved friend, so sorry for the late greeting, regards to everyone back home, and many happy returns!

belated happy birthday Andy Lim !

it’s a compliment to Andy that like good wine, the years have only made him better. sorry for the late greeting friend!

belated happy birthday (14th August) to a fondly remembered classmate, Mr Andy Lim !

There are so many good memories of Andy that it wouldn’t do him justice to pick just one or two.

He had a highly developed sense of humor as early as Grade Six when we are all barely into puberty.¬† He knew how to make all of us laugh, and how to push the teacher’s buttons.¬† He also knew how to turn the class sentiment for or against whatever issue of the day that was raging.¬† Whatever, there was no doubt that he was highly intelligent and gifted in many facets of human excellence.

In sports he was also off the charts.¬† He could excel in most sports with one eye closed and one hand tied behind his back, when most of us were just learning the basic skills.¬† He had enough leadership smarts to organize teams just on the strength of his character and charisma, and for many 15 year-olds that’s saying a lot.

He was respected enough to be selected as one of the leaders in citizen military training, and was one of the senior members of the officers corps.  There was enough overlap for him to be selected the first president of the alumni batch association.

Since then he has made his own fortune and made his own destiny (in Toronto Canada), for others to follow and admire.  The past seems so distant now, but we will always remember Andy for being a charmismatic leader, without forgetting to be just one of the guys.

So sorry for the late greeting, blessings always to your family, hope we can meet someday soon in one of our reunions, and many happy returns!

belated happy birthday Tess Aldeguer – Tangco !

Tess in a recent reunion with Eunice Cobankiat – Pascual

belated happy birthday (13th September) to Ms Tess Aldeguer – Tangco !

My only regret when I remember Tess is not knowing her earlier.

From late elmentary to middle school straight to university, Tess and the warmth of her friendship was a constant presence in our lives.  She had that engaging manner that always put you at ease, more so if you joined her circle of friends.

Years and years later, she has retained a closeness that has stood the test of time, never hesitating to ask how you are and how life is treating you, no matter how long you’ve been apart.¬† It’s as if once you’ve been pals with her, she’ll never stop being your friend, and indeed she has never stopped being ours.

So sorry to have missed your happy day Tess, take care always, and best regards to your loved ones.

YLB Noel

belated happy birthday Michael Tan !

Michael (center) with family.

belated happy birthday (4th September) to my high school classmate Mr Michael Tan !

MacTan was as lowkey, soft-spoken and clean-cut as it got, but he was one of the more memorable members of my class more than three decades ago.

He was never too high, never too low, never too rowdy, but never too boring, never too happy and never too sad.  He knew exactly what to say for every moment, and did just enough to get by.  Which was exactly how he (and most of us) wanted it.  Laid back, cool, and just one of the guys.

One thing I won’t forget about MacTan though, and that’s the fact that we had very similar tastes in what we considered pretty, cute and beautiful.¬† That I won’t easily forget.

Then and now, he was someone that I could easily relate with, and it was great to see you at the 30th anniversary reunion.  Belated greetings classmate, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

belated happy birthday Kirby !

Kirby with batchmates during our latest reunion last July 14th. He is the distinguished looking gentleman in the suit in back row.

belated happy birthday (4th August) to batchmate Mr Kirby Hartigan-Go !

IF IT’s true that quiet confidence speaks loudest, then Kirby was definitely one of our most confident contemporaries in high school.

In his words, gestures, academics, and leadership skills, the strength of his conviction carried the weight of someone far beyond his build, the wisdom of elders far beyond his years.

But even these meant little next to the conviction of his faith, a badge he wore proudly then and to this day.

It has undoubtedly paid dividends to him in this world, but he gives more weight to the rewards in the next.

About that belief, we have every confidence, you can be sure.

Belated happy birthday Kirby, sorry for the late greeting, thanks for serving as one of our most dedicated Batch Officers, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

happy birthday Doc Gerry So !

happy birthday (31st July) to an old friend, Dr Gerald So !

Can you imagine someone who was in love with both the printed and spoken word before he reached his teens?  Someone who already had a rough idea of what he was to do with his gifts and talents, when he was not even at the threshold of life?

Imagine someone like this, a Rennaissance man in his pre-teens, and you have an idea of what Gerald was.  I call him that, just as he sometimes still calls me Emmanuel, just like it was Gerald, Emmanuel, Nelson and Simon (Gerry, Noel, Sonny, and Simon)  nearly 35 years ago.

The promise has given way to the fulfillment.  He wedded the highest body of knowledge on earth, the science of healing, to the highest body of knowledge in the heavens, knowing God.  If you know anyone else who has been a student of both theology and specialized medical science, please tell me, because I hardly know of any other.

Without beholding him three decades later, I know he has kept himself fit and healthy comparable to a man half his age.  He devotes nearly all his waking hours to the love of his life and his family.  And though he has stayed Stateside more than half of his life, part of him remains in the Philippines permanently.

I pay him the supreme compliment of remembering him when I am posed by the most challenging of dilemmas, be it a practical problem, or even an existentialist issue.  When I am truly flustered by not knowing the right thing to do, I merely ask myself :  What would Gerald do?  More often than not, because he would do, not always the popular thing, not always the cool thing, but always the right thing, his would be the conviction of ten righteous men.

I have not seen you since the early 1980s Gerald, but thank you for being at my side all these years.

Happy birthday, many happy returns, and God bless you always!

belated happy birthday Noemi Bola√Īos !

Noemi with hubby ūüôā

ADD TO our great frustration of never being classmates with Noemi our frustration of not seeing her at our 35th anniversary high school reunion. It would have been great to see you batchmate, and be regaled by all your stories about carving out the career of a lifetime in Arizona.

I met all your kabatch and close friends though, as you will see in a thousand and one Facebook uploads shortly. There wasn’t enough time for every batchmate to update everyone else on his/her life, but you probably guessed that already.

I can assure you though that at one point or another during the reunion, a lot of us thought of you and wished you were there.

Belated happy birthday Noemi (6th July), so sorry for the missed greeting, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

there and back again after 30 years

At this point the titles don’t mean a whole lot, but just for posterity we are flanked by past batch officer Stef Victorino, current batch president Ricky Ko Pio, and past batch officer Mel Asiddao. Except for this loyal blogger, everyone in the pic has done so much to advance the interests of batch 82, and deserve hall-of-fame recognition, kudos guys!

THE SHORT lesson was, if you attend a culminating activity 30 years in the making, small inconveniences should either be taken care of early or endured peaceably.  If one can last through nuclear meltdowns, seismic upheavals, iron curtain-shattering and geopolitical tsunamis, technology-gamechanging, black President-electing, Beatle-dismantling, Bee Gees-terminating and Michael Jackson-moonwalking 10,950 days 1,560 weeks 360 months or 30 years, you had better have a good penetrate-and-escape plan for your 30th anniversary high school reunion, James-Bond level at least.

But¬†I guess that would be¬†too much to expect from a wishy-washy part-time philosopher, part-time blogger and full-time slave like me, so I once again had to miss the lion’s share of that wonderful event prepared by our batch handlers Ricky Ko Pio, Carol Ng – Sy, Kirby Hartigan – Go, Evelyn Cheng, Maribeth Ang – Wong, Melanie Lim, Ricky Cheng, Tessie Sy – Chingkaw, Rosemarie So – Cheng (did I miss anyone?) because esposa hermosa and I had to catch a ride home, of all things.

On the way home I realized, was anything more important than enjoying to the fullest an event like your 30th homecoming?¬† Wasn’t it worth the hassle of bumming a ride home from someone else, anyone else who had the minimum of a kariton or bicycle that my wife and I could ride on?¬† Sigh, but I’m counting my blessings anyway.

Blessings like I made it at all to the Philippines when just organizing a trip, finances, wherewithal and all would have and did take major coin and energy; like we were able to accomplish substantive chores that only a trip back home made possible; that both my family and that of esposa were in awesomely good health and with whom we could bond, and that we partook of so much good food, conversation and hospitality in the short time we were back home.

But nothing could match the familiar faces that we saw at the 42nd floor of the Discovery Suites Saturday night.  It would be unfair to mention any single one, but each face that we beheld brought back wonderfully detailed memories that only face-to-face encounters could bring in stark relief, and if you have attended even one reunion, you know what I mean.

Special mention was given to overseas Рbased members of batch 1982 (what we informally call our group, by the way ), and I was one of those lucky enough to be kudosed, although others came from much further.

I will do my best to post pictures here later, just to show you how little has changed among my high school friends and how well our friendships have weathered the test of time !

Thanks for reading, and to all my high school friends, take a bow please !

YLB Noel

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