Same time, next year

1

A precious get together for Pambuan Elementary School’s Class of 1961
FIFTY-four years.

That’s how long it took us—Class of 1961 of Pambuan Elementary School in now Gapan City, Nueva Ecija—to see each other again, seated across one another, in a homecoming that surprisingly got organized
in a short time, thanks to social media.

THE WAY THEY ARE Members of class of 1961 of Pambuan elementary School in now Gapan city, nueva ecija, pose for a homecoming picture on February 15, or more than five decades after they last gathered for any picture at all. (From left, front row) donato, leonardo and Magno; (from left, middle row) Sonia, Zeny, luz Tuazon-arevalo, Mrs. constantino (widow of Grade vi head teacher and adviser restituto constantino), Gloria Marcelo-Pajela, eunice, emma and Juliana; and (from left, standing) isidra, Manolo, Mary, angelina, boy, ely, Orlan, Mario, the

THE WAY THEY ARE Members of class of 1961 of Pambuan elementary School in now Gapan city, nueva ecija, pose for a homecoming picture on February 15, or more than five decades after they last gathered for any picture at all. (From left, front row) donato, leonardo and Magno; (from left, middle row) Sonia, Zeny, luz Tuazon-arevalo, Mrs. constantino (widow of Grade vi head teacher and adviser restituto constantino), Gloria Marcelo-Pajela, eunice, emma and Juliana; and (from left, standing) isidra, Manolo, Mary, angelina, boy, ely, Orlan, Mario, the

The reunion was held on February 15 at Orlando’s place, actually the driveway going to his gas station that he had converted to a videoke hall and dining room, without which there could never be a class reunion.

It began quietly, with a few of us coming from Manila, including Zeny, Mary (via California) and this writer, opting to case the joint first before we embarrass ourselves by calling our classmates (who preferred to stay in Barangay Pambuan for more than half a century) the wrong names.
Then, the sizing up was lost in the “Kumusta ka na? Tumaba ka!”


thrown in each other’s direction. Thankfully we quickly got through the process of breaking the ice that badly needed thawing after more than half a century in the freezer of memories when we were young and carefree, and for the most part very happy.

Fifteen of us from Batch 1961 were present for this possibly last
get-together, and the day did not see any of us walking with a cane. (OK, some were battling gout, but when you are over 60 as most of us are, you should already be dealing with bone and muscle issues, right?).

 The class of 1961 of Pambuan elementary School, now Pantaleon valmonte elementary School, in barrio (now barangay Pambuan) gets ‘serious’for a pre-graduation picture in March of that year.  CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

The class of 1961 of Pambuan elementary School, now Pantaleon valmonte elementary School, in barrio (now barangay Pambuan) gets ‘serious’for a pre-graduation picture in March of that year. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

I learned about 15 minutes into the seemingly endless chatter that Jose, Eligio, Zenaida, Dionisio, Enrique, Bonifacio, Romeo, Isidro and Susana had passed away, distracting me from the merriment for a little while, but finding me offering prayers for classmates I will terribly miss.

To the rescue came Emma, the chief organizer of the event, who announced that we can start with the videoke, as if anyone came unprepared for the occasion and willing to remain undiscovered as the singer that Magno, for example, has been since we were 12 or 13 years old.

Almost all of us recalled that we never heard Magno sing in any class or school program from Grade 1 (1956) to Grade 6 (1961), and yet here he was—fast forward—belting out “Massachusetts,” “I Started a Joke” and other Bee Gees hits like a pro.

Maybe, he didn’t care about Frank Sinatra (1950s) and, a few years later, Paul Anka (1960s). Barry Gibb and his brothers would emerge in the late 1970s, when members of the Class of 1961 were already in their early 20s.

The food and drinks were great. We had pritong hito, inihaw na tilapia, pancit bihon, kare-kare and a few other favorites that I can’t remember anymore (senior moment!), and ice-cold canned beer and soda.

In reunions like this, it’s quite difficult to really mingle and so some of us got stuck and happily so with the first classmate who had greeted and hugged us, proceeding to talk about our favorite teacher, our respective families, our possibly holding another joyful bonding, and our being fairly healthy in our twilight years.

Mrs. Gloria Marcelo-Pajela and Mrs. Luz Tuazon-Arevalo, our dear, dear teachers in Grade 1 and Grade 3, joined us, their eyes misty at the sight of their pupils and seemingly proud of what we had become—neither rich nor poor, neither brighter nor smarter, but only kind-hearted persons (no objections, please) with no plans at all to compare and contrast our personal and professional “achievements.”

Class idol Mr. Constantino, somebody said, passed away too a few years ago, startling us city slickers (kuno) who had expected the Grade 6 head teacher we all loved to be with us at least for a few hours more.

The maestro taught us theme writing, music and, we boys particularly, gardening and carpentry, besides English, Social Studies (there was no Hekasi yet), Science, History. We could not have asked for more.

Time flew past and before we knew it, it was time to end, sadly, the reunion of Class of 1961, but not before we mag-kakaeskwela got our “take home” from the host.

And so, unfinished business with Manolo, Donat, Boy, Leonardo, Eulogia, Eunice, Juliana, Angelina, Virgilio and Mario will have to wait for wrapping up next time.

We won’t have to wait long because this April, there is another get-together where we expect the no-shows last February to attend—Juanito, Angelica and Erlinda (both via London), Victoria, Miriam, Rodolfo, Marcelino, Severino and Jose (Dayson, via Texas).
Can’t wait.

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1 Comment

  1. Danilo Reyes on

    Dear Mr. Marinas
    This is the kind of story that makes me long for the land of my birth. For personal and private reasons I cannot articulate in print, reading something like this makes my heart aches. My mind raced down memory lane and wondered what happened to my classmates in Balaong, Paniqui in my first grade in 63. Sadly, I can’t even remember any of their names anymore. If I may say so, you, your classmates, and your teacher really look very good all things considered. The statement that caught my attention from your article is “seemingly proud of what we had become—neither rich nor poor, neither, brighter nor smarter, but only kind-hearted persons (no objections, please) with no plans at all to compare and contrast our personal and professional “achievements.” This is a generous gesture coming from an accomplished professional such as yourself and others who found their way to the US. If you are neither rich nor poor, I have to say, you are definitely wiser than most people I know who achieved a modicum level of success. These are the people who do not need prompting and prodding to broadcast and accentuate their conquests and successes. Well, your teacher taught you good manners to resist the temptation to advertise. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons why I long for the good old days when a selfie is as foreign as the Martians and where you don’t post everything, I mean everything, in Facebook. My fear is that I maybe seeing the pictures of people for the last time, wise enough not to make the people who did not make it to the top very uncomfortable. Thank you for letting me reminisce and celebrate with you, your teacher and your classmates about the golden age of good manners and right conduct.
    Sincerely,
    Danilo Reyes