Benito (Benny) Tiamzon of Marikina and Wilma (Nene) Austria of Pasig met in Rizal High in Pasig. They were members of Class 1969, I am told, a time of ferment. I was in Class ‘55.
I was an ordinary Section 1 stude and the effervescence of some of us was about Junior-Senior Proms. We became coed only in our junior and senior years; rivalry was tight between the Gobyerno studes (dolls from the old Government Bldg.) and the guys in the old classic Caniogan Gabaldon building.
Our valedictorian was Eddie Sanchez (bunso of orig MABINI Chair Bobbit). Eddie was No. 1 in the board exams for Chemical Engineers. A distant No. 2 was also from Pasig (a Melendres), coming from the town’s other leading high school, which we called the Kumbento (Pasig Catholic); its ‘55 valedictorian was Aveling Cruz. Ave, 14, entered San Beda with me (I was 15); his Mom would say in the municipal library where she worked,
Ave would top the bar (he did, too, in ‘61, at 20, among 4,395; I went on to AB, and was only No. 6, among 5,453 candidates in ‘63).
A cuz of Eddie, Eugenio Suarez, born without a right hand, our Rizal Hi classmate, was No. 5 in the 1961 bar and only No. 11 in the CPA exams. “Only”, cuz in the class after ours, Cora Santos,’56, finished high school in Rizal as salutatorian and was No. 1 in the 1960 CPA exams. She married Pat de la Paz, No. 3 in our ‘63 bar, from Iloilo’s University of San Agustin. He reviewed with us in San Beda. Widowed, Cora married her high school rival for honors with whom she would not speak then, but does now, as she is now Cora de la Paz-Bernardo. Josie, her sister, was in our Section 1, another gorgeous beauty and brains.
I was labelled Galawgaw, happy-go-lucky who did not want to be seen studying (and remembered for having been suspended at the instance of Ms. Florendo, who became one of my first clients). Indeed, Eddie and I were making bulakbol in early 1955 when the extras on the 1954 bar exams results came out. Eddie bought one paper to confirm if Kuya Bobbit had passed. He did with a grade of 91.2%. Ho-hum as classmates Flor Regalado and Bobby de la Fuente had 96.7% and 95.95% respectively. (I might have been a flake but it was not only Eddie who could spell “picturesque” casually when challenged by another vocational teacher, validating that a teacher affects eternity.)
Fare from Pasig to Mendiola was only fifteen centavos, beyond, twenty. So San Beda, despite my being a fan of Ateneo’s Moro Lorenzo (who believed in family planning, and he planned a big family). A more ardent Bedan than I, would be hard to find today.
I can go on and on about Pasig and Rizal High, and Uncle Jovy Salonga (No. 1 in the 1944 bar) and Neptali Gonzales (No. 9 in 1949). But Cora is from Pateros and Nep was from Mandaluyong.
Nene is from San Joaquin, Pasig, while Benny is from Marikina. Rizal High was the sun around which all the towns of the bucolic province revolved then.
Now Rizal High has another distinction, producing the alleged Nos. 1 and 2 of the Communist movement.
In the late 60’s, when Benny and Nene were in RHS, my Dulce and I were working for our master’s abroad. As a social worker (UP, No. 3 in the board) starting in Sapang Palay, she worked with and for blacks in the Inner Cities of Boston, Maine and Washington DC.
I left for the US maybe a hundred miles to the right of Macoy, believing that the student’s business is to be a student, not to tell the Prez how to run the country. But 1967 was the time of Ralph Nader, student demonstrators, Mark Rudd, Mario Savio, Black Power Movement, the assassination of Bob Kennedy and Martin Luther King, burn, burn, burn, and I came home 100 miles to the left of Marcos.
I doubt that Benny and Nene would be interested in the ageing remnants of MABINI, polka-dot during the dark years, defending Nat-Dems, Soc-Dems, Gad-Dems and Let-Dems, as long as they were human rights violations victims. Now I move about with a HurryCane, and Stutter-dancexercise with low energy, a poor voice (I teach with a mic) and bad right knee. Paos at Laos.
PNoy of course cannot release the Tiamzons without his administration looking like a chicken-house government. The military-police, etc. who risked their all would never understand. Tiamzon fans cite the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee, which government seems to claim was more honored in the breach than in the observance. He said, she said, you know.
My sources (a brother, Sadi, ‘57, Cora, ‘56, and Erlie Antonio-Pinga ‘57) say Benny was a salutatorian of his RHS batch and hails from Marikina. He was a student of Erlie’s husband Ignacio in the vocational course (Horticulture; mine was Poultry and Swine).
Nene was an “honorable mention” of the same batch and used to reside in Barrio San Joaquin. Her dad was the property custodian of RHS. Benny and Nene have two kids, now both professionals, who they left with Benny’s parents in Marikina.
They joined the CPP/NPA and were jailed and tortured in Camp Crame but were able to escape. They were not able to attend Wilma’s dad wake as there were many suspicious (military) characters around. Her Mom is still alive residing in Taguig.
Benny and Wilma were serious even in high school. I was easy-going until sophomore law. My parents never asked how I was doing. They just let me be. It was later at Harvard and Berkeley where I learned what Benny and Wilma did in high school. My brother, Roger, was with KM or SDK but is now a US resident.
I tried verifying further early this week in my alma mater but too bad, graduation week. Three graduandi batches, 648, 682 and 633. We were only 500 in our time. Understandably, the staff were busy in the biggest high school in the world. And the best, I may add.
If we could not have Uncle Jovy as Prez in 1992, how many today still believe that the CPP-NPA is the wave of the future? Or like Paos and Laos Bastonero (cum cane) me, past tense?
Wala ng asim o kamandag?
But, in 2016, A Senate with Gibo Teodoro, Alex Padilla and either Benny or Nene Tiamzon would be in the country’s best interests.