OF A HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNUS
The following was inspired by Raffy Bruan’s article
This is not an attempt to upstage Mr. Bruan’s
article is written to the best knowledge and recollection of
the author. Events
depicted and names of persons and places mentioned are true
and factual and were never intended nor meant in any way,
shape or fashion, to demean, belittle, embarrass, or
begrudge anyone. Author
was not commissioned nor received any remunerations
whatsoever in writing this article.
It was all done in the spirit of camaraderie, love
and friendship to which the Alumni is founded upon.
a biographical account of one’s high school experience is
a very easy thing to do if one has to do it fresh out of
school or even maybe two or three years after graduation.
The names and faces of friends and acquaintances are
still new in one’s mind.
The memories are still freshly imbedded in the brain
that recollection is as quick and as fast as booting up a
Pentium 4-driven computer.
Now, here’s the big challenge.
Try penning one 26 years later.
The thought of it alone grips you with fear.
Not so much on the accuracy of one’s facts, for the
brain’s ability to retrieve data stored in a lifetime is
remarkable, but on the names of people involved.
The inaccuracies of personality may obscure the
genuineness of the facts.
two weeks I agonizingly pondered whether I could ably write
my recollections of high school life in our Alma Mater: The
Divine World Academy (DWA) of Urdaneta.
This came about after “Apo” Johnny - the
great organizer and reuniter - finally tracked me down here
in Arkansas. With
the zest of a treasure hunter, he never stopped until he
found his precious “bounty”.
The efforts he took and the amount of time he spent
to locate an alumnus like me made me feel special.
“Apo” Johnny considers me a treasure.
And so, even with the adversity that I was bound to
face writing my memoirs, the decision to go ahead and
proceed with the project would in the end justify the
hardships and difficulties this man put forth in tracking me
down. So if you
are all ready let me turn back the hands of time.
recollection of my freshman year is very faint.
I do remember that my parents sent me to DWA because
of two reasons: it
is the nearest Catholic school from my hometown of Asingan
and it is where my older brother (Rocky), my older sister
(Pamela), and my cousins (Ronald, Edgar, and Alice Acosta)
were enrolled in (four years after I graduate it would also
be my sister Cherry’s (Class ’82) alma mater).
I remember our room was the second one from the
stairway on the first floor.
I had a big crush on a mestiza-looking
freshman by the name of Fanny Untalan whose room was next to
mine. There is
not an hour of the day that goes by that I do not get a
glimpse of her. What’s
my secret? It’s
were restrooms located on both ends of the school building.
Every hour on the hour, I go to relieve myself and
always use the one closest to Mr. Ridao’s office because I
get to pass her classroom!
Despite this “maddening crush” I had for her, I
never found the courage to go up and tell her about it.
I decided just to wait it out until our sophomore
there was no next year to speak of.
She ended up transferring to Urdaneta Community High
School. My plan
went to smoke and so did my infatuation for her.
out cute gals was not only the order of the day for me.
Adventurism was also the call of the day.
I was gravitating with guys that were thrill seekers.
One day right after lunch, Rodolfo Mencias and a
couple more eager-beaver kids whose names escape my memory,
and I, agreed to go to the wooded area at the back of the
school compound right across from the track oval.
Poor Alex Raposas who was not a regular member of the
group, decided to tag along.
Once in the jungle-like environment, we went swinging
from tree to tree ala-Tarzan.
The fun and joy was short-lived.
Alex slipped and came crashing down on the
leaf-covered ground. We
all converged on him and held him up.
He was grimacing in pain.
Our eyes had that terrified look in them.
Alex had an open fracture on his right elbow.
Our hearts sank.
He was rushed to the hospital and came back to class
with a cast. He
was to wear it for months.
Oh, were we guilty for bringing him along and
instigating the dangerous game!
He later invited us to his house on the occasion of
his birthday and introduced us to his parents.
I guess Alex did not give a full account of the
incident to his old folks for the rest of the gang and I
were greeted with smiles and served a sumptuous “lechon”
year was a lot more exciting for me.
I had beautiful, voluptuous and seductive classmates.
I began to admire girls with a bit of sophistication
much like a wine connoisseur is to a bottle of wine.
The age of puberty has dawned upon me.
Among the gals that stood out in class were Josephine
Sison (very talkative and had that look that would melt a
guy), Elizabeth Mones (her gold-toothed sweet smile),
Charito San Juan (pimple-faced, demure, leg-shaking pride of
Nancayasan), and Rebecca Fernandez (snub, eye-rolling,
pouting gal). They
may have different personal traits but they possess the same
distinct, likeable physical asset most kids growing up like
me look for: an
upper body that would have merited a guest appearance in “Kislap”
were not only delectable but intelligent as well.
These girls were very famous with Mr. Encarnacion,
one of our teachers. He
would call their names out loud, nod his head, gaze at them
amorously, and then bite his lower lip.
Pretty as they were, I never entertained the thought
of trying my luck on them.
For one, they were too tall for me and for another;
the phrase “never take a dump in your own backyard” was
foremost in my mind. This
made me look for prospects beyond my class.
The famous phrase was popularized by one of our male
could not exactly pinpoint who it was now.
period of adolescence marked the beginning of my fancy for
female teachers. One
such teacher is Ms Andrion.
She wears mini-skirt uniforms; her shiny long hair
brushed all the way down to her lower thigh, her face
made-up like a beauty queen, and lips like strawberry wine
(gosh, it sounded like one of the Beatles’ song).
She was a very religious lady, I suppose, because she
always goes to the chapel upstairs and pray after lunch.
I cannot fully recall now but I ended up escorting
her every time she goes to the chapel for her daily prayer
& Senior students would stare her down contemptuously
that she felt she would be more secure with somebody
escorting her. I
invited her to our town fiesta and I was surprised she
showed up. I entertained her like royalty that I even
offered her my parents’ bedroom so she could take a siesta.
The scene was almost a reprise of the movie “Mrs.
Robinson” except for the fact that there were no
seductress and seduced roles to be played.
My infatuation for Ms Andrion died a natural death
when I later found out she was head over heels on a
good-looking senior student.
our classmates, I developed a strong bond with Candido
Bautista and Dionemar Ulep.
Dionemar was a recent transfer from seminary school
in Binmaley. He
and fellow transferee, Geoffrey Altura, cannot hack it out
with the rest of the “plebes” so they decided to go to a
school that integrates seminarians and non-seminarians
The three of us clicked right away.
We spend lunch almost everyday atop the “chico”
trees at the back of the building.
After lunch, activity for me was solely devoted to
playing basketball. This would later on have a bearing on my
career as a varsity player of the school.
I also remember during this time that many varsity
players from other schools in the province were coming on
campus to play with our own varsity team.
One such team who had the “misfortune” of playing
with our school team is Malasiqui.
The game was close and started to be physical.
Elbows were thrown on both sides of the court.
Then the unexpected happened.
A free-for-all ensued and players and fans alike
joined the fray. What
I witnessed next was a treat!
Alex Asper (who was a senior), all of 4 feet 10
inches of him, flew in the air and delivered a resounding
flying kick to one of the male fans of the opposing team.
The poor fellow must have misjudged the full measure
of a small man. He
rolled on the grass twice upon receipt of the wicked blow,
stood up and scampered to safety.
Cooler heads prevailed and the dying minutes of the
suspended game was played afterwards.
The team did not only lose the game but went home
with battered nerves and egos.
True to their name, “Malas-iqui”, it really
unforgettable recollection I have is the seminarians of the
school. I did
come to know a few of them like Virgilio Manipon, Primo
Sipin, Wilfredo Penullar, Arnulfo Doctor, and Danny “Manok”
didn’t quite catch them red-handed doing it.
But I had it from a reliable source that many of
these “seminaristas” were slipping and sliding
away in the middle of the night making their way to
Manhattan, a popular honky-tonk place in town owned by the
was later on confirmed by one of the seminarians himself.
Accordingly, Manok was the instigator of the
misbehaving group. They
would tie together ends of bed sheets; anchor it on the
steel framed windows of their barracks and one by one slid
down to temporary freedom.
Poor Father Herbers, he is always deep in slumber not
knowing a “flock” of his is painting the town red!
No wonder none from that group ever became a priest.
year was not to be spent in DWAU.
I transferred to another private school in my
youngest daughter of the school’s owner got me smitten.
We ended up as teen sweethearts.
In the end, I had a falling out with her parents as
they found out that I was visiting her in her place whenever
they are not home. No
hanky-panky, none of that stuff.
Like the gentleman that I was, am, and will be, I
kept my hands to my pockets, literally.
Like a lost puppy looking for mama dog, I left and
went back to my true alma mater to finish my senior year.
Along the way I recruited Benny Robeniol to come with
me and experience the Divine Word life.
re-acquainted with old friends and former classmates was my
first priority upon my return as senior.
I quickly realized I had the same seductive and
voluptuous classmates as were during my sophomore year.
This time around, however, there were more curves on
the waistline and I guess two sizes up on their shirts (if
you catch my drift). One
gal that caught my fancy though was Filomena Marcelo.
She was not only diminutive but also attractive.
Problem was it’s not just me eyeing her but a
couple more fellows in class too.
Rhodetto Magat, Dionemar Ulep, Rodolfo Rosales, and
God know whom else. Never
wanting to compete with others, my focus was drawn back to
our female teachers. I
rekindled an old crush on Ms Gilda Doot.
I did start to like her during my sophomore year but
I brushed it aside. Once
more I was taken by her charm.
Unlike the first time I was not letting the
opportunity pass by this time.
And so every day after we get done with her class, I
always gave her pomelos.
Our backyard has two pomelo trees brimming
with fruits. Each
morning before I leave for school I snatch two and stash it
in my bag right at the very noses of my mother and older
sister. As this
was happening, an instructor at the college class in school
developed a fancy towards me.
Her name was Ms Moreno.
She was the diminutive version of Ms Andrion.
She touches my head and gives me that sexy stare
every time she saw me.
This special attention I got from older women more
than made up for frustrations I was experiencing with the
younger generation. The
fad by then was twosome-coo some.
All the glamorous girls in school were already taken,
if not being taken away by equally glamorous boys.
Local boys were always quick to the draw whenever the
school gets beautiful enrollees or transferees.
Among the few lovey-dovey couples that gave the famed
Tirso Cruz-Nora Aunor and Edgar Mortiz-Vilma Santos love
tandems stiff competition were:
Rhodetto Magat-Jean Ruiz, Candido Bautista-Mercy
Nirza, Norman Orallo-Grace Geronimo, Geoffrey
Altura-Consuelo Sipin, etc.
In the meantime, Benny Robeniol picked up my habit of
fooling around with teachers.
of the highpoints of my senior year, if not the highpoint,
is my selection to the varsity team.
The rigors of training and the skirmishes that went
with it were such a challenge that finishing each session
was itself a triumph of the mind over the body.
Wearing two hats, Mr. Ridao was both principal and
coach. He made
us run seven to eight rounds around the oval track and then
made us run up and down the court afterwards doing ball
movements, passing techniques, and set-plays.
You do not dare forget a set-play he designed or you
run the risk of being dressed-down.
If General McArthur has his famous “I shall
return” phrase immortalized, Coach Ridao has his (in)
famous “murtogo” in his arsenal of words.
After weeks of training, he easily picked eleven kids
to the team, a well-balanced combination of height, power,
speed and shooting accuracy.
Now, he has one more slot to fill and two kids to
chose from. He
had a dilemma in his hands.
Must he pick this one kid who possesses height and
shooting power? Or
would he opt for this diminutive but speedy, ball handler
and ball stealer kid? He
settled for the short, speedster from Asingan and the rest
is history. Of
the numerous games that we won, the one that is most special
to me was the one we played at the Urdaneta Open Basketball
best barangay players from all around town
participated in it. We
beat the team from Bayaoas, the strongest and odds-on
favorites to win the event.
It was comprised of fine players who once played for
Mr. Ridao. Coach
knew their game plan like the back of his hand and he laid
it out for us and we thwarted them.
I cannot recall if we won the championship or not.
I did know, however, that we won many a tournament
and school intramurals.
I can never forget being pulled aside by Father
Herbers asking me why everybody calls me “kiti-kiti”
(one who cannot keep still).
I remember telling him it is because of my
ball-stealing prowess and great speed up and down the court
that I was called as such.
He walked away nodding and shaking his head either in
understanding or in disagreement of what I told him.
The basketball season ended and the senior players on
the team went on to graduate.
I did not have the opportunity to thank all the
players of the team. Their
unselfish dedication and commitment helped bring about the
numerous successes that we reaped.
More importantly, they contributed greatly to the
camaraderie, friendship and happiness that pervaded the
team. Thanks to
Mr. Ben Bello, Candido Bautista, Jessie Mamalio, Mr. Raganit,
Peter Guillermo, and to those whose names I cannot remember
but whose faces are still etched in my cranium (you all have
to forgive me but this are the ones that I can remember off
the top of my head).
would be pure hypocrisy, to say the least, if I would fail
to essay my low points as an alumnus.
Fact is, there were lots of them.
But one that I consider worth mentioning was the
incident that happened at the old Villa Linda Restaurant.
For it’s adventurous nature, sheer boldness typical
of growing teens and it’s subsequent comical ending, this
one would have made it to the comedy books.
Benny Robeniol, Rhodetto Magat, Peter Guillermo,
Jesse Mamalio, Geoffrey Altura and I went drinking inside
the restaurant. Over
bottles of beer, we hatched the idea of forming our own
fraternity group. We
argued that fraternity groups had their own way of
distinguishing themselves from others:
handshakes or signs and a mark on their body.
The decision was swift and unanimous.
We decided to have ours on the right wrist.
And so we lit cigarette after cigarette and took
turns holding the cigarette to the site we so agreed upon.
Unbeknownst to all of us Linda, the owner of the
place, has tipped-off the police.
When it was time for us to leave we were accosted by
a pot-bellied plainclothes policeman.
He asked us what was going on and why we did what we
did inside. We
told him we were starting a fraternity and we meant no
then started to ask who we are.
It was never our intent to name-drop our respective
father but for no apparent reason the first person started
the name-dropping and it caught on.
The group was gathered in a horseshoe formation and
the name recital started from the left going right.
“Geoffrey Altura, son of Mr. Altura; Jessie Mamalio,
son of Traffic Control Officer Mamalio; Yogi Diaz, son of
Attorney Diaz; Peter Guillermo, son of Fiscal Guillermo; and
Rhodetto Magat, son of Judge Magat”.
Dude, the policeman was stunned!
I swear, he paused for almost a minute, an eternity
to us! He then
took a deep breath and told us we are free to go!
All this time, we did not know that Benny slipped
away on the way out. He
showed up later laughing scornly.
Had we been arrested and incarcerated, Benny would
have played it innocent and would have gone scotch free.
We would later recruit juniors into joining the group
we christened “MS” for “Malayang Samahan”.
The ones that I can recall were Rey Padua’s brother
and Randy (more diminutive than me but I can’t remember
his last name).
all the fun, excitement, infatuation, trials and
tribulations that I experienced in high school, I will never
trade it for anything else. If
I have to do it all over again, I would.
What would I have to change or do differently if
given that chance? I’d
say I would discard my shyness in telling my true feelings
toward girls. I
would muster the courage to say that I have a big crush on a
cute classmate or anybody cute in school for that matter.
Liking female teachers would be a thing in the past.
I would graft pomelo trees so I could harvest
more. This time
around I would give it to all the cute gals and not to
would audition to become a cadet officer so I could drop
Johnny and Rafael Soriano.
And yes, I would grow a bit taller and jump higher so
I could dunk the ball and impress the coach and be a shoo-in
for the varsity team.
Writing this piece has made me young again.
I would have finished it in a day or two but I
procrastinated because it made me feel good.
I was reliving my high school years and I felt like I
was 15 years old all over again.
It was exacting on the mind remembering the names of
classmates and friends, some I recalled, and numerous others
I couldn’t. I
would like to believe that this website of ours was put
together with the purpose of bringing alums together, young
and old. That
old acquaintances be renewed, friendships restored, and for
those unmarried or divorced ones, old flames rekindled.
We only live once in this earthly life.
It is my wish that before I breathe my last breath, I
would continue to enjoy corresponding with those that were
part and parcel of my high school life.
A life abounds with ignorance, learning,
experimenting and character building.
This website is the bridge which was intended to
bring us closer together, just like yesterday.
I hope we all share the common bond of striving hard
to build this bridge even stronger.