OF A HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNUS
The following was inspired by Raffy Bruan’s article entitled
“Memories”. This is not
an attempt to upstage Mr. Bruan’s masterpiece.
The 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 Word Academy (DWA) of Urdaneta.
This came about after “
” Johnny - the great
organizer and reuniter - finally tracked me down here in
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. “
” 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 simple. There
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 year.
Unfortunately, there was no next year to speak of.
She ended up transferring to
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” dinner.
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”
magazine. They 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 teachers.
I 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 dose.
Junior & 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 alike:
DWAU. The three of us
clicked right away. We spend
lunch almost everyday atop the “
” 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 jinxed them.
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”
Lauder. I 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
, a popular honky-tonk place in
town owned by the
This 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 hometown.
The 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 Tournament.
The 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
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
trouble. He 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
teachers. I 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
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
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