The Reunion

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

THANK GOD there was no one who came pregnant during our recent high school reunion. After all, it was already 36 years when we graduated from our alma mater, the Southern Mindanao Academy (now known as Southern Philippine Adventist College).

Of course, not everyone came for the reunion. Only very few know about it; only those who have Facebook accounts were able to learn the news. We also asked them to contact our other classmates if they knew some.

All in all only 17 came. But it was a blast. Everyone had fun. They became like teenagers all over again -- as if they were still in high school. Nothing, it seemed, changed. No one can stop them from sharing their stories -- from the past to the present.

Some are already living abroad but decided to go home in order for them to attend the reunion. Ujeandela Cruz-Balintongog and Eva Delgado-Hehr had to travel all the way from Canada. Delia Moralde-Urboda had to take a leave from her work in Las Vegas, Nevada so she could join.

Rebecca Salarda-Cabahit traveled from Gingoog City; she was with her only son Bobet, who drove their vehicle. Smyrna Dino-Cayona also brought her own car but she arrived late at night already. Later on, while having our dinner, she surprised everyone -- especially those from abroad -- when she carried durian fruits into the table. It was a feast!

Those from Davao City who joined the reunion were Glocelyn M. Bardago (who served as a driver), EmmelineLayon-Hayag (whose car was also used for our tour), Archiles V. Astilero (who tagged along her only daughter and niece), and NoriePleños-Alcover (thanks for preparing the tarpaulin).

Rebecca Natavio-Lasco, ArmiBugayong-Aragon, and NinfaAlfeche-Albaracin came from our alma mater, as they live nearby. Two from Digos City also came: Jocelyn GuiñaresYlagan and Luzminda Bautista-Jasmin.

There were only three males: myself, Samuel Natavio, and Eliezer Ramos (who was with his wife and son). Natavio, who now lives in Bukidnon, had to leave in the late afternoon on the first day our reunion since he had to catch a flight going to Cebu City. Ramos and his family hail from General Santos City.

Two of our former classmates -- William Lim (who now resides in Canada) and Gerry Calba (now based in Denmark) -- shared some financial assistance so that our other classmates can join the reunion. So even if they weren’t around, both were still talked about.

There were others who helped to make the reunion possible. Ujean provided the printed T-shirts of our reunion. The following also provided financial assistance: Ujean, Delia, Eva, Smyrna, and Samuel.

On our first day, the group met at MacDonald in Damosa in Lanang. One after another they came. And so what started as a silent minority became a loud majority when more people joined the fray. There were moments of laughter, picture-taking, story-telling, and hugging.

I had to leave the group twice. The first time was when I had to pick up Delia at the airport. I brought the group to the Bluejaz Beach Resort and Water Park, where we were billeted for our first day.

When everyone was settled already at the resort’s White House, I went back to the airport to pick Ujean. The two of us were having a great time talking with each other; she’s still the Ujean I know before: charming and dignified.

In the afternoon, we had a session together where we shared our stories as to what happened to us after we left our alma mater. There were stories of struggles, laughter, and mistakes. But through it all, we had a chance of knowing what happened to our classmates after we said goodbye on our high school graduation.

On our second day, we went to Eden Nature Park. On our way, Delia and Ujean -- both marang aficionado -- were having the best of time when they were able to eat their favorite fruit. “Now, I can say my trip here is complete,” Delia said.

We had a tour at the man-made park and took our lunch afterwards. After eating, we rested for a while before we tried the Indiana Jones zipline.
After Eden, we traveled for more than an hour to reach our alma mater. We toured the place and were surprised that it has completely changed through the years.

Then, it was time to say goodbye. Some opted to stay while others hit the road again to go back to Davao City.

As we travel, the words of American actor and singer Bob Hope came to mind: “When we recall the past, we usually find that it is the simplest things - not the great occasions - that in retrospect give off the greatest glow of happiness.”

See you again classmates in 2017!

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