Monday, January 03, 2011

Elements of a Grade School Reunion

Elements of a Grade School Reunion: a homily, a haiku, an event and a pre and post reunion class annual.

As an invited stalker (mildly a lurker) to the 35th year homecoming of the SPCT Grade School Batch 1975 post activity and relating as a fellow Paulinian, I can not help but comment on the individual pre and post descriptions of the alumnus in their commemorative documentation.

It must be a thrill to read how one is seen by the rest of the class and the writer. It is a rare gift to be told what they think of us then and what we have become 35 years after. Whether accurately or partially captured, it is but fitting to reflect on the thought that “Is what we have become now a result of the thought we seeded then?” Only we personally can answer. Whatever our findings are, it is but fitting during this Christmas season to give thanks to people, decisions, challenges and circumstances that influenced us to where we are now.

Only we can answer if indeed St. Paul has touched our lives against this thought, “Like St. Paul, what makes us great is the extent we are willing and committed to give for the ones we truly love.”
Only we can validate based on the destiny where we are now  if indeed Ralph Emerson’s statement is relevant, ”Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
The final test for me whether St. Paul has positively influenced our lives is when we can confidently declare that “our destiny is not a matter of chance but a matter of choice.”  Congratulations to SPC Batch ’75 on your successful homecoming.

(Photos grabbed from the Batch’s FB photo coverage.)

Recall Rekindle Rejoice In the Lord

Pardon me my friends for reading my homily today. I am among very esteemed and exacting and respected classmates, therefore I have to keep my homily within bounds of decency, style, and time. In short, I am not used to extemporaneous speeches like our classmate here Michee Aquino, Dodo Razon and Noel Israel.

To say that every one of us looked forward in excitement to this day is an underestimation. Imagine, having finally reached this day of coming together in celebration, after 35 long years, is indeed momentous. A day that was ignited by a simple posting of our class picture in facebook by our classmate Frankie Dadufalza and taken over by Dodo Razon who tagged everyone of us.
From that day, we have come a long way. I was looking for the bank account number of this class a few days ago and I could not find it in the pile of messages we have sent to each other the past months. The thread we have created can now qualify for the Guinness. We have not only come a long way, but we have returned. We are back to recall, rekindle the joy of the days gone by, and rejoice with the Lord and burst into thanksgiving for all the blessings he bestowed on each and every one of us.

We have come a long way and we have returned. We are back to reminisce, to remember as far as we can of the first day of school. In Kindergarten we remember that we were literally forced to come to class. At a young age, we were so dependent on our parents and to relinquish that reliance, we have to cry our way to the classroom into the hands of those we feared: as the nun called Sr. Mary Martha (who is here with us today), to that feisty principal Sr. Theresia, and those teachers with a ready punishment for naughty students. We grew up fearing the principal’s office, but we now look back and say “no regrets” -- the very persons whom we feared have become the people we are so grateful for today.
We have come a long way, from our first communion on December 8, to the numerous intramurals and foundation days that nurtured our talents in singing and dancing (some with great passion and matching costume of the Hawaiian dance – probably today’s version of otso otso).
We look back at the piano recitals, Christmas choral concerts, and the numerous stage musicals like “Cinderalla”, “The Sound of Music”, and stage plays such as Helen Keller’s Miracle Worker. These activities have later nurtured in us a great appreciation of the arts.
We look back to the days we were in the campus where we played Chinese garter, shatong and tumbang preso, jackstone and shato, marbles and matchboxes which we bought at the Variety Store in the old market. Maybe it was a blessing in disguise that in those days we did not have computer games, or PSPs that would have curtailed our ability to socialise with our playmates . We are a happy bunch of kids then, because we knew how to play with others with much gusto.
As we look back, we remember the people who touched our lives because of the service they rendered to make life comfortable and convenient for us. We remember the sisters assigned to care for us: Sr. Mary Martha, Sr; Yolanda Caridad, Sr. Giles who accompanied us in the piano, and Sr. Gabriel who sold the the textbooks every enrolment day.

We remember our teachers: Mises Macapagal, Allayban, Coballes, Liban, Rola, Taguinod, Gatan, Cabalza and many more.
We remember Berong who was the friend of all the pupils in the elementary department with his calesa that brought most of us to school and back home after classes. Who can forget lolo Deyong? We flocked to his store infront of the ermita to buy lubban, santol or bayabo wrapped in newspaper and sprinkled with asin. Simple, but heavenly pleasures.
Most specially today, we remember and pray for the classmates who went before us to the bosom of the Lord our creator: Warren Salvatierra, Mary Alexis Gacutan, Honorio Daraway, Anselmo Almazan, Benjamin Collado, Jonathan Cortez, Alexander Dona Martinez, and Benito Valdepenas. May the Lord welcome them into his heavenly fold and grant them eternal rest.
We are not here just to remember, but to reflect on how far we have reached and to see if our perspectives changed. Just like St. Paul our patron saint who moved from one country to another, some of us have moved away from Tuguegarao to far distances.

The capital cities we used to memorize in Social Studies have been visited and, like dogs who pee around a tree, we have made our marks in those countries we have been to. Some have reached the height of their careers; with a list of achievements, or a wider scope of influence. And we ask ourselves: How far have our dreams taken us?
Some of us have sailed great emotional oceans; and we have been gashed by the fiercest waves and storms of life. What was once played “Four Strong Winds” have become the image of emotional struggles. And just as Paul came to strengthen the spirit of his disciples when they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, we return to find strength in each other.
When we remember the past, we look back because we’ve changed. And the past have made us who we are today. But the little boys and the little girls who once inhabited St. Paul, we retained one specific thing that is important - we continue to nourish our friendships.

With the spark of just one photo, we have rekindled memories of friendship that we will forever cherish in our hearts.
And this is what we celebrate in thanksgiving today. We are here with grateful hearts for the people we have met along the journey through life: our classmates, teachers, administrators, our parents who made a Pauline Education possible for us, and the people who made life comfortable for us.
Nothing binds relationships, but this beautiful memory of friends. What makes us different from other batches are our stories.
And these stories, brought together, form one collective memory which we share today. And in addition, nothing strengthens individuals in a relationship but affection. In this gathering, we show how much we care.
Today, we just proved that the Lord was right. What matters is what is forever.
And this is the reason why we don’t regret coming home. Today, we just affirmed that, what is most important is not how far we have gone, but how deep we have loved.
And this is the reason why we don’t regret coming home. Today, we just affirmed that, what is most important is not how far we have gone, but how deep we have loved...
This is what we have learned in St. Paul College (now university). Our motto “Caritas Christi Urget Nos.
– Christ’s love impels us” has and will always guide us in our journey through life.
Like St. Paul, what makes us great is the extent we are willing and committed to give for the ones we truly love.

So that, when it is our time to bid the world goodbye, we can say: That in all things, God may be glorified.  Let us continue with this Eucharistic celebration remembering, rekindling and rejoicing with God and one another.

Captions from the message delivered by our classmate Reverend Father Gilbert Sales, CICM to his classmates and teachers in his homily. December 29, 2010 at the Ermita Church Tuguegarao, Cagayan..

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