This year 2021, our UP High School class celebrates our 50 years since graduation. What was planned as a big fun one week of partying and celebration was abruptly changed to adapt to these pandemic times.
There were 120 of us who entered the doors of the old UP High in 1967 and only 80 who graduated 4 years later . All these years we have kept in touch by making it an excuse to get together every time someone from overseas comes home. Or to celebrate Christmas or birthdays. We had big celebrations on our 25th, our 40th , 45th and this year our 50th. And in North America we held our own small reunions and get togethers like one we hosted here at Niagara Falls, or at Las Vegas and many many get togethers in California where most of our classmates lived.
Reunions are always joyful times to reminisce about the good old days and update each other about our lives – jobs, our children and now, our grandchildren.
Several classmates have hosted our reunions in their homes like the late Ramon Jimenez in his Ayala Alabang home and in recent years his 2 hectare property at Alfonso, Cavite. Rowena Santos Paguio in her White Plains home, Rho Julian Clemente at their West Avenue home and recently at her San Juan residence. Judith Gonzalez too has hosted us in her residence at Marikina. Of course Holy Angel University President Luis Calingo hosted us at his residence in Angeles City.
But most of all we held countless lunches and dinners at restaurants all over the Metro Manila Area . We usually try to secure a room as we were and still are a very rowdy bunch!
Why are high school reunions such fun times? We have developed life long friendships amongst ourselves. We may differ in ideologies or religious beliefs but we stay friends despite and inspite our differences. Reunions are times to laugh about our pranks, our kalokohan, our secrets ( that are now no longer secrets!) and to share memories since high school until today. Today we have lost almost 20 of our classmates who have gone ahead of us. Among them journalist Monica Féria, former Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Dr. Cynthia Balmaceda Pablo, VicVic Verzosa, Leonardo Maceda, Patricia Bueno, Joseph Garcia, Jun Espino, Myrna Crisostomo Rillera, Emma Guevarra Bondoc, Charmaine Teston, Dr. Elnora Rint Cambe, Elena Banquila, Josue de la Pena, Ricardo Tutay.
A few days ago we had a virtual reunion . And of the 60 surviving classmates we were so happy that 50 attended this virtual celebration. We always start our celebration with prayers ( this time we had a mass held at the UP Chapel if the Holy Sacrifice ) and some singing. John Lesaca, Boyet Guerrero and Steve Lava sang a prerecorded song. Two teachers joined us in this celebration Prof Theresa de Villa and Prof Maxima Jorda Velasquez.
The craziest part of the program was when we sang Hail Beloved UP High and group singing over zoom is not recommended because with different time zones and poor band width at times, it was a discordant melody. But still we all laughed about it! That was part of the fun!
A few shared Times Gone By stories that elicited so much reaction that I guess you can imagine what it would be like if it were not virtual!
On our 50th year, we launched our Senior Clarion book which is the updated version of our yearbook. It reflects each classmates achievements in both family and career and pages were shared by Annette Ver Papa. For those who passed on, a family member or friend wrote about her/him. It will be ready for distribution electronically but a hard bound book will also be printed. This is the culmination of 5 years work of a hard working group . Bravo to this team! Such an achievement.
On our actual graduation date last April 25, we had a virtual mass celebrated by Bishop Jack Jose of Urdaneta, Pangasinan it was also well attended.
We hope to celebrate our 50th in person hopefully this December and if still not possible as soon as this pandemic is over.
Don’t you just love reunions! I do!
By Marissa Buyco Corpus
Marissa Buyco Corpus holds BSBA and MBA degrees from the University of the Philippines . She is a graduate of the UP Elementary School and UP High School.