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Reflections from Afar:  A Tribute to the Class of 1980

by Cheers Echevarria-Leary (412)


          My “journey” back to high school began the day after Thanksgiving, 2004.  I say that in quotation marks because I made the trip only in a figurative way.  Actually, it has been a while since my first and only homecoming to the motherland after I left her almost two decades ago to join my family for life as an expatriate in this vast land comprised of fifty “blue and red”, slightly discordant and not entirely cohesive nor united states.


          I’m not quite sure exactly what came over me on that chilly November day after a major national holiday.  It must have been all that turkey and other rich and sumptuous foods, which I ingested with gusto and abandon, that went to my head.  Either that or age.  Seems to me that when I hit my fourth decade last spring, I started becoming more sentimental, more inclined to revisit the past.


          At any rate, the day after Thanksgiving was when I came down with nostalgia fever.  I logged on to my computer and decided to sign up with our batch website (the brilliant brainchild of Rey Espino, Leo Riingen, et al.).  It was something that friends have been prodding me to do for sometime but which, in the midst of life’s frantic rhythm and its mundane routine, kept being buried in my lengthy mental “to-do” list.


          Within twenty-four hours, my request for membership was promptly approved by the moderator.  I now had access to the corridors and private nooks of the old high school, as revealed in the lives of my batchmates during the last twenty-five years.  Thus began my “journey” back home.


          And what an amazing journey it was!  As soon as I unlocked the door back to UST High, I beheld the wonders of those years of discovery and curiosity which I had almost completely forgotten, caught up as I’ve been in the myriad activities of harried daily life as a wife, working stiff, and political volunteer.


In our group website, I saw names and faces both familiar and unknown, and photos of teachers fondly remembered or hardly at all.  Suddenly, a window long kept shut was flung open, allowing me to peer into the past.  I felt like a child who went up to the attic and found a long-lost beloved toy.


          As I hurriedly scrolled down my computer screen in search of familiar names, an endless stream of e-mail messages came rushing in.  Names of former seat/cheatmates and partners-in-mischief-and-misadventures when I was in 113, 211, 311, and 412 popped on my screen and transported me back to the days when I was an awkward and dorky teenager.  I was absolutely in stitches as I read the riotous e-mails posted by various batchmates.  (Jun Baylon’s I found to be the zaniest).  A quarter-century may have transpired and we all may have inevitably aged a bit but the words of banter in those e-mails reflect the fact that who we once were----wacky, silly teenagers---is who we essentially still are.  A lot of us may be parents now, and a rare few even grandparents, but we have, at our core, remained remarkably the same.  Like the best vintage wine, Batch ’80 only becomes finer and more distinctive with the passage of time.


          Without a doubt, our lives have taken divergent paths in the course of twenty-five years.  Like seeds scattered by the wind, we have taken root and flourished in every crevice: Europe, North America, Asia, the Middle East, the South Pacific, Australia, Africa-----Batch 80’s global invasion.


           We became accomplished business leaders in various industries, doctors and other health professionals, lawyers, accountants, engineers, architects, educators, clergy, entrepreneurs, and so forth.  Truly, our batch represents the best and the brightest of UST High School.  We have certainly produced one of the finest crops of talent that our school has ever seen.  1980 was a vintage year indeed!


          Wherever we are in life now and whatever we have become and are still in the process of becoming, it all began in that staid, steel gray high school building that we, members of Batch ’80, all call HOME.