FOR THE USTHS ALUMNI HOMECOMING
February 26, 2005
I never dreamed this time
that I would be addressing my fellow batch mates of 1980 and also
celebrating the Holy Eucharist for our Golden Jubilarians.
I was ordained nearly
twelve years ago and I remember inviting only 1 classmate to the
ordination: Francisco Lao Jr. He's not here, but it gives me great joy
to share with you that while I was being ordained, I was praying for all
the people who molded my life in my priesthood, and certainly, USTHIGH
is part of who I am. And now, allow me to offer this mass in
thanksgiving for the gift of priesthood together with all here present,
batch 55, our golden jubilarians, my fellow batch mates of 1980, entire
USTHS community of regents and priests, teachers, mentors, and
students. Let us give everyone a warm round of applause!
Allow me also to share my
reflections on the gospel with my experiences in UST. Then our dear
friends in other batches especially our golden jubilarians can reflect
on their experiences as well. The passion of UST High School batch 80
ignited last 2001 when my email was bombarded with an average of 10
messages a day. I came to find out that since its registration with
yahoogroups initiated by Rey Espino, Jopet, Teng Aguilar, and Wendel
Mendiarito, it spread like fire to the other batchmates. USTHS 80
website practically became a virtual world where friends 25 years ago
suddenly found themselves rekindling significant, forgotten, and even
forcefully forgotten memories. I myself was moved deeply with all
messages as I started placing a lot of exclamation points after every
sentence. I'm sure that our batch mates also engaged in exaggerating
words like "HELOOOOOO,
KUMUSTAAAAAA KA NAAAAA, YEHEYEEEE!!! OY LOKA", and a lot of amusing
expressions! Suddenly, it's not just a particular section in high
school; it became the whole batch! Let me quote some emails from our
classmates that immediately brought us back the era of 1980:
From Tato Martinez: how I
remember you then, age notwithstanding, except
from Jun Baylon, who did
not age at all! (a little creepy isn't it), but Jun, what's your
secret??? The reminiscing really took us back to the good old days. Ang
daming details that I've forgotten, and hearing your stories makes me
realize how fortunate I was to be part of our batch. Talagang colorful.
And this was Jun's
answer: Tato, ang secret? S . hindi yung droga ha? Wholesome ako! Hep
hep! Wholesome ha? S - SEBO! Remember, the last time you saw me was at
least 40 pounds heavier ago! Syempre, the stretching it does to the
body, per tama ka. Parang walang pagbabago, it's sill the same "rolling
From Nelson Obach: are
you the Nalagan, my classmate from domeng? Pre, I just want to be sure.
Ang tagal na kasi. Kamusta ka na? I hope you still remember me. If I
remember it right, we were always seatmates because of our last names,
alphabetically arranged di ba?
From Tato to Teoly: Teoly,
titignan ko lang ang picture mo sa VERITAS . EYAHHH! Medyo mahal ang
babayaran mo para wag kong dalhin ang yearbook. Teka lang, Makita nga
ang picture ko . UTANG NA LOOB! Now I'm having second thoughts about
bringing the Veritas!
Another mail from Teoly to
Josephine Medina Manalad: I hope you remember me, Teoly Almendras? I
think we're classmates in first or second year, ako yung sing seksi ni
Ressio actually mas seksi ako pero wag mo na lang sasabihin sa kanya ha?
. na tahimik noon, di ba, Frances, Guia, at Titoy?
I'm really amused with my
classmate Jun Villamayor's letter to all: I'm Angelito G. Villamayor
Jr.or Jun (St Charles). We were around 15 in our barkada and the 2 of my
closest associates were Bernard Ponce (Pre, e-mailan tayo. Miss ko na
yung complexion mo) and Romeo Janairo (Hoy! Nasaan ka na! Ilabas mo si
TJ. Hinahanap na siya dito) Our favorite hang-out is the gotohan of
Aling Ester at the back of pay-hi. I was involved in all sorts of
groups--from Legion of Mary to SCA choir to Social Science Club to
billiard gangs. I can often be seen in the bamboo garden in front of the
hi-school building with either a guitar or the latest record album.
Pareng Bernie, blonde ka na nga ba? Pare, kinikilabutan ako!!!
The list goes on and on.
Every time I open my email, the yahoogroups keeps on adding email
addresses of our long lost classmates, until this very minute I
suppose. Many things have happened since then. Many smaller reunions
have been set up in the US and in Manila. We heard our classmates sing
and saw them dance, feats we didn't even imagine 25 years ago. We have
also prayed for our classmates and their families who encountered
sicknesses, accidents, and offered masses for their beloved departed.
Suddenly, our families
became theirs also. Our joys and sorrows were shared by all.
This reunion for me is a
communion of all these. It may end this evening, but for most or all of
us it's just the beginning. We don't want it to end.
We don't like to let it
hibernate and wait for the next 50 years for us to meet again. We want
something surprising and something beautiful to always come out as a
result of renewing old ties. We want to face the future with everybody
around. And if I would be pursuing this life of priesthood till
eternity, I want you all to be with me.
The gospel for today which
marks the third Sunday of Lent also expresses the deepest longing in our
hearts right now - we search for fuller, more meaningful existence in
this world. As the Samaritan woman found her meaning in her encounter
with Jesus, so too we pray that with this limited encounter with one
another may lead us to a deeper commitment to shares lives with and for
one another. These words I would like to suggest:
1.. Jesus makes the
Samaritan woman feel important - by staying near the well and asking an
ostracized person like the Samaritan woman, Jesus initiates this
encounter and makes healing possible. The first word I would like to
guide us starting this night is the word is REKINDLE - we would like to
rekindle memories and relive them in a special way; we would like to
take the initiative to reach out, to make all our batch mates, silver
and golden jubilarians, feel important, and indeed, we all are special.
And like this most Holy Eucharist which is a making Presence, we shall
not just share old memories, but we'll make them present. It's not just
the high school days.
Rather, we shall be
sharing the entire 25 years and make up for lost times. The kumustahan
will be our language to reach out and make one another a part of our
world. And we need to thank God Almighty for being able to be reunited
with a classmate, a batch mate, a best friend, or a special someone.
2.. Jesus heals the
Samaritan woman. Knowing her sad past, he makes an effort to assure her
that despite her sinfulness, she is very much loved by God. My next key
word for this evening is RECONCILE - we shall be reconciled with the
past and will make extra effort to forget them. I noticed while I was
reading the messages of our batch mates some memories need not surface
out or would be much better buried in the past. Let me point out some
To Rey Espino from Peter
Banes: thanks for the effort of putting up this group. Naging
classmates tayo nung first year - 122. Natatandaan ko pa nga, habang
nag-aantay tayong pumasok sa harap ng HS, napaaway ka pa kay Alejandro
Dabu (nabasag yata yung salamin mo). Anyway regards!
Si Gerald Nalagan on the
day Mr. Danilo Concepcion blacklisted his name, markademonyo sa record
book niya: Ayaw ko nang maalala!
Or James Phil Lapuz na
kinikilan sa Dapitan ngdalawang college students. I only have 5 pesos,
so I told them I need to pay for something. They settled for 3 pesos,
so nagsuklian pa kami sa kalsada!
And of course Jun Baylon
in his songfest Pippin outfit: his embarrassing moment was wearing the
songfest costume, body hugging white long sleeved t shirt with rainbow
sequins sa dibdib, and showing the big tummy, to top it all!
(my experience: it's
always Rene Molano who directed our plays, wala namang kaming female
classmate to play the role of the child Maria Clara, he made me wear
that female costume with the matching wig. And when the performance
came, not only did I look ridiculous, my wig fell off! By the way, the
event has nothing to do with my decision to enter the priesthood.)
3.. It's simply because we
were children, we needed to grow up, we needed to learn things the hard
way. True are Marina Torres' reflections when she said, "UST days were
glory for some: of recognition, plaudits, of many-a-wild amusements,
sorry years for others: of rejections, nagging doubts and insecurities,
but for most, if not all, an age of relative innocence and great
expectations. Nevertheless, let us then, sail the river of time as we
try to bridge the wide, gapping years that saw us from what we were then
to who we are now. With relief and a dollop of humor, let us allow the
memories to trickle as the events slowly unfold, pondering the lessons
learned as we let the hurts sift through the fiber of character the
years have woven into us."
4.. Finally, as the
Samaritan becomes transformed into an active proclaimer after having
found new life in Jesus, let us also recommit ourselves to the cause
that we once dreamed about when we left USTHS: that we would contribute
our share in building our country and be the future apostles of the
Lord. The third word I propose is the word RECOMMIT - we recommit to
excel in our fields of endeavor, we recommit to sharing our talents with
one another, we recommit to help our ailing country get back on its
feet. We vow to be healers from now on. There's a reason why the Lord
enabled us to meet once again after 25 years: to realize that the future
we once cherished is already in front of us - that future is today. And
today is not a beautiful sight to see, as our country is beset by
widespread poverty and corruption. Where are we in this great unfolding
of history? I was very much inspired with a conversion I had with Gina
Bautista Navarette and realized that despite all her successes she just
wants to go back and enjoy the simplest things in life. She said, "One
source of joy I experienced is whenever we open a restaurant, we provide
employment opportunities to people, they have something to hope for."
Then she further shared, "I have enough for my family, I hope to go back
to school and teach." I know that there are a lot more success stories
like Gina. I also commend Rene Molano when he told me he engages in
mass-based free seminars to empower people in far flung areas. I commend
everyone for every sign of fruitfulness abounding left and right. I
would pray that this may be the most relevant time for us to continue
meeting and collaborating all our efforts, and probably offer our lives
to bring hope to others. Then we can meet in the next fifty years, and
like our golden jubilarians, look and feel as young and as energetic as
ever. Let us give a warm round of applause to our golden jubilarians!
5.. In closing, as we look
back through all these years and journey toward the future, let us
realize that it is not just the story of our high school memories. It
is ultimately the story of our lives finding its true meaning in God.
And we have every reason to celebrate it through this reunion.
To everyone, mabuhay and
may God bless us all!
Fr. Joselito Jopson