Saturday, February 28, 2009


50 years musn't have inflicted too much havoc on me. They remembered me at our high school reunion.

Whyever not. I took extraordinary measures to look girlish -- blow dried my hair, suffered a girdle to melt my middle, applied an extra layer of goo on my face, and smiled, smiled, smiled if for no other reason but to lift ooopsy-drooopsy skin.

And I recognized most of them too, if not by face, then by some manner or inflection or gesture or simply by gut feel. And I clasped them to my chest and held their hands, as though by hugging and touching I could bridge the chasm of the years.

At the Tondo penthouse (owned by an affluent and generous classmate) where the first event of the week-long reunion was held, the air was thick when one came in. The excitement was so palpable it crackled like burning wood in a fireplace.

Even as one got immediately engulfed in a flurry of embraces and digicam flashes, one craned one's neck out looking for special faces -- the high school best friend, barkada, crush. The partner at the senior's prom. The comrade in "crime."

When at last you find her or she finds you, it was all you could do not not to jump up and down But you try to keep your cool. You remind yourself: "Shush, you're an old woman now." Still you let out with an occasional shriek: "Omg, omg, there you are. Let me look at you. Oh my, you haven't changed a bit."

But we changed -- all of us. We did change.

Occasionally -- not too often -- I'd get an eerie feeling a strange someone was pretending to be a familiar someone else. How could this glam lady be the Juliet that she insists she is when I don't see a hint of the long-ago Juliet in her. Where have the unruly curls gone? And where the little-girl-lost look?

They looked for my pigtails too and I replied the louse-infested pair had been pruned long ago. In the same way I looked for Renato's killer lopsided smile, Dolly's nerdy eyeglasses, Pining's whistle-bait shape, Fely's copper coloring. Rocky's quiet, brooding ways. Gone. All gone.

It's not just the lines and ridges and the extra poundage. Not just the loss of lush in the hair, rose in the skin, sun in the eyes, spring in the limbs.

We changed inside and out and at the same time there were things that kept constant.

Anna for example is still as shy and as unsure of herself as she was in high school. The difference is that she has learned to affect poise and cool.

Medy still blushes when paid a compliment. And she still wets her lips in the fetching way she was wont to do as an adolescent.

When he met his first love again in the reunion hall, something inside Emiliano broke loose and he had to tell her he had not stopped dreaming of her.

But it takes more than a big reunion event to get in touch with the variables and immutables -- those that do not meet the eye. One tries to circulate from event to event, from table to table, spreading self thinly to cover as many classmates as possible. It was impossible to talk beyond the level of who, what, where, when, and how many, even as the more important why, why not, how, and so what questions remain unasked.

A week after the reunion, three of us took a trip from Manila to Los Banos to visit a classmate who lives there. In the three hours it took to go there by car, we probed into each other's lives and psyche. We continued to talk at the level of hopes and fears and losses and gains and leftover dreams when we reached Guia's beautiful home.

In that single trip, Guia, Milette, Myrna and Anna began to truly know each other for the first time. Never mind if they didn't get to soak into the hot springs they thought they went there for. As they all agreed before they parted, they were together that day -- talking soul to soul -- for a reason.

It was to them a potentially life-changing postscript to the reunion.

(To be continued, I hope)


Rudy said...

Oi, that was one heck of a class reunion, Anna. Know what? maybe I should start attending my own class reunion too, for once. And it just occurred to me while typing this comment, this year will mark our class' thirtieth anniversary... :-o

Milette said...

Bonding moments!!! How so important!! Relationships are built on love... expecting nothing... but true friendship indeed!! How come one discovers this - at winter time.... autumn has gone by... now it is winter time and soon all will be gone!! But memories will definitely be worth the while!!

SASSY MOM said...

It looks like you enjoyed the reunion. It's really nice to catch up with old friends. This year marks the 20th year of our high school class and we are now starting to gather and plan for that. It's nice to read again from you.

By the way, It's my 2nd year in the blogosphere and you were one of the first ones who visited my very first post. You have inspired me then an you continue to inspire me.


Dondi Tiples said...

Wow. I read all of your first page, Naida's story and your ukay-ukay tips (I'm an ukay fan myself).

Looking forward to more posts. God bless!


emiliano said...

I do not believe that you are still shy and unsure of yourself because you moved from table to table so confidently. In fact I think you were the star of the reunion because it appears that everyone wanted to have their picture taken with you.

Leah said...

How amazing that you have such a big crowd in your reunion? What was the percentage of attendees? It really looked like so much fun. Inggit ako. I wonder if my HS reunion ever happen.

Ikaw pala ang Miss Popular that night?

I am sure everyone had a little something to tuck in their memory once again. Thanks to you and the other organizer's effort.


pining said...

must have been surreal...if I'd have a high school reunion tomorrow, I'm sure I wouldn't know y classmates from Adam.
hope you're well Anna :-)

julie said...

Oh this is sweet, yo did not change but at the same time you all did :) I love reading about reunions and how genuinely happy everyone is seeing each other after s many years :)

When we had our reunion two years ago, we knew who is who because most of us have been classmates from Kinder till we graduated HS, yup a tightly knit bunch we are :)

Belle said...

Anna, i spotted you right away in the picture. You are in the front row wearing a black outfit. and you look great!

Anonymous said...

this post made me feel warm. glad you enjoyed seeing your classmates again.

Heart of Rachel said...

It's nice to see your beautiful smile in the front row. It must have been great connecting with former schoolmates. It's so nice to bond with old friends, reminisce about the good old days and plan to make more memories together.

bw said...

What a wonderful post. I enjoyed reading it. It is indeed challenging to organize a reunion, especially if so many years have passed. Congrats on a very successful reunion, of rekindling the bond and reliving the wonderful memories of your younger years :)

katcarneo said...

This is such a beautifully-written post. I could just feel the excitement in the air, the nervousness, and the overflowing joy with seeing each other after such a long time.

Auee said...

Wow talk about catching up... I look forward to that continuation.

Nakakatuwa 'no? After so many years, you changed but at the same time not at all.

Glad you enjoyed it and are reconnecting with your friends.

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