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IN MY EYES: Unsavory remarks

Reunions are a fun, fellas, particularly after many, many years of not seeing each other.

The beauty of it is not in the achievements of the present but the fun of the past.

One of the more “fun” moments when I was in high school was when we skipped our first period in the afternoon (14 of us boys of II-A), crossed the brook separating the school and the wide fields and then hiked to the cemetery where we must cross another brook around 2 meters wide, to get into the fruit-laden tamarind tree standing proudly at the edge. Altogether, we dashed to jump to the other side and blog! We all ended up submerged in the neck-deep brook with all our uniform, IDs, wallets and all wet and filthy!

I am always fascinated of reunions. They make one feel younger. There are many things to talk about, including who are still alive and who have gone to the life beyond. What is another exciting portion is seeing and conversing with your former high school sweetheart or sweethearts and listening to each other’s stories.

Last time around, I came across a senior citizen friend who joined a global reunion sponsored by his Alma Mater, a prominent school in Ilocos Sur.

His story runs like this:

First, we had a parade, lunch and dinner. In the evening, we had a grand reunion program with Batch 78 and 93.

You see, in the middle of the dances and celebration, each batch participants were presented by their respective presenters.

Batch 68 speaker was a valedictorian of his batch and who currently has a law firm in the US. He spoke of a bitter high school memory when he was stripped of his valedictorian medal by a teacher. He was accused as an anti-administration activist when, as a student council president, he took the cudgels for his fellow students by fighting for student rights especially the right of assembly.

He paid for it by being stripped of his medal and after graduation, he promised never to set foot on his secondary school again unless those who were responsible for that act shall have retired, resigned or passed away. Many years later after those employees were gone there, he returned, organized alumni fund-raising activities and donated chairs and tables to the school. Before he ended his talk, he invited everyone to join a US grand reunion in Las Vegas this coming November 22 with the purpose of raising funds for a building.

Clap-clap-clap!

Batch 78 was a woman, her class’ valedictorian who spoke of the fond memories Batch 78 experienced from 1974-1978 and promised to help her school in any means her batch can. As an initial help, Batch 78 donated P100,000.

The 3rd speaker spoiled it all.

After being introduced, he took the center stage, and after his greetings, he spoke:

“May I greet the members of Batch 68 whom I will call the Planax group!”

I was astounded.

Many of us senior citizens of Batch 68 mumbled inaudible words.

One of them said, “Ba___s! We might be senior citizens, but it’s so insulting to call us Group Planax, as if all of us are already afflicted with arthritis or rheumatism that we need planax all the time.”

“I don’t have rheuma or arthritis. We can spar in a boxing ring if he likes,” said one balikbayan of Batch 68. In fact, many of those who joined the reunion are already based abroad.

“It’s a very unkind remark,” a retired teacher said. “It’s so unsavory, he could have chosen a more gentle description so as not to hurt our feelings.”

“Next,” the speaker continued, “I would like to greet Batch 78 and I would like to call them the Martial Law Babies! You were activists during the Martial Law era!”

“What!” a businessman from Batch 78 exclaimed. “Were we Martial Law babies? We were born in 61 and we were 17 in 78. Did we join a rally? No! What was his basis? We loved Marcos then, and this was a Marcos country, so we were not Martial law babies. Besides, we were no babies when Martial Law was declared in 1972!

“This man doesn’t know what he is talking about!” said another.

“I could no longer remember what name he gave to his 93 group as I was busy discussing with my batchmates the unsavory remarks we just heard,” said my senior citizen friend.

To put nail to that unsavory coffin of remarks, he ordered everyone in the auditorium to get a partner and face each other.

“Point a finger to your partner and say to him or her —- Magbago ka na!” he said

“What!!!!” said an alumnus in rage. “What should I change in me? We are not kids here in a leadership training. This is an alumni homecoming! Besides, this guy who is ordering this thing doesn’t have the right to say to me, ‘Magbago ka na!’ Why, am I a bad guy? We are not kids! Dapat siya ang magbago. He is too immature for the role of a speaker representing his batch!”

Another said, “Nakaka-buwisit!”

I was shocked, too, fellas, when I heard the story.

With an audience full of balikbayans, professionals and millionaire alumni, I thought that the speaker spoiled an otherwise happy homecoming.

Is it improper decorum or merely lack of knowledge to handle situations like this – the product of immaturity?

Or is tactlessness? Or being rude? Or both?

Maybe he was not aware of it, in fairness. Or maybe, he wanted to speak impromptu, but did not hit the mark.

I love reunions, fellas. I love seeing my formers classmates over and over again.

I hope that when our time comes, our group can be called by any name, but not Martial Law babies or Planax group.

Viagra group, as Kasamang Eden suggested, would be a better name!

I agree 100%.

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