06 October 2009

OLCS: Looking Back, Facing Forward

It’s a small school by any standard.

The public school nearby is easily five times larger.

The school ground is only big enough to hold the participants during school performances that the audience has to squeeze in at the corners and edges of the building. I remember an exaggerated memory that I was literally hugging the wall every morning during the flag ceremony when every student in school lines up on the grounds.

We had a canteen; two of them surprisingly, given the size of the school. During recess, it was absolute mayhem, everyone ganging up front buying food. It was like a dress rehearsal from that scene in Miss Saigon when people were clamoring at the gates of the US Embassy.

We had a “garden” at the back. It was about four plots of soil with some lettuce desperately trying to grow. It was life trying to find a way despite the factors involved. I remember at the end of the year, those plants did live. What I can’t remember is what we did with those plants afterwards. Did we eat them? Did we sell em? Hmm… maybe that's what the canteen used for recess?

I’m digressing.

Anyway, it’s really a small school.

But that school is where I and countless others learned about life, living, and friendship. It was a special place at a peculiar time, the tumultuous 70s.

We were at the crux of the Marcos era. Looking back, we never really were aware of it. We never heard stories of oppression. We never saw military brutality during those times. The only time I remember when Marcos had a significant effect on me, was when he cancelled all the Japanese robot shows.

Jessica Zafra did have a theory that the 1986 revolution was because of our generation’s anger over the shutdown of Voltes V.

And yet again, I’m digressing.

Come to think of it, the school sheltered us from the harshness of the times. It was a time when we were vulnerable. Mere shells of what we will come to be. Up until this point, it didn’t occur to me to think of it this way.

Political correctness wasn’t even heard of then. But weirdly, there were no prejudice in that school, racial, religious, not even social. We were as whom we really were, unfettered by any differences, social hang-ups, or any other inclinations.

We were our true selves then.

Last weekend, we had a mini reunion. It was the second reunion actually. More people. More stories. More twists and surprises. Can’t wait for part 3.

I’m getting ahead of myself now.

I’d like to call it The Sequel. It sounds cooler. It makes me sound younger too. *Uhurm*

There was supposed to be a storm then. There were fears that The Sequel won’t happen. As early as the night before, we were all on edge.

It was Sharon who broke the great news. The Sequel will push thru.

And push thru it did.

All of us were just between 11 and 13 when we left that school. 28 years later, it’s really hard to see each other as adults. We have seen each other at our purest selves. It would be hard to digest all that chunks of armor, pieces of cloth, swatches of stories we wrap ourselves in.

I had a great time there. We mingled. We chatted. We ate. We drank. We smoked. We sang. We danced. We laughed. We cried (well, just one or two did). We jumped. We shouted. We were 11 again. We were 12. We were 13. We were ourselves.

I can’t do justice to describe how much fun we had that time. And I won’t attempt to. It was like the first time we had a reunion two months ago. Words can’t describe the feeling. We were one. We were together.

Maybe we were like those plants in the garden at the back of the school. Despite the limitations given us, we all managed to grow and become the best that we can be.

We are more than students of OLCS now, we have become builders, fathers and mothers, teachers, planners, creators, counselors, leaders, and yet all of us are still brothers, sisters, friends and dreamers.

Thank you everyone. Thanks for being there. Thanks for being true friends.