It has been 24 years since I left high school and went on to the more exciting world of college and the real world eventually — and next year we are the high school silver jubilarians of St. Paul College of Quezon City. It makes me feel old and at the same time makes me feel young when I see how many of my batchmates have aged so gracefully. It gives new meaning to the saying age is but a number.
Some batchmates put up an e-group just as I arrived in New York 7 years ago, and although we have been hard put to organize ourselves here on this side of the world, the e-group with its members largely based in Manila has provided a platform for us to reminisce about the past, share with each other the things that keep us busy these days — and we have fostered a sense of community that is more akin to a sisterhood between women who had grown up together through our formative years.
Life has way of sweeping us away and it is always a struggle to stay connected with our friends of old, although I have managed to succeed in that despite the distance — as a group, we have been more or less “quiet” except for a few get-togethers in the previous years. Things are stirring up back home, though, given that we are tasked with preparing for the next homecoming. It’s an exciting and heartwarming time as we find ourselves renewing ties with those we had lost touch with.
We’ve come to that point in our lives when some of us cannot remember everyone in the batch anymore. After all, there were 300+ of us then. There are around 30 of us here in the US, and a similar sized group of local batchmates are actively organizing get-togethers and fundraisers back home.
Some of us have married and and some have become single again.. some have chosen to stay single.. there are many mothers among us — there is a big group of career women.. and we count doctors, lawyers, artists, models, businesswomen and many stay-at-home moms among us. It’s a very diverse group of Filipinas who spent at least four years with the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in that campus bordered by Gilmore, Third Street, Hemady and Aurora Boulevard. At least a third of us had spent the 7 years prior to that in St. Paul College of Pasig. In a very literal and real sense, we were childhood friends.
There are some who have passed on.. one of the more recent ones had waged a battle against cancer four years ago. I even managed to see her when I came home in 2002. She has since passed away and it still makes me wistful when I work on the old pictures we are now posting in the batch website’s password protected albums and I see her and those others who had passed away. One of our batchmates finished Dentistry and managed to top the Dentistry Licensure exams the year she took it — she, too, waged a battle with cancer and succumbed to it eventually.
Not all of us have had the same measure of success in life, as we each have our own story to tell. But all of us have evolved into different persons and stayed the same in some ways through the years. It is such a joy to go back to the memories of yesterday now that we have our own children, some of whom are studying with the same nuns who gave us the foundation upon which we made our decisions in our adult lives.
We’re counting down to that day when we can all get together and celebrate the 25 years that have passed since. We sang a graduation song I composed for the batch, a song that some can no longer remember, but which some still remember to the last refrain. I’m trying to write a counterpoint to the song to bridge the years in between. It’s been a slow process drawing out the inspiration, but with all the memories to draw it from, it has not been lacking.
The old song went:
Remember all the places.. the jokes and the funny faces..
All the things we used to do, things that were part of me and you.
And it’s so hard to say goodbye, after all that we’ve been through
to hope that things won’t change between us is all that I can do
I’ll miss you when you go (when you go)
It won’t be easy I know
But at least I’ll have the memories that you have made with me.
You’ve come to be such a part of me
That I can’t help but cry
And so I give to you these memories before I say goodbye
The new song hasn’t gone quite that far but I have the first two lines which I keep singing over and over in my head.
Has it really been that long since we last said hello?
It seems as if you were just here not so long ago..
I’ll finish it in time..