I attended our annual high school reunion a couple of weeks back. Since I still frequent my old campus during my Saturday football, I had already been aware of the many renovations that the school had gone through: a canteen here, a canteen there, a bigger school supplies store, aircons in all the classrooms, canned-drinks dispensers everywhere, decades-old trees pulled out from the park, and of course a newly-renovated football field.
The event was supposed to start 4pm so I knew that I would just be “fashionably late” if I arrived between 6-7pm. As I registered my name on the batch ’90 list, I was surprised to find that I was only the 3rd guy to sign in.
Since the tables were labeled according to batch-year, I looked around for 1990. After a couple of minutes, I was able to find our table situated near the rear.
It was empty.
I sat down for a few minutes and hoped that someone from my batch arrived. The 1st two guys must’ve left when they saw the empty table.
“If no one arrives by 7pm, I’m outta here.”
As the endless kumustas and hoy-pare-long-time-no-see emanated from the other batch-tables, I stared up and looked at where my senior-year classroom was. A lot of memories came to mind: the goofing classmate who wanted his candid yearbook pic to be that of jumping from the 2nd floor to the ground floor, the numerous times when I would run from the classroom to the entrance gate of the school so that I would be able to go home for lunch just before the Angelus, the time when I was doing impressions of our CAT Commandant to the laughter of my classmates (not knowing a few seconds later that the Commandant was actually behind me, watching how I made myself look like an idiot), a P100 weekly allowance, and so on.
The more I searched my mind for high-school memories, it led me to the fact that my highschool life was nothing more than bahay-eskwela-bahay. Except for my two seatmates that on occasion we would banda rito, banda doon the intro of the Tears4Fears song Head Over Heels while waiting for the next subject, I never really had a circle of friends back then. I didn’t experience having to attend a night-out or a lakwatsa at the mall or even having regular lunchmates for that matter (since I went home during lunchtime). I was frustrated by my section in particular. Kanya-kanyang group kase so there was really no class-unity. The groups were composed of the Mcdo group (those who’d regularly go out to Mcdo for lunch ---mostly aspiring to go to DLSU), siga-group (no explanation needed), bandmates (those who were members of the school band-club), and those that didn’t have no group at all (“wallpapers” as the missus would call it ---those that had nothing to do with school events, parties, gimiks, etc.).
Then, it occured to me: I was one of the wallpapers.
“Guys the Mass will start in five minutes!!!”
My reminiscing was disturbed by an announcement from the stage. As accustomed in every Don Bosco school, all events should start with the Holy Mass. I was still alone on our batch table and it was almost 7pm. I decided to stay on for the Mass.
As the Mass ended, my batchmates started arriving. By the time the actual program started, we were about 23. Not bad for a batch-turnout.
By 11pm and after 4 cases of beer-in-cans, we were still there partying and enjoying everyone’s company. Although the host batch (1982) didn’t really fire things up on the homecoming program, it was still worth it going there particularly for my batch.
But for my section, it was only me. It would’ve been great to see the guys again. But it was still ok since I knew my batchmates from the other sections as well. Frankly, most of the 23 who were there were wallpapers as well during our time.
But I was glad to know that these wallpapers have become loving dads and successful lawyers, dentists, doctors, businessmen, school-admins, managers, and senior managers (ehem) in their own right.
There was life after high school after all.