Standing ovation at the reunion
I have been in a state of euphoria since I attended the University of the Philippines Alumni Association’s recent homecoming and reunion.
My classmate in law school, Minerva P. Gonzaga-Reyes, a retired associate justice of the Supreme Court and the valedictorian and magna cum laude of UP Law Class 1954, had asked me to join the choral presentation of the diamond jubilarians together with our other classmates: Johnny Reyes, her significant other, Francis Borja, Letty Zablan, Oscar Garcia, Al Medina, and Buddy Santos. We meet our classmates only once every six months. Every time we hold our semiannual reunion, we find that our ranks have been depleted, with one or two moving on to a happier realm.
I was elated to join the presentation for it gave me a much-needed respite from care-giving. As an old-fashioned spouse, I personally attend to my husband, also a lawyer, from San Beda Law Class ’55. He is 94 years old and is still relatively healthy and capable of doing his daily chores with minimal assistance, his age-related macular degeneration notwithstanding. He can dance a mean tango, boogie and waltz even with diminished stamina. We listen to old songs together—an activity that we immensely enjoy. I read the daily papers to him except the headlines, which he can still read. However, there is a feeling of insecurity on his part whenever I leave home; he fears the worst may happen to me. Overall we can still count our blessings, for the Lord in all his goodness has allowed us to grow old gracefully together.
Initially, I had misgivings over whether I could endure what later turned out to be four long months of intense weekly practice for the choral presentation. Obviously, we are no longer a brood of spring chickens. I entertained doubts on whether I was up to the task. But with the guidance of our talented pianist, Letty Basas Ramos, and the agility of Prof. Corazon Generoso Iñigo who adjusted our movements to suit our age and physique, we gave an astounding presentation judging from the standing ovation that we received. I would like to believe that the audience was not just being charitable, that we were truly deserving of the accolade. It is so uplifting to feel that at this moment in our lives we can still be relevant.
Luck was with me all the way. At the dinner before the program, I won a painting by Ben Infante at the raffle. On my way back to our table, the chancellor of UP Diliman, Prof. Michael Tan, offered his congratulations, which meant a lot to me. I recognized him from the picture that accompanies his column in this newspaper, which I always love to read. I imagine him to be a very compassionate person when he writes about his children and parents. We can relate to his insights, which are often similar to what we are thinking about but cannot articulate as clearly as he does.
I enjoyed seeing other classmates like Cora Barrion, who came with her husband, Victor Rodriguez; Cenon Cervantes, Boots Lardizabal and Justiniano Ascano. Meanwhile, beautiful friendships were developed with other jubilarian participants like Paz Fabia Abad, Mely Aquino, Cora Baltazar, Linda Layosa, Jesusa Ballesteros, Letty Castillo, Alma Jocson, Maybelle Koch Guzman, Nilda Ocampo, Tessie Rillo, Sister Emma Garcia, Juliet Savellano, Letty Revillon, Tony Herrera, Violeta Encarnacion, Estelita Silva and Ligaya Tankeh. We never met in college because we were already deep in our law studies when they enrolled in other UP colleges in 1950.
I start to wonder whether we will meet each other again and sustain this evolving camaraderie. Like it or not, we have to accept that our generation is fading and we are living from day to day. The world belongs to the younger generation for such is the cycle of life. We are about to set foot at heaven’s gate. Even my favorite radio station has been devoting fewer hours to musical oldies in anticipation of the needs of a younger clientele.
The high spirits generated by the homecoming more than made up for the reticence of the UP president, who, for one reason or another, was probably too shy to offer a handshake to the handful of diamond jubilarians who were seated at tables directly behind him. That little gesture would have made us elderly people jump with joy.
I went home that evening totally exhilarated, to my husband who was eagerly waiting for my return. Before I left for the homecoming, I did a “command performance” for him. Now, his insecurity had disappeared and he was grinning from ear to ear when I happily narrated to him that all went well with the performance of the diamond jubilarians. You see, he had been fervently praying that no glitch would happen.
It was a very fulfilling evening.
Bon C. Arroyo, 82, was with the Institute of Government and Law Reform of the UP Law Center for over 20 years. She delivered the 16th Dean Jorge C. Bocobo Memorial Lecture, “Home Borrowing the Pag-Ibig Way; Bane or Boon,” to commemorate the UP Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1983, and the 32nd Dean Jorge C. Bocobo Memorial Lecture, “A Critique of the Retirement Benefits of Government Workers: Focus on Equal Protection,” on March 8, 1991. She authored a book, “The Laws and Jurisprudence on Retirement,” published by the UP Law Center in 1998.
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