BELOW THE LINE
By AMBASSADOR JOSE ABETO ZAIDE
Our Batch 60/64 share a long table every second Tuesday of the month at the Milky Way. It is a gathering of Balding Eagles who, regardless of their peaks or valleys, are forever classmates.
Despite fading memories, the stories grow taller at retelling; yet even if you have heard it before, you still kindly lend an indulgent ear. You may be what you are today, captain of industry or paragon of virtue and rectitude, but you never outgrow your batchmates because of posts, jug, cafeteria gruel, Fabilioh or whatever alchemy formed at Padre Faura or Loyola Heights.
At the last September pow-wow in the same place, a serendipitous Maryknoll class gathering stopped one of three among us for a selfie, no, a groupie, with him. They did not pick the brightest or the richest or best-looking of three: Eat your heart out, the ladies universally all wanted a groupie photo shot with Gary Lising!
Last Tuesday was another of those monthly lunches. Willie furnished us with his work-in-progress to profile all the senatorial wannabes and their personal track records. The object: to create two teams (one among seniors and another among functioning contemporaries) to vet suitable candidates. Hopefully this initiative would enlighten voters on their choice. It is an idea whose time has come…if we ever wise up to it.
Jing thanked me for plugging in my column his initiative for a solution to rice shortage and he added that he has another initiative which still needs vetting.
At one edge of the table, Tony (aka “Chop-Chop”) was chatting with Felix “Totik.” Totik made the Philippine basketball contingent at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics; but you may not recognize Tony as the spitfire captain ball of our 1963-64 Blue Eagles when you see him today going about in a mobile kart because of banged-up knees.
When Totik transferred to another edge of table, Tony whispered to Andy, “Who was that I was talking to?” It is not unusual at this stage in life for us not to remember names – but it gets worse when we do not remember each other. (We had to jog Tony’s memory that he and Totik were team mates, our two prized Blue Eagle star players at the 1963 and 1964-NCAA Games.)
Because Milky Way must adjust to inflation, our perennial president Jojo hiked + 50% the collection for lunch. (Our treasurer Arjan said he cannot cover the lunch on present rates; but with the new increased rate we ended up with P4,000 surplus.)
Ernie has a formula to share two halo-halo orders among 3 persons. But Roy refuses to join a trio and wants his halo-halo all to himself.
Meanwhile, Egay chatted on long distance telephone call with Ding, who was far away in Mati, Davao, making good money on surefire memorial park business.
But it was Wopsy who would bring everyone on his feet – not down-to-earth but to celestial heights. He distributed the October medals – the Miraculous Medal designed on Our Lady’s instructions to Sister Catherine Labouré. It depicts Mary standing on a globe, the serpent’s head beneath her feet. Around the oval-shaped medal is a prayer, “O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” On the reverse side, 12 stars ring a large “M”, from which a cross arises, and beneath are two flaming hearts. The left heart, circled with thorns, is Jesus’; the right heart, pierced by a sword, is Mary’s.
When we pinned on left chest the medals with the blue ribbon, we were all brought back to Loyola Heights, and even farther back to Padre Faura.
FLASHBACK TO YESTERYEARS. October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Our grade school classes congregated every morning at the old Padre Faura wooden gym. Each class contributed from our baon in competition to dress up the altar at the stage with garlands of flowers. I do not remember if any group was ever declared winner; but every class took pride on the day of its turn to decorate the Marian altar.
The devotion to the Miraculous Medal and the October prayers of the Holy Rosary continued through high school and college at Loyola Heights.
October 7, the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrates Our Lady of Victory (instituted in 1571 after a Christian military victory at the Battle of Lepanto.) This feast day was renamed Our Lady of the Rosary in 1573 by Pope Gregory XIII. And in 1716, Our Lady of the Rosary was celebrated as a feast of the universal Church.
Devotion to the Rosary may have had early medieval monastic origins. Instead of praying the 150 Psalms of the Bible as monks do, laymen were taught to substitute 150 beads, arranged in a circle, on which they would recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be, and meditate on the mysteries of the life of Jesus. The Mysteries of the Rosary (Joyful, Glorious, and Sorrowful) became a valuable instrument of prayer and meditation, as well as a powerful means of teaching of the truths of the Christian faith.
We remember Fr. Dennis Lynch, SJ, enjoining his boys to pray the rosary – even if they were to doze off, because a Mother watches approvingly even as her child babbles to dreamland.
There are few sparks that trigger old men’s memories – to remember what we were…and to think on what we have come to be.
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