Remember the time when we were young, reckless and carefree, pulling pranks during PMT (Philippine Military Training), under the shade of hundreds of coconut trees in what seemed like the largest, grassiest campus on earth.
February 29, 2020 started with an offering of the Holy Mass at 9 a.m. on that cool, sunny, breezy morning pre-Covid-19.
We were back in the old campus, De La Salle High School in Lipa City, where close to 60 members of our batch, Class 1970, out of a total of 170 graduates, were to celebrate our Golden Jubilee, or 50 years since we graduated.
The noise and endless, childish banter created by the sudden volt-in of these former school boys, then in white polo shirts and khaki pants, drew to a halt when the commentator announced the start of the Holy Mass.
We were now seated inside this wide open, sprawling, modern chapel with no doors, borders, and walls, allowing Lipa’s cool mountain air to waft freely, caress our faces, reminding us we were, indeed, home again after half a century.
Reunions are always a happy, giddy occasion, especially if they involve rowdy boys of a certain age. They are opportunities to bond, look back, mirror, reflect, feel young.
After the mass, we went on a campus tour, with stops at the resting place of our dearly departed Brothers in a forested area at the back of the school.
Try hard as we did, we couldn’t anymore find the footsteps we left behind as new structures have replaced the old. Even the smell of the green grass has vanished into thin air. And where are those coconut trees now?
Lunch, arranged by Chito Recto, our banker, was served at the old gym, site of many of our youthful recollections, games, PE classes, theatrical performances, graduation itself.
As we sat in roundtable groups over cups of coffee, we tried to catch up with each other’s lives, our ailments, vitamins, doctors, investments, locations, children, etc. Through it all, we were laughing, at our mistakes in life, indiscretions, adventures, misadventures.
The old school gym brought back memories of our time, four years, in this sprawling campus, 14.3 hectares in all.
We entered La Salle in June 1966 as wide-eyed freshmen coming from different towns in Batangas, Laguna, Quezon.
The school was only four years old by then. Buildings consisted of only a few low-rise structures with the gym in center. All around us were gardens, more gardens, and wide open fields with tall, swaying coconut trees.
Bro. Virgil, an American educator, was De La Salle Lipa’s first principal when it opened on June 6, 1962.
In 1974, DLSL turned co-educational. The entry of young girls on campus sparked great competition in both academic, non-academic, and certainly romantic, areas.
The editor of the high school paper, Bulik, where I served as chief editor, was a young lady.
The president of the student council, however, was male.
It was so much more different in our time, when camaraderie and friendship came easily as straightforward, no-hassles boys-talk did. These have resulted in Christ-centered, life-long friendships, the spirit of which we tried (and continue to try through Viber groups) to capture and preserve in days of fun, laughter, singing, sharing, and good, old La Sallian brotherhood.
(FOREVER 21 AT 51 is a Zoom meet-up among DLSL High School Class 1970 on Saturday, Feb 27, 8PM. Check Viber Chat Group, dlsl lipa70).