Angelus Then and Now

As we grow older, we realize that there are memories of our past that come to mind by a smell and sometimes by a sound. They remain with us and just grow fonder--even now, more than 3o years since that time in high school in the mid 70's when I sat quietly on my desk beside the window overlooking the tennis court. I recall Alcala sitting in front of me and Besas behind me.

Now, at my work, when I hear the bell from the old city hall at exactly 12 noon, I take a pause to say my silent Angelus. Then I could hear once more that familiar din of more than a hundred teenagers silenced by the prayer leader, "The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary ..." As they responed in unison, "And she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit."

By then, my stomach would be churning, having had skipped merienda. Merienda in high school was for me a luxury. I didn't know it was essential for a growing teenager. I didn't have much choice though since I couldn't afford with my weekly allowance. So my thoughts were not on the prayer. "Behold the Handmaid of the Lord." But on what comes after. "Be it done to me according to your word".

I would attempt to focus my attention to the here and now by listening to the prayer leader, "And the Word was made flesh", and watching the row of kalamansi swaying to the wind and the empty tennis court farther away. "And dwelt among us." It was a beautiful day.

I would notice the grass just outside the window and the coconut trees beyond the perimeter of the parade ground. "Pray for us Most Holy Mother of God." I would hope lunch was not vegetable because I didn't like vegetables. "That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ." But it was all right. When I was that hungry, I could eat anything. "Let us pray." Perhaps I could ask for mantika nga gipirituahan and salt from Nang Rupe. These goes well with rice. "Pour forth we beseech you, O Lord..." I would look forward to siesta after lunch and the few agonizing hours in the classroom, after which would be my personal time to roam the fields, watch the horizon from the roof garden, do crazy stuff, run and run like what teenagers like to do, until it gets dark and the day comes to a close. "...Amen."

As I mentally say the sign of the Cross, I get transported back to my office where I am working and I thank God for the time I spent in IHMS. (nox arcamo)


Enduring and Enjoying The CMT

It was one of the few times that we wished we had a medical record to show that we were physically unfit or even sick. Yes, we were looking for proof that we were advised by a doctor to restrain from doing strenuous activities. The reason? We wanted to be exempted from the two-year military training or known then as Citizen’s Military Training (CMT), a requirement for college graduation.

We had reasons why we wanted to evade CMT. First, we did not like the thought of being exposed to the sweltering heat of the sun. Second, we saw from those ahead of us how they were subjected to physical punishments, like doing push-ups or “the-do-it-yourself” knocking of the head, and others. But the more compelling reason why we shunned CMT was the requirement to cut our hair short. As teenagers, we wanted to be in vogue with the current hair style, which meant sporting long hair.

Our desperate attempt to be exempted from CMT did not succeed, except for Nox who claimed to have an asthma and JunTabs who had a strange illness that is too below-the-belt to mention here. They were clever enough to corroborate their claim with a doctor’s certificate. Actually, they were not totally exempted from CMT but were assigned to the office as typists and errand boys, which meant that they were still required to wear military uniform during CMT formation. They were however not obliged to have a military haircut as well as to join drills and formation in the field like the rest of us. It was a privilege which was a source of envy to many of us.

So, the rest of us took CMT even if contrary to our will. As cadets we had to cut our hair according to what was officially prescribed and to attend the drill and formation under the heat of the sun every Saturday afternoon. But it was not all. We were also required to do an early morning jog at least once a week, a difficult task since as teenagers we always wanted to have longer sleep.

But there was a special event which became the most memorable experience we had as CMT cadets. It was the weekend bivouac during our first year. It was done together with the cadets of the Divine Word College, our mother unit.

Prior to the bivouac a story circulated to our group that part of the activities would be a mock ambush and those caught would be detained as prisoners of war. So we were a bit terrified but at the same curious and excited at how it would go about.

The venue was somewhere between Cortes and Antequera. Like soldiers on foot patrol, we marched by two’s to reach the place. As soon as we reached our destination, we immediately pitched our tent.

The whole weekend turned out to be fun and exciting, especially on the second night when words spread out that our camp would be raided by a special team and those caught will be taken as prisoners. In order not to be caught with our pants down, our Company Commander from the Divine Word College, instructed us to prepare for a quiet pull out at 24:00 hours. The instruction was to move out one by one and bring only the necessary things we needed for the night and leave the other things behind. Like real soldiers, we executed the plan very well and moved quietly to a place we felt we were already safe from the raiding team.

If I remember it right we slept on a rice field which was already dry because summer time was then starting. Few minutes after we lied down to sleep, we heard a familiar voice calling the name of our Company Commander. “Asa mo?” It was Ceril, our Battalion Commander, who was so worried why we were gone. When he found us, he was so mad and instructed our Company Commander to bring us back to our camp.

The bivouac ended without the rumored ambush or raid taking place. We returned to the seminary very tired but happy.

Although at the beginning we really disliked CMT, we learned later on to accept it as an important requirement we had to take. We knew we could not graduate if we would not take it. As time went by, Saturday afternoon became just one of the ordinary and routine schedule we would do in the seminary. (Soc)


A Typical Saturday in March

[Commemorating the 25th Wedding Anniversary of JunTabs and Faith.]

I woke up with a terrible hangover that Saturday, March 3, 1984. College graduation was forthcoming in a matter of days. Rules in the seminary for us graduating students were relaxed on the premise that we were moving on to Theology and were ... a little bit mature.

The night before, Ding Zamora, for no specific occasion, prepared food and drinks in Taning’s place and invited some of us to a feast. Present, besides Ding and me were McAbs, Yves Yu, and Ingents. Many of my classmates were not present. It was because that weekend was our Monthly Going Home. The seminarians had gone home on the Friday afternoon and would not be expected back until Sunday afternoon.

Anyway, we didn’t end in Taning’s place. We continued enjoying our vacation at the Taloto convent. Fr Silex was not around so we had the convent to ourselves. Well, that night 2 gallons of tuba, 2 cases of San Miguel beer and ¼ pocket-sized Andy Player was consumed. McAbs liked the tuba, I liked the beer.

We even found time to serenade. I can’t remember whose house it was we serenaded that night. I only remember that our singing was terrible.

We slept in the convent and woke up early that morning, very dizzy. McAbs and I walked to the Seminary where I took a short nap. I washed up and prepared for an event that meant so much to me. I was tired and sleepy but I had to go.

At the church in Taloto, the wedding mass started at around 10AM with Frs TQ Solis, Khing Vaño, and Silex Darunday officiating. Together with me in the choir were Vale, Ding, Cañete on keyboards, Yves, and Ingents. Eric Oclarit attended with his wife.

It was unfortunate that not all our classmates could attend. There was a frenzy of activities in the Seminary during that time for it was towards the end of school year. Exams and all school requirements were completed. Preparations for the graduation and what comes after at their high points. So the wedding came amidst the flurry of school activities. And only Ingents and I could attend from our college batch. It was also our final Monthly Going Home.

Eight long years we were together in the seminary, starting in first year high school. Eight long years, were were on the same side looking out, going through several misadventures. That day in March 1984, everything changed.

We didn’t practice any of the songs that we sang that day. But it was superb for we were inspired and sang from the heart. After all, we were singing for a special friend who was, not long ago, one of us and who was marking a very important milestone of his life--his wedding.

At the end of the mass, we sang love songs, like we normally do. But JunTabs couldn't contain it. He cried unabashedly. He must have remembered those times when he used to sing those songs with us at another guy’s wedding. That day, it was his wedding and he wasn’t on our side. He was standing alone with a woman he vowed to live and love for all eternity. He signaled for us to stop the singing since he couldn’t bear to hear those songs again. But we were ruthless. We continued singing until one of the principal sponsors begged us to stop.

There was the usual picture-taking after the wedding that afforded us the opportunity to come near him to greet him and exchange lame jokes with him. Then we joined the crowd for lunch at Hotel La Roca.

There was a lot of merry making activities in La Roca. While they were at it, we slipped away, as quietly as possible, out of that place without bidding good-bye to JunTabs.

As for me, I went straight home and spent the rest of a typical Saturday afternoon--alone. But for JunTabs and Faith, who were married that morning, it was not typical for it was the start of a new life for them. (nox arcamo)


La Roca

The beach behind La Roca Hotel was our favorite hangout in the early 80's. I remember that time when Oloy would fetch me at home in his owner type jeep. Outside our gate one Saturday during a Monthly Going Home, he would shout my name. Usually, there was no prior plan. It a spur-of-the-moment, most of the time.

We were in 3rd year College towards the end of school year 82-83. "Dali kay adto ta sa La Roca!"
I would never hesitate when it comes to the beach. I would grab some shirt and towel. Look for left over food from last night. And that was it. I was ready in 3 minutes.

Other than Oloy, JunTabs, Soc, Ping, and Bobong would usually be there. It was not swimming that we were so fond of. That was not as important as the companionship and the stories we exchanged and of course the beer that we shared. But time flies fast when you are enjoying the company of friends. How we love to watch the sun set. Dusk would find us still sober and still talking, unwilling to call it a day.




Usa ka adlaw niana dihay nitawag kang Juntabs sa cellphone. Pagtan-aw sa ijang telepono si McPatens diay kadto. Kay basin importante lagi kaayo ang tuyo ni McPatens iya dayong gitubag kini.

Juntabs: “Hello, McPatens unsay ato nga mitawag man ka?
McPatens, nga pina-shhhlang ang tingog: “Hangyo unta ko gamay nga mag passhhh-a-load ka nako.”
Juntabs (naka bantay nga hubog si McPatens): “Diha. Nakatawag kagani nako, unya mangayo ka ug load. Ikaw, maru jud ka!

Newspaper Man

Usa ka higayon niana nagkita ang mga classmates ug nagkinamustahay unsa nay mga naghitabo sa kinabuhi.
Diha'y usa nangutana: “Kumusta na si Marjals, Juntabs?
Juntabs: “Si Marjals? Newspaper man na sija karon!
Diha? Binuang. Giunsa pagka newspaper man nga wa man to'y hilig magsulat kaniadto?
Juntabs: “Tinuod. Dili gani 'to tigbasa ug newspaper. Pero karon dili newspaper writer kundili dealer ug newspaper ba!