Regular readers know that I was in Sarasota last weekend, attending a reunion of my Manila high school alumni from the decade of the 70s. It was the first reunion in Florida and in my last post I proclaimed it a success just from an attendance standpoint.
Now that the reunion is over, I have to elaborate on “success.” I’ve attended 10 reunions since 1996 and this reunion is easily the most “over the top” reunion. I don’t expect it will ever be surpassed. No one believes that the $80 registration fee possibly covered all the amenities.
Of course, what’s most important about a reunion is its energy level and that was also very high. I met more new alums than ever and learned just how “small” Manila was at the time. One woman mentioned that her husband’s family owned a guava factory in Pangasinan province. My mother’s family owned a rice plantation in that province. Could our families have intermarried somewhere along the line? I asked another woman what brought her family to Manila. Her grandfather founded Luzon Stevedoring, a well known firm. As a child, you’re rarely interested in what your parents, or your friends’ parents, do.
I only slept about four hours a night but that was enough because I was so “pumped up” for more. I was with the “early bird” wave that arrived Thursday and also with the “stragglers” who left Sunday afternoon. But no one wanted to leave…Although I’m a reunion “junkie” some attendees had not been to a reunion before or only decades ago. That’s a lot of catching up to do!
At our reunions, we like to “fly the colors” of our barkada: the Philippine flag, the school’s green and gold, and our Indian sports mascot. In the photo below, he’s wearing polo shirt commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Philippines (which I think he picked up from the US Embassy in Manila when he was there earlier in the year) and she’s wearing an Indian mascot T-shirt provided as “pasalubong’ (small gift) by our school.
Thursday and Friday began with a long breakfast at the hotel, after which we adjourned to the hotel pool and Tiki bar. Yearbooks and old photos came out and “remember when..” stories were told. When the Tiki Bar closed at 10, we moved to an indoor bar or dance lounge. When that closed, smaller groups went to someone’s room.
Saturday was the big day. A beach barbeque at a pavilion the host rented. A lavish dinner dance at his home on the water with a live band and “sky” fireworks. Both events were recorded by a professional photographer and photos posted to a shared Dropbox account where we could upload our photos too.
The 70 or so of us who attended this reunion are now in an elite group because this reunion will be spoken of for years to come. When we say: “I was at the 2015 Sarasota reunion” people who did not attend will look at us with reverence mixed with wistfulness and ask: “Tell us about it again.”