I have homecoming hangover. So you will have to put up with a little blabbering and a lot of gushing for this Sunday. I missed my last column because that was our big day and the weeks before were hectic. They were fraught with multitasking. And I couldn’t do it all and meet my deadline, too. This happens to super seniors like me.
The celebration was at College of the Holy Spirit, which in my time was Holy Ghost College. Yes, that’s the one on Mendiola beside San Beda, across from La Consolacion, and a gate away from the Palace.
The homecoming program was called “That’s the Spirit!” And for my high school class of 1949, some of us in wheelchairs or ambling about in walkers, leaning on canes or on the arm of caregivers, the spirit remains willing, even if we are not totally able.
We were titanium. It was a fun time. Not just on the day, but also the couple of weeks leading to the event.
Rehearsals were the best.
We were blessed with a fabulous venue to rehearse in, with mirrors, a great sound system, and nonstop food.
Let me tell you about “pansit motel.”
One of our ladies, known for her charity work and her magnanimous relationship with bishops and other princes of the church in Tuguegarao, brought us delicious pansit guisado garnished with chunks of roast chicken and fresh veggies.
We all wanted to know who made it. She hesitated at first, but later confessed that she gets it at a Pasig motel that has a 24-hour kitchen.
Carmen is 88. Of course, she got the teasing of her life. But wherever it comes from, it is the best I’ve had, ever.
We got the warmest, most efficient TLC from our hosts. That’s not easy. Let’s face it. At our age we have become ornery, demanding and fussy old ladies. But they were patient and loving, and granted our every wish.
And so we were spoiled rotten by the time we stepped into our old (70 years!) auditorium for a run-through. We had our first real taste of “showbiz” discomforts.
There was no homemade tarragon tea, no adjoining powder room with linen hand towels, no halo-halo and no pansit motel. I think we pouted a little.
Our routine was simple. The music was a swinging version of “You Make Me Feel So Young” by Ella Fitzgerald. We learned quickly, thanks to the diligence and expertise of Crissie and Ronald, our instructors who are both top talents of the famous Powerdance Group.
We started with a warm-up. It was amusing to see ourselves in the huge beveled mirrors trying to raise our arms, bend forward and sideways, and slowly rotate our necks. It was painful for some to loosen up our fingers or flex our wrists.
Did I imagine it or did I hear some creaking and cracking?
On our second rehearsal we were honored with the presence of the boss himself, dance icon Douglas Nierras who gave us a much-needed pep talk, and changed our minds about wearing bright colors. He convinced us to wear crisp white tops and black slacks. He said, “There’s no limit to how the lights can play on white. Not so with loud colors.” He was so right.
Nierras’ Valentine show
And speaking of our dance guru, Douglas will have his 30th Valentine anniversary celebration, “The Filipino Heart and Soul in Love,” on Feb. 16 and 17, with shows at 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. at the Meralco Theater. The presentation will feature his widely acclaimed Powerdance group, doing masterpiece routines never staged before. Don’t miss it.
We had beautiful weather. The gym was packed for lunch. Several brave gentlemen joined the feast. We congratulate the organizers. Everything went smoothly. All their time and effort was worth it.
For our group it took countless phone calls to remind, nag, insist and cajole. We struggled to get our 20 performers together. I had to sweet-talk them into giving our class “just one more wiggle.”
Someone canceled bridge games. Another one missed her siestas. Netflix was put on hold.
I guess we all realized that this was a “swan song” of sorts, maybe our last hurrah.
But once we got onstage, it seemed like the years had never happened. It felt good.
We exited the auditorium flushed with the excitement of our “moment.” There was a crowd waiting outside. One classmate’s son brought her flowers. Surprise! My children and grandkids were there. They had cheered from the balcony. I was happy!
Last week was all about school. On one of my visits, I had a quiet moment and took a stroll outside our old physics lab.
Everything has changed. The grounds are no longer pristine or welcoming. How sad.
But as I stood in the shade of those same old trees, I closed my eyes and heard the echo of our voices at recess 70 years ago. I even caught the aroma of freshly-baked German bread.
Soon it was time to go home and face the here and now. It hurt to rein in my reverie.
But my heart is happy to know that somewhere in the now cluttered campus there is one spot that my mind can always return to and again find my sweet and perfect “once upon a time.”