Bagets was the hottest thing then, and one of us was (probably) still mourning the death of Alfie Anido. We went to Saturday afternoon movies in groups, “dedicated” songs to one another on the radio and wrote silly dedications in autograph books. We counted crushes, exchanged girly secrets and gossiped well into the night. And yes, there were X-rated Betamax tapes that we watched on the sly.
High school meant cramming for oral recitation in Miss Loilo’s Florante at Laura, surreptitiously reading komiks in science class, devising just about every kodigo imaginable. It meant FLAMES and Grosby shoes and Sharon and Gabby, Snooky and Albert. It meant swapping Mills and Boon, Barbara Cartland and Harold Robbins, playing jolens in the schoolyard, taking Tuseran even when there was no cough.
Alas, immaturity doesn’t last forever. A month after the picture was taken, we sang “Farewell” and “High School Life” (and “Dignity of Labor”) and hit the road, in search of our own destinies. Some stayed, some left, some returned, some went to the great beyond. All of us changed.
If we were to take that picture again, there would be empty seats and blank spaces. Almost half of the class has joined the great Pinoy diaspora, finding jobs and building families in foreign shores. The ‘80s hair has gone from siete to shaggy to permed to rebonded, from down there to up here to gone forever. Mills and Boon has taken a backseat to the love stories of our lives, more real and much more intriguing.
The boys and girls on the picture could very well be our clones, our own little boys and girls. And we could very well be our own parents, torn between holding on and letting go; realizing that it is best to give them roots and wings.
Twenty-three years later, we are doctors and engineers, lawyers and writers, teachers and scholars. We have gone from reading about life to living it, sometimes writing about it. We are players in the game of life. And yet, we are still connected. We have e-mail and blogs, reunions and chats. We laugh about old times and new times, we jokingly match each others’ children, we make plans for 2009.
We are connected by memories of the way we were 23 years ago. And open still to the possibility of future connections.