Last February 17 - 19, I was re-united with and was re-juvenated by my RED family. RED, of course, is the Redemptorist Juvenate (Minor Seminary). After more than 40 years or so, we (at least close to sixty) finally met and re-lived the good old days at the hills of Antipolo, Rizal. It was really a trip in memory lane... and what a journey it was: nostalgic, touching and poignant!
We were among the first batch of First Year Latinists when Our Mother of Perpetual Help opened in June 1963. Among my classmates who showed up for this R & R were Chito Desuasido and Melchor Cruz (who just came here for the R & R as both are based now in the USA), Rodolfo Racoma (Rocky as we call him, who came late Saturday) and Capuchin priest and whom we just discovered weeks before the R & R, Fr. Dominic Abella, OFM Cap.. Anyway, some guys from the Special Latin class who eventually joined us in the Fifth Year were also there: Angelo Baybay (who was with me during the Novitiate days) and Stanley Lee (who is now a permanent deacon, working with the poor of Camarines. Among our seniors who showed up were Joe Vergara (who was the most senior, as he entered the Juvenate in baclaran way back 1961. Joe is now based in Melbourne, and has 10 kids, and is also a grandfather. Prolific!), Rey Culaba (now a Redemptorist based at the Formation House in Quezon City), Constantino Cruz (who's a retired US Army but has chosen to settle here), Augusto Evangelista (who has converted to Islam). Also my seniors were Oscar Tence (based now in the USA), Joselito Palapal (still the quiet one), Fr. Ernie Garcia (who is presently rector of Lipa -- that made our R&R easier to host), JOe de Mesa (yes, the lay theologian), Dodo Elefano (who was just widowed two weeks before this R&R, and Fr. Manny Thomas (who is now with Redemptorists of the Province of Cebu).
The rest of the REDs who came were my juniors: Bernie Justimbaste (now with DST), Jose Padilla (AVP of Insular Life), Robert Castro (fertilizer and insecticide magnate), Roberto Demegillo (now a lawyer but still his humble and simple self), Jack Dumaup (one of my favorite basketball players when I was coaching the midgets), Errol Collado (again, one of my favorites), Rouan Opeda (wow, he's got a Ford Expedition), Dr. Jorge Emmanuel (now a brillinat scientist and works for the UN-WHO, which means he travels a lot. He is BRILLIANT!), Anthony "Tom" Borja (now based in Canada), Gerry Luistro (kababayan from Lipa City), and Emmanuel "Basing" Basabas.
Those remaining were the REDs who entered the Juvenate when we were novices already or when we were no longer novices. The Juvenate in Antipolo started in 1963 and was phased out in 1975. After that it became the College, then Mission house, then was temporarily abandoned and then finally sold out in 1993(?). Now it is an exclusive subdivision.
Who could not be impressed with Ted James Mendoza? He was the one whom I left to coordinate all these things. Indeed he was the event manager: hosting, etc. He even came up with a Souvenir book, took care of the program, took a video of what was formerly our HOME (there was an eerie silence when the video was being shown. Did I see people misty-eyed afterwards?). DO-IT-ALL GUY! This is TJ. His sidekick (one who took care of the registration, running after those who forgot to pay, distributing the kits, the T-shirts) was balikbayan Edwin Guevarra!
We have to thank Tito Alcala for the ID with our pictures from way-back-when! The irrepressible Atty. Vic Verdadero, the silent, impish but very principled military Pompeo Limbo, the serious Tony Luistro, chubby Ching Uy(?), the silent Ricky Gonzales, The Katigbak cousins (Fr. Pete, Jing of the Hampas Lupa group and Elmo, who provided us with pan de sal and kalihim), the late (very much alive; he arrived Saturday) Resti Reyes, the ever dancing Henry Natundan (who was the sound master during the evening programs). I hope I did not miss any of these very much juniors to me.
Of our formators we had Fr. Regs Ahearn, who flew all the way from Sydney; Fr. Ron Murray (who is still very much around and part of the formation team), and Mr. Clemente Bautista (who was with us since 1963 till it was phased out, as a Pilipino teacher. I learnt later on he also taught Spanish.) We paid tribute to them.
This is one re-union that I would not exchange for anything. I hope we can come up with another one with a bigger attendance-- or probably much longer time spent together.