Returning as an old man to his hometown, the Chinese classical poet Ho Chih-chang recalled the time when he left home.
The din and laughter did not seem to have changed much during the intervening years. It was as if time had stood still, though
sadly not for his balding pate. Schoolchildren curiously milled about him and asked, "Guest, where are you from?"
Coming back to Lourdes School, which we knew as an L-shaped core structure around a quadrangle plus a squat high school
building as well as the St. Francis church, we might recall liquid, haunting echoes from two decades ago: the beat of Eye
to Eyes club hit "Nice Girls" or the YDT camp theme song the B52s' "Rock Lobster;" the soprano pitch of an incredulous Ms.
De Villeres exclaiming "I marvel at your bombastic ideas" at a student who unexpectedly turned in an A-grade term paper; the
silence that seemed to last as long as Martial Law after one of Ms. Marciano's probing questions about "The Outcasts of Poker
Flat;" Fr. Tiamson's rapid-fire and lively Socratic approach to the gospels in Christian Living classes; the guitar riff of
"Anak" as we grimaced so as not to let that first teardrop fall as we remembered our many, many youthful failings at a retreat.
Those who had sneaked onto campus before the homecoming might have been treated to din and laughter that evoked ours when
we were gangly in white, short-sleeved polo shirts and maroon pants. Those familiar, heartwarming sounds are now those of
another generation of Lourdesians.
If they ask where we are from, we will proudly say "LSM" or "Lordis" (as a few insist). To prove it, we will belt out a
mean "Let us blend our tongues in praises" and a few other verses of the school hymn.
We may add that we have logged off LSMHSBatch84@yahoogroups.com where we noted reunion details and other batch activities.
It was that group website that banded us together after sooooo many years apart. It also brought many of us back to our second
home with other batches of old boys at the homecoming mass and dinner. The e-group went online on January 30, 2003 with 18
batchmates initially signing up. Paul Marquez, now much taller, registered as website owner, and Patrick Ledonio as well as
Jeston Kosca volunteered to be moderators. Barely three weeks after group registration, Philbert Ang initiated a mass sign-up
by burning the North Am wires and successfully tracking down batchmates from Vancouver to Florida. We exchanged the requisite
birthday greetings, Technicolor jokes, chain email, comforting words and prayers during moments of grief. We resumed old conversations
and began new threads with strong views on sundry topics from SARS to life in Pinas.
It was inevitable for us to hold regular reunions. The first on March 1, 2003 drew many who took turns in narrating their
post-h.s. escapades in front of the batch: it was like an extemporaneous speech class but whose participants, older and wiser,
have learned to listen--a bit more. Mr. de Guzman, our faculty rep, was present. Daio Candelaria and Dante Reyes were two
of the hosts of quarterly reunions. Jo Sundiang was elected president, Patrick secretary, Bo Galvez homecoming 2004 head.
A few got hangovers. Almost everyone left with nostalgia and in high spirits. There were basketball matches that almost crippled
a few sedentary executives. Melvin Ong designed a batch t-shirt. Some spent a day spreading good cheer to orphans at White
Cross. Those in Vancouver and near New York had separate cookouts. After a little over one year, 103 or more than half of
the graduates of batch 84 are in touch again through the website and other activities.
As we take part in the homecoming physically or virtually, it is a good time to ask: What does it mean to have come from
LSM? The diverse but solid achievements of loyal Star columnist/MTV executive/news anchor/presidential sports adviser Rod
Nepomuceno; entrepreneur extraordinaire/Pride of Cainta/generous SOL newspaper printer Jonjon San Juan; and our "heart-plumbing"
export to the States Dr. Joel Tanedo, among many others, bear out the school's holistic formation. That is mirrored in gradations
in the lives of all the 160-plus batch members no matter in which industry or country we happen to be. Also, the outpouring
of spiritual and material agape during personal crises, both big and small, of a few batchmates during the past year is proof
that, though we might not have been in the same Coltics or some other barkada, we still have plenty of heart. That was fostered,
to a large extent, by genuine piety and generosity of spirit, another legacy of the school where we are from.
For all that and more of which we are not entirely aware and so may not be sufficiently grateful, we are kindred spirits.
At the very least, we have in common our being SOLs, and, as our hymn goes, that is how we'll ever be.