Teachers of LSQC
Three weeks ago, what began as a teacher's reunion became a grand reunion for Lourdes School, Quezon City. Alumni of LSQC from the 1960's to the 1990's went to Los Angeles California to celebrate the first ever reunion in American soil. Rev. Fr. Troy de los Santos came from the Philippines to share in the event. Teachers from LSQC came from across the United States to reminisce of their younger days.
Mr. Sonny Madera was kind enough to provide the venue of the event, Aloha Adult Day Care Center in Sunset Boulevard. Sonny was the overall catalyst of the grand reunion. He arranged for the food, the location, and hosted the event. Sonny's generosity allowed alumni to come home to the school of yesteryear. Sonny's humor created a levity to the occasion. Sonny's ability to relate to everyone made the whole reunion possible. (Of course, this does not mean that Sonny did it all alone. Certainly, Jay Ortega and Adrianne Lecaros provided for help with the logistics and the planning. And of course, the countless others whom I have not met provided invaluable support for the grand reunion. Let me just name them as LSQC-USA.)
Someday, there will be LSQC grand reunions held in ballrooms of some majestic hotels. Someday, another grand reunion will host more than 200 alumni. But for this day, for the first reunion, the humility and the lack of grandness of the day care center was more than made up for by the expectation of seeing each other after twenty years of separation. The central location of the center allowed the formation of a critical mass. The presence of the teachers allowed different batches the opportunity to meet each other with no excuses for exclusivity. Just as in our youth, the teachers serve as the bridge with which alumni can begin relating to each other.
Sonny Madera introduced the teachers who managed to come to the reunion. The teachers are as follows. (Note: Some of the descriptions are taken from the statements by Sonny as he introduced them. In order for the narrative to make sense and to give a short synopsis, I have taken some liberties. There is a possibility that someone watching a video will notice slight differences from the account. However, I believe that the joy and the good spirits are still the same.)
Ms. Cely Ontiveros. Grade III. We started with one of the oldies from LSQC. Ms. Ontiveros related of how proud she was that four to five students of hers had eventually entered the priesthood. To summarize her life, she gave the following quote "By their fruits you will know them." Ms. Ontiveros now resides in the state of Washington.
Ms. Linda Gando. With a svelte figure, Ms. Gando asked the whole reunion, "Anong itsura ko ngayon?" [She was in excellent shape and could have given Ms. America a run for her money.] Ms. Gando now lives in Maui, the land of Ilocandia. She retired from LSQC after 30 years in service. Ms. Gando said: "I know that the love we gave you as teachers made you come to the reunion."
Mrs. Mimi Santos. Grade II. From Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Mrs. Santos has four children. The memories of teaching in Lourdes remains in her heart and her mind. She taught at the elementary school for 28 years before migrating to the United States in 1993. She continues to work at a Montessori school and has forty years of teaching experience.
Mrs. Carol Sunga Roc and Mr. Ed Roc (New Jersey). High School. Sonny introduced Mrs. Roc with an anecdote. In one of the talent shows, Sonny asked Carol to dance the hula. The one condition that Carol asked was that her skirt needed to flow. Sonny addressed the "flowing skirt" by placing a fan in front of Carol as she danced the hula. Mr. Roc spoke about meeting and marrying his wife in LSQC. Ed was delighted in meeting with the young men who became wonderful citizens of the world. It was amazing to see all of you.
Ms. Bella Galdonez Uy (New York). Ms. Uy began in 1969 at Lourdes School Mandaluyong. She transferred to LSQC and spent 7 years there. Ms. Uy stated that she spent the young years of her life in Mandaluyong, but she spent the best years of her life in LSQC. She considers LSQC the center of her life. "We will sing the LSQC hymn. Ang hindi nakakaalam, kukurutin ko sa singit." OUCH!!!
Ms. Brenda Tranqui Castillo (Arizona). She is now a real estate agent. She was not sure about attending, but once she heard about all the teachers who were coming, she decided to come. She taught two years after her graduation from college. She taught at LSQC during the time of the mini-skirt and she was like a breath of fresh air to the school.
Ms. Orbeta (Philippines). Ms. Orbeta resides in the Philippines. Her heart is in the Philippines. She stated her opinion that one of the reasons that the Philippines is going downhill is that Filipinos no longer love and respect the Philippines. This is evidenced by how many people placed their hand over their heart during the singing of the national anthem. She is an educator and she lectures around the world on education. (Note: It is difficult for me to reconstruct Ms. Orbeta's statements about the Philippines because of the complex nature of migration and economics. It is a controversial topic and I would rather not try to fully document here. Although to a certain extent, I understand her plight, I am one of those who left the Philippines. I do not share the same viewpoints. Sorry for the inconvenience. TatangREtong)
Ms. Marie Pangilinan. (Audio was very low). Ms. Pangilinan thanked th organizers for the reunion. She is now retired.
Ms. Babes Versoza (New Jersey). Father Troy accepted her as a teacher. She spent a few years in LSQC. She is very happy to see her former students.
Ms. Adie Celodonio (Washington DC). "I am glad to be here. I can not believe that there 150 of us. We teachers saw you as children, but now you have children. I hope this reunion happens every year.
Ms. Tess Cristal (San Diego). Ms. Cristal mentioned how she delighted she was to see everyone. She had visited the website of LSQC and she did not recognize any of the teachers in the school. Ms. Cristal described how every Filipino in the US has a hunger to return to the Philippines. She reminded allumni that a tenth of one's wages belonged to God in the form of tithe. She extolled the virtues of the non-profit organization NPO Gawad-Kalinga and suggested that alumni support the NPO.
Ms. Flor Salva Arboleda (Washington DC). Grade V. Ms. Salva shook the reunion with a cheer of Hep-hep-Hooray! "It is a sweet memory to see everyone. The reunion was conceived simply. But now, I see that it is grand in scale. Lourdes will be forever with us. We should do it in the White House next year. Lourdes is a family. Being a Lourdesian is in the heart." Ms. Salva taught at LSQC from 1977 to 2002.
Ms. Elizabeth Ferrer Dizon (New Jersey). Sonny recounteed a story of how the young students would whisper about the beauty of Elizabeth. The students would wait in the corridor and then whisper "Oh ayan na. Dumarating na." As Elizabeth was speaking, there was a commotion and noise by the door. Not to be outdone by some commotion, Elizabeth calmly walked over and announced "Okay Boys! Sit down!!!" The whole place erupted in laughter and applause. Elizabeth mentioned that "I spent the best years of my life at Lourdes. I can not replace the memories."
Ms. Marissa Santiago is now Mrs. Barrera (Los Angeles). When Ms. Santiago left Lourdes, she vowed never to teach again as she did not want to replace her memory of the school. Sonny Madera was her partner in crime while growing up in Lourdes. She came to LSQC at a young age and was supported by the many teachers in the school. When posed with the question "Who is more memorable: the intelligent ones or the naughty ones?", Ms. Santiago responded that for her, she remembered the naughty ones because she was also naughty. She understood and wanted to commiserate with the naughty students. Ms. Santiago mentioned that Jay Ortega was her very first student.
Lito Esguerra taught at LSQC for one year. He performed as the magician in the entertainment section. He did some pretty amazing tricks. Ripping a newspaper and showing the newspaper whole. Sticking a pin into a balloon. Awesome stuff!
Ms. Cora Fajardo-Kelley (California) was in attendance, but she arrived later in the evening.
Later that evening, the teachers were presented with a plaque that thanked them for their service.
It is difficult to write about teachers from twenty years ago. What can you say? They were living life while we only had the vaguest notion of what life was really all about. While we students worried about tests, the teachers were dealing with marriage, kids, money and problems in society.
After three weeks of reflecting on the moment, the only piece I can come back to is that the teachers are the catalyst for the alumni. Their reunion allowed the LSQC alumni to create a grand reunion which spanned three decades. The teachers serve as the road in which alumni of Lourdes School can come together into an organization in the United States.
Our Lourdes School teachers taught us the basics twenty or thirty years ago. Now, once more, they teach us lessons and give us the alumni the opportunity to reach beyond our imagination, to strive for something greater, and to serve our alma mater as instruments of peace.
I would like to extend to every single teacher my thanks and appreciation. If it were not for their reunion, I would not have seen the beauty of singing "Ama Namin" in Tagalog, of hearing the beauty of the St. Francis prayer, and of learning of the need to serve.
TatangREtong LSQC Grade School, Batch 1981. All mistakes and erros are mine and mine alone. This is Part II of the recount of the Grand Reunion 2005.