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These diamonds nailed it

By LETTY JACINTO-LOPEZ Published Nov 07, 2023 5:00 am

Oh, yes! They’re Assumption High School Class 1963, 60 years fresh out of high school. As part of the celebration, they trekked back to the familiar surroundings of their beloved school to go up on stage and dance for the faculty, for the students, for family, for friends and for each other. They called it the Velada (or an evening party when they return to their alma mater for a day of thanksgiving and feasting and celebrating).

This entailed a lot of preparation that had begun months before. They chose a choreographer, Bim Ebol, who designed the steps and the movements set to music by Barbra Streisand’s Don’t Rain on my Parade, Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and the doo-wop, feeling-high-in-confidence song I Made You Look by Meghan Trainor.

The latter was particularly offbeat, with its catchy reference to popular boutique brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Versace.

Class ’63 Diamonds at the Velada Mass with Fr. Tito Caluag: The beauty of coming back home is remembering shared moments and celebrating them.

For three months, Luisa Guysayko took charge of reminding and keeping the schedule tight, while Rosa Francisco opened her place as the rehearsal venue, providing the logistics, support staff and hot, hearty meals.

Teacher Bim made them breathe, eat, and dream of all the dance moves so that when they finally hogged the stage, Class’63 was transformed into pop stars and icons, capturing vividly the thrill and the delight of the moment.

Who are in High School Class 1963?

This is us: Beng Torres, Renee Francisco, Baby Araneta, Marilyn Cosme, Norma Garcia

They were the chaotic mass of shrieking students who saw each other every day, sat alphabetically in assigned seats and yet never grew tired of each other, nor lost steam.

One time, the teacher had to leave the room, so she pointed to one student and said, “Bernadette, take charge while I’m away.”

Huh? Bernie, who couldn’t hurt a fly? The class became even more raucous and unruly. Bernie begged and pleaded them to calm down, but no one listened. In desperation, she cried, “Class, for the love of Jesus, please keep quiet!”

Sr. Bernie and Sr. Stella with Renee Francisco, Linda Lagdameo, and Marilyn Cosme

Baby Araneta related this amusing anecdote to Fr Francis Alvarez, SJ, who served as a recollection facilitator. He remarked, “Oh, yes! The love of Jesus was there, not only when you were well-behaved but also when you were having fun, in joyful naughtiness.”

Their teachers were obliged to write down and record in a so-called “Observation Notebook” anyone that they found undesirable or uncooperative. In bold disobedience, one classmate glued its pages together with wet, sticky gum, and no one snitched.

Similarly, in willful defiance of stringent rules, the entire class wore flaming red bows (even those with wispy, short bobs) and locked the doors of the classroom to keep the teachers out. Again, no one snitched.

(From left) Candy Colayco, Christy Puno, Rosa Francisco, Georgy dela Cruz, Luisa Guysayko, Vicky Gaspar, Bing Magpayo, Chari Simons

These were the times of unrestrained—maybe crazy—diversions. Everyone was in it (except for Bernie), whether playing hooky or making noise that could drive the teachers—or each other—insane.

What was important was that they stuck together and kept the memory alive—of remembering the innocent fun and adventures of their youth and the various viewpoints and experiences of each journey that followed each alumnus closely.

I asked Marilyn Cosme, Christy Puno, Beng Torres, Chari Simons, and Sister Bernie Casas (she’s the same Bernie who eventually entered the Religious of the Assumption together with another classmate, Sister Stella Sanz), “How do you feel?”

The solid response was, “Coming together was the best. This is us. We are the diamonds, the gem for all seasons. We have gone through pandemics, COVID-19, name them all. With God’s grace, we’re here, still going strong.”

Their homecoming happens every five years and every alumnus looks forward to the next mass gathering, feeling both hopeful and fearful.

“Do you think we can still sing and dance the next time we meet?” Bing Magpayo and Raquel Sta. Ines asked. Why not?

No one will rain on your parade, nor will they stop you now, whether you’re in Gucci or Louis Vuitton (or no label whatsoever). You will significantly turn the heat up and make any jaw drop. High School Class 1963, may you truly sparkle in the brilliance of spirit, faith, friendship and love. Break a leg.