Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Alluring Argao

Argao, a quaint sleepy little town, Southeast of Cebu City. It is the hometown of our classmate Danilo Ngujo. After our grueling, fun and memorable school reunion, Batch '93 made the leisurely two-hour drive (in SPO4's silver Toyota Altis) to Argao, reaching it at about 9ish pm.

Danilo, was expecting us, together with our classmate Jay Francisco, and our younger schoolmates, JB & Raymund, whom they tagged along. "Baka saan pa mapunta yan sa Cebu City, kaya sinama na lang namin, " says Jay. Bait talaga ng mga Kuya. We also tagged along my cuz Ruby, whose with me since we both came from Manila.

You think we would have had too much lechon already at the reunion? No, siree. Another porky was waiting for us to decimate, courtesy of Aldrin & Richel. Unfortunately, Capt. Richel had a flight to Hongkong that night, so he wasn't unable to join us.

You think Dzo & I talked had done too much talking as emcees, that we want to rest our voices? No, siree. A Videoke machine was standing there, challenging us, with our favorite songs waiting to be conquered. The Climb by Miley Cyrus, I don't Wanna Miss A Thing by Aerosmith, the whole of slew of gut-wrenching Aegis and soul siren Nina.

This is gonna be a looooooog night....

At on or about 1am, when we were so inebriated (that's high brow for drunk, so don't bother getting your dictionary 'dahling) We jumped into the pool.

You think, being in the pool, will make us miss our Reserved songs? No way! Walang ligtas si Bon Jovi. Just careful with the mic, you might get electricuted!

I think we finished around 3am. Dead to the world, despite Dzo's and JB's incessant snoring. :)

We woke up to a bright and sunny day, and the beautiful sight of Ngujo's residence amidst the morning sun.

"Dandan! You are living in resort!" They also have a private Chapel and dandan has a workshop for his wakeboard-making hobby below the property. I missed taking photos of those, I don't want the Ngujos to think, I was snooping :)

Breakfast was washed down with fresh tuba, harvested at 5am from the coconut trees around the compound.

Dandan was excited to show us his Argao. First on our agenda was the municipal plaza.

Unity Plaza, is a very well maintained and well-restored plaza, dating back to 1600s. It still has 3 huge original cannons, remnants of late Spanish era and early American occupation.

There's also a Well that has quenched the thirst of Filipinos and Spaniards alike during that significant time.

I felt like I was transported to an old era, where life is laid-back and people take their time, strolling, chatting............ Whoops! I got a text message :) It brought me back to 21st century, & guess what?! The Plaza has Free WiFi! Talk about merging of the old and new. astig!

This is the Argao Hall of Justice, dating back 1605. It served as military barracks during the olden times. According to our reliable tour guide Dandan, it has now been rehabilitated to function as the current municipality’s Hall of Justice.

A typical Spanish town, central to the municipio and town plaza, is the Catholic Church. In Argao, it's the beautiful St. Michael the Archangel Church.

If my Humanities serves me right, this church is Rococo-Baroque style. It's ornate, fluid, over-the-top and playful, and you can see it more in its interior.

Dew: Dan, Did you get married here? It's so beautiful...
DanDan: No, Dew. I got married in the city... Siguro, next time. If the Catholic Church would allow polygamy.
Dew: Buang!

Old paintings on the church's ceilings. You know how I got this shot, right?! Laying-down on the aisle, on my back? Stir..;)

Argao Church also has the Philippines' oldest pipe Organ, made in Leather. Don't debate with Danilo. The pipe organ in Las Pinas is made of Bamboo. Argao's is made of leather. To be more precise, I did my research. Argao's pipe organ is older than the Las Pinas' bamboo organ by 108years. So there!

There are 14 remaining pipe organs the Philippines and 3 of them can be found in Cebu. (Argao's,Church of Patrocinio de Maria in Boljoon, and the Cathedral's)

I hope this one in Argao can be restored to play beautiful music again.

Outside the church, a relic of St. Michael the Archangel is displayed.
St. Michael is actually San Miguel in Filipino, but I'd rather use his English name, since the Pinoy version connotes a different kind of Spirit, not the religious kind. The Samahang Walang Katulad kind. ;)

A little walk outside the church, is a lovely stone arc. I automatically posed for photos, only to be told that it's actually a cemetery! Ngii..

Altar de Sacrificio, served as a cemetery during the Spanish occupation up until the 1800’s. In 2007, the government decided to have it restored and now serves as a resting place for unborn children.

Dandan is telling us to hurry a bit. He still have lots of places to show us.

Our next destination was Argao's mini-park & wildlife. Entrance is a measly 5.00 pesos, but if you're locals like Dandan & Wella, bringing tourist regularly, they come and go for free. With all the people we encountered who knew Dandan by name, I swear, he can run for Mayor of Argao.

This one is pa-cute. But there are wilder creatures out there..

Reticulated phython or "sawa" probably had its daily meal already, hibernating.

This little guy really hates Aldrin. It was rattling the cage, wants to claw him.

I wish all our munipalities have this kind of "pasyalan," mini-zoo. The animals don't have to be imported or the wild kind. Just a place where children can go,and learn a thing or two about local animals.

There's a mini-Zipline and canopy walk for only 35 Pesos! It's so short that Half-way on your shrieking Weeeee..... tapos na!

A boat ride for 25 pesos, that Jay jokes there are crocodiles under the water.

Another cool place in Argao is the RiverStone Castle. I honestly don't know how an English Castle sprouted in an old town, whose history is more on Spanish-American colonialization. So, I'll just say, it's like a theme-park / resort / bar.

There is even a cute little Moat / drawbridge. I'm imagining soldiers in battle, driving through the doors with a battering ram, only to be poured down with hot water by the defending Kingdom.

Riverstone Castle, I will venture a no-brainer guess, probably derived its name from the stones that they got from a nearby river, to make this structure. More likely, constructed at that time when Quarrying was still a legal activity.

Modern Knights of the Round Table..

A Victorian-theme Party / Gig would be nice to have around here.. with the ladies in ballgowns and men in royal cravats.

There is a swimming pool atop the castle, which is totally out of place for a castle, but a good come-on for those who want to take a dip. It can get really hot in Argao.

But we needed to go back to Dan's place. It was his father's birthday, and there was a small gathering, they wouldn't want to start without us.

I normally shy away from goat or lamb, but this one, is irristible!

Ooh, the many, many tales from Mr. Ngujo. MGO days, his stint at Amanpulo, his favorite dishes...and oopps, before he can extend the stories about his son's lovelife... Dandan restrained him!

"Tita Willie, Take home ako nung Pound Cake at Banana-Cinnamon cupcake mo, ha."

Thank you, to our generous hosts in Argao, the Ngujo family. I wish we could visit your place, again. Dandan was talking about Bugasok Falls, Mt. Lantoy, fishing and more places to explore...

But we had to rush to the airport, not only to catch our afternoon flight... but, because we have another batchmate waiting... the good-looking Captain of the Fleet, who was on-reserve that night.. Richel Sale.

What a beautiful way to cap a School reunion!
A day spend with schoolmates, and another day with just our batchmates..and a new place of discovery... Argao.

Sana Maulit Muli !!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Final Cut : Awesome ASJMS Reunion

What was Jess Flores' confession?
What is the secret to Mark & Arlene's relationship?
***(hint: it's not communication or faithfulness..)
Why did Irelan shriek hearing the words Moreno and Lagoon?
Who fell-in line to get their crush' signature?
Who were the three gentlmen who revealed they had a secret crush on me before?

I recall you were salivating for the answers, to the above? Curious 'eh? Curiosity kills the cat! But.. will that stop you, from reading my litany further? I think not. So, read on...

After that rousing Opening Salvo, everyone was up on their feet, circulation going, we were ready to begin our lessons for the day!

Lesson 1 Mathematics
It's actually a fun game, similar to the game "The Boat is Sinking". Sa totoo lang ha, We had a hard time encouraging them to join. Nagkaka-hiyaan pa ata. Or perhaps they were scared since Madam Ramas is in-attendance? As if hindi alam ni madam, kung gaano tayo kagaling sa math :)

The mechanics is :
Girls are valued at 10cents each, while the boy are 5cents each.
The host will call out a value. They have to group themselves into such amount.

First amount...a no-brainer. 60cents. That's just 6 Ladies huddled together.

The next amount was 35cents, the 5 boys wouldn't let go of Alma.
Takot ma-eliminate!

The final crux was, when the hosts called out 45cents.
Lew and Robin fought it out for the girls.
Hmmm.... I wonder what's on their minds?

(I'm a boy, so I'm 5. There are 4 girls at 10cents each=40. I need those girls!
I don't want to be eliminated!)

It's ok Robin. Be a Good Sport. Lew let you pass Christian Living before :)

Needless to say, those eliminated suffered the consequence... a dance number! :)
Madam Amores was game na game, but the boys are so arte!

I think we tired-out everyone, so we announced ...


If my memory serves me right, there were calamares, fish fillet, lemon-buttered chicken, spare ribs adobo, some green vegies. Suffice to say, it was sumptous.

Desserts were fresh fruits in season, Buco Pandan and brownies...

and the chef d'oeuvre ... Lechon Cebu! (3 pigs went to heaven that day!)

So... How's the food?

Here.. picture paints a thousand words.

As you can see from Jb's expression, this Manilenyo is not used to Sukang Pinakurat:

How's the food, Gwen? No need for words. Those tongue-licking-lips says everything.

I think I can hear jinky says, she postponed her diet 'til tomorrow..

While everyone was enjoying lunch, we played an MTV slideshow of old and new photographs of alumni. Unfortunately, we didn't achieve the impact we wanted, because of the harsh daylight :(

However, we posted the videos in Grupo Animo. Did you catch them? Dzo taught in ASJMS for a few years, and he collected and treasured all those photographs.

Lesson 2 Christian Living
How well do you Know your Schoolmate?

Then, It's time to bring Up the energy level again! As a host, it's a major challenge. Such an unholy hour... everyone is full and sleepy....zzzzzzzzz So, I brought out my favorite game of Bingo. This one will really make them, move their butts and go around the room.

Each one is given a bingo card, which I prepared long before the event. (Thanks Mabel & Jun). The card contains boxes of funny descriptions, and they have to go around, and let others sign, whoever fits the description. The first 3 persons to finish all the boxes, wins!

Check out the bingo card:

Funny descriptions:
Na-utangan ko sya Noon * Laging late sa Class * Mataray * Magaling sa Math * Nag-Yosi sa School Noon * and of course, ang pamatay .... "Crush ko siya Noon."

The winners of this game where Lew, Meti and Irelan. Wala akong masabi kay Lew! Two major games, Siya winner! We let them read their answers on-stage.

The Most memorable were:
Lew's "Na-copyahan ko siya noon" -- apparently he used to borrow the lesson plans of Mrs. Bathan (guide lang naman daw, because he was a new teacher!)
Lew's "Crush ko Siya Noon" - Arlyn Lim (Haba ng hair ng lola ko :) )
Meti's "Crush ko Siya Noon" -- Jessito Flores! Aha!! (sabay kamot sa ulo ni Jess)
Irelan's "Crush ko Siya Noon" -- Archie (bakit, may iba pa ba?)
Irelan's "Comedian sa Class" -- Paolo Aban (Amo man gihapon nyan..)All 3 of them, tagged Aldrin Golingan as "Single Pa Rin"

Single Dad, but Aldrin still appears as the Most Eligible Bachelor in Town!

The Three Gentlemen
Now, you ask me! Who were the 3 gentlemen, who let me sign their bingo cards, under the box... "Crush Ko Siya Noon?"
Oh my goodness! Shocker talaga! Crush pala nila ako! It took them 20years to tell me?! Hmm... As for you my dear readers...Nakaka-kilig ba?! Are you curious to know?
Ahem... out of respect to the 3gents... pwedeng... Secret na lang namin yun? ;)

But feel free to let your imaginations roam..


(Lord, wag sana akong i-libel mga lalaking nilagay ko ang pics dito.)
Gentlemen, just exercising my artistic license, ok?! PEACE!

O Kilig ba? Naku, madami pa! We should have collected those Bingo acards and showed them to everyone here! Ay... Wag na lang. Madaming Mabibisto!

Lesson 4 Physics

"Hands, Forward, Raise!" Parang flag ceremony lang!

As always, it's a Battle of the Sexes. They had to arrange themselves in descending or ascending order.. depending on categories the hosts will call-out.

Fun Categories includes:
...from the shortest to the longest hair...
...from the nearest to the farthest residence..
...alphabetically arrange your nicknames...
...from the youngest to the oldest age...

The boys were always the first to shout, "Animo La Salle!"

But when you ask for their answers..hmm... parang mali. (Danilo scratches head)

The ladies won this game, after much protests from the guys that we're biased.

Our lovely purveyor of game prizes..

Lest I forget...another juicy part. During registration, we let everyone fill-out a Getting-To-Know-You Again Index Card. They were made to write One Most Unforgettable time in ASJMS and what happened to them after graduation.

The answers are nostalgic and funny! Dzo and I read the entries, and we asked the crowd to guess, whose owns that particular card. We had fun guessing and we we're amazed at two particular revelations :)

Jess Flores' One Most Unforgetable Experience in ASJMS - "I courted two fellow teachers at both na-basted ako." The crowd went wild. We didn't know that! Of course, I had to do my job as host, Sino?! Sinong nagbasted sa yo? Ms. Moran and Ms. Credo. The Bicolana beauties :( Waaaaa...

Buddy Rivera's entry - "My most unforgetable experience is during lunch break, playing in the lagoon, with Archie, Moreno...." Opps, we barely finished the sentence when Irelan shrieked..nooo! noo! stop!! Dzo & I was taken aback, "What? it's not her card!" Hmmmm.. did we unintentionally divulge something about Irelan, Lagoon, Archie, Moreno? To serve our ate irelan from further inquiry, especially since Mdm. Bathan & Mdm. Amores are there... we revealed it's buddy's entry.

Guys, Irelan's slip of the tongue, is something we have to explore next reunion :)
Arlyn, I understand you kept the index cards?! Those are national treasures now.

Recognition Day: Reunion Royalties

Another memorable time in our school was Recognition Day. Remember when we were asked to bring our parents to school to pin our medals?

We also had a fun mini-Recognition Day at the reunion! We even had these cute silly sashes made by Buddy's students. To prevent violent objections, we asked the teachers to determine the recipients.

Here they are... walang kokontra!

The Swan
Jinky Trazo has totally transformed herself to become this lovely beauty, whose age is not something to be ashamed of, but rather Proud @ 42.

The Northern Star
As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar's: "I am constant as the northern star,
Of whose true-fix'd and resting quality There is no fellow in the firmament."
Isselle Bonagua was beautiful before, as she is now.

The Navigator
Richel Sale, our captain of the fleet, bagged this award. He's a trail blazer. From a successful career as an airforce officer to becoming a commercial pilot.

Mr. Public Servant
Aldrin Golingan in his acceptance speech, "My duty is to serve & protect your life & property. Ikaw, Kayo, Tayo ang Simula ng Pagbabago dahil Kayo ang boss ko!" Spoken like a true public servant, no wonder, almost everyone got his cellphone number after. ('drin, pwede kita taw-gan pag nahuli ako?)

The Survivor
Florence Acuesta, overcame odds to be what she is today. Not everyone knew that Florence, didn't have relatives in Cebu. She was supported by Mrs. Fonie Limosnero with her studies. Now, she's a Master teacher.

Mr. and Ms. Congeniality
Ate Irelan has always been everyone's elder sister. We all love her. Robin, who was with asjms for only two years, always extend his friendliness and tries his best to get to know everyone, especially the younger batches whom he hasn't met before.

Together Forever Award
High School Sweethearts and now Parents of their 3 children, Mark & Arlene were asked the secret of their long-lasting relationship. Communication, Faithfullness...blah..blah.. only when the guys shouted, Great Sex! The crowd went whoot-whoot!"

Could it be, that we didn't experience Monarchial form of government that we love to infuse Royalty in our events? And so... we bestow the illustrous...

Reunion King and Queen
I have no qualms about Buddy receiving such distinguished award. He worked hard to organize the event, he sang, danced, he's a friend to all, etc. etc. Definitely, reunion king material.

But, as for me?! Do I deserve it? What did I do ba?

I conceived the program, drummed-up excitement in fb for the event, solicited moolah, sang/dance, "game mastered", composed an MTV, emcee-ed, and until now, I'm keeping the energy alive thru my blogs. Hmm... did i hear, still hot & gorgeous despite 3kids? Yes, yes. Definitely Reunion Queen material. Thanks my dear teachers!! Good thing, Humility was not one of the criteria ;)

Mini-Tribute for Teachers
You remember Teachers Day? When our teachers all dressed-up, extra pretty for the day, and we will do something to surprise them? We cannot let this day pass by, without giving accolade to our beloved teachers, who molded us, with the La Sallian values of Committment to Excellence, Brotherhood and Service.

Colorful Horse figurines, tokens for our mentors.

Good choice, guys. In feng shui, horses brings the energy of success, fame, and freedom... all in top-speed.

We called an alumni to give a special introduction to each teacher.

(guys, prepare your hankies.. I'm already crying as I write this part..)

"She was the one who 1st taught me about computers. She let me type my name on the keyboard and printed it. Awesome those days"

"I wish I had longer time in ASJSM to get to know Mr. Daniel better. All i know, he has great taste. He married our beautiful adviser Ms. Loresto."

"Growing up, we were a bunch of insecure adolescents, but your patience in developing our talents and skills, gave us the confidence to stand on our own..for that we ever so grateful "

"You musicality inspire us to love music as well. Thank you for your wonderful gift ~ our beautiful and enduring School Song"

"You opened our eyes to the world.."

"You made learning fun.. thanks for all the memories.."

"You encouraged us to be the best we can be..."

"Without you, we will not be..what we are today.."

"Here is a guy, who is not just a teacher, but also our friend."

"You took the place of my parents, when I need someone to be up the stage with me."

The teachers' response were equally moving:

"Congratulations, guys! A job well done, especially to our organizers, the sponsoring batch. It's great to see all of you again. I hope that you can make this happen every year!"


"Thank you for looking back at your mentors. I hope I've touched your lives and made a difference in you. In everything you do, in your journey through life, do it all for the Glory of God. God bless, us all."

"It's been years since I've seen all of you. Now when I look at you, Successful in each of your own fields, having families of your own. I feel a great sense of fulfillment. A teacher is fulfilled when she sees her students, whom she had given wings to fly..come back...Stronger, Mightier than they were before.

"I had the opportunity to go to other places, but nothing compares to the sense of community that I found with each and everyone of you. Thank you for inviting me here. To see you all succesful brings me so much happiness."

"The greatest satisfaction of a teacher, is to see her students, becoming the Best that they can Be."

"The lesson, the seatworks, homeworks....you will forget them! What will remain in your hearts are the discipline, the spirit and the wisdom you gained in school, to enable you to succeed in this world."

"I've been to other reunions, but your school, has this Unique Bond, not just among the students, but among teachers & students. This relationship is rarely found... continue to nurture it."

"I will forever remember ASJMS because the happiest, days of my life are in ASJMS / mgo."

"Time & again, you acknowledge your teachers helped you, etc. What you don't realize, you also helped your teachers become better persons than they are. You constantly challenge us to improve ourselves..for that, we thank you, as well."

I tell you, my dear, no one had dried eyes after those meaningful messages :(

So, it just came naturally, that we sing together, this beautiful Alma Mater Song, that binds as so closely together as a community.

Amidst the Verdant Hills and Mountains
Lies our Very Dear Alma Mater
Sparkling Bright like a Nugget
Blightly yielding with Knowledge.

Brows held high in Great Revere
As we sing in Thankful Praise
Andres Soriano Junior Memorial School
Hail... Hail..Hail..

Ooops!!! Akala nyo, Ending na? Hindi pa.... :)

Of course, we will never miss to sing our favorite but barely comprehensible song, taught by Madam Almacen, Honeur A Toi.

Submission of Homework
If you recall, we asked those joining the reunion, to bring their oldest memorabilia. It's our homework! Four Ladies took the task to heart:

Mrs. Capitan's vintage photograph. Mrs. Bathan's 1st ASJMS yearbook. Amabel's old Misallete. Arlyn's old PE t-shirt

The winner was Amabel and her misalette. It was so old, she was still in grade 1 and has yet to perfect her spelling, "This boklet belongs to Amabel Alinsug."

All good things must come to an end.
The Best Ending is a promise of a Sequel. Right?! Before we cultimated the program, we asked everyone if they wanted to do this again. Do you want another reunion?! Yes! Yes! The shouts can be heard beyond Mactan Island.

My partner seems tired, but the Reunion Queen is still fresh as a Daisy.
Dew: Friend, reunion daw otro.
Dzo: Ka-kapuy na uy!

If you all want another reunion, then, we must all be prepared to work for it!
We elected a Core Group, composed of 2members per batch. These people will work to ensure that another reunion will happen again.

And to make things more exciting, the youngest batch present, Batch '96, these beautiful, enthusiastic and talented people has accepted the Challenge of becoming the sponsor for the next Reunion! We Salute you Batch '96!

Before I drop the final curtains on this blog... let me leave you with some colorful images of those moments when we were saying good-bye to one another, signing each other's souvenir progams, promising to keep in touch.

In behalf of the organizers, We, thank you for your presence, your support, your love and encouragement. Wherever you are in the world.... WE MADE THIS HAPPEN!

Congratulations and See you next Reunion!!

St. John Baptist, De La Salle, Pray for Us.
Leave Jesus in our Hearts, Forever!

No Ending here.
The Story Continues.