By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 10-Mar-2019  ·  
697 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
The CC class of 69: Jorge Sarmiento, Carlito "Bubo" Rodolfo, Tony Tugelida and emcee Cha Bagadiong at Victor Hall reunion.

It was the year of Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” the peak of Marmalade’s “Ob-La-Demo-La-Da,” the height of The Beatles’ “Get Back” and, among others, the year everyone was humming Peter, Paul and Mary’s “Leaving on A Jet Plane.”

They were young and daring and like any other high school teenagers growing in the island, they had their share of pranks and assorted naughtiness, so to speak.

One shared this slice of the late 60s as one gatecrashed in the golden reunion of Catanduanes College high school class of 1969.

After 50 years, they decided to go back to the island of their birth and relive the late 60s with classmates many of whom they have not seen in many years. 

Carlito “Bobo” Rodulfo -- now based in Orlando, Florida – said this reunion was auspicious as it would reunite them with classmates in the autumn of their lives. He noticed that the concerns have changed from where to go dancing to comparing medications for old age.

The ladies came in elegant black highlighted by glittering sequins but most of the gentlemen remained proper and casual.

Some of the most brilliant in the class – Jorge V. Sarmiento – along with Rodolfo admitted they had their share of teenage fun. Almost most of the males in the class were incorrigible Peeping Toms in the throes of exploring female bodies in the most naïve and harmless way.

It is a subject that during those years was only whispered about and dismissed with laughter. In this reunion, they were open about the past, pranks and all, and everyone had a good time laughing their high school years away.

But the most revealing part of the reunion was the address of their class adviser, Ms. Nenita Tayas Taraya who said she was only 21 when she taught at CC and later moving to CNHS and other schools.

Some fifty years of teaching taught her to acknowledge that teachers learn as much from their students as the latter from their class advisers.

At 75, Taraya’s mind was sharp as ever as she recalled the number of absences of students in her class. She recalled the students to whom she gave a grade of 75 not so much because they fare badly but mainly because of unexplained absences.

As early as the late 60s, Taraya knew some of her students will go far like Jorge who served four presidents in assorted national positions.

With the coming elections, the class adviser didn’t hide her choices. “This is a choice I actually keep in my heart and not shared with too many people,” she said. But at her age, she continued, she knew who had good family upbringing and who would make good leaders for the island. She looked at Jorge and made sure her choice was made clear to everyone.

She noticed that as early as the late 60s, Jorge had the making of a good leader and an achiever. He was a good student and a good boy inside and out. He knew this much about her good students and she knew Jorge would make an excellent leader.

Jorge who served four presidents was overwhelmed by the good words.

He asked permission to kiss her teacher and she nodded.

Seeing the student kiss her teacher out of pure gratitude and reverence, you realize that those 50s years outside the campus were not in vain.

She was a dedicated teacher, a very strict one and would not compromise.

He was a studious student aware of the modest income of the family that he had to work hard to help his family.

In that class of ’69, many stood out and Jorge was one of them.

In that class of ’69, class adviser Taraya showed she was made of sterner stuff as a mentor and as a human being.

When they took to the dance floor with Rodulfo out-dancing everyone in a solo number, you see the class of 69 at their most nostalgic and at their most fun-loving.

In that reunion, one got a hint on how the islanders will vote in the coming elections.

Finally, you feel the fun of gatecrashing in high school reunion.

You see how a friend is regarded in that batch and how he is seen in the eyes of his teacher and classmates. 

Indeed, it has been a long time since they’d been together. But looking at them as they recall the late 60s, you realize they remained close even as it’s been fifty years since they last lived and enjoyed their youth.

As you hear the laughter of classmates  fill the hall, you  remember the English poet Robert Southey who once intoned, “No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other's worth.”

Class of '69 adviser Nenita Tayas Taraya. The memory of the class adviser remained sharp as she knew early in that decade that the class valedictorian would go far.
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