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NESHS '58 Worldwide Alumni Community


Gapan Special Features



Impressions - 1998 U.S. Visit

Author: Eladio P. de los Santos
NESHS '58 Alumnus
Posted: July 5, 1999

Editor's Note: About a year ago, Eli visited his colleagues in Los Angeles (CA), San Francisco (CA), Jamaica (NY), Sayreville (NJ), Silver Spring (MD), Chesapeake (VA), and Chicago (IL). After this month-long, across-the-U.S.A. visit, Eli returned to the Philippines and sent this write-up to the Editor. His Impressions is now being posted on the first year anniversary of his U.S. visit.

My trip to the U.S. in July 1998 was an eye opener. It made me aware of how well my classmates in high school have adapted to their second country; how some have even opted for another citizenship, perhaps as an alternative move to facilitate their desire for that American Dream and to help a kin or two in coming over to the Big Apple.

In the assimilation process, while they have retained and nurtured the old Filipino ways and values, they have also ingrained in themselves the traits, attitudes and even the sensibilities of the Americans - not only in the manner of their speech, which at time could have a different twang, but also in setting their priorities and in the efficient management of their available time.

There has been this continuous effort to improve themselves too, both professionally and in the acquisition of new skills - for self worth, to gain the respect of their peers in their place of work and to avoid the dependence on available but costly skilled labor.

Not only have they improved themselves, but have also instilled in their children the importance of hard work. These translated to the children being achievers in their own right in academics, arts, as well as numerous extracurricular activties in school.

As a result of such unwavering determination, they have become more self-reliant and their offsprings totally independent at an earlier stage. It was not uncommon therefore that some, presently or in the past, has two or more jobs at the same time. One job for the daily bread and the others, to finance their annual vacations to some distant places, a business or support some relations in the Philippines.

They have likewise appreciated the value of investment. Some have acquired not only one or two houses. Some have sold a moderately priced residence and transferred to a much bigger place - with the intention of possibly disposing the new house later at an advantage. Similarly, others preferred to buy, as a hedge, in a newly-opened housing site, when the cost of real estate there was still low, and disposed of same when the value has appreciated several times over.

It was not surprising to note also that some colleagues who were rather shy in the days past, have metamorphosed into proactive individuals, as accomplished piano players and even warblers of difficult-to-learn songs. Others have earned additional degrees fom good schools, learned carpentry, bricklaying, landscaping, acquired black belts in martial arts, culinary expertise and other talents. Even some big Picasso-inspired oil canvasses on the walls and beautifully designed mailboxes were products of some earnest pursuits.

Judging from the various interactions during the many mini gatherings of classmates and friends, I noticed too the contagious and special bonding among the members of the class, the ever present warmth and the genuine eagerness to see each other. There was even this story of a new emigre colleague arriving in a city where his former classmates were already well-settled. I learned that he got the full support of the group in various ways until he and his family were able to manage on their own.

Such support and outpouring of kindness are not only commendable but also the reason why the NESHS Class of 1958 alumni family's breed and culture are worthy of emulation.


Nuances in the Lives of Some Alumni

Author: Eladio P. de los Santos
NESHS '58 Alumnus
Posted: April 1, 1999

Like motors of vehicles long parked in the garage, our aging and rheumatic joints are beginning to need some regular warming-up. Meanwhile, the day-to-day activities at home and in the office for some, becomes boring and routinary at some point in time. Hence, the need for a worthwhile endeavor that would address both the need to rejuvenate the age-tired body parts and recoup the lost vigor in men long past their prime. The recommended exercise need not be dreadful though; it could also be made both therapeutic and enjoyable.

It is with these thoughts that the yugyugan session, sophisticatedly re-engineered as the elitist's "ballroom dancing" came about. Dance instructors, also known as "DIs" or "Attorneys" , somehow were able to elevate the erstwhile not so glamorous trade of dance teachers (in the dance parlours along Quezon Boulevard during our college days) by a few rungs higher in the ladder of special skills and soon became visible in gatherings and other places.

Our Metro Manila group, after the brief taste of the dance mania during the preparation for the May 1998 Philippine reunion, felt that they should hold regular groupings, to update each one of some dull happenings, ventilate pent-up boredom, attempt to catch that elusive grace in the dance floor, bond with each other and sate the seemingly unsatiable taste buds of those with big appetites (like me).

What then is a sample of happenings during the so-called "grouping" day?

. . . An hour or two past lunch time on a Sunday, a member of the group arrives clutching a paper pouch of nibble food, followed by others in close intervals, dressed not in tutu but casually to a "kill" (complete with a pair of comfy shoes that loudly announces to everybody his/her readiness to the impending hazardous "combat". By the latter, I mean the much anticipated graceful aerobics in the company of a suave gentleman of the dance floor whose impeccable rhythmic steps only match his poetic body English.

Awaiting the dramatic announcement of the DI's arrival, and having laid bare on the table the various surprises of the day, each member is invited to sample the blessings while exchanging endless notes of interest. The sprinkle of demure giggles -- which once-in-a-while are punctuated by uncontrolled and boisterous laughter; and particular individuals' signature munches and gulps -- was then interrupted by the announcement of the arrival of the dance master.

The electronic components having been set, the first instruction and dance piece is given and demonstrated to the wide-eyed and eager participants while clasping the hands of their respective equally handsome partners, that's us (ehem).

Starting the dance session then . . ., "a wan . . . a two . . . a three to the left; aray! Don't step on my foot Eli" someone softly screams at me. "Double step and turn; then sidestep and repeat. Okay, once again and with more grace this time. A wan ... a two ... good. Vicki, kuha mo na. Eli, mamaya pa yang turn na yan ... to the left and three ..."

"Wait, wait, rest muna tayo. Pagod na ako" (hingal, hingal, then sits and loosens the shoe laces to ease the rheumatic pain). Efren starts mopping his beads of perspiration with a beach towel.

After about three or so hours of panting, eating, resting and more eating . . . the group calls it quits. Each one expresses his feeling good after the "recharge" and resolve to meet again sometime.


Water in Clay Jars

Author: Jun dela Rosa
Publisher: The Philippine Inquirer, Mla., P.I.
Published: December 5, 1998

IN GAPAN Nueva Ecija, when I was growing up, the drinking water was kept cold, clear and clean in ash-colored clay jars. Lola took pride in showing our visitors from Manila the clay jars arranged side by side on the tiled banggera. They were her prized collection, inherited from her old grandparents. I once hoped she would eventually hand them down to me.

The water in these jars remained as potable as cold and as clear as the time we got it from the artesian well, a few paces away from where Lola and I lived. We had no need for a refrigerator or ice. Neither did we have to source water from the local equivalent of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System. Most of the visitors who stayed for a few days would tell us how much they liked the water. Many of them would actually request that they be given a few bottles to bring back to the city and Lola would gladly oblige. Lola called it magic. I called it Lola's love. When Lola died, I had to go to the city to study. I lived with my parents in Novaliches, Quezon City, when the place still looked rural and very much like Gapan except for its being nearer to "civilization."

Once Mama went to the MWSS to apply for a water connection. The nearest water pump was a tricycle-ride away and the water coming out of it was not potable. Mama had to boil the water to make it safe for drinking, especially after one of my sisters was downed by cholera and almost died.

It didn't take very long for me to miss the taste and texture of the water in the province, the kind that Lola used to bring out of the dirty kitchen, pour into glasses and serve to her visitors from Manila. In Novaliches, the water pressure was still strong, but that was the least of my concern. There was something artificial about the water we got from the MWSS. It left an unpleasant after-taste in my tongue that I had to get rid of by letting strawberry candies melt in my mouth.

Taking a bath was fun, though. There was a shower in the bathroom, and it felt like bathing in the rain, minus the paper boats. I could have made paper boats and let them float on the tiled floor, but there was nowhere else they could go except down the drain.

There was another difference. The water from the shower was lukewarm, while rainwater was cold and helps heal prickly heat particularly on warm nights. The water from the shower also dried my skin making it flaky. In the mornings, Mama had to rub lotion or coconut oil on my skin to keep it soft.

Then as Novaliches started to become urbanized, water became progressively scarce. I noticed that there was an indirect proportion between population growth and the supply of water. Pretty soon, there was no water-only faucets that gave out sounds like those made by someone who was thirsty or someone trying to catch his breath. I could not use the shower anymore, because the pressure was not enough. We had to use plastic dippers when taking a bath so as not to waste water which we stored in pails of different colors.

It reminded me of the time I still lived in Gapan with Lola when I would just go to the river to take a bath. I would form my hands into small cups to wet my face in the summer when rain was scarce. But the water that tasted of chlorine water would reach my lips and bring me back to the present.

Now, the situation is even worse. There is absolutely no water, not even a single drop, coming out of the faucet in the daytime, at least in the part of Novaliches where we live. The situation is increasingly becoming unbearable. Our bathroom remains soiled, the toilet bowl has turned yellowish and stinks. Water starts to drip in the wee hours of the morning, and Mama has to wake up, her eyes sagging and beginning to form black folds, just to make sure we gather enough water to last a day. In the morning when I wake up, pails and containers line the bathroom.

The plastic water jugs standing close to the wash basin remind me somehow of Lola's clay juts arranged side by side on the banggera. The difference is that Lola took pride in showing the jars and pouring the crystal-clear water into drinking glasses, while Mama's plastic water jugs are nothing but an annoyance, making our kitchen look cluttered and crowded.

I wonder if we could return to the time when jars worked their magic to keep our drinking water refreshingly cold. There is a touch of artificiality in storing water in plastic jugs. The water in these jugs does not remain cold and leaves an after-taste that I cannot get rid of by melting strawberry candies in my mouth. I am too old for candies now. To me it would be an exciting sight to have clay jars standing near the wash basin in every home.

Maybe I am too conventional. Maybe I am too promdi. But the idea of going back to the time my Lola was still alive is very appealing to me. Storing our drinking water in clay jars would be cheaper since we won't need to refrigerate it. Besides it would open a window to our past when life was simple and pleasant.



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