July-August 2006 Special Edition Vol. 6 Issue 4

A free Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.
          Editor

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

The Las Vegas CIM Alumni Reunion of 2006

Cle S. Estrera, Jr.

     ďI have never been especially impressed by the heroics of people convinced they are about to change the world. I am more awed by those who struggle to make one small difference after another.Ē ---Ellen Goodman, journalist

The "Sin City"
    If New York is called the city that never sleeps, then Las Vegas is the city that is fully awake 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, while keeping the mood of business as usual like itís what life should be. ďIf you get caught between the moon and New York City,Ē a song goes, ďthe best that you can do is fall in love.Ē Well, if you get caught between the sun and Las Vegas, the best that you can do is operate a slot machine and take your chances for the cash of your dreams until at least the heat dissipates.† Las Vegas is hot, hot as in weather, but there are also lots of hot chicks with long legs, long necks and great-looking boobs. However, nowadays, you will never know whether those boobs are real or not. Perhaps Iím getting old, but those overexposed and provocative cleavages no longer strain my neck and dilate my pupils. I just hope in the years to come I wonít end up like the old man in a story who got so depressed. He said that his doctor refused to write him a prescription for Viagra, because the doctor told him that it would be like putting a new flagpole on a condemned building. Lately, however, my mind works like lightning now and then. One brilliant flash and it is gone.

    If Disney World is the attraction for the kids or the whole family, Las Vegas is the attraction for everybody. Las Vegas is ideal for the young and the old from nine to ninety-two. Whether itís its casinos or its spectacular entertainment shows that make the saints and the sinners flock together; whether itís its magnificent hotels and its spacious suites or its opulent malls and restaurants that attract the rich and the privilege, Las Vegas is the number one city in the world visited by tourists. Last year alone, more than 45 million people visited the city, and just the first six months of this year, it has already registered more than 5% increase of its visitors. Thatís a lot for a sin city in a nation of Christianity.

     People from all over the world flock to Las Vegas, many of them are hoping to exchange their core dreams for cold cash. Everywhere you go and every turn you make, there is always that constant clanging sound of the winning slot machines. Vegas is the gambling Mecca of the New World. But you have to admire the city for having the best of everything including the unduplicated wonders of the world. It has the Caesarís Palace that has imposing marble statues of gods, goddesses, kings and emperors that move and speak and make you feel like you are in an ancient kingdom watching and listening to the events of intrigues, betrayals and reckonings of the past with the show of magical power that roars like thunder and makes both the fire and water dance as if an ill wind is blowing them.

    The Caesarís Palace was where our alumni reunion was held. It is huge and class and itís easy to get lost, but if youíre heart is still strong, your knees donít squeak and your legs donít cramp, then itís a good exercise and youíd have a great chance of ending up at some place you would rather be especially if youíre one of those who would rather snatch the whip of hurry from the hands of the clock and enjoy your time than being whipped by it and worry about losing time. The Palace has the wood sculpture of Cleopatra whose boobs seem untouched by a manís hand that Henry Clarite almost could not resist to be the first. Cleopatraís sculpture is not really that erotic, but there is something in it that seems to readily awaken menís fantasies. The Palace also has the marble statue of David whose willy Beeboy Racoma thought is too small for his body like itís incapable of procreation.† But Jimmy Batausa and Del Quijano made a reassuring remark that there are men like that, men with willies that are tiny when relaxed, but when these willies stand up like a soldier on rigid attention, they drive the women crazy. As a matter of fact, some historians thought that Julius Caesar, like David, was also one of these men. Caesar, the emperor and dictator of Rome at the time spent the winter of 48 BC in Egypt and there, he met Cleopatra who was soon to become the Queen of Egypt, the richest kingdom in the Mediterranean. Caesar was taking a bath when Cleopatra saw his willy. Because of its small size, Cleopatra, out of curiosity, deliberately did something to provoke it and almost immediately they became lovers. The rest is history.

     Las Vegas has the New York skyline just across the MGM Grand Hotel where our reunion was held five years ago. It includes the Statue of Liberty as well as the Empire State and Chrysler buildings. The city has an Eiffel Tower and even a Venetian cityscape. Pseudo-Venice is surreal, with white puffy clouds overhead and romantic gondolas drifting by that seem to be guided by the rhythm of romantic songs. It is patterned with the original, with the exception that the canals donít smell like dead rats according to the European couples I overheard talking to an American from Houston. At least they looked Europeans to me. I have never been to Venice. Then there is the Bellagio that has the dancing water fountain in synchrony with great classical music. I went there alone one late night just to fantasize I was one of the Oceanís 11. There is the Treasure Island too but without the pirates of the Caribbean..

    Las Vegas is just overwhelming. Itís like an awesome engineering feat; utterly original, perfectly planned, ingeniously designed and built to attract and last. Its growth is unbelievable that every corner you turn, there is an ongoing construction. If there is a flaw somewhere, it is that its growth is too much and too fast that is already more than it can handle because the traffic even among people on the sidewalks is too busy for a stroll anytime especially during the weekend. Itís a boon for cameras from instamatic to video and digital; everyone seems to be taking pictures and videos everywhere you turn. Its airport on Friday evening is like a football stadium after the game is over; people are rushing to where they park their cars. Walking against the human tide is a struggle. If you are not careful, youíd end up with bumps and bruises, but youíd keep your wallet because there are no pickpockets. Pompei and I dreaded to imagine the casualties that a suicide bomber could do.

     If you look closely, there is a sinister intention of the place that is obscured beneath the whirlwind of opulent hotels, amusement park rides, all-you-can-eat lobsters, seafood and prime ribs buffets, dancing girls, and some X-rated shows. The city is designed and refined over the years with the sole purpose of separating fools from their money. It is so well conceived and so ingeniously plotted that even the sidewalks are aligned against you and the ceilings of the casinos are designed to make you feel like itís still dusk or dawn so you wonít get sleepy and go on taking your chances, chasing your cash dreams until nothing is left in your pocket and your credit cards are overdrawn. I wonder how many marriages have been broken, bankruptcies declared, families shattered all because of gambling losses due to oneís lack of self-control and self-discipline - they gamble the money they cannot afford to lose. The name Vegas is a lie. It means grassland Ė when itís really a desert.

     Las Vegas is there to take your money. But the true genius of the place is the way people feel good about getting fleeced. The old men who sit at the poker tables smoking like a chimney, taking piles of chips from the rubes, rarely crack a smile as if itís business as usual to them, or just part of the experience. They make you feel like they win more than they lose. But the trite platitude at the poker table is that if you donít know the sucker Ė itís you!

The CME
    The line-up of CME speakers as usual was terrific with various topics for medical education. The only difference is that this year so far as I have observed is that the room was full .. well, .. maybe almost full every time, and some of the alumni were even standing at the back for the obvious lack of seats and of course, the preference of those alumni to stay at the back, alumni like Wig Camomot who has a way of cracking up every one with his humor. The peculiar thing about Wig is that he says something really funny and yet he doesnít even break a smile like he is serious about it. Serious or not, he is fun to be around with. Hell, we need more like him. People like him are wonders of human evolution. They exist and evolve to remind you that life is too short to take anything seriously to darken your mood, let alone stir up your worry, fear, anger or frustration. After all, when you think about it, life itself is essentially a defeat, a steady losing game, and thus you need to summon up your sense of humor to be able to take what comes and simply laugh to make out with it. ďNever take life seriously,Ē an Italian friend of mine used to say. ďNobody gets out of it alive anyway.Ē

    †The CME speakers were all excellent, knowledgeable in their own topics and well-prepared that their presentation and delivery were proficient and professional. They attracted interest even if their topics were not in line with many of the alumniís specialties. They talked with such conviction that you cannot resist listening to them, for not listening to them you feel like you are missing something important. Nowadays when Vampire movies like Blade and Underworld: Evolution are hitting the box office, itís hard if not impossible to resist the intriguing topic of ďLove at First Bite, or SightĒ by Ma. Concepcion Espiritu-Fuller. Itís actually about different infections one can get from bites of different animals including humans. Anyway, this reminds me of a person whose neighbor was bitten by a stray rabid dog. He went to see how his neighbor was doing and found him writing frantically on a piece of paper. The person told his neighbor that rabies could be treated, and he didn't have to worry about a Will. The neighbor exclaimed,†"Will? †What Will? I'm making a list of the people I want to bite!"

     Dirty mouth doesnít just point to the dirty words that come out of it, but to the multiple infectious organisms that the human mouth harbors, the dirtiest mouth of all living species. Am I right, Dr. Fuller? Well, for young people in particular, you donít have to worry about getting infected from your passionate kissing and necking. You can go on with them, enjoy and have fun, for itís only the bite that breaks the skin that would cause an infection, not your French kiss. But itís probably better to control your passion and avoid making passion marks. Not only that they could get infected, you might get carried away with your passion and for all you know, you have acted like a vampire. Ouch! I know you didnít mean it.

     The speaker that made many of us proud of is Dr. Anthony L. Estrera of Houston, Texas, a thoracic vascular surgeon who happens to be my nephew and a son of Aaron and Marietta Estrera. Anthony is a CME speaker in demand in and outside the U.S.A. He is not connected to any drug or any commercial medical company that would sponsor him wherever he is invited to speak. He is paid by those medical educational groups or establishments that invite him to speak. He accepted the invitation as one of our reunion CME speakers even if he had to purchase his own plane ticket and pay for his own hotel accommodation because he saw it as an opportunity to express his gratitude to CIM, ďfor without it,Ē he said, ďhe would not have been what he is now.Ē - taking into account that his Dad graduated from CIM. He considers CIM as the origin of it all. He was born in Cebu and I used to baby sit him when he was a baby, but he grew up in the U.S. And as far as his topic was concerned Ė Update on Thoracic Aortic Aneurysm and Dissection Ė you could clearly see that he talks the talk and walks the walk. He is one of the best, if not the best, in his surgical field or specialty. Some of the alumni expressed their desire to have him as their surgeon in case their thoracic aorta tears itself up.

    Now Iíve got to take my hat off and bow to Marilyn Digamo-Beltran and Rise Faith Espina-Dajao for doing such a great job in lining up great speakers. How about a kiss, ladies? If you donít know yet, even with the charm of Marilyn and Rise Faith that could melt your cold, cold heart, looking for and contacting and convincing good speakers and then lining them up for our associationís CME program are not easy. So, to help them make it easier, if youíre interested to become one of the CME speakers next year especially if youíre in Pediatrics, contact them now and do not procrastinate. Marilyn promised to put some Pediatric topics next year since there has been none this year. Can we count on you?

The Class 1972 Reunion
    I wish I have the eloquence of expressing gratitude and appreciation with compelling sincerity that could make oneís heart leap on behalf of the CIM class 1972 to the Alfafaras. The Alfafaras were so generous to offer their big and beautiful house in a gated community with manicured lawns for our class reunion in Las Vegas on Friday, July 7th. Their graciousness and warmth were disarming; they made us all feel really welcome and comfortable to move around, play, chat, joke, and laugh out loud, even sing and dance like nobodyís business. And to consider that they are not from CIM, their hospitality is definitely something extraordinary that would stay in our memory for a very long time if not forever. We are lucky to have Pompei Jubay as our classmate having such good and close friends like the Alfafaras. Close and caring friendships are bright spots in our lives.

    Indeed our class organization is blessed with such classmates and good friends as Pompei and Dita Jubay, Fracs and Rex Escario, and Maning and Billy Juson who quietly and willingly volunteered to open up their wallets to help shoulder the expenses in particular of our class reunion all to ensure order and harmony for the convenience of everybody. I never even knew about it until I insisted on knowing the night before I left Las Vegas. As the one coordinating our class reunion, I have always wanted the best for every one, and these special friends provided the best for all of us without even letting anyone know about it, let alone expecting anything in return. I can never thank them enough. There is a song that says, ďI want to know what love is, I want you to show me. I want to feel what love is, I know you can show me..Ē Well, what these caring friends did was to show us love and more Ė generosity, kindness and understanding. They could have just easily ignored what their hearts had dictated, knowing that it would simply fade into the stardust of the universe like other thoughts and feelings that pass by, forgotten, and strewn among the glorious flowers of memory. But they didnít. And you know what? It is impossible for a generous heart to give away more than it gets. †

    Real good friends are hard to find. If you find one, nurture the friendship as much as you can, and even if itís the last thing you do, never take it for granted, let alone ignore it. Many people would isolate themselves and consider friendship as more trouble than itís worth. Thus they tend to have the behavior, the look, gesture or mannerism that signifies that they want to keep a distance. Itís not because they were born that way, but itís almost always because there has been hurt, disappointment, disillusionment or betrayal in the past friendships. Having trusted the untrustworthy, they are no longer willing to take a chance. They wonít reach out and they wonít let anyone reach in; they simply withdraw.

    Further, many of these people have unhealed emotional wounds and deep insecurities that make them overly sensitive to what you say or do. Having used to giving orders rather than taking and to getting what they want and to have their way attitude and behavior that they havenít outgrown, their ego that tells them they are special and different also has not outgrown its frailty and fragility - it gets hurt and bleeds easily. As a result, they are all too often defensive and even hostile, for they tend to take things personally. They would scrutinize every meaning of what you say or do and most of the time they would interpret it negatively as an attack, criticism, insult or sarcasm that hurts their feelings. Sometimes just one word or one thing you do that you donít even mean it but they would consider offensive is enough to splinter their egoís fragility into fragments and arouse their anger and hostility. It would then become a compelling reason for withdrawing. †Ironically, they seem to find comfort in doing all these like they are happy with misery. They are what someone named Bob Gass calls Ė ďEGR peopleĒ Ė Extra Grace Required. The more you understand them, the more you know how to deal with them and the less troubling they are in your mind. Indeed they are very delicate people and you are practically walking on eggshells around them, for itís hard to know exactly how far to go and when to pull back. But sometimes itís better to simply wait for them to come to you rather than you go to them.

    Real good friends are a treasure beyond price Ė human beings you can care about, celebrate with, and count on. They are people who are always ready to lend a hand even before we ask. They lift our hearts in a very special way. Life is so much richer with them whom we can share our joys and troubles. Nevertheless especially in these day and age when every one is too busy for themselves and for whatever other reasons, real good friends are a rarity like a hidden treasure that even an expert treasure hunter have a hard time finding. Yet there are those like Pompei who seem to automatically earn respect and friendship wherever they go. Itís not because they are popular although our good friend Pompei is, itís all because they are courteous, caring, loving and kind, and have a great sense of humor. They are liked because they truly like others. They give love freely and thus receive love freely. They reach out rather than just associate with those who would tolerate them. Their courteousness is for every one. Their relationship is sincere, not shallow. We are comfortable with them even with our troubles because we know they want the best for us just as we also want the best for them.

    Alfie and Nina Alfaras made us feel like we owned the house ourselves. They acted in a way like weíve all known each other for years when many of us havenít even met them before. They showed us all the rooms in the house and every room is well-equipped, well-decorated, and well-designed not just for the beauty and space, but also for convenience, access and security. Of course the best room is the Masterís bedroom. Not only that it has all the trimmings of romance, it is also strategically located to have the view to a kill. You can see the beautiful panoramic view of the city of Las Vegas and can readily imagine the spectacular fireworks on July 4th night. Itís perfect. Oh, never mind the romance. †

    The foods were great Ė lechon, pansit, dugo-dugo, calderitas, barbecue, and many more, catered by the most sought-for food establishment among Filipinos Ė Goldilocks. The drinks and desserts were everywhere. The poto and bebinka made of purple rice were my favorites. They were so delicious. Itís the first time I ate these desserts in all my years in the U.S. And not to lack for activities, the Alfafaras hired a couple of dance instructors to teach us dancing in their dance hall walled with mirrors. But to my own regret, I did not dance. Somehow I was intimidated by the instructorsí skill and gracefulness in their dance execution. They rattled my legsí stiffness and awkwardness to paralysis.

    The only drawback that we did expect in our class reunion was that many of our classmates left early for the entertainment show called Love, and so, we ended early, a lot earlier than I was afraid of. Itís almost always like that Ė when one group is leaving early, pretty soon the rest will follow and the fun is aborted prematurely. Itís because being in a city like Las Vegas, itís the tendency for most every one to want to have as much fun as they can and so they would plan and schedule more fun activities for the day that would necessitate going to another place for another fun, consequently putting themselves under the mercy of time, transportation and traffic. The problem with this is that once your attention starts to divide which often happens prematurely or early, you would fixate on the next fun activity and thus cease to derive pleasure from the present or the ongoing activity, and then on and on, forfeiting your chance of having real fun. It involves the same process and principle as trying to achieve and have more and more and more, believing that more means more enjoyment and happiness. But more only means more pressure, more anxiety, more stress, and too little time to spend for each activity. You would only follow the same pattern as what you are doing in your job during office hours, and youíd often end up feeling relieved, saying Ė ďThank God, itís overĒ Ė instead of feeling ecstatic, saying Ė ďThat was fun. Letís do it again.Ē Nevertheless our class reunion was fun while it lasted.

    For what itís worth, I had heard that the show called Love was a disappointment to at least a few of our classmates. They said that it was not worth the time and money, and their spouses fell asleep. No wonder why nobody was excited enough to talk about it the following day like itís something they regret and would rather forget. But even if I was not there, I would disagree that the show was not good, because if the music and songs put you to sleep, then the show must be great, having a hypnotic effect. Nowadays many people are getting into hypnosis with music therapy. But then, they were there to be entertained and have fun, not hypnotized and put to sleep. Anyway, we all could have had more fun if they only stayed with us at the Alfafarasí, singing karaoke songs or even listening to Albert Jones, Del Quijano, and Fred Jubayís karaoke renditions as well as those of yours truly, and brushing up their dance skill with those dance instructors. I could see that those dance instructors would still be eager to teach all the way to the wee hours of the morning. They are young, restless and their energy is boundless.

    In any event, we were all glad to finally meet Osita Godornes-Nimis and Terry Lambo-Quisumbing after almost 35 years. They came all the way from Cebu to attend our alumni reunion and thus our class reunion. Itís good to know that they havenít changed much and we still could recognize them without our eyeglasses. Osita has never ceased to be a source of amazement. She still has that great sense of humor that cracks us up like nuts. It still makes me smile the memory of our vacation in Camotes. Osita and Diosy (Lariosa-Catalan) were scared shitless riding on a palm boat going back to Cebu from Camotes after what turned out to be a longer vacation than was intended because of the weather. The boat was small and it was rocked and rattled roughly, bumped, banged-up and buffeted by strong wind and big waves. It was not really that bad than what I had gotten used to, going home to Camotes with the same small boat every weekend to hold a medical clinic. Anyway, Osita and Diosy whom Celso also agreed, blamed Pompei for the bad weather because Pompei taught my Minna bird that was eager to learn to say: ďBaho kag bilat!Ē Somehow the bird had the ability to recognize a woman and it would keep screeching ďBaho kag bilat!Ē to any woman that passed by even to a nun. That bird was really smart. It would scare the cat away by barking like a dog, and it would tease the dog by making the sound of a cat. The dog finally gave up and avoided the window where the bird was placed.

    †It was a pleasure to meet Dodong Nimis, Ositaís husband, and Celso Costeloís wife, Fe Cabanas who has that disarming smile that makes you feel comfortable around her. I have to admit that I underestimated Celsoís ability to make a good choice for a wife after having a divorce from the previous one. I guess I did not take into consideration the wisdom of experience.

    Whatís more, Lon Mellijor and his charming wife Linda finally came to our reunion after all these years. Many of us also did not see Lon for 35 years. Iíve got to give credit to Linda, for it has to be her tender loving care that has kept Lon looking great, although they both are. Hope to see both of them again in the future.

    Those of us who were left at the Alfafaras and fortunately there were still enough of us, did our ring of friendship prayer before we dispersed for the night. Rori Tompar Tiu is pretty convincing when it comes to prayer. I must confess that I have mixed feelings about prayers. I rarely pray because I often doubt the effects of prayers, especially my prayers, on other people. I guess itís because I rarely go to church to the chagrin of my wife who gave up long time ago fussing at me every Sunday morning about it. But with Rori on the lead, somehow I felt like together, our prayers could penetrate and pass through the impossible, slice and dice the improbable, and come out with a miracle.†

The ASOCIMAI business meeting
    The associationís CIM restrooms renovation project that cost $34,500 is now finished except for the hiring of a janitress to keep the restrooms clean. This project has been made possible by the donation of $29,000 made by Espiritu-Espiritu-Ong. The overall comment from the CIM students who had already started using the restrooms was that the restrooms are like those in the hotels. Indeed they are, from the slides shown by Rise Faith.

     Those who have the money and are interested in participating on this project and other future ASOCIMAI projects, you can make a pledge to Dr. Evangeline Ecarma. A pledge may only be a promise, but it reflects what kind of person you are for fulfilling it or breaking it. Now her is a piece of good advice is Ė Do not make a promise you cannot fulfill. You know how it feels when someone breaks your heart by breaking a promise.

    The CIM Golden Jubilee Celebration is scheduled on December 6-9, 2007. ASOCIMAI will be doing the Medical Mission in Cebu on December 3-5 during that occasion. The Chairman of the Mission is El Presidente Dr. Dom. The Mission needs more surgeon and anesthesiologists. If youíre interested, contact Doming. However, youíve got to have Temporary Philippine Medical License that should be submitted 6 months before the Mission. Dr. Naty de la Fuente will be taking charge on the applications. As far as the information for applying for the temporary license is concerned, contact one of the officers. I was not clear about it because I was out when this subject was discussed. To be honest, I was not really interested in this licensure thing because even if I join with the Mission, I donít want to be treating patients, but probably just help in perhaps dispensing drugs, not prescribing. My interest and medical practice are mainly on keeping patients healthy than on treating their diseases.

    This yearís alumni reunion was supposed to be in New Orleans, but because of the hurricane Katrina that virtually destroyed the city, our reunion was moved to Las Vegas. So next year, our alumni reunion will again be in Las Vegas as has already been on the venue schedule. It will be on Caesarís Palace again on July 11-15, 2007. So mark your calendar because time really does fly.

The Grand Finale
    †Iíve got to admire Evangeline Ecarma and those who helped her like Mermer Taclob, not just for the harmony of the Grand Ball affair especially the seating arrangement that had a way of creating chaos in the past causing headaches, frustrations and ill feelings among the officers, but for their firmness in not accepting late comers with their late payment. Although two of our friends and classmates who we would have wanted to be with us were turned down from attending the Grand Ball because they were too late in making up their mind to attend, Iíve got to give credit to Evangeline and company. I believe that those who were turned down would realize later on that itís probably the best thing that ever happened to them especially with regards to our reunion. They will realize, if they havenít yet, that procrastination is a negative factor in their lives, and in every oneís lives. At least they are likely to think of having some discipline if they donít want procrastination to continue playing a significant role in their lives for their own disappointment.

    Discipline is very important, for without it, many things are left undone or unaccomplished. All too often the lack of discipline causes chaos, disruption and disorder leading to disillusionment, disenchantment and disappointment for everyone and itís not fun. The importance of discipline cannot be overemphasized.† Einstein said: ďDiscipline is the best form of intelligence.Ē So I hope this will continue to be the policy of our association to turn down those who decide on the last minute, for this will serve as a reminder to procrastinators that they have to get their acts together if they donít want to go through an unpleasant or disappointing experience of being barred from getting in to have some fun.

     For the first time in many years that Iíve been attending the Reunion Grand Ball, somehow this time I felt so comfortable walking around and going to the dance floor to take pictures, congratulate alumni and even dance more than ever. I donít know if itís just me or my sense of perception, but every one seemed so nice, helpful, and greeted each other in general and me in particular with a friendly smile thatís encouraging and a look of understanding, not a look of disapproval and suspicion that I often sensed before. The atmosphere was definitely dominated by genuine friendship and camaraderie. There was a sense of freedom like you could do what you want to and no one pays you mind. And if you stumble and fall, you have the feeling that your colleagues are there to help you and cheer you up. Iíd like to think that itís an attitude change finally, a part of the result of what Iíve been emphasizing or hammering in my articles. But whatever it is, itís very encouraging. We are finally realizing that we are all human after all, better than the monkeys, and that we all have the power to change and choose to feeling better, doing better, being better and being nice and friendly toward each other.

    It was a wonderful affair. What is more encouraging is that there were more new faces especially of the younger alumni whom I hope will continue to come and join the fun in the future. Doctora Paradela was there, handing the plaques of recognition for those alumni who deserved to be recognized for doing extraordinary things for the association and for CIM. The band was great and the selection of music and songs was terrific. The band played like they were enjoying their own music and songs and their rhythm was irresistible. Even if youíre just sitting and no intention to dance, it urges and encourages you to dance with or without a partner. I was one of those who could not resist. For the first time in many occasions, my butt did not have enough time to grow roots. The acoustic was just enough, not too loud to be jarring your eardrum, not too soft to be messing up your tempo.

    The class of 1966 who celebrated their 40th anniversary came in droves like none of them wanted to miss it. Only few of the jubilarians and of the class 1971 and 1976 came, but they were there to celebrate their 25th 35th and 30th anniversary respectively, proud to be celebrating the number of years theyíve been CIM alumni.

    †If there was someone who made a lot of difference in making the Grand Ball more fun, it was Dr. Pat Jurani. For the first two nights, he enthusiastically taught every one dancing and even into the Grand Ball, leading them on the dance floor. I could see that dancing must have been his and his wifeís form of exercise because the two of them never seemed to get tired. Pat made the dance look easy and it must have been easy because most of the time, the dance floor was full. I wished I had learned what he taught during the first two nights. I would not have stepped so many toes and bumped so many butts during the Grand Ball. I hope heíll do it again next year because our reunion will be in Las Vegas again.

    From the Class 1972 came a surprise number that stole the thunder late into the Ball Ė Sammy and Cathy Alcarez with their ballroom dance exhibition. For a moment I thought they were going to take off their clothes and fight, because Cathy told us earlier that she and Sam have divorced many times after a dance. Then I realized that they danced with such passion that their dance movements looked like a unique form of lovemaking. Their movements were precise, their steps calculated, and they wiggle with such grace and fluidity that would make the contestants of the Dance with the Stars look like Danny de Vito and Oprah Winfrey doing a tango. If not for Sammyís head that shines, sending a glare toward me, I would have clearly seen the passionate expression on their faces. I wished I had my eyeglasses modified with anti-glare. Just kidding, Sam. Anyway, they got a huge applause they richly deserved.

    Now Sam and Cathy, just be honest with me, if I start taking dance lesson now, do you think I can dance like you in 20 years? That of course if Iím lucky enough of being spared from the crippling ravages of arthritis, Alzheimerís, osteoporosis and hip fractures. Iíll master one move a year and in 20 years, I should have 20 moves. What do you think? Is there a hope? Come on. Iím used to thinking long term. We have the saying in Camotes that has always proven to be true in all the years Ė ďmagda-og sa lahutay.Ē

    See you all next July.

"Aspire to inspire before you expire."

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