September 2003 Vol. 3 Issue 11

An Internet Newsletter publication for all CIM Alumni and friends.

    Clem S. Estrera, Jr., M.D.

    Ma. Belen Rosales, M.D.
        Associate Editor

     Ray Castillejo, M.D.
    Binisaya Section Editor

Newsletter Contributors:

Clem S. Estrera, Jr.
    Class 1972

Ma. Belen F. Rosales
     Class 1970

Hector Vamenta
    Class 1972

Narciso Tapia
    Class 2001

Anny Misa-Hefti

Editor's Column

    "It seems that there is a direct connection between creative thought and involvement in life and the production of epinephrine by the adrenal glands. When the challenge stops, the supply is turned off; the will to live atrophies." --Norman Cousins

Letting Go (Part 2)

Clem S. Estrera, Jr. CIM 1972

Kids' science project
     During their senior year, as a science project, my son and his friends asked my suggestion for their experiment that they could present before they would graduate from high school. They wanted something different than technology, something that has to do with behavior, or something entirely different than most if not all of the students are doing every year. They were skeptical at first of my suggestion, but since they could not think of anything better, they decided to go ahead with it.

     My son and his three friends bought eight three-month-old mice, two males and six females, and I helped them build four different cages to put a pair of mice on each cage. The males were put together in the same cage and so with the females in the other cages to avoid mating or fighting. More females were used because female mice rarely fight each other. Anyway, the kids named the mice that belong to each of them.

     In the first cage, a pair of female mice didn't have to do anything to eat during feeding time because the food was right there on their noses. In the second cage, the pair of another female mice had to pass through a simple maze before they could get into the compartment where the food is and eat during feeding time. This maze was not altered throughout the experiment which was almost ten months. In the third cage was a pair of male mice and in the fourth cage was a pair of female mice. The pair of mice in both cages were subjected to challenges like changing the maze into a more difficult one every week with the recorded sound of a dog growling and barking and that of a cat when any of the mice gets into a certain compartment in the cage.

     Since one of the kids was good in electronics, he placed a transmitter or receiver in certain compartments of certain cages so that when any of the pair of mice crosses it, it would trip and the recorded sound of the cat and dog would start playing. He also programmed it to start playing 15, 30, 45 and 60 seconds after the transmitter is tripped. One of these transmitters or receivers was placed in the exercise compartment of all the cages, and another in the food compartment of the third and fourth cages. The recorded sound was programmed to start playing 60 seconds after the transmitter is tripped and then reduced the time interval every week.

     The pair of male mice in the third cage succumbed to stress; they regressed, looked sick and were the first to die in just four and a half months of the experiment. As the maze was getting more complicated and the time interval of the recorded sound was shortened, these mice would get into the food compartment and in a couple of seconds would leave before they had enough food to eat. Ultimately, they stopped trying to solve the maze and just starved themselves to death. Mice don't like to live alone so that when one of the mice in the third cage died, the other died a day after.

     The mice in the first and second cages became fat, flabby, slow and lazy, and died after six months and three weeks. After a couple of attempts to get into the exercise compartment and tripped the recording, they avoided the compartment. Their food compartment did not have the transmitter and so they ate anytime they wanted to. The pair of female mice in the fourth cage was the only pair that survived, became lean, mean, alert, active and smart. They explored every compartment everyday and used whatever in that compartment as if they owned the cage. They ignored the recorded sound as if to say: "Come and get me, assholes!" The more difficult the maze, the fastest they learned to solve it. Ironically, six weeks after the experiment was finished and these mice were no longer subjected to complicated maze and recorded sound, they were both found dead in their cage. Mice usually live for two years average.

Personal thoughts
     The experiment was perhaps a little bit cruel. All I can say is that life is not always fair and kind. I must admit, however, that I was not really being honest with the kids because I wanted the experiment more than they probably did in the beginning. I had my own personal agenda. I wanted to reinforce what I've learned and believed about being subjected to change and challenge like what Norman Cousins said that "when the challenge stops, the supply is turned off, the will to live atrophies." But the kids were excited to learn something from the implications of the experiment in relation to the importance of the courage to take risks to achieve or succeed, and the willingness to welcome and accept changes and challenges.

     Human and animal behaviors are not that far apart regarding the use of instinct or intelligence for survival. Both have the capacity to learn to survive. The only difference is that if the animals fail in their ability to survive, they have no one to blame and they die because there are no other animals to help them, but many other animals would eat them instead. Humans, on the other hand, being the most intelligent creatures on earth, no longer have the need to survive, but still have a lot to learn to live.

     Humans, blessed with intelligence, are unfortunately often willing to use that intelligence in rationalizing or justifying their failure to fulfill their responsibility with the use of alibi, lies, or distortion of truth, and by downplaying a situation just to excuse themselves in the name of pride, than simply accepting such failure, apologizing and then promising to do something to make it up, in the name of principle. Animals, lacking of intelligence and devoid of reason, have to take responsibility of whatever they do and often have to die for it. In the animals' world, there is no such thing as apology and forgiveness.

Change and challenge
     Change and challenge are as essential to our personal growth and development as food and water. Growth, by the way, is learning and discovering the limit of our minds. We can keep on acquiring knowledge to the limit of our minds, and can keep on learning to the limit of our life. When we stop learning, we stop growing, and when growth stops, the process of dying starts. Life is life only so long as growth continues. So, if we cannot welcome, let alone accept change, we'll have a hard time responding to it and learning anything new. Our mind becomes narrow and its limit rigid. For if we resist change or close our mind to change, we are bound to live our life in frustrations, if not apathy. It's because in resisting change, we are basically against learning and therefore, against growth and against life.

     In today's world, there are so much to learn. In e-mail alone, you can learn to think and develop or improve your typing skill by typing your thoughts and send them to a number of friends or people you know of perhaps once a week or once a month, and then see how many of them would respond to your greetings. More likely not too many of them would and perhaps even none of them would, but at least you'd learn something. It could improve your vocabulary, and of course your typing skill if you do it regularly. Through others, you may also be able to reconnect with old friends you've not heard of for quite some time and rekindle friendship. Simply let go of the negative response or the non-responders. After all, you don't really know the reason why they are not responding and if you turn to assumptions, you are likely to make negative assumptions. Negative assumptions only make you unhappy and discouraged.

     Getting spoiled or comfortable is good for the short term. But staying spoiled or maintaining the status quo simply because we are comfortable with it, inhibits growth and development. The lack of changes and challenges makes us stagnate, and as we must have observed, a stagnant water would soon stink because of death and decay. We may enjoy life a little, but we offer life nothing. Thus every now and then, we should forget about comfort and convenience, and get involved with something challenging or something different, and perhaps make a difference. We should abandon old ideas on how things ought to be done, or what used to work, and try something else. A small challenge is better than no challenge, and a minor change is better than no change.

Adversity and Creativity
     Most of the struggles in our life are often fruitless, and they are mainly about getting over our frustrations and other unpleasant emotions because of something we've done or not done that we're troubled. These struggles are not about looking for a solution, but berating over a problem, predicament or difficulty. It's because all too often we see our problems or predicaments not in terms of escape and opportunities, but as obstacles and solid walls. We're like looking at our predicaments with the use of a proctoscope rather than a telescope. We can't see beyond our difficulties. Since we keep ourselves busy struggling with our circumstances, holding on to our frustrations, despair and disappointments, we have no more time left for reaching into our creativity.

     Many of us must have seen the movie Die Hard 1. Bruce Willis keeps on telling himself, "Think! think!" He did and he became creative. I know, I know, it's only a movie. But the director of that movie used his creativity to show us that we can all become creative if only we stop struggling with our circumstances, and think of a solution instead of the problem.

     If you focus on solutions, you're likely to find one just as if you focus on problems, you're likely to create more. The mind has a way of thinking creatively depending on where you set it on, just as it has a way of thinking destructively. Nevertheless adversity sometimes forces us to think creatively as Homer wrote, "Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant."

     A story is told of a farmer who started raising chickens for business. But every spring since he started, the rain was too much, the river nearby overflowed and the land was flooded killing all his chickens. After two years, he told his wife in despair, "I've had it; I can't afford to buy another place and I can't sell this one. What can I do?" Calmly the wife replied, "Raise ducks!" Clearly the farmer was thinking only of the problem and was stuck with it. The wife was thinking of a solution and she got a viable one.

Let go and grow
     If you want to grow, you've got to learn to let go. In fact, life is an ongoing process of negotiation that is made easier if not possible by the process of letting go. We cannot negotiate our way into the future if we can't let go of the past. If we hold on to our grudges and resentments, or if we dwell on old hurts and past mistakes because we can't forgive what's gone on in the past and thus can't let the past pass, we are going to remain emotionally hurt, angry and cynical. Anger and hurt are normal responses to certain events in life like someone treated you shabbily, or someone made insensitive comments on you, or someone neglected a promise to give you what you've paid for. Your feelings are hurt and you should be angry. But being angry or hurt is a response or a reaction. Remaining angry or hurt is a choice.

     Of course, there are people who are not happy unless they are miserable. They constantly immerse themselves in the past for relief and comfort because the past provides them with a source of blames for whatever happens to them in the present and in the future. But it keeps them isolated and negative - perpetually pessimistic. Charles E. Jinks noted, "The main difference between optimism and pessimism resides in the notion of memory. The pessimist aptly recalls the hurts and failures of yesterday, but simply cannot remember the plentiful possibilities of a new tomorrow. The optimist has a hopeful future already memorized."

     Let go is very essential because as humans, we have that constant desire to be more than we are. We cannot fulfill that desire to be more than we are if we keep holding on to what we just are. We've got to let go our old beliefs and worn-out traditions to be able to find new and deeper sources of satisfaction. We've got to challenge ourselves because challenges force us to think creatively and demand us to change, and to grow. Parlene Larson Jenks wrote: "To do nothing is failure. To try, and in trying you make some mistakes and then you make some positive changes as a result of those mistakes, is to learn, and to grow and to blossom."

To be continued


News from CIM

by: Narciso Tapia, M.D., CIM Class 2001

    In the recent†Physician Licensure Exams held last August 2003, 1350 out of† 2430 examinees† from all over the country passed. That's a 55.56% passing rate countrywide. (Relatively lower than the usual passing rate†of 60+ percent.) The result came out just 2 days after the last examination date. Boy, that's fast!

     I remembered several years ago, results were released after at least few months. Examinees then would have to undergo sleepless nights and frequent palpitations. As if waiting for the last judgment, some of them would try to relieve their anxiety and nervousness by indulging on Tanduay and San Miguel beers and by frequenting Disco joints and Karaoke bars.

     One bright spot for CIM is†Marbert John Cardino who garnered an average of 84.17, enough to catapult him to number 4 in the top ten. It can be recalled that in the February 2003 Board Exams, 4 CIM graduates were in the top ten.

    CONGRATULATIONS to CIM again, for having another topnotcher! Congratulations and welcome to the new doctors! Onward, Physicians with a Heart!

     CIM students and alumni have†a lot†to celebrate these days. July 24-26†were memorable for the CIM Silver Jubilarians (CIM Batch 78). A postgraduate course was held with lively topics and speakers capped with a raffle draw featuring a brand new car as grand prize. It was a trip down memory lane for the Jubilarians. Then, last August 22 was declared as a holiday to commemorate the death anniversary of Ninoy Aquino. Actually, the real event took place on August 21, which is incidentally the anniversary of the Plaza Miranda bombing, but President GMA is fond of long weekends thus the move to declare Aug. 22, a Friday as a holiday instead of August 21. That same day (Aug. 22) was also the CIM intramurals day, a day for students to take a break from the weekly exams and meet the other students from other year levels in friendly competition. Games include basketball and parlor games. Yup, it's just a one-day affair but it's a welcome break.

     Now back to reality, back to the small group discussions which characterize the PBL curriculum. After flexing their muscles, the students are back to honing†their problem-solving skills, information gathering capabilities, communication skills and professionalism thru PBL.

    †Heard of PBL?†No, it's not a Public Broadcasting Love for men and women to call in looking for a date. It's the Problem-Based Learning that CIM started not too long ago as a method of teaching. Indeed a†lot has changed in CIM. Aside from the PBL, CIM now has a virtual library (with the help of Pfizer and inaugurated last July) and a much improved Amphi 2 and Amphi 1(thanks to CIM alumni) where lectures and presentations using multimedia projector, are made. Both these amphitheatres are fully air-conditioned. That's worth celebrating, don't you think?

    Well, why don't you, the CIM alumni in the U.S. and Canada, visit us here in CIM one of these days and see for yourself what your future fellow alumni are doing? Everyone is trying their best to make us all proud of CIM.

    (Dr. Tapia was the original Webmaster of the official CIM Web site. The present CIM Web site is under construction by someone else. Hopefully, Dr. Tapia will continue to keep us updated with the jigs and jugs of CIM)


    "I told the doctor I broke my leg in two places. He told me to quit going to those places." --Henny Youngman

    A man boarded an airplane and took his seat. As he settled in, he glanced up and saw an unusually beautiful woman boarding the plane. He soon realized she was heading straight toward his seat.
    Lo and behold, she took the seat right beside his. Eager to strike up a conversation, he blurted out, "Business trip or vacation?"
    She turned, smiled and said, "Business. The Annual Sexual Education Convention in Chicago."
    He swallowed hard. Here was the most gorgeous woman he had ever seen, sitting next to him, and she was going to a meeting for sex education! Struggling to maintain his composure, he calmly asked, "What's your business role at this convention?"
     "Lecturer," she responded. "I use my experience to debunk some of the popular myths about sexuality."
     "Really," he said. "What myths are those?"
    "Well," she explained. "One popular myth is that African American men are the most well endowed, when in fact, it's the Native American Indian who is most likely to possess that trait. Another popular myth is that French men are the best lovers, when actually it is the men of Jewish descent. We have, however, found that the best potential lover in all categories is the Southern Redneck."
    Suddenly, the woman became a little uncomfortable and blushed. "I'm sorry," she said. "I shouldn't really be discussing this with you. I don't even know your name."
    "Tonto," the man said. "Tonto Goldstein. But my friends call me Bubba."


    A man was walking along the street when he noticed a bottle lying in the gutter. He picked up the bottle and decided to rub it for good luck. To his amazement, a genie appeared.
    "I will grant you three wishes," said the genie, "but I must warn you, there is a catch. For each wish I grant, every lawyer in the world will receive double what you ask for. Do you understand?"
    "Yes, I think so," said the man.
    "Right," said the genie. "What is your first wish?"
    "My first wish," replied the man, "is for a Ferrari. I've always wanted a Ferrari."
    "Then you shall have a Ferrari," answered the genie, "and all the lawyers in the world will be given two Ferraris. Now what is your second wish?"
    "I could do with a million dollars," said the man.
    "Very well," said the genie, "and you do realize that means every lawyer in the world will become 2 million dollars richer? Now what is your third wish?"
    The man thought for a moment. "Well, I've always wanted to donate a kidney."


    A man came into work one Monday morning with his neck heavily bandaged.
    "What happened to you?" asked his colleagues.
    "I was playing golf yesterday with my mother-in-law and on the second hole she sliced the ball into a field full of cows. She wasn't going to give the ball up for lost and so she insisted that we search. We looked for a quarter of an hour, but there was no sign of the ball, just one old cow. Still my mother-in-law insisted that she wouldn't leave until we found her ball. We searched for another 25 minutes but still couldn't find it. I was just on the point of giving up when I thought I'd better check to make sure the ball hadn't somehow got lodged in the cow. So I lifted up the cow's tail and, sure enough, a ball was stucked there. I called my mother-in-law over and said: "Does this look like yours?" And she hit me in the throat with a five-iron."


     "Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein." -- H. Jackson Brown

     This valuable tip is courtesy of Connie Lorz, EA, president, California Society of Enrolled Agents, Sacramento. Documents you need to store safely in a safe-deposit box or a fire-proof safe in case of a home fire or disaster: *Copies of your past four year's tax returns - and business returns, if you have a business; *Copies of mortgage papers, and a list of major improvements you have made; *Copies of birth certificates, Social Security cards and other personal papers; *List of all current prescription medicines you use; *Photos or a video tape of the inside and outside of your house; *Copies of all insurance policies.

    This information is courtesy of Michael Anderson, PhD, cognitive neuroscientist, Department of Psychology, University of Oregon. Is forgetting necessary for learning? The brain filters out irrelevant information to make room for important new data.

    This tip or information is courtesy of Robert Vaughn, PhD, exercise physiologist, Tom Landry Sport Medicine Reasearch Center, Baylor University Medical Center, Dallas. Many Women's stamina declines in warm weather right before their periods. Reason: In the week before menstruation, hormone levels fluctuate, changing the body's oxygen needs and how quickly it can cool down. This may limit how long and how hard women are able to exercise. They also are more likely to experience heat-related problems, such as dehydration and heat exhaustion, 3-4 days prior to their periods - when hormone and estrogen levels peak. Self-Defense: Use caution when exercising in the heat. Be sure to drink enough water - weigh yourself before and after exercise. Drink enough water to make up the weight lost, plus an additional 2-4 ounces.

    This information is from The New England Journal of Medicine, by Richard Barakat, M.D., Chief Gynecology Services, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He is a surgical oncologist specializing in ovarian, servical and uterine cancers. Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer are much less likely to develop these cancers if they have their ovaries removed. Dr. Barakat's two-year study of women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations - which indicate a substantially increased risk for both breast and ovarian cancers - found malignancies in 4% of the women whose ovaries had been removed, versus 18% of those women who had not undergone surgery. Women with family members who had either of these cancers - especially before age 45 - should ask their physicians about genetic counseling and being tested for the BRCA gene mutations before age 40.


    "If I work on a certain move constantly, then finally, it doesn't seem risky to me. The idea is that the move stays dangerous and it looks dangerous to my foes, but it is not to me. Hard work has made it easy." -- Nadia Comaneci

The Class 1972 Get-Together

Del and Delia Quijano's Residence,

Pensacola, Florida (August 30 Ė September 1, 2003)

      "That's the truest sign of insanity - insane people are always sure they're just fine. It's only the sane people who are willing to admit they're crazy." --Nora Ephron

     Our CIM Class 1972 first get-together would not have been possible the way it had just been - a blast - where everyone had so much fun, food and laughter, if not for the grand and gracious way Del and Delia Quijano and family had hosted it. They basically offered their house to us and we took it as our home. We ate and drank, sang out of tune, shared jokes and laughed as hard as we could without worrying about disturbing anyone.

     This kind of get-together is not possible in a hotel because other hotel guests would definitely complain of our endless chatter and laughter. We've observed that in a restaurant or in any other public places, many people are annoyed when a group at one table or one corner is convulsing in laughter. There is a cultural mistrust and embarrassment with laughter, unless it is in a controlled situation. Thus we wanted our get-together to be in a place that we would be free to convulse in laughter. And we certainly did - all of us!

     Del and Delia, you just don't know how much every one of us had appreciated your kind, gracious and generous hospitality. We could never thank you enough. None of us had expected that your preparation would be that grand - the food and drinks, the atmosphere, the space, and everything were just fantastic. On behalf of those of us who attended, thank you so very much.

     We also would like to thank Albert and Melody Yu for providing the goat's meat for the calderita and for making the slide presentation that had taken us back to the good old days in CIM. LLB and Henry Clarite, thanks for the great job with the slide presentation, and in helping us identify our classmates and colleagues in the pictures. We are definitely happy to know that Mr. Alzheimer has not visited the two of you yet. Your memory is still as sharp as when you took the final practical exam in Gross Anatomy. We are proud of you, Guys.

     Hector and Olga, you were true to your words. You cooked the best pork barbecue, even better than the ones we used to eat at Ric's Corner in Cebu and the best calderita. It was not surprising that some of us had asked for your secret recipe. But you could not have done it without the help of your two nice and pretty teenage daughters, Stefanie and Helga. Thank you all very much. But watch out! Many of us have teenage boys. As we agreed, may the best boy win.

     We also would like to thank Joseph and Elena Graciosa for bringing a big cartoon of the best Wisconsin cheese and bratwursts. With them, the best wine we were drinking tasted like heaven, and they humbled the worst brat among us.

     Pompei Jubay, Maning and Billy Juson and Pedot (Wingig) Gonzales, definitely deserve our thanks and appreciation. They have provided the atmosphere of non-stop laughter that has made many of us come home with a hoarse voice. Pompei, you haven't changed, and thank God you haven't. Your ability to recall and relate jokes one after another is phenomenal. If our convulsion in laughter were an orgasm, you would have killed all of us. But at least it would be what our expression in bisaya says, "Namatay sa ka lami." You too, Wing, but next time, don't lose your voice in one night. We love you, Guys.

     Maning, your attitude toward being the butt of the jokes is amazing. While others would have withered like a fragile flower being exposed to the bright rays of the sun, you stood like a weed resistant to the scorching heat. Billy, your honesty and openness are admirable. You've made it easy for us to believe that you and Maning were really meant for each other. Thank you both for being game and for sharing your past funny love story which Maning called istorya de amor. It is very entertaining.

     For the musical piano entertainment, we'd like to thank Dodong and Edita Mercado and their son for playing beautiful piano renditions. It's good to know that there are those among us with members of the family having musical talents.

     Our special thank to Flor Hamoy-Liok for including our get-together as one of her stops in her tour in the U.S. Flor, have a safe trip back to the Philippines. Come and see us again.

     Finally, as the coordinator of our get-together, I'd like to thank the rest of those who came and shared with us their warm and enthusiastic presence and their family stories, and who also contributed some funny jokes - Mike and Leni Espiritu, Frax Escario, Edward Suico, Tito Orig, Fred and Virgie Jalalon, Jun and Diosy Lariosa-Catalan, Jun(Agustin) and Nilda Vitualla, Teddy Remandaban, Flor Gonzales, Dita Jubay, Benfer and Isabel Aranton, Louie and Zeny Claudio, Trinidad (Babie) Clarite, and Elena Graciosa. I hope by now, you all have come to realize if you haven't yet, that there is something magical about laughter. It often can accomplish in an instant what hours of conscientious effort might never produce. It lightens your heart, loosens your mind and makes the future look a lot brighter. It at least keeps you from thinking about the pathological aspects of your lives.

    We are sorry that Vivien Suico had to cancel her flight because of a personal obligation. We are also sorry that Rory Tompar-Tiu who had her luggage ready had to cancel her flight too because of a last minute family responsibility. We missed you both and we hope everything is fine with both of you.

     The CIM Class 1972 has many of its members here in the U.S. and Canada, not just because many of them graduated during that year due to the change of the curriculum that made both the four- and five-year curriculum graduate during the same year, but mainly because they were competitive, ambitious and determined. But their concept of competition, however, is to achieve, not to beat each other. Even during their student days, they studied together, helped each other in class sometimes cheating to let those who didn't have time to study, pass the exams with them. They invented many ingenious signals for others to follow the correct answers that their teachers were never aware they were cheating. They would sometimes joke to have their signals published and copyrighted.

     Although they made fun of each other's mistakes, failures and embarrassments, they did it not with malice and ridicule, but with care and concern. It's their way of reminding each other not to lose their sense of humor. Many of them until now believe that love and laughter are the essence of wonderful and happy life. They also believe that when you lose your sense of humor, you lose your sense of balance and you would ultimately lose not only the laughter but the love as well.

     Nevertheless, to be fair, luck was also part of the reason why many of them are here in the U.S. and Canada. During that time, it was relatively easier for foreign medical graduates to get into the U.S. Residency Training Program as long as you passed the ECFMG exam. And many in the CIM Class 1972 passed that exam, an exam that had a passing rate of only a little more than 20% for foreign medical graduates. Few of them, however, who, missed the opportunity for getting into the U.S. residency training program during the easy time or before the changes became unfavorable to them, decided to take other career like Nursing. They wanted to have a job in the U.S. or Canada as soon as they could join with their wives or husbands who were already in these countries. They had to leave their good medical practice in the Philippines in order to keep their marriage life and relationship and preserve their families. In many instances, distance doesn't make the heart grow fonder. Instead, it makes the heart look for another.

A longing
     Even with their great number here in the U.S., many in the Class 1972 havenít seen many of their classmates for so many years, some since graduation 31 years ago, and some since they left Philippines 25-30 years ago. Some of them have started to wonder lately: Who among them are losing the battle with time? Who among them could still recognize a classmate with the significant physical alterations brought on by the passage of children and the passing of the years? Who among them have been able to maintain most of what they used to look and thus still easy to recognize by their classmates? Who among them have succumbed to the diet ads and have to forego adobo, pansit, lechon, poto, bibinka, etc. and indulge on Slim Fast instead? Who among them are now taking pills for arthritis, hypertension, and other afflictions brought on by heredity and the inescapable ravages of aging? Who among them would rather enjoy food than let their cholesterol level dictate what they should eat? Who among them are cheating on their cholesterol level by simply doubling the dosage of their medication just to counteract the effects of the food they eat?

     They have been wondering, have been curious and they wanted to know, but the only way to do that is to have a close encounter with their own kind. Unfortunately, many of them haven't been able to take a leave in the month of July to attend our yearly alumni reunion because it is often in conflict with their personal, family and professional responsibilities. But they missed each other. They missed the jokes, the humor, the laughter, the warmth and comfort of each otherís company. They wanted to have an alternative of seeing each other in a more favorable time than the time of our yearly alumni reunion. They also wanted to simply be together without being pushed and pulled by other activities.

An idea whose time has come
     Like perhaps all of their colleagues, the members of the class 1972 all live in the world defined by limits - their daily routine is governed by schedules, for schedules have allowed order to prevail in the course of their life and thus many of them didn't even attempt to defy their schedules, for it would only disturb the order, and their life may only spin out of control. So their calendars are always full, and trying to fit an extracurricular activity like our alumni reunion to their schedule is like trying to send a message to an e-mail account that is over the quota. Itís just not possible so that many of them have not been able to attend the alumni reunion regularly, some have been able to attend occasionally and others had never attended at all. Those that have been attending regularly were able to successfully juggle their acts, manipulate the clock and bail themselves out from the perpetual motion of nonstop production to keep up with their responsibilities and obligations. Not only that they feel like their attendance at least helps preserve our association and its reunion tradition, they also want to see at least some of their classmates and friends lest they forget them.

     Lately, many in the class 1972 have started to realize that they need to give up some things in order to have other things that make life worthwhile before they forget who they really are. The past was already played out and there is nothing they could do about it. But the future is still up for grabs and thus they don't want to live the rest of their life not seeing their own classmates and not knowing about them. For, as they are getting older, afflictions are getting more and the time they have on earth is getting less. The need to meet each other became irresistible to at least few of them. That's how the get-together was born, an idea whose time has come.

     So why not propose the idea to every member of the Class 1972 with no other purpose than to see each other Ė no program, no agenda, simply meet, laugh, share stories and jokes, etc.- and every one makes his or her own hotel arrangement? But since the anticipated excitement could reach a very high decibel, the get-together must be in a place that no one would complain the noise. Of course, we, of the class 1972, never considered our laughter and chatter as noise; just a loud familiar happy sound of explosive human excitements. Thus what started as a simple weekend of hello and goodbye, became a celebration of life, love and laughter.

The close encounter
    Most arrived on Saturday afternoon and evening. The encounter was hilarious not just because some of them could not recognize each other but also because of the hesitation, the puzzled looks on their faces that wrinkled their forehead, and the way they sort of introduced themselves or their way of finding out who their classmates were. Diosy Lariosa-Catalan, while waiting on the hotel lobby for someone she hoped would be one of her classmates who could give her the direction to Delano's residence because her husband Jun Catalan did not have the right phone number of Del, approached Louie and Benfer with their wives Zeny and Isabel who just arrived in the hotel and asked; "Filipino ba mo?" It was funny, but it was also moving, for they were good friends and they haven't seen each other for ages. Hugging each other, Louie was unaware that a couple of teardrops rolled slowly down from his eyes - teardrops of fulfillment - as if his wish has just come true.

     Benfer Aranton had a hard time recognizing Pedot Gonzales. He looked at Pedot for several moments and did not recognize until Pedot started talking. Benfer could only remember Pedot's voice. Yet they were close because they played basketball together in CIM. Pedot has gotten big and muscular. I would not have been able to recognize him with his macho looks. It's just that he was with Mike Espiritu. I knew beforehand that they would be coming together.

     The most hilarious encounter was between Joseph Graciosa, Edward Suico and Jun Vitualla. Joseph whispered and asked Edward who Jun was and where did he have his PGI. Edward said that it must have been in UP. Then finally Edward and Joseph asked Jun where he had his PGI in order to remember his name. Jun said, "Nagka-uban mi si Clemente sa Bohol." Edward, Joseph, Jun and I were in Bohol together for our PGI. Jun could not recognize Hector Vamenta. Maning Juson could not recognize Teddy Remandaban. They had to look at each other for quite some time and had to be introduced again.

The celebration
     Have you ever had an occasion in which you laughed so hard it brought tears to your eyes, pain to your rib cage and abdomen, and soreness to your throat? It felt good, didn't it? Even felt wonderful, didn't it? It was therapeutic, wasn't it? You just laughed your heart's desires as if you didn't care if it's the last day of your life. You just wanted to have fun and enjoy every moment with your classmates, friends and the people you know of, recreate the days you were together - the younger days when life was something you were sure of and the future was exciting to think about. That's what we all had in our get-together. But it was the ladies' laughter from the dining room that would have won the prize if there was any for reaching the highest decibel. It shook the glasses in the kitchen but did not break any of them. There was nothing like it. It was a sound of total excitement.

     The celebration made us feel like Atlas who, after carrying the world over his shoulders for all the years of his working life, finally decided to drop it, shrug and laugh. It was as if for so many years, we've been missing something in our life but we didn't know what it was. And now we finally do. Laughter at the sheer joy of being with classmates and friends is something money can't buy. It's priceless. It recharges our being and activates every cell in our body. And yet it's free and is available to everyone. It's happiness, and yet many people are ignoring it.

     When we were young, we seemed to think that our happiness lay somewhere in the future, and some of us now still do. But there are also those of us who believe that happiness also lay in the past. Although the past shared its heartbreak and disappointments, it was also a garden of roses and sunshine. During this celebration, we've made everything in the past - the heartbreak and disappointments, the roses and sunshine - a source of our fun and enjoyment. The past is full of treasures for those who enjoy digging them to share for fun. After all, why leave them buried if you can make your classmates and those who are close to you enjoy them? That's what we all did and we laughed, laughed again and again, and laughed some more and even if some of us had already lost 80% our voice, we could not keep ourselves from laughing. The past is just too funny to simply leave and not make use of. Yet the happy and crazy days of the past can only be remembered and enjoyed by being together with those you used to be with, for they can relate to them.

     Every one was game especially Maning and Billy Juson. They are one of those remarkable couples who believe that sharing their funny romantic past that others would be embarrassed, would provide cleansing since they are letting them go. Maning and Billy opened themselves up in all honesty and let go their past by sharing it instead of keeping it for themselves. While many couples are reluctant to reveal their past even if it has constantly weighed them down, and even if they have been using up tremendous amount of energy to keep it from being uncovered because of the fear that if friends know their past, friends would lose respect for them, Maning and Billy unburdened themselves and shared their past for fun. Suffice it to say, what we share with others is not what drives them away, but what binds us to them, deepening our friendship.

     Things we fear of being uncovered can become like lions in the dark. But once we put them in the open, they readily turn into nothing more than harmless mice. Laughing at our human mischief and foibles, past and present, takes away their sting, reducing them to minor irritants, the kinds that are easily forgotten when we keep our sense of humor. Of course, there are things like personal or family unpleasant secrets that you want to keep because they are not fun even to others. But still, you are better off confiding them with someone you trust. If you can make fun of them and laugh, it would be great. For it's always better to let go of them than hold on to them. After all, with the so many years of different experiences, we, at our age, should have acquired enough wisdom to have tamed our ego, dulled our sensitivity and sharpened our sense of humor to be able to give and take jokes, and understand that they are there mainly for laughs.

    If we notice, our feelings about many things in our life depend on our attitude and perspective or the way we see them. Attitude is like the climate of life. If our attitude is negative, we are likely to have the abundance of disappointments, anger and frustrations from the crack of gloom to the dusk of doom. A story was told where a palm-reader said to her customer, "You'll be sad, miserable and poor until you're 30." The customer asked, "What happens when I'm 30?" The palm-reader replied, "You'll get used to it!" So if you laugh less and love less, examine your attitude. If it's negative, then get rid of it and change rather than get used to it and miss many of the fun in life.

The preparation
     The food preparation was unbelievable. Del and Delia stopped at nothing to make sure every one was satisfied, and every one was more than satisfied. In fact, all our senses were overfilled with joy and satisfaction. For the two days and two nights we were there, there were probably more than 60 different kinds of food that were so good and tasty that made some of us wish we had bigger stomachs to indulge more on them. Just to mention a few, there were calderita, kinilaw, tinula, eskabitse of the biggest groupers (lapu-lapu) caught in the Gulf of Mexico, chop suey, cari-cari, palabok, crabs, oysters, shrimps, adobo, poto, biko, bod-bod with mangoes, bibinka, binignit, and so many others that I did not bother to ask. I tried to have a taste of them all, but I probably missed at least a quarter of them.

     We had a round of karaoke singing. Somehow after knocking down several bottles of San Miguel beers, everyone seemed to sing a lot better. Even Benfer Aranton, Pedot Gonzales, Henry Clarite, Fred Jalalon, Maning Juson and Pompei Jubay sounded like Tom Jones and Elvis but without the dance and the tight pants. Joseph Graciosa who, sang the bisaya song Bol-anon that he dedicated to his beloved and understanding wife Elena, insinuated that it's the song that made Elena fall for him. A lyric runs like this: Kung ikaw Inday mangitag paman-honon, Seguro-a baya gayud ang Bol-anon..." Joseph is from Bohol. Ataboy, Joe!

     Francis Escario and Edward Suico had the highest score. Not only that they are accurate and precise in their timing and tempo, they have soft, soothing and melodious voice. Leni and Diosy who were singing together had the lowest score of 29 that they wanted to try again, but they could not find the song, Let Me Try Again. It's okay, Ladies. It really doesn't matter. We are all proud of you. Always. None of us, however, was in the league with Del Quijano whose voice is such that if you don't see who's singing, you would be guessing and even swearing that it's either Matt Monroe or Jack Jones. It made some of us wonder whether it was how he won the heart of Delia.

     During our younger days, many of us went serenading and some had won a girl's heart that way so that their expression of those endearing words of love later was actually nothing more than a formality. I must admit that I had never won a girl's heart with my songs although I may have won a dog's heart. A vicious dog chased me after the mother of the girl I was serenading unleashed the dog while I was singing. Fortunately, the neighbor's bitch was more appealing and the dog went for her. Not that I was disappointed for losing my sex appeal running, but I was definitely relieved. Somehow I wondered why it is so easy for the dog to have a bitch while it is so tough for me to have a girl. When you're young and foolish, sometimes you think of foolish thoughts.

    The most difficult part of any enjoyable celebration is parting or goodbye. It makes us want to want to stop the time when the end is near. But everything comes to an end. Time always brings the end to everything good or bad, but it also brings the beginning to another. We simply have to look at time not in terms of what it does to us but in terms of what we do with it; not in terms of how we can control it, but in terms of how we can participate with it. If you believe that time is in the hands of the clock, then you either become the slave of it or you seek to enslave it. Either way, it would only shorten your life.

     Hopefully those of us who attended this unique celebration, would choose to think of how we can continue to participate with time, with the next celebration, and at least try not to allow anything to ruin our plan to attend. And those who missed the celebration would choose to think that it's probably worth giving up something just to see what they have been missing, and thus would be looking forward to it.

    We did not plan to have this kind of celebration every year, but we've decided to have it again next year to give a second chance to those who missed the first. After that, we'll probably have it every 3-5 years. As of now, the tentative date for next year's celebration will be on the same labor day weekend. The place is definite and it will be in Cleveland, Ohio, in Edward and Vivien Suico's residence. We'll talk more about it in the beginning of next year. Right now, we just want to indulge on the pleasure of the memories of this past celebration and let them linger in our mind as long as we can. To paraphrase the song, we want to constantly remember the colored pictures of the smiles and laughter we've left behind. The real pictures should be ready in our web site next week.


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