(The recap is courtesy of Marela Mijares-Flick and Lisa Cendana-Lee; the pictures are from Rica dela Cruz-Ligeralde. Thanks!)


22 July 2000, Paris Hotel, Las Vegas NV


I think "reunionette'' would be a more appropriate description of the event as pito lang kaming nag-show up. Actually, out of the seven, Cecille and Jackie showed up on Sunday, so hindi na kami nagkita. So si Lisa na ang bahalang magkwento kung anong nangyari sa get-together nila because she stayed until Wednesday, July 26. Abangan nalang ninyo ang susunod na kabanata.

Going back to the Saturday reunion, the expression "Size does not matter'' comes to mind dahil talaga namang we had such a blast! The five of us (left photo, l-r) Maribel Garcia, Bebeth Abiva, yours truly, Rica Melanie dela Cruz, and Lisa Cendaña made up for all the daldal, laughing, crying, drinking and kalokohan that more classmates would have contributed. Anyway, Lisa was the first to arrive on Friday. Tapos yata si Maribel, who checked into this gigantic suite at the Mandalay Bay (I'm not kidding, malaki pa sa haybols ko). Kami naman, mga 5 p.m. na. Tapos si Bebeth, mga 9 p.m. yata. And Rica God bless her precious heart arrived from Ohio with her hubby Tony and son Andrew around midnight. So siyempre nagtawagan na kami. After several revisions to our plans, we finally agreed to meet on Saturday evening for dinner with all of us our families and companions at Le Provencal, a nice, classy restaurant at the Paris Hotel, where the majority of us stayed.


Earlier that day (Saturday), nagkita na kami ni Maribel sa Mandalay Bay, because my son Gage wanted to swim at the hotel's famous "wave pool'' yung tipong me artificial waves. Next time you come to Vegas, you have to take your kids there! Maribel was so kind to let Gage and Kurt admitted into the pool area as her guests. Thanks, Maribel! Kami naman, we went up to her suite to make chika because nga it was way too hot to make tambay outside. Hay naku, you should see this bruha. She really looks so good! She's so pretty, at nag-wo-workout pa ang impakta. I apologized nga to her because I'm such a tangengot talaga. Okay, she jogged, in the heat, from her hotel to mine and arrived at my hotel mga 9:30 a.m. Saturday. Tapos she called me just to say hi. Ako naman, I couldn't sleep the night before so I was still in bed at 9:45 a.m. Saturday. Ngayon, the blinds were closed so madilim na madilim yung room namin. Akala ko mga alas cinco palang ng umaga nung tumawag si Maribel at past 9:45 a.m. and we had this really bizarre conversation.

Maribel: Marela, I'm here at the lobby of your hotel. Did I wake you up?

Ako: No naman. Diba you're at the Mandalay? How did you get here?

Maribel: I jogged. Are you sure you're awake?

Ako: Not exactly. But could you call me much later?

Maribel: O sige. What time?

Ako: Mga between 10 and 11.

O, kitamo ang bait talaga ni Maribel. Pinabayaan nalang niya yung katangahan ko.

Kung ako yon, I would have said, "Bruha ka, anong call you at 10? Eh it's already 9:45 a.m.!''

Ang sagot pa niya, "O sige. Go back to bed. Magtawagan nalang tayo mamaya.''

When I hung out with her later that day, I met her husband Sly and her two brothers. Hey girls, ang guapo ni Sly! Mabait pa. I'm so happy for Maribel talaga.


So anyway, we met at Le Provencal for dinner. Kasama ni Bebeth yung boyfriend niyang mala-Hagibis ang dating. Bebeth was really instrumental in putting this whole reunion together. Through her connections, she got us hotel rates that we wouldn't have been able to afford otherwise. Thanks so much Bebeth. You've always been and will always be a great person. She's still the kind of person who's such a good friend. What can I say, masarap siyang kasama! She has this wonderful sense of humor and great one-liners. Lagi nga naming niloloko si Bebeth dahil ang cute ng shota niya (do you miss that term?)

Si Lisa naman, Ed (her hubby) is such a nice guy. Kasama din nila yung mom niya. At yung anak ni Lisa na si Jackie, parang si Lisa nung maliit. Atribida din! Akalain mong kinantahan pa kami ng "A-You're Adorable'' with matching gestures. Of course the proud mama was on the sidelines prompting her. She was so cute.

Eh yung anak ni Rica, adorable talaga. Four years old palang but he can hold his own in conversations. I got to talk to him a little bit and I could tell he's very smart. Eh saan pa ba magmamana yan kungdi sa mga magulang niyang parehong matalino (they both have doctorate degrees). Rica is so amazing. Now here is your classic beauty and brains talaga. But nothing came easy for her. She made cuento how she had to work three jobs while studying for her Ph.D. here in the States and how stressful it all was. She's been through a lot. But in the end, she made us all so proud of her. Parang feeling ko, kahit wala akong Ph.D., because we're all from the same class, her success is my success na rin, diba?

So how did the dinner go? It was fun! The concept of the place is that they hire "showbiz-types'' for waiters and waitresses. Tapos, every now and then, nagso-song-and dance number sila. They were okay naman. Tipong pang-Broadway yung repertoire nila. The drawback to this whole thing is that you feel really obligated to tip them more than usual kasi nga, sinilbihan ka na, tapos, kinantahan and sinayawan ka pa. So yon, mga 9:30 p.m., inantok na yung mga junanak namin so umiskaplo na yung mga kasama namin, and we headed out in search of a good watering hole.


We ended up in this open bar in the middle of Paris Hotel. We got there before 10 p.m., and like Energizer Bunnies, we just kept going, and going, and going. Maribel had a glass of wine, Rica and Bebeth had cappucinos, Lisa had gran marniers and I had Vodka 7's (the only alcohol I can tolerate is vodka).

We talked about everything under the sun, mostly about our school days... I guess Ms. Racadio is a nun. We laughed about how Ms. Carpio freaked us out by pinching when she measured us for blouses. We talked about Malu Mateo. I didn't attend her wake, so I asked them to tell me about it. I didn't know that her fellow equestriennes honored her by wearing their riding outfits to her funeral.

Lisa asked us who we considered to be our most influential teacher. How can I pick one? I have so many ... Ms. Paloma - I love history and politics because of her. Ms. Racadio, for instilling in me an appreciation for classic literature ... Ms. Tess Galang, and later in college, Ms. Dolly Ponce, for inspiring me to write ... and last but not the least, Ms. Estee Juco, for challenging a cynic to find the good in people. But if I had to pick one, it wouldn't even be a teacher. It would be a priest. Fr. Reuter - I thank him for resolving a lot of spiritual issues I faced growing up, and for my love for theater. How can I not think of him, and Tita Estee Juco, when I hear a song from "Carousel'' or "Showboat"?

Anyway, we decided to call it a night at about 3:15 a.m. Some of us had to leave early the next day. We walked Maribel and Lisa to the front of the hotel so they could catch a cab ride back to their hotels.

It was so nice to see each other again. I was telling Rica, maybe because we all grew up together, I feel a kinship with you guys I don't feel with other people. In more ways than one, despite any differences we may have had in the past, for all intents and purposes, we're all just sisters now. We sort of made plans to have another reunion next year in San Francisco. Sana more of us can be there, para mas masaya. And of course, the big reunion back home in 2003.

In closing, a heartfelt thank you so very much to Lisa, Bebeth, Rica, Maribel, Cecille and Jackie (kahit hindi tayo nagkita, you two) for being there! You guys made it all worth it!

'Til the next reunion. Ciao, baby!


Here's Lisa's report that she sent to Marela:

Hello Marela,

I had a wonderful time and of course I will e-mail all the gehls my storyas, too. I only took a couple of shots because I was hoping my husband would be the designated photographer- yun pala he was so enamored by everybody he was just gazing at us. His comments: He had a wonderful time. He was happy he met you guys. The lasting comment he made was that we were all so savvy and full of wit.

Anyway- still haven't seen Jackie Navoa! I spoke to her several times in Las Vegas pero the Monday night we were to see each other, she did not show up! Apparently, she took the helicopter ride somewhere and didn't get back to the hotel until after 8 PM.

Cecile's mom, Ed, Jack and Mrs. Lee left the scene after a glorious meal. Cecile and I had coffee while Michelle (Cecille's daughter) had her hot cocoa. Then off went Michelle upstairs so we can have our Margaritas. I gave Ces a summary report about Saturday night- bomb threat and all and then we started talking about our lives. Cecile and I had a great time, too and wished you were all there again.

The possibilities of having a reunion in SF are endless. We can talk about this in the future. I'll layout some concrete ideas para less headache and brainstorming.


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