Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

Those who do not remember history are bound to live through it again.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our mistah that became a Mistah.

Ateneo De Naga high school batch 1980 is comprised with a motley crew of characters. Some of them changed or mutated (nagdagdag ning mga sungay) as we progressed to higher levels in high school. But a few batch mates remained unchanged even beyond high school. One of them is Clarito Santos.

Clarito, who is fondly called “Catoy or Toy”, is a well respected member of the class. He exhibited a calm but firm character and adheres to an unbending set of personal principles.

During Citizen Army Training (CAT) back in high school, Catoy became our platoon leader. I remember that he had his own style of barking out commands. He would deliver them in compressed short bursts without stretching out the last syllable of the command like, “Tikasna!, Alistalukbongna!, Pasulongkad!, Likosakaliwakad!" Back then, the CAT officers that loved to shout commands that can cause the aluminum roof sheets of the assembly hall to vibrate were Nestor Monte, Ricky Sadiosa, Braggy & Nelson Tuico. Catoy is very capable of delivering any command in an ear-splitting voice that could wake up the dead because I had witnessed him do so in several occasions. But whenever he gave commands to the troops of LG-20, he delivered them in a friendly way making it look more like a request than a command. The whole LG-20 class preferred Catoy’s command style and so we all obediently followed it without complain. I guess Catoy figured that barking a command does not need to be tedious.

Catoy would always take the lead position whenever our platoon goes through pass-and-review drills. Whenever he gave a quick low-toned command like, “Likosakaliwakad”, the only ones that would hear the command would be the first and second rows of CAT cadets which are Raffy Yllana, Robert Zandueta, Addy boy Vibar, Rogel Valenzuela and Ivan Yuboco. These first row cadets would respond by saying, “Automatic na siko na yan, padi”…and everybody in LG-20 platoon would just follow their lead.

I think it was during our sophomore year when there was a school costume contest where everybody was encouraged to wear crazy costumes. Catoy became our class entry to the contest where he donned a Nazi attire and wore a slightly oversized unlaced black combat boots. I remember him walking in front of the judges of the contest that was held at the Ateneo gym. I could be wrong but I think he placed third in the contest.

I also remember back in high school, I would sometimes see Catoy ride around Naga on what seemed to be a light green 1979 model C70 Honda motorcycle. That motorcycle model was very popular back then because its price is very affordable plus it is able to travel for many miles on a small amount of gasoline.

After high school, I heard that Catoy studied at the University of Santo Tomas (I think). Then on his sophomore year in college, he entered the Philippine Military Academy. I was very surprised when I heard that Catoy chose a military career because he never openly shared his interest in joining the armed forces back in high school. He probably told his close friends about it but I never heard of his vocation towards the armed forces. Back then, the obvious batch mates that were focused into joining the military were Nestor Monte Jr. and Braggy Bragais.

During my sophomore or junior college year in Ateneo, I joined a field trip to Baguio city. One of our stops in Baguio is the Philippine Military Academy. We spent about 3 hours at the academy and while I was walking around the parking lot, I saw Catoy jogging with a lower classman. After I took a picture of Catoy, he went back to his living quarters to change to his usual gray uniform. When Catoy came back to the field, I met up with him again and we spoke for about 30 minutes.

From 1981 thru 1985, I saw Catoy in Naga several times during his short vacation away from the academy. The last time I saw him was back in March 1985 during my college graduation in Ateneo. I shook his hand and gave him a soft friendly punch to his stomach. He congratulated me and wished me luck on my future. I believe Catoy also graduated at the Philippine military Academy that same year.

On June 1, 1988, NPA rebels belonging to the Melito Glor Command were conducting a raid on a Magnolia hatchery of San Miguel Corporation in Tiaong town in Quezon Province. During the operation, the rebels set up a road block. That day, 1Lt. Clarito Santos plus two other officers from the Philippine Army 31st Infantry Battalion and another Lieutenant from the 42nd army battalion were on their way to Manila when they came to the road block. They were all dressed in civilian clothes. When they stopped at the road block, they immediately assumed that the armed men were government soldiers stationed near the area since the men were wearing army fatiques. They were all surprised when they discovered that the armed men at the check point were rebels belonging to the New People’s Army. The four junior officer plus a sargeant were captured and taken to a rebel camp somewhere in Mount Banahaw, Quezon Province.

I remember the morning of June 2, 1988. I just came out from a building in front of Saint Louis University in the city of Cebu when I decided to swing by a small newspaper stand. Tabloids were the fast selling items at the store and so I would always check the headlines to find out any interesting local news. I was surprised when I saw the picture of Clarito Santos on the headlines of Tempo.

It took about two months for the Philippine government to broker a deal with NDF-NPA commander Gregorio Rosal alias “Ka Roger”. In August 14, 1988, the four officers and a paramilitary agent ended their 74-day captivity ordeal. They were all released at a small village near the foot of Mount Banahaw near Sariaya town in Quezon Province. I remember rejoicing upon watching the news on TV that all the captive soldiers were released unharmed.

I heard from his friends that Catoy was promoted to Captain and later left the military service and is now residing somewhere in Australia with his family. A few years ago, Catoy was sighted in a barbeque party in Australia with two former PMA-ers, one of which is his brother-in-law.

Though Toy is now living a quiet life in Australia, his name and memory will remain within the ranks of our batch roster and his unfaltering integrity will forever be admired.


Blogger Unknown said...

This article was well-researched (pictures and all), but at the same time conveyed a personal and warm touch. We pray Clarito Santos finds consolation in Australia.

8:34 PM  

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