Ateneo De Naga high school 1980

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

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

September 18, 2006

Dear Batch mates:

Another year, another fiesta. But do you guys ever try to make this year's fiesta different from previous fiestas? Besides breaking your last year’s record of drinking two cases of beer, did you do something to make this year’s celebration a little bit special so that it does not become "just another fiesta celebration?"

This year’s fiesta was interesting and also memorable because I got to meet or see people that I have not seen for many years.

Days before the fiesta, I made plans to drive to San Diego because Jerry Borja invited me to come. The San Diego has been known to present a better fiesta celebration because of its scenic location. It is located inside Camp Pendleton, which is a very large U.S. marine base about 60 miles north of San Diego. The fiesta site is 10 miles off the freeway and so there is barely any traffic around. The parking lot is large enough to accommodate many cars. Two days before the fiesta, I asked my sister if she will be attending the L.A. fiesta and she indicated that there is a chance that she might. She lives in Simi Valley, California, which is about 30 miles north of downtown Los Angeles.

The day before fiesta, I got a call from my sister confirming her attendance at the LA fiesta. I had to leave a message for Jerry apologizing for canceling my trip to San Diego because I wanted to be with my sister.

I called Jo Azcarraga, Toton Roque and Mike Moll and asked them which fiesta location they will be going to. Jo told me that he has to be in LA because Junie Ablay is arriving in L.A. from Colorado to participate in the fiesta as a "boyadero". Magka-klasemate si Jo and Junie kaya medyo may connection daa sinda with each other. Selos ako ka yan ah!

Toton Roque was not too sure of attending either the LA or San Diego fiesta because of some work that he has to do at their home. Mike Moll assured me that he would be attending the L.A. fiesta.

On the day of the fiesta, I arrived at the Echo park at around 9:30am and had to search for a parking spot. I drove around for a while because almost all the streets were lined with parked cars. I finally found one but it was in a trashy and tough looking neighborhood. The parking space was so small that I had to squeeze my car into it with only inches to spare on both ends of my car. I became worried because the car behind me, who was uglier than my car, had a parking ticket. I figured that it was worth the risk to park there and besides, the numerous rusty spots in my car made it blend on the wall covered with graffiti next to it, making it hard for any police officer riding a squad car to spot.

The Echo park is a one of the largest park in Los Angeles and in the middle of it is a large lake with a huge fountain shooting water 50 to 60 feet up in the air. As I approached the fiesta area, I heard the priest doing a sermon in English but would mix Bicol and Tagalog words once in a while. Nearby, I noticed the "float" used for the mini-traslacion parked along the shore of the lake. There was a large stage in the middle of the fiesta area and surrounding this stage were small booths covered by white colored tents. The booths were occupied by different Bicolano organizations like Naga, Calabanga, Partido and there were also two noticeable school organizations that were present—Ateneo and Colegio.

Instinctively, I was drawn towards the Ateneo tent because of the familiar faces in it. My sister and her daughter were very glad to see me. The Fulgentes families were also there in force, all wearing identical polo shirts and hats embroidered with the name of their business. The famous Angel "Anggi" Marterez, who is well known for his exploits at the Ateneo avenue during the mid-1970’s, was also there. Anggi is a 5-foot, 4 inches bundle of fun, if you know him well. Back in 1998 when I went to Naga for a quick visit, I saw "Mer" of the Ateneo avenue store and when I asked her if she still remembers Anggi, she said, "Ay bistadohon ko yan si Anggi ta kaditong high school pa yan, pirming nilalamag kang mga pulis digdiyo sa avenue to pasaway na maray yan".

Each booth prepared trays of free food for the attendees. Risahon mo ang mga paslo at mga masisiba kang crowd ta habang nagmi-misa, ining mga paslong ini, nagro-ronda na sa mga ibat-ibang booth para ilingon ninda ang mga putahing hinanda para ma-strategize na ninda kung sain sinda mapila.

Junie Ablay called my cell phone and told me that he is at the Partido booth with Jo Azcarraga. The last time I saw Junie was back in July or August of 2005 at San Diego. When I finally found Ablay, he was wearing his signature wide smile and he immediately gave me a firm handshake. Kaya man palan ning sina Junie at si Jo yaon duman sa Partido booth ta kadakulong magagayon na chicks duman na naka tambay. Junie said that he is staying at his brother’s house in Pasadena (15-20 miles north of downtown LA). Inintroduce kami ni Junie sa mga tugang niya, who also were buyadores during the fluvial procession.

When the mass ended, we saw Toton Roque and he immediately joined our group. Since Junnie rarely visits the LA area, we decided to schedule a little reunion luncheon. It was also about that time when we all started to wonder why Mike Moll has not arrived yet. I decided to call Mike and he said that he had things he had to do that day that is why he was not able to come. I told Mike that as a consequence for breaking his promise to attend the LA fiesta, we will now have the little reunion luncheon at his house. Mike is a very accommodating person but at that moment, suyaduhon siya sakuya na he wanted to reach through the cell phone lines and strangle my neck from where he was. Napasubo ko daa siya.

The following day, Toton, Junie, Jo and I showed up at Mike’s "hacienda" at the foothills of Moreno valley. Our little group brought authentic Philippine brewed San Miguel beer bottles plus some Mexican Tekate beer. Mike introduced Junie and I to an alcoholic drink called "Tequila Sunrise", which is a mixture of fruit juice and Tequila. When I asked Mike how strong the drink was, he said that it was mostly fruit juice and a "splash" of Tequila. Splash of Teguila my foot!! That drink was a bit strong!!! They should change its name to "Tequila Satan" because it doesn’t take much of that brew to knock you down. Junnie demonstrated his "Tinago elementary school toughness" by downing his tequila sunrise as if it was like water. Maurag na tumador ining si Junnie. Since Mike prepared our drinks, I am wondering if he doubled or even tripled the amount of Tequila in the glass that he handed to me para makabalos ta napasubo ko siya sa tiripon mi. Tinamaan tulos kaya ako maski kabanga pa lang idtong glass na naiinum ko kaidtong "Tequila Satan".

As usual, Mike’s culinary expertise was very evident on the types of food that he prepared like grilled tilapia, shrimp palabok, caldereta and lechon kawali. For dessert, we had gelatin mixed with sweet macapuno and my favorite—leche flan, which is sometimes called by Mike as "Electric Fan". Don’t ask me how Mike came up with that name. Probably the "Tequila Satan" has something to do with it. Sabi ko na saindo na maisugon idtong drink na idto ta it could cause your mind to sometimes mispronounce the names of common food items. Tibaad next time na irinuman mi, ang pangaran na "Salsa" dip maging "OPSA" dip.

These reunions makes each Pena Francia celebration different and special to the previous ones and our batch mates that attend the celebration adds a little spice to the flavor of the festivities.

Intoxicated-ly yours,



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