An Open Letter To My High School Friends

I’m back in my comfortable home in California and finally able to sit in front of my computer after putting away the luggage and its contents. Please forgive me if I have chosen to meander into philosophical musings.

Dinner at Sugi Japanese Restaurant, Greenbelt 3, Makati City, Philippines, February 27, 2015, with Cynthia CuUnjient-Bunag, Baby Goyena-Herrera, Tessa Gana-Cadiz, Loudette Zaragoza-Banson, Candy Monserrat-Blaylock, Ito Martinez-Gruet, Binggay Benares-Fragante, Mary-Ann Yee-OrtizLuis

Dinner at Sugi Japanese Restaurant, Greenbelt 3, Makati City, Philippines, February 27, 2015, with Cynthia CuUnjieng-Bunag, Baby Goyena-Herrera, Tessa Gana-Cadiz, Loudette Zaragoza-Banson, Candy Monserrat-Blaylock, Ito Martinez-Gruet, Binggay Benares-Fragante, and Mary-Ann Yee-OrtizLuis

After more than 30 years of living in another continent, I’m grateful that circumstances have required me to return to Manila more often in the recent years. My parents are getting older. They have been spending more time in Manila. My work responsibilities have changed. There are meetings to attend and people to interact with at the parent company there. With each journey, I have reconnected with old friends, thanks to some very inclusive and persistent classmates!

They say that sibling bonds are unique. More than our bond with our parents, our spouses, or our children. No other relation is so cradle-to-grave than siblings. It’s a connection that is lifelong and when you meet after a long absence, you can pick up right from where you left off.  I can say the same for childhood friends.

Post New Year's Brunch at Carmel Mission Ranch Restaurant, with Freddy and Baby Herrera, January 2015

Post New Year’s Brunch at Carmel Mission Ranch Restaurant, with Freddy and Baby Herrera, January 2015

You see, we all witnessed one another’s becoming. We all went through our childhood then adolescent awkward stages: the white socks neatly folded at three inches above the ankle and worn with shiny mary-janes, the giggly girl-talks, or the late night confessions of heart-thumping crushes. The hasty notes passed discreetly from hand to hand as Ms. Fredeswinda wrote on the blackboard. The raised knowing brows over Mrs. Magtaas’ “Is it not, class? Is it not?” (Did she really expect a response? I remember this now with great fondness.) We shared each other’s first periods with its cohort of pelvic cramps and miserable stains, the painful breast buds, and even those god-awful zits.

We were one another’s confidants, patintero-mates, cheering squad, and co-conspirators of all our coming-of-age forays. We were together in the triumphs at elocution contests, GAL games, and inter-scholastic meets. There were the boyfriends and for some, the gender awakenings. We were one another’s tormentors, critics, and even rivals. Through it all, we argued, snubbed one another, parted ways, came together, made up and became chums again. And we came away wiser, more patient, and more emotionally capable because of it. We always had big shoulders for each other’s miseries, through family upheavals and untimely deaths, school transgressions, even our own personal foibles getting the worst of us.

Dinner at Fely J's, Greenbelt 5, Makati City, Philippines, March 5, 2015, with Cynthia CuUnjieng-Bunag, Tinay Lopa, Tessa Gana-Cadiz, Kay O'Pallick-Guidote, Marisa Puyat-Tantoco, Binggay Benares, JimJam Monponbanua-Caedo, Candy Monserrat-Blaylock, and Mary-Ann Yee-OrtizLuis

Dinner at Fely J’s, Greenbelt 5, Makati City, Philippines, March 5, 2015, with Cynthia CuUnjieng-Bunag, Tinay Lopa, Tessa Gana-Cadiz, Kay O’Pallick-Guidote, Marisa Puyat-Tantoco, Binggay Benares, JimJam Monponbanua-Caedo, Candy Monserrat-Blaylock, and Mary-Ann Yee-OrtizLuis

Deep down, we still know one another well enough. There is the sweet one. The funny one. The needy one. The ornery one. The athlete. The scientist. The artist. We recognize one another’s failings and we accept them because now, more than anytime in our lives, we have learned to accept ourselves and one another for who we are, as they say, warts and all. And because of all we’ve been through together, we forgive each other more easily. We might roll our eyes every now and then. But, we don’t vote anyone “out of the tribe.” We have learned that it’s all right that we are as different as we are the same. We can make fun, but it’s never out of malice. We laugh at each other’s idiosyncrasies. But, we also laugh at ourselves. And it’s because we’re that comfortable with one another. Or, better yet, we have stopped caring. Growing older does that to you.

Nowadays, we commiserate over sagging jowls, grays, and expanding girths. We laugh at our memory lapses, back aches, and diverse preoccupations. Think ballroom dancing or chi gong. Hiking the Pyrenees or teaching indigent children. Cooking for the homeless at dawn or cleaning up a polluted beach. We mourn the passing of our parents and even some of our peers. But we celebrate each other’s expanding families and new beginnings. We look forward to new life stages and experiences. When we get together for lunch or dinner, whether at Sugi or Fely J’s, we share this all amid the food we all grew up on. Once again, in this thing we call life, we are travel buddies. And that is good.

Screen shot of our High School Viber Chat Group

Screen shot of our High School Viber Chat Group

 

This entry was posted in Assumption High School, Childhood Friends, Friendship, High School Friends, relationships and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to An Open Letter To My High School Friends

  1. prior says:

    really enjoyed the way your described the friendships over the years and the place it has in your “being” – 🙂 – and I still have some time so I am off to catch up on another post here… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. auntyuta says:

    All your photos show great smiling faces. I love this. Such communication after all these years. Wonderful! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Mary-Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you had a fun time. I’m not going to ask how long it has been since your high school days, but for what its worth, you all still look great. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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