High School: A Reminiscence

by Aurora M. Bartolo-Mendoza

Four decades ago, on April 21, 1972, four-hundred thirty-eight young children of God went up the stage to receive a diploma. This event was a significant one, not only to the child, but to the proud parents as well because it marked the end of the second level of basic education and the beginning of supposedly another stage of life – college life. However, not all of these children were given the same opportunity during those times. Going to college was not a matter of choice between right and privilege but more of issues concerning economic crisis and maybe, LUCK. Some were lucky. Some were lucky to pursue education in prominent colleges and universities in key cities like Manila, Quezon and Baguio. Others stayed in the home province. What memories do I have of my four years of being in high school? I would like to rewind the hands of time and reminisce those moments I consider precious and worth saving in my long-term memory.

THS Batch 1972. The LOCALS. The force of the locals was evident during its Christmas reunion. Led by Eric, Elmer, Salve, Cel, and Quirino, the gathering 100 plus of the batch mates was a feat. Undeniably, a record.The LOCALS during its Christmas reunion

THS Batch 1972. The DOMESTICS. Strong, mighty and cohesive. The Manila-based team has all the force that keeps the team going. Noel, Rod, Lorna, Gen. Tabaquero, Col. Dela Cruz, Arceli, Bong, Rey. (Missing were Cely, Bessie, Nestor, Ernesto, Mar, Nenita.)The DOMESTICS

THS Batch 1972. The GLOBALS. For its first ever gathering, the abroad-based batch mates had it all coming with a bang. The group enjoyed the steam and heat of the 'Sin City' of Las Vegas and the fabulous casinos of Nevada. All coming from different parts of the globe: Australia, Canada, the U.S. and from the Philippines; Adela, Bessie, May, Doris, Onnie, Cely, Edgar, Isidro, Cita, Francisco, Tess, Aurora, Carol, Wesley, Irene, Tibo, Gie and Rick. It was, indeed, a get together to remember.The GLOBALS in Las Vegas

Green Horns
Batch 1972 started in the school year 1968–1969. This was the year of transition from elementary to high school. Enrollment was a week before classes started. Each one of us did not exactly know what we would face ahead. They called us "green horns" which simply means "newcomers." The first day of school was full of confusion. We were advised to stay in front of the main building and wait for some announcements… because we did not know where we were supposed to go! After minutes of waiting, a voice came out, calling our attention to listen to our section assignments. I did not wait that long because my name was called under Section 1. I would say I was lucky enough because there were 36 sections of freshmen. Section 1 was composed of valedictorians and salutatorians from different elementary schools, although it was still based on the average grade. Hence, the class was highly competitive. I felt nervous most of the time because I was very insecure being with people whom I met for the first time. I knew only one person during the first day – Luzviminda Canlas. We came from the same elementary school and she was the salutatorian.

As days moved on, I was able to get along well with other classmates. My "barkadas" were Lorna Dion, Angelina Baun, Myrna Villapana, and Delia Manalang. We usually walked together from school to downtown where they get their ride home to San Rafael, San Miguel and Sapang Tagalog. From here, I took an auto cab or tricycle to get home to San Nicolas. There was a time when classes were suspended due to a typhoon. We were sent home earlier than usual. The five of us walked to the "dike" along Romulo Boulevard then rode a bamboo "balsa" that took us to the other side of the river. I was very scared… not only because the river current was strong but also because my parents did not know about this escapade. Upon arriving home, I felt so guilty that I have to show off by cleaning the house and washing the dishes after dinner!

Seniors: The Blue Stars
I would like to compare seniors to blue stars… because blue stars are old and about to transform to another stage… just like seniors who are about to face another stage or level of education. My second and third years at THS were not as memorable as the first and fourth years but my senior year is the most memorable one. What made me say this would be attributed to the "odds and evens" (the evens outnumbered the odds though) that enriched me as a woman keeping me strong and invincible to face all battles and obstacles in life. First, I was in the Honor Roll of the graduating class. Second, I was tasked to lead the Pledge of the Graduating class. Next, I was judged as the Senior Model Student. In addition, I passed all the entrance tests for university education and qualified for scholarship grants. But the best thing was that I passed the entrance test at the University of the Philippines which was a dream come true! Graduation from high school is an event to remember, not only because we are leaving the portals of our Alma Mater, but also because we will be missing our mentors and friends. The friends and teachers I had, in addition to my family, contributed much to my world… they are among the precious ones who broadened my horizon.

I had a mixture of feelings during my graduation. I felt happy to receive my diploma and awards with my father… but extremely sad because I lost my mother two-and-a-half months before graduation. However, this did not stop me from reaching my stars and realizing my dreams. I struggled at the beginning of my university life, but the coping mechanisms that I was able to develop through the years made me survive with flying colors! With God's help, I finished all levels of education from BS to PhD. I am enjoying my professional life in the academic world for more than 3 decades now… and I will continue to stay in this world of beautiful hearts and minds!

Four Decades After
Meeting my batch mates after four decades is a blessing for me. I was able to renew and gain friendship, reunite and reconnect with them. Having them as part of my extended family is a huge bonus from God! Words are not enough to express my sincere appreciation of the wonderful and happy moments I experience when I am with them. The care and thoughts we give to each and every one are priceless!

Note: Aurora M. Bartolo-Mendoza is a full-time school teacher based in Maryland. As the "Lady Leader" who got everyone involved in the forthcoming Grand Ruby Reunion of Tarlac High School 1972, she kept everyone informed of the batch mates' activities and events. Along with Arceli Dominguez and Lorna Mapalo-Defino, the "Winsome Three" continue to gather, inform and share the batch mates' activities with everyone. The batch mates were grouped accordingly: The Global, The Domestic, and The Local. By group names, batch mates were classified according to their current abode and/or residence.