Episodes and prominent names of yesteryears

Louie Trinidad, a former classmate in the College of Philosophy and Letters in the University of Sto. Tomas and Felicito ‘Chito ‘ Bautista an upperclassman from the same college met sometime ago and had dinner at Ribeye Steak House. It was a reunion of sort.

Holiday seasons are always occasion for reunions. And in reunions you travel back in time. The three of us ‘traveled’ in four hours. Invariably the names of our classmates, the teachers, sad and happy incidents that happened were recalled.
We grew up with Elvis Presley and the Beatles. We were not really affected by the rivalry of then President Carlos P. Garcia of Bohol and Vice President Diosdado Macapagal of Pampanga, but were all admiration on President John F. Kennedy of the United States of America. Benigno ‘ Ninoy’ Aquino of Tarlac, Ferdinand E. Marcos of Ilocos Norte and Gerardo Roxas of Capiz were the rising political stars.

Charito Solis, Gloria Romero and Paraluman were the model pin-up girls on calendars.Fernando Poe Jr., Romeo Vasquez, Lou Salvador Jr. were screen idols.

We wanted to watch the Gabriel ‘Flash’ Elorde vs. Harold Gomes fight at the new Araneta Coliseum in Cubao, Quezon City, but we didn’t have the money. Elorde knocked out Gomes in the first round and won the championship belt.

The exchange rate was two pesos to one US dollar, and money scrips were still legal tender in cities like Angeles and Olongapo. Miguel Cuaderno was the Central Bank governor. Henry Sy was selling shoes in Carriedo street near the Quiapo church. Plaza Miranda in front of the church was London’s Hyde Park where political meetings were held. There were no party list members of the House of Representatives. The Senators were brilliant and honorable. No Miriam and JPE type. There were no pork barrels for lawmakers, and Janet Napoles may not have been born yet.

‘Upong dyes lang po’ was a sign below the rear view mirrors of jeepneys. There were few buses plying in Metro Manila. The buses plying Pampanga were the La Mallorca Pambusco of Geronimo ‘Hitler’ Enriquez and the Philippine Rabbit owned by the Buan and Paras families of Tarlac.

There was no North Luzon Expressway yet, but President Macapagal in 1962 tasked the Bureau of Public Highways to build the highway. There were no tricycles yet, but horse drawn calesas.

The college of Philosophy and Letters, aka Philets as recalled by Annie Roxas ‘produced eminent writers in literature and journalism, historians, philosophers, educators, artists, advertising and public relations practioners. Among them Frankie Sionil Jose, Bienvenido Lumbera, Offie Dimalanta, Eli Ang Barroso, Rita Gadi, Bayani De Leon, Ka Doroy Valencia, Neal Cruz, Eggie Apostol, Recah Trinidad, Jake Macasaet, Kit Tatad and many more that a ream of paper maybe not enough if you will list the names.

‘I didn’t finish the course, I am undergrad’, I told Chito and Louie.

‘What you accomplished, like Kit Tatad and Rey David who are undergrads too, you can be conferred doctorate degrees na’, Louie said while Chito nodded his head apparently agreeing. I dont know if they were kidding or not. I just shrugged my shoulder, but I was humbled even if it was said in jest only.