LIVING THE DREAM: LETTING GO AND HOLDING ON
By: Rina Ignacio and Aycee Arellano
After arduous shootings, exhausting pictorials, and nonstop autograph signings, I decided to take a one month vacation from work. Hollywood is such an action-packed place, you know. Being a celebrity doctor – red carpet, rose bouquets, crowd waiting back stage – definitely true. I want to have some richly deserved breathing space.
One way of putting my feet up is by means of reading the most electrifying novels from my favorite thought-provoking and best-seller author, who happens to be my well brought-up dearest friend, ANGELA ARELLANO. Aycee, as we dotingly call Angela during our senior year in high school, is the cute one.*insert evil laughter here*(sorry, her reward for writing this. XP) She shows her affection through hugs and bites. J Loud and witty, Aycee is mostly seen with her nose buried in a book or off doing stupid things with friends. She may be the shortest in class, but she never comes short when it comes to her friends.
“Definitely a diva in the making, Dr. RINA IGNACIO is born to be in Hollywood. You don’t have to look for Blair Waldorf or Hannah Montana—Rina can live up to both, and more. She really must be born for the Hollywood glamour.” Aycee averred when she was asked by the Hollywood press to describe me way back our high school days. She actually incited me to attend at the launch of her newest book that will be included in the list of her runaway success, naturally. J After this event, Aycee and I will revisit the Philippines and spend summer the Filipino way. We believe that this is the right time of chillaxing all over the said place and also a chance of getting reunited with our former classmates from Mapagtimpi ’09.
Aycee and I took a plane and set in motion our flight back to the place where cultivated memories and yielded dreams of 56 sub-species, envisage reaching their zenith of success. Before boarding, I spotted a recognizable man right in front of me. It’s... it’s... “Is that AIDZ?” I asked Aycee. “Aidz who?” Aycee replied swiftly. “ADRIAN DEL ROSARIO!” Oops! I didn’t realize that I yelled it out at full volume, which made the other passengers, including Aidz, to stare blankly at me. After a few minutes, the three of us had our time to chitchat with each other. Way back our senior year in high school, we all wondered if Aidz had a calculator lodged in his brain. He’s very good with numbers but was pretty lousy when it comes to completing requirements. Hey, if he has it all then we would probably hate the guy. He is now an actuarist of the renowned company in Europe, living happily with his wife.
The plane is now geared up to take off, subsequent to quite a few reminders from the stewardess. She told us to switch off our gadgets because it will cause disruption between the pilot and the traffic control tower; she informed us where to find the magazines; she prompted us to fasten our seatbelts; and the like. Yeah, that stewardess who has a sweet, angel-like voice. That voice which sounds familiar to me. It’s like… KISSHIA DAYAO’s voice! We exclaimed at seeing each other like this. Kisshia may seem soft-spoken and shy, but this girl is very good with acting and drama, as much as I remember. She has wowed Mapagtimpi with her extraordinary talent in acting, especially in plays. Besides that, she has great smiles. She told me that HONEY CANO – a very friendly girl with a happy disposition who has always been ready to lend an ear or a shoulder to a friend in need, someone who was very good in prioritizing things, and who keeps a balance between studies, family, and friends and is always there when you need her; and YENTL HERNANDEZ – the type of girl who likes being with her friends who always looks her best every minute of every day, and who has been the quiet type but she always wear a smile on her face – are now the finest flight attendants of Cathay Pacific. Oh wow.
When we are in the midst of the Pacific Ocean, I suddenly starve and crave for something to eat. Good thing, there was this good-humored steward who roams around and asks the passengers if they want something. I ordered a Chicken a la Mexicana Topped with Guacamole and to my surprise, the good-humored steward was ACE DE VERA. More than height and a really loud voice, Ace will be remembered for his quotable quotes (pa-deep kuno.XD) in English class during our 4th year in high school. Even though his paragraph answers are “nakakawindang”, there will always be a phrase or thought of wisdom that will get you thinking. (pang-GM??) He is currently residing in Paris, France with his wife, and now owns a house and car. He greeted us with his trademark loud voice and corny jokes before his assistance was needed by another passenger.
For the past 10 hours inside the airplane, boredom will surely come your way. And I am not an exemption. Aycee is having a lie-down. I have no one to talk to. I have nothing to do. Thanks to these magazines in front of me, now I have something to lighten my fatigue a little bit. I now grab the latest issue of Times magazine, with JHEM DEPOSITARIO in the cover. It states there that he is the new legendary Grandmaster. Aside from that, he is also a prominent chef. He is the peace mediator in our class back then. The boy with the chessboard. When not playing chess, he is talking about playing chess. He is a very jolly fellow with a flair for dancing and pinching people.
We landed in Japan for our stop over. Along the hallway of the famous Narita International Airport, I saw a recognizable face. It seems like her angelic and gorgeous looks are very much suitable for her job as a stewardess. Ah! It’s CRISSY ARELLANO then! Our former class secretary! Bring to mind her character during our senior days. Crissy is strict when needed. “MAPAGTIMPI, MANANAHIMIK O MANANAHIMIK??!” Firm when it comes to leadership, soft when it comes to friendship. Crissy is a cheerful and bright girl who has great talent in dancing. Pretty and vivacious, Crissy is a dependable class officer who can keep the class in check. I moved towards and had a little chat with her. When I asked her about our former classmates which became her closest friends in class, she promptly said that MARY ALIVIO, the friendly type who thrives more when surrounded by friends; dependable and approachable; and a girl who always has a friendly smile on her face is now a C.E.O. of her own company in Las Vegas; JOHNETH YAP – an outgoing and lively girl who is always ready and eager for new experiences with her cool hairdo and stylish clothes – at this moment, is an eminent chef lined up with Alex Guarnaschelli, Robert Irvine, and Rachael Ray; MHAVEE CAPULE, the foregoing class treasurer, responsible and trustworthy in her duties and responsibilities, a very friendly person who is very easy to approach, a girl who has the penchant for dancing, and the gift of making friends, on the other hand, do her job as a C.P.A. in Canada.
Aycee and I stroll around the airport for a time, since the stop over will last for about an hour of 1 or 2. As we turn right, we saw a magazine stand and thought of buying one. But, how can we understand the content of the magazine if it’s written in Japanese? Good thing there’s this one magazine that’s written in English. I then saw in the cover MIA MUNOZ. She was the cheerful president of our class way back fourth year high school. She is remembered for her semi-serious sermons. Mia is much more than a president, she is a friend to everyone. With her dimpled smile and warm hugs, she has been the perfect president for us. Patient and enduring. At present, she is a successful businesswoman who makes trip around Europe. I have learned that she is also the “Businesswoman of the Year” in Japan.
Okay. Now it’s time to go back inside the plane. A few more hours and we’re off to the Philippines.
And a one, a two, a three.. “We are now landing to the Philippines.” the pilot said. That husky and strapping voice, I am sure that it is.. it is.. Bok’s voice?! I called the steward once again and asked him who the pilot is. He then corroborated that it is Captain ROGER GAN. When not cracking jokes that would make the whole class laugh, Bok would be hanging out with his friends or with his special someone. Always with a fan, of course. We wouldn’t have him sweating, would we?? Oh well, he’s not Bok anymore. He is now the respectable Roger Gan.
At long last, I can’t believe that at this moment, I am stepping at my homeland.
Given that Aycee and I are “balikbayans”, we have to check in first in a hotel. The two of us desire to go at The Peninsula Manila, which is now owned by JELINE LEONCIO – who happens to be in possession also of The Peninsula New York, The Peninsula Tokyo, The Peninsula Beverly Hills, and other The Peninsula Hotels all over the world. She may confuse you by speaking in Korean, but this highly optimistic girl will surely overcome you with her unending supply of energy. Jeline is a very competent student who does well in lessons, as I dredge up. After checking in at The Peninsula Manila, Aycee and I ate at Nielsen’s – the hotel’s all day dining, coffee shop and specialist buffet restaurant. The cuisines that they serve are extravagantly the best. I call on the hotel manager, and without prior notice, it is my former classmate, the girl who may keep to her own circle of friends, but for sure, Mapagtimpi has seen her feisty side. She is loud and outgoing when provoked. You will really find her friendly and bubbly – LEI ANN CHUNGTUYCO. I asked her who the head chef is. With full pleasure and delight, she then answered that it is PATRICIA SAIQUE, a girl with a very happy disposition, armed with boisterous, infectious laughter and certainly has the wonderful gift of singing. Trish is good-natured and very easy to be with, according to Aycee as she harks back to our high school days.
The lobby of the hotel is truly majestic. I heard that its ceiling was renovated by the three of the most illustrious architects in the Philippines today. Oh yes, JED MARTIN – the little drummer boy who can be mistaken as the shy and quiet type. But as they say, don’t judge the book by its cover. Jed may look like the quiet type, but he’s just bubbling over with mischievousness. He also smiles a lot, especially at teachers during recitations; RIZELLE ROQUE – the oldest in class, and we fondly call her “Ate”. Cuddly Rizelle is very friendly and approachable that she never fails to put someone at ease; and CLINTON RAMOS – his ductile and malleable foot is not the only thing that is big in size, but also his heart. Clinton sure knows how to take a joke. This guy is definitely not brittle. He is friendly and down-to-earth. Clinton does not let himself be affected and discouraged by what other people are saying about him.
I really miss everything in here, that’s why I want to see the sights once more. I invited Aycee to go outside the hotel and we went at the malls nearby. Our first stop was Glorietta. At the Glorietta Activity Center, I set eyes on the fund raising event of my fellow-doctors lead by Dr. ALICA COSCOS – a girl who has a lot of talents: dancing, singing, and making friends, she is also pretty good with arts, loves laughter and cheer and is always there for her friends, isn’t afraid to voice out her feelings and thoughts. Alica, who doesn’t skimp out on her beliefs and opinions, is at this instant, a pediatrician; Dr. TAMA MARTINEZ – our preceding class vice president is most definitely a very bright and cheerful girl. A day wouldn’t be complete if you wouldn’t hear her laughter. The girl who values relationships and is very affectionate with her loved ones, happens to be an emergency doctor now; and Dr. ABBY SALAZAR – the girl with the baby voice is energetic and lively. Anywhere she goes she brings laughter and joy. She makes friends easily, because she is such a nice person. She is now an o-bygne, for the health and proper nutrition of the families in the rural areas of the country. Dr. DIANNE BOLLOSO – a bright, cheery, dependable, approachable and bubbly girl who is often seen having a good time with her friends; Dr. BEA CARLOS – the intelligent, studious type whom you can count on for help for lessons as well, because not only is she smart, she is also very helpful and approachable; and Dr. LEE ANN GONZALES – bubbly and cheerful who befriends everybody who comes her way, gives great hugs, can easily adapt to the people around her and definitely knows how to have fun – are also participating in the said event. Dr. MAUI ROQUE, the ever bright and cheerful girl who has always been friendly and laid-back, is also there. In fact, she is the one in charge for the Visayas region, as what the emcee has said. The pharmacists, Dr. GINO LEGASPI – Timpi’s very own human beatbox and a good-humored classmate who is very good with voice impersonations. (“Papadala kita kay Elmas sa Estanbol!”) and Dr. RAFAELA CRUZ – the girl with a happy disposition and a lot of friends is the formula for such a happy girl who definitely loves laughing and isn’t afraid to let the whole world know about it – shall ensure that the appropriate medicines are provided. I also heard that Dr. ANGELIQUE MATEO – the prior class lady guard who is a very dependable, approachable, friendly and responsible person who loves hanging out with her friends and sharing a good laugh – was supposed to be there also. But, sorry to say, she won’t be able to come for she is having her visit in Europe. The head nurses from the different hospitals in the country are also there. Hyper and cheery, his is the voice that you will hear in the room no matter how many are talking at the same time, always picking ‘friendly’ fights with others and still has his serious moments – BIEL TRINIDAD, the head nurse of the University of Santo Tomas Hospital discussed the common diseases that can be acquired in the rural areas. The Medical City’s head nurse, RONA TALAMPAS, a very good dancer, who easily takes up new dance steps as she does with new friends, is also present. The head nurse of Saint Luke’s Medical Center, the diligent and industrious ELAINE ABASTA – the answer to questions like “Sino may scissors?” “1/4 nga??” “Ayaw umandar ng sewing machine ko!” who was dubbed as Mapagtimpi’s Pandayan, the answer to all our prayers – is also taking part in the fund raising event. The head nurse of Bellevue Hospital Center, New York, DIANA DANGANAN– who brings happiness to our class back then, funny and good-natured, never failing to bring smiles and laughter to those around her– is also invited to give further information and assertions. Hayy. If I only work as a doctor here in the Philippines, perhaps I am together with them. Anyhoo, I still had fun seeing them after 10 years.
After that tear-jerking moment, Aycee and I leisurely walk at Greenbelt. We passed by many stores and restaurants which I remember going in to ten years ago. We stopped by in Italianni’s Restaurant. It is a restaurant where you can breathe in the aromas of fresh ingredients, simmering and sautéing. I found out that it is now owned by Chef PAUL MAGPANTAY. PT, as we fondly call him, is the talented guitarist and our very own Mr. Bean during our senior year, and is a man of a few words. Don’t mistake him for a well-behaved student, though, because behind that innocent wide-eyed façade and unexpressive expression, most of the time he’s just probably planning the best way to disrupt the class and give his classmates the stitches from laughing. He is now addressed as Chef PT. J
I told Aycee to change our course. I then drag her (figuratively speaking. Haha!) to the Gateway Mall, Araneta Center. As we drive along EDSA, we saw my billboard with PAOLO PINGOL for our upcoming movie, “High School Musical: Escape to Africa” in Hollywood. Paolo plays the role of Ryan Evans, as I play the role of his twin, Sharpay Evans. He will have you in stitches by the minute he opens his mouth. Roberto, as we lovingly call him during our senior year, is a good and loyal friend, just the kind that will definitely help you survive life. He was left in America and wasn’t able to join Aycee and me because he has other commitments which can’t be postponed.
The billboard right next to ours is Paramore’s. The band will be having their concert here in the Philippines, I guess. Their concert is sponsored by Micoman Music Company. This company is being possessed by the energetic and cheerful person who can befriends people easily, a very good guitarist, and a great dancer, MICHOGELO MERCADO. He is now a successful industrialist who handled various artists such as Chris Brown, Fallout boy, Secondhand Serenade, Justin Timberlake and the like.
As Aycee and I went by the Araneta Coliseum, the colossal pictures of a very good-natured and good-hearted guy who can be pretty easy-going in the classroom during high school but fierce in the basketball court, JEXZEL JINGCO, from the Alaska Aces – the MVP of the PBA Philippine Cup ’19 – and JC FELICIANO, the Most Improved Player of the said conference, from the Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters, who is a very high-spirited guy whom you will always find inventing new names to call his classmates way back fourth year.
The two of us continue to saunter around Araneta Center.
“R.” Aycee was calling for my attention. “Doesn’t that look like…”
I peered over to the direction she was pointing at. “My gosh, is that MS. DIONISIO?!”
“It is, it is!” Aycee happily affirmed.
We trampled our way over to our beloved adviser who seemed like she hasn’t aged at all. Ms. Dionisio recognized us immediately and after our happy greetings, Aycee and I got to notice the little child holding on to our former mentor’s hand. And somehow, doesn’t her stomach seem a little round…?
Never the type to dally, Aycee blurted out, “Miss, are you pregnant?” (Please don’t kill us, Miss Em!:D)
Well of course, our adviser has settled down and now has a happy family of her own. She is now married to TOOOOOOOT! And they are having their second child. Aycee and I exclaimed over this. We would have liked to spend more time with her, and maybe get to meet her husband, but unfortunately, Miss Em has to attend a check-up and shooed us off. After promising to meet up again, we continued on our way.
As we reach the Gateway Mall, we stopped off at Fully Booked to buy the latest March issue of Hey! Magazine, from the publishing company owned by MALOU ALTOVEROS, a simple, approachable, friendly and down-to-earth lass, whom we have been always able to ask anything and she has always done her best to help. In line with the Women’s Month, this ish discusses the different attainments of the Filipino women in sundry parts of the globe. The studious type who is serious about her studies as well as with her friends, pretty dependable MARICAR EUGENIO, the secretary of the president of the Philippines, is on the magazine cover. The cover story tells that she now owns a house in Bel-Air Village, a private subdivision and gated community in Makati City. As I skim through the pages, I have read an article about a straight-forward mathematician who doesn’t pretend not to see what’s in front of her, JEAN MANGALILE, who finished two courses in college, living in an executive subdivision today. As I flip through another page, I saw the article regarding DOMINIQUE KIMPO, a successful career woman who now has a stable life and a happy family. I remember her as someone who doesn’t easily get affected by teasings and strives hard in her lessons. I skim through an article about the intelligent and bright lady, ANGHELITA CAYETANO, who back in fourth year was mostly surrounded by her friends and though she seems withdrawn, she can be easily approached and befriended. She has started her own business when she was twenty one years old and now managing it all by herself. The next page is all about WILEN GRANDE, an ever-smart and headstrong lass that always hold a good conversation, very good with lessons and handling friends, pretty easygoing and good-natured, now a triumphant CPA Lawyer whose signature can be seen on the money you spend, because she also manages the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. She is now taking pleasure in her own blissful family as a devoted wife and a keen mother of one. I then browse the other pages and saw this article on KHAYCEE PADILLA, the quiet but very smart Marilounian during our fourth year in high school who is soft-spoken but still is pretty good with making friends, at present, a flourishing CPA based in Paris, France. Under it is an item concerning ANJ GARCIA, a booming Filipina architect in Italy, who is almost certainly as good as Filippo Brunelleschi and Michelangelo. Anj is the reason why we always win in bulletin board contests way back fourth year. She is a very talented artist who can whip up a work of art within a few minutes. She is so talented but is still down-to-earth.
The lifestyle section of the magazine includes a critique in relation to ADALYNN DUMLAO, a thriving Filipina who owns her personal clothing line racked at Barneys New York, Bergdorf’s and Rodeo Drive. Outgoing and often eccentric, Ada is pretty easy-going and carefree. She often gets strange ideas and push through with them, but with Ada, things never get too boring.
On the left portion of that page, is a commentary about happy-go-lucky girl who loves spending time with friends or doing weird things, JHOANA FUSTER. At the present, a lucrative model who lives with her husband Anthony, and a mother of two. As I flick through the next page, I perceived an expose regarding GEL LOPEZ, a profitable lawyer of Cam Gigandet , who happens to be my former classmate, and indeed, one of the smartest kids in class. She is currently settling the divorcement case between Cam and his former partner. She has won many cases concerning the hottest celebrities in town.
The last page of the lifestyle section is allotted to a bubbly and cheerful woman who makes a friend out of everyone, DANICA ZAPANTA, a Filipina interior designer in Europe who lives in her dream house – designed by her, of course. I then peruse the following page and found out that ESPERANZA DELA CRUZ is now a psychologist and living with her own cherished family. Way too different from the Espie before, who always rush about completing things and other requirements. Good to know she has friends that will always be there to help.
On the same page is an article on JOHNA TAN, a money-spinning Filipina who works for Microsoft Corporation as a Computer Engineer. She is the computer whiz of Mapagtimpi. Artistic and spunky, she is very good with arts, too.
As I browse the following page, I read an item about KATHERINA SANTOS, a quite soft-spoken girl, pretty feisty when she is with her friends and someone you can truly depend on and joke around with. Like Johna, Katherina is also an engineer in the Microsoft Corporation. Not a Computer engineer though, but an affluent Software Engineer. I turn the next page and glance on the commentary in connection with JOSHEIL BACOTO, remembered for her knock-knock jokes and works of art. Though she may not look like it, she is very affectionate and approachable. Josheil on the other hand, is a budding Filipina computer game designer. The games that your children are addicted to know is of her creation.
I have come up to the last page of the magazine, and it is designated for the sports section. It is stated there that the Philippines Women’s National Basketball Team lead by PAULA URBANO, won the FIBA Asian Championship for Women, against South Korea. Bada, as we used to call her during our high school days, is someone you’ll love hanging out with. She is very easy going and good-humored. She really is a great friend to have.
Oh wow. I am more than grateful to see my senior high school classmates once again. It is beyond belief to think that they have reached a long way and pulled their dreams off. We have been waiting for this moment to transpire. Finally, we attained that pinnacle of triumph. I hope all of these will completely last evermore.
“Rina Eliza Marie B. Ignacio, Loyalty Medalist.”
I woke up in the middle of our graduation practice without knowing that it is already my turn to rehearse going up the stage, accept my diploma and pick up my medal. I make haste in going up the stage. Gel told me that I have been asleep the whole time. So, I asked her if everything was just a dream. She swiftly replied and asked me what I am talking about.
Way, way ahead of me, seated in the front row of the girls, a fact that she still couldn’t get over, was Aycee, musing over the school year that whirled by in a flash.
Requirements. Debts overdue. Filling up the whole blackboard. And that graduation march playing over and over again in the speakers.
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that the end is near.
The end, and yet, as we so fondly say, “Parang kahapon, first day pa lang.”
Each one of us had dreads. And yet it turned out to be a good year. A very good year. No, make that a fantabulous year.
Yes. We’ve had our fair share of difficult times. We’ve had conflicts within our circle. We’ve experienced animosity with fellow students. We’ve had teachers lose their temper at us.
Our imperfections were an essential recipe to one unforgettable school year.
56 students with different personalities, occasionally colliding with one another, accepting differences and facing difficulties hand-in-hand, Mapagtimpi has truly been the perfect niche for us.
MARILOUNIANS—our self-given name, derived from the first name of our adviser, Miss Marilou Dionisio. Ah, Miss Dionisio, or as we fondly call her, Miss Em or Miss Dioni, is a cross between a young mother and an older sister to us. Always there, firm and strict when necessary, approachable and dependable at the same time. Truly, Miss Dionisio is the perfect adviser for us, one who bears with our utter childishness and immaturity. And that’s why we love our adviser to bits.
“You may be ready to leave Mapagtimpi, but Mapagtimpi is not ready to leave you.” I think the perfect way to put the situation is this line from a musical, changed a little to suit us best. Each one of us is looking forward (worrying and fretting is more like it) for our next step in life--college. Entrance exams have been taken, future plans made, dorm arrangements, and the like. But now that the end is looming closer and closer, we stop from our hectic planning and worrying to savor our remaining precious days together.
The reality that in a few days’ time we would be leaving our beloved Alma Mater behind hasn’t quite sunk in yet. For there will come a time when we will leave our classroom behind—the room that has been a home and a learning place for all of us, and when we come back, it would be a different place. There would be another set of seniors who will come in and stake the room as their own. But the thing is, Mapagtimpi is not merely the name of a room, nor simply the collective name for us who resides in it. Mapagtimpi is what we are. Hard to explain, but it really is something that is more than an answer to the question “From what section are you?” And the point here is that even if we leave, we would forever be part of Mapagtimpi, no matter where our feet may take us on the path of life.
“GO TIMPI! GO TIMPI! GO TIMPI! GO GO GO GO!”
The school year was a whirl of “lasts”. Last Intrams, last Academy Day, last field trip/retreat, last prom, last feast day. EVER. *insert sound of clashing thunder here* It really is quite saddening. Everything will change. It’s like leaving our comfort zone and stepping into unknown territory, filled with new, unfamiliar things yet to be discovered.
We have enjoyed every second of our senior life. We dealt with the challenges and problems, together, and alone. In more ways than one, we have grown. And so before we set out on a new journey, ready or not, willing or unwilling, each one of us will surely rock. J
And yes, there will be a lot of things to miss and reminisce. That one memorable day when all the stars were aligned and we met one another, cramped together in that room we will miss a lot. We won’t forget all the memories we’ve shared, all the photos taken, and all the lessons learned. We won’t forget the awkward moments, the award-winning experiences, and all the mistakes made. Everything we accumulated this school year is priceless.
“Timpe, lights off na!” “Ay, Cookie!” “JUSME!” “Labas na, pipila na!” “Hoy, ano ‘yang kinakain nyo, ba’t di kayo namimigay?!” “Gumagana ba yung aircon?” “Pengeng piso!” “May candy ka ba??” “Miss pwede mamaya na lang isubmit? Recess? Lunch? Bukas? Eh next week po??” Just a few of the sentences heard almost every day in our room that will forever echo in our memories like a favorite song. (LSS??)
56 different personalities. Days of trying to match each and every personality. And now it’s time to leave. As we make the final exit through the school gates, may we take with us all the memories we made and shared. It may be goodbye, fellow Marilounians, but this is definitely not our last goodbye. May the paths of our life cross once more as we continue our journey. We’ll miss each other a LOT. Timpi, we all know we can stay friends no matter how great the distance. MAPAGTIMPI ONCE, MAPAGTIMPI FOREVER.