Pistahan sa Marso (March Festival)
Pistahan sa Marso (March Festival)
A virtual high school reunion hosted by UP Prep Batch 1965 OA (Overseas Alumni)
By Charity Albaladejo Matic
(Septuagenarian high school classmates who never tire of yearly reunions — whether they are held in Manila, or in cities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, and South America — decided to hold a virtual one during the pandemic, if only to lift up spirits and inspire hope, after a difficult year for family and friends. Below is the account of a class member. – MAG)
To the virtual global city in Zoom land, 48 of them came from far and wide for a mid-March reunion, spanning time zones landing at 2 am (Milan), 9 am (Manila), 6 pm, (US/Can West Coast), 9 pm (US/Can East Coast) and 10 pm (Buenos Aires). Their zoom room was buzzing half an hour before the appointed time. They wore festival garb (head dresses, masks, Filipiniana attire like baro’t saya, barong). There were references to “Ati-atihan”, “Panagbenga”, among others. Men were farmers, cock fighters, “Katipuneros” and other unidentified characters. The gallery was a sight to behold. Co-emceeing from Vancouver, Florante Aytona, and from L.A., Charity Matic, the two reflected the classmates’ energy.
The Festival began with an invocation led by Proceso Balauag (in LA) which brought the spirit of unity, a remembrance of those who had gone on before and a celebration of continued blessings of life and joy. Metro Manila classmates were treated to a home-delivered Aristocrat brunch sponsored by birthday celebrants Eric Marquez, Felix Bustos and Ruth Flores.
Classmates joined in singing the alma mater song (UP Beloved/UP naming mahal) led by classmate Merlyn Garcia (in LA). The phrase “far though we wander, loyal we’ll ever be” tugged at hearts. President for life (he jests – “President while living – habang buhay”) Eric Marquez (in Manila) gave opening remarks responded to by Edith Sangalang (in San Francisco) who expressed it was time for OAs to lend a hand in organizing events.
They were treated to a trip to old Italy via a Harpsicord piece by Debbie Ledesma in Milan. A Venetian “carnivale” hint complemented the festival.
Rory Santiago (in Washington D.C.) conducted three interview segments. Unrehearsed, organic questions borne out of curiosity generated candid responses, much to the classmates’ delight. Two rules were “walang pikon” /“be a sport” and “walang miron”/“no hecklers”. There was an eclectic collection of subjects – three lawyers, a corporate exec turned businessman, a newly retired government agency CEO, an IT professional turned minister, a chemist/home maker, a career military wife and a ballerina turned medical office administrator.
They were also treated to a wellness video with PT Sixto Salumbides (in San Francisco) walking them through exercises for the head and neck while Ambassador Ling Lacanlale (in Buenos Aires) demonstrated the exercises.
Esther Rimpos (in New York) and Girlie de Leon (in Manila) danced “Itik-itik” with grace worthy of swan lake!
Before the event, cute “baby” pictures and Prep annual photos of 32 classmates were posted for the guessing game “Sino Siya?” (Who is this?). Inspired by the game pulled together by Proceso Balauag, artist writer Jojo Tan created a beautiful “Sino Siya” painting and a poem for the grand prize.
Another guessing game led by Elmer Sta Ana (in Florida) and Ella Dimalanta (in Manila) was conducted live during the event. Pictures of Filipino dishes (ulam) were gradually flashed (from fuzzy to full view) on screen and the audience had to enter the dish’s name as a chat message. The class judge/accountant was Willie Tenorio (in LA) who monitored the chats for responses and votes.
They were serenaded by Freddie Blay (in Manila) with a Tagalog love song while Florante Aytona (in Vancouver), assisted by beautiful wife Cookie, offered the Bicolano standard “Sarung Banggi”. They swung and rocked to a sixties throwback via instrumentals provided by Camilo Reyes, Noel Plana and Sixto Salumbides.
Classmates voted for their favorite costume, a shout out to “Ati-atihan” by Loida Berbano.
Eric Marquez in his closing remarks expressed awe and gratitude for everyone who came together to provide such a delightful program. On behalf of the OA’s, Mila Garcia (in Toronto) rendered a response in Tagalog (a feat for a southerner/visayan). Pastor Benny Bello (in Manila) gave the benediction to bring the event to closure. The room remained open; participants stayed on to enjoy each other more, until Zoom had to end.