Coming Out Divine: My High School Reminiscences
by : Dennis Michael V. David
I had to say Good-Bye to St. Agnes – a traumatic experience for someone cuddled
close to home and family, having to leave safe and familiar surroundings of
six years - Here was a new edifice, more pedestrian maybe, more mature, there
were definitely more older folks than we... It was intimidating to say the least,
but there was an aura of adventure.
I had to tell myself that this meant we were growing up… something that will eventually happen (for most
of us at least).
Here was my chance to experience some semblance of
independence, welcome to a new and exciting beginning…
Happily I was reunited with a number of old friends, that
was reassuring, comforting, but I was also confronted with having to make new ones – which was easy enough, but definitely
challenging. I had to shed my inhibitions, and swallow my prejudices. If my old classmates could cope, why couldn't I?
I found out eventually that it was rather easy to assimilate
– my classmates were actually more accepting than I first feared, so, my
guard came down in earnest.
Our first year was spent in friendly exploration, breaking
new ground and a different set of rules. Now with new friends, came those new
Reading "Hardy Boys" (and Nancy Drew) from the library (Father Bates
got a lot of fantastic donations from abroad!), and plenty of other literature to
Listening to "Jesus Christ Superstar" recordings
- in the Father’s quarters…
Playing tennis on the courts of the quadrangle – mostly watching, actually
Joining the Glee Club – nice way to meet some friendly
seniors… (I always had a desire for the older things…)
I remember irritating Steve with my falsetto!
Christmas Concerts at Rex Theatre… Movies at Rex Theatre!
I vividly remember our boy scout bivouac: the torrential rains, the wet, muddy and
smelly cave... that was the end for me!
I Joined the ROTC instantly and we marched on the grounds of the Evangelical
Church nearby. I was a happy camper, willingly submitting to macho commands
Swimming at the YMCA Pool in Old Albay
And Finding that wonderful bookstore next door! (across?) The start of
a continuing adventure… who knew?
Reading popular novels (Leon Uris, … Bourne Identity, Harold
Singing at the Cathedral on Sundays
Hosting the Evangelicals from NZ and our presentation at KFC
- that was very advanced of Albay to have had one! I mean our small production was!
Our radio broadcasts!
Hanging out with Charlie and Ric -
We were so young and innocent!
Does anyone remember Dulce? (I was told he is also gone now)
My awakening… I became a poet overnight! Now I would rather enjoy reading others' genius
Going to the Movies with Sammy (my indoctrination)
So much for innocence!
A little bit of experience at a time is good…
Getting a ride to school from senior
DWHS students (the older brothers of Agnesians - after they have
dropped off their sisters in the
morning… just before I get on the jeepney bound for school… they would
hitch me a ride to school -
Thank you Guys! I still remember those days very well. I felt quite special.
Walking back from DWHS after class to the Albay Park,
Hanging out on the grounds of the Capitol (Maybe they no longer allow
this?) - [I thought of organizing something, maybe JoeyS would not
mind, but it was a bit wet during our reunion]
Smoking Phillips (I did switch to Marlboros – or Hope, when there was not enough
and slugging Pale Pilsens at the little nipa-hut hang-out
bar behind the Provincial Capitol.
Rooting for Our Basketball Team! Did we ever win? I was too
distracted to care… hahaha
Swimming at Tita Pita’s hotel… then
Dancing at Mayon Imperial - many fond memories at that disco
Of course the famous dance parties in our hall at Guevara - we had to
let the older DWHS batches have their parties there too (viz. elder brothers
Mama and Papa were very obliging - will all our ruckus
Our special bread pudding (recipe courtesy of Steve's Mom)
I do remember Leandro had a fantastic Disco set-up!
The music was memorable (now being revisited courtesy of
Chito, et al)
Reading Dorian Gray! Discussing the
movie! Isn't staying young such an overblown concept? But we keep on
trying... maybe now we have accept that it is good to get older and
Our long-winded Script of Antony and Cleopatra! But the
production was rather fun! I had fun! [I was so inspired by my muse... writing the title role for her]
Going Swimming in Bacacay! With Steve and Pepito…
One last swim in the pool at that sculptured resort near Tabaco…
Rocamonte in Sabluyon? [Ralph's pictures say it all]
Then Charlie telling me about an unexpected and controversial
I know some were unhappy, but I hope I did not disappoint
Our Graduation Day was all a blur! Except for a few undeniable photos.
And on to newer adventures at Diliman.
I think we were very lucky during our time in Legazpi and being
4-B Stags at DWHS.
We transitioned from our youthful revelries and tried to
experiment with our lives in a safe and secure world – sheltered from the
ghastly political realities, we heard of war and saw the high-flying planes
make white streaks on our blue skies followed by thundering roar. We might have
been affected by the down wind from Indo-China and had minor eye irritations
for weeks, low radiation fall-out from some atoll in the Pacific and indirectly
threatened by an unstable world, the occasional Mayon eruption, local floods
from the regular onslaught of typhoons, but we were happy to be home in secure
Albay - with caring family and close-knit friends, we had lived our quiet
lives, growing up comfortably and able to uphold a semblance of promise (we
were after all Marcos Babies and in the beginning he gave us that blind
optimism – how else could we be but hopeful).
We did get an excellent high school education that prepared
us for the unforeseen future and testament to that is what we all have achieved
with our lives so far. We still dream, I do and one can definitely reach higher
– and maybe impart our wisdom to the next generation and through them see our potential
manifest in perpetuity.
We owe our teachers for having inspired us.
Thanks to a plethora of good teachers that Divine Word gave
The discipline that our mentors inculcated in us and the diligence
of our teachers, coupled with individual challenges and opportunities we have pursued
have eventually shaped each and everyone of us.
When reminiscing with a cousin now stationed in Jakarta, we
tell her kids that in our heyday in Legazpi we did not have the luxury of gadgets
that surround kids today. Ours was making do with a walkman, we listened to 8-track
cassettes, we were awed by the newest calculator and relied on land phones with
co-subscriber party-lines, but our simple quiet lives were full of fond
memories with family and friends, safe adventures, a few misadventures, lots of
books to read, pure imagination, we did get the latest music, had our dances, etc.
– but look at where we are now! I think we did alright.
We managed to have our own fun and made the best of what our
circumstances allowed. We have definitely come a long way!
Our lives will go on, G-d willing, and we will write more
chapters to our saga, nurture the next generation, … Become administrators, be
managers and run corporations, do research, write, get published, do voice overs,
paint canvases, tend to the sick and dying, help our fellowmen, contribute to
our community, build towers and ramparts, wire every household, work hard in
service of the greater community - and think about the bigger picture beyond
One thing remains, we will come back to our roots, re-trace
our tracks, say our farewells to dear friends no longer here … but we will come around and say another hello …
As we embrace new challenges and make ourselves part of the
greater world, let us stay connected and not forget that we are and will
forever be STAGS!
[For given all that we are, I think we have influenced each other
more than we may reckon, our imaginary or true rivalries have
catapulted us, our insecurities evaluated by our "what if...s", our
strengths challenged by life's realities. But whatever we become in the
subsequent years, I believe that we, Stags, will be there to take in
whoever and whatever we are, with all our baggage, our successes, and
frailties - this was quite evident at this reunion! And the experience
continues, may we live long and prosper! Until next time.]
New York, 08.Jan.11
Dennis D’s reminiscences paint images of our ‘stagful’
youth. They bring to fore our experiences distinct and exclusive only to us,
I appreciate (and admire too) his vivid recollection of details;
albeit, without his jovial candidness, such images would have lingered
backseat of our memories.
His sharing draws from our sub-conscious, the
root raison d'être of our being 4B-Stags and underscores the core collective
(vibes) that have somehow shaped our individual destinies.
His plea "…let us stay connected
and not forget that we are and will forever be STAGS!" reminds us of our common bond
(however we perceive our
I concur, that "… we,
Stags, will be there to take in whoever and whatever we are, with all our
baggage, our successes, and frailties – ".
So des, so des,
as we gallop onward our trails, may we always remember to look back and find
more meaning from our shared roots.
- Chito L. Aguilar