Saturday, December 23, 2017

Recap of UPMAS Homecoming 2017: UPCM 1992 WALAN9 KA2LAD: Emotional and Exuberant!

December 23, 2017

Our UP College of Medicine Class 1992 had been beset with unity problems within our five years in the college, and perhaps even afterwards.  Planning for this year's UP Medical Alumni Homecoming as Silver Jubilarians was certainly a formidable task for our fractured class to undertake. Fortunately, our class (and UPMAS) had our President, Dr. Mary Rose Pe-Yan (Mayos to us), who had the drive, determination and passion to make sure our Class will unite and will deliver our very best in this important yearly UPMAS activity.


Together with her trusted friends and co-chairs Maybelle Ongkiko-Cagayan and Alnette Tan, Mayos organized the team who would help her realize her grand vision for the homecoming. Alnette and Jojo Lo for the Finance Committee; Cherry Bello-Bucu for Publicity; Rosanna Leveriza for the Registration; Jubert Benedicto, Teresa Gloria-Cruz, Anna Ong-Lim for the Scientific Post-Grad; Paul Pasco for the Webinars; Saldy Villanueva for the UPMAS Golf Open; Cecilia Lim for the Mass and Parade; JJ Cruz for the Physical Arrangements; Maybelle and Alnette for the Homecoming Ball; Jun Ruiz for the Yearbook and Magazine; Raymund Millan for the Class Directory and Guada Natividad-Villanueva for the Class 92 Family Day. I still do not know how she did it, but Mayos was really actively involved in ALL of these committees. Aileen Apolinario-Dualan is Mayos' VP in UPMAS and was our vital liaison with the Golden Jubilarians, especially since her father Dr. Napoleon Apolinario is the President of Class 1967.

Second Official Class Meeting July 20, 2014
(photo credit: Mayos Pe-Yan)

The first call for our homecoming came five years ago when we hosted the Pabidahan talent show for UPCM 87 during their homecoming. There had been organizational meetings held as early as 2014 usually held in the house of Lia Cruz, getting more and more regular as D-Day drew nearer. The Class Viber group began on August 26, 2015 by Marlo Nievera during the benefit Lea Salonga concert for the building of a new BSLR. This Viber group, together with the older FB group, definitely sparked more excitement for the reunion in all of us. The very catchy theme "Walang Katulad" (stylized as "Walan9 Ka2lad") was a brainchild of (now Atty.) Hans Cagayan and was rendered in its final form by Ernest Caritativo

Formal Photoshoot for Magazine: October 1, 2017
(photo credit: Jun Ruiz)

I can only talk about the Yearbook Committee since I was part of that group of obsessive-compulsive individuals (like me, haha!) The first call for formal photos with Sablay was issued on May 2016. Our own Viber group for the Yearbook Committee began in July 19, 2016, when things were already getting more serious and hectic with all the pictures and articles coming in. Our first actual meeting as a committee was at Mayos' residence in New Manila last February 3, 2017. The contract with Yearbook Philippines (c/o Randolph Lamzon) was signed by Mayos and witnessed by our editor-in-chief Jun Ruiz last June 16, 2017. The formal photoshoot for the Health and Lifestyle Magazine was held last October 1, 2017 at the UP College of Medicine building. As is typical with us med students, the finalization of this yearbook also went down the wire in terms of deadlines with some classmates submitting photos as late as November.

Classmates Reunion in Virginia Beach: May 29, 2016
(photo credit: James Almirante)

This year, our US batchmates got a headstart on us local folk in terms of reunions. They had a reunion at Felix Tiongco's residence in Virginia Beach on Memorial Day weekend May 29, 2016, where many had their sablay pictures taken.  There was a more formal reunion in Albany, NY for the UPMASA Annual Grand Convention from July 11-14, 2017 which had 22 UPCM 92 attendees including five speakers: Mike Nolledo, Chat Dizon-Baron, Dodo Banzon, Pip Padilla and Mayos Pe-Yan. This occasion was also the world-premiere of the very catchy class homecoming song "Walang Katulad" written by Liza Ilag-Alviar, and first recorded by our "choir" last March 2017.

Classmates Attend UPMASA AGC 2017 in Albany: July 2017
(photo credit: Philip Padilla)

The formal Launch of the Homecoming 2017 happened last January 18, 2017 at the beautiful Museum of History of Ideas along Padre Faura. Attending this event made me realize more than ever that this reunion was going to be something big, special and worthwhile. After the Launch ceremony was held the first free Webinar with the topic about HPV Infection. By the end of 2017, there would be 51 Webinars, which were streamed online once, twice or three times a week every week through out the year. Many Class 92 batch mates served as speakers, reactors or moderators in this impressive series of various interesting topics in almost all medical specialties. 

At the Launch: January 18, 2017
(photo credit: Melflor Atienza)

There had been several dance practices patiently conducted by Maybelle, Alnette and our professional choreographers (the three founders of Whiplash -- sisters Lisa Chingcuanco, Tintin Limhap and Cecille Martinez) for a series of Sunday afternoons since September 2017 at the Sunshine Place, a recreation center for senior citizens (not that we are) along Jupiter St. The theme of our dance was "Sexy ang 92!" with songs like "Sexy Back," "I'm Too Sexy," "Kiss," "Sex Bomb" and "Sexy and I Know It". I think today was the first day we really saw as close to the real number of people who were going to dance. Many people were only learning the steps for the very first time and it was exciting.

First Dance Practice at Sunshine Place: September 24, 2017 
(photo credit: Alnette Tan)

DECEMBER 15, 2017

Homecoming Week started last December 15, 2017 with the Golf Tournament held at the Ayala Greenfield Gold and Leisure Club in Calamba, Laguna. The main organizer of this event for our class is the dynamic husband and wife duo of Saldy and Guada Villanueva. This event also included a Meet and Greet with our fellow celebrators this year, the Golden Jubilarians Class 1967. I was not able to attend this event so I could not say more about it aside from it being well-attended and successful. I did learn later that a 17-year old female golfer won the big prize. Orville Ocampo emceed the golf tournament and the awarding ceremonies. That night, a post-tournament party for our '92 batchmates was hosted by the Villanuevas at their residence.

DECEMBER 19, 2017

The next major activity was the Post- Graduate Course called "Convergence in Divergence," subtitled "Wellness for All." This event was held in the Buenafe Auditorium, on the third floor of Calderon Hall (which I only knew this year was the name of the College of Medicine main building). The emcees were Sandra Dy-Chua and present DOH USec Eric Domingo. Ortho Gar Eufemio started the ball rolling with a lively enumeration of his "Healthy Lifestyle Checklist". Endocrinologist Liza Ilag talked about Pre-Diabetes. Melflor Atienza and Felix Tiongco, both GI specialists, talked about Dyspepsia. 

The first lunch symposium was about asthma by Pulmo Jubert Benedicto. The second lunch symposium was about United Airways, with panelists ENT Tech Gloria, Pedia Infectious Anna Ong-Lim and Pulmo Albert Rafanan. Cardio Giselle Gervacio and Neuro Joey Boiser spoke on the intriguing topic of Bangungut. Cecile Maramba-Lazarte talked about Herbal Medicine, and Irene Baluyut Larkin talked on Health Supplements. In conclusion, audiences got excited when Cyn Ciriaco-Tan and JJ Cruz spoke about derma and plastic surgery in the quest of being Fab at 40 and Beyond. 

Group Photo for "Convergence in Divergence": December 19, 2017
(photo credit: Philip Padilla)

The reunion started for me here. It was exciting to get to speak with classmates I had not spoken with since graduation from med school. It was great to hear my classmates lecture with so much authority about the topics assigned to them. Too bad that I would not be able to listen to all the lectures in full because of my duties with the Yearbook Committee because this was also the day when they were first given out to the class! This was also the first day I was to see the yearbook pages in tablet form.

There would be more bonding and more carousing later that same night at Minokaua on Adriatico St. near the Remedios Circle. Too bad I was not able to go to this activity to report more about it, but photos, videos and first-hand accounts all say it was a very fun event with some classmates like Martin Lansang, Marlon Oclarence and Beth Ng-Hinton showing off their heretofore hidden talents in singing with the live band. Classmates like Lucky Lara and Egay Musngi made their presence felt first during this party. 

DECEMBER 20, 2017

This day started bright and early at the flagpole area in front of the Philippine General Hospital where a giant tent and stage were put up for the big occasion which would include all the celebrating classes this year. The rains brought about by Typhoon Urduja in the past few days cleared up after a slight drizzle earlier this day. The officiating priest of the Homecoming Day Mass was Fr. Larry Tan, SDB and he had the audience paying attention during his lively homily. The mass songs were sung by the UPCM Choir.

We saw our gritty survivor classmate Bong Marfa for the first time here. The breakfast fare was simple Mc Donald's fare but it was the reconnecting and reminiscing conversations that nourished us more. The digital elections for new UPMAS Officers were also held at this time, for which we got either a free UPMAS cap or umbrella for our votes.

Parade Photoshoot at the PGH Oblation: December 21, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

A short program hosted by a couple of dynamic classmates Anthony Cordero and Orville Ocampo prior to the Homecoming Parade. Aside from their quick wit, I was amazed at how they were able to annotate the whole proceedings with names of prominent people in each of the celebrating batches, as well as some interesting trivia about each batch (Due to policy transition issues, UPCM 72 used to be divided into A and B, and there was no UPCM 88.) 

Our batch was the last one to be called for our class photo in front of the stage. Then the parade (guided by our Marshall Joachim Cruz, son of our very own JJ and Tech Cruz) took us to more group photo-ops in front of the Oblation and the giant Christmas tree across it. We saw the lobby of new Qualimed private clinic complex for some more picture taking. Then some more group photos in front of Calderon Hall itself. The parade ended in the Wellness Center where we had lunch (Jollibee fare this time) in noontime humidity. 

After lunch, Pres. Mayos called to order the Annual Business Meeting of the UPMAS, as was the usual schedule of events. She reported on the important matters that transpired within the last year. The winners of the election that morning were also announced. 

By 2 pm, everybody returned to the Wellness Center for the resumption of festivities with the Pabidahan. This is a yearly "Tao Rin Pala"-like talent show tradition hosted by the alumni batch five years junior to the silver class, so that is UPCM Class 97 for our batch. The event was emceed by the jovial president of Class 97, Dr. Maxie Escano. The board of judges included Ms. Ruby Rodriguez of "Eat Bulaga", Dr. Mia Tabunar of UPCM Class 1995 and Dr. Melfred Hernandez UPCM Class 94. Classmates Tina Koa-Malaya and Marirose Cutillar-Alegre showed up to join us this afternoon. 

For some reason, Class 67 did not show up for their number. So, the show began with Class 77, the Ruby Jubilarians all in red, showed a lot of class as they danced to a bossa nova version of "Rock Baby Rock". Never heard that song slowed down so much, so that it would fit chacha-like dance steps. Our Class 92 showed up full force to dance "Can't Stop the Feeling" with the same choreography as our US classmates performed in Albany earlier this year. Judge Ruby's comment on our performance was how when she judges group numbers like this, she always observed the people at the back row and how they try to cope with the steps of the people in the front. But since there are plants at the back of the dance floor, she'll take that as an excuse for not being able to follow too well. Haha!

"Can't Stop the Feeling" Pabidahan 2017 Winning Number: December 20, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

Class 97 and Class 2002 both had a dance number with practically the same steps to the tune of Inigo Pascual's "Dahil sa Yo". This prompted the judges to call for a pair from both groups to go in front for a dance showdown to the same song. Then Maybelle and Alnette from our batch went and joined in the fun, followed by judge Ms. Ruby who pulled her sister Dra. Sally Gatchalian from Class 77 with her in front. That was a truly awesome moment of the afternoon! Two members of newly graduated Class 2017 (who will eventually host our batch's 50th Jubilee in 25 years) rendered a couple of songs to end the contest proper.

The judges deliberated for a while then were called in to announce the awards. Class 2017 won Most Gutsy (or something like that) for daring to perform with only two members. Class 2002 won Most Resourceful, saying that they were able to copy the number of Class 97 exactly within minutes of their performance. Class 1997 won Third Best Performance. Class 1977 won Best Choreography, Best Director and Second Best Performance. Our Class 1992 won Best in Costume, Best Attendance, Most Cohesive (!) Class, and to top it all, BEST PERFORMANCE! Way to go for our class who never ever won a single TRP ever back in med school (even getting disqualified on our final attempt, haha!) The prize we got was, well, a couple of tubs of biscuits, but hey, we won first place!

Our First Prize Winning Dance Number!
(Video Credit: Irene Baluyut Larkin)

The rest of the afternoon was spent at Buenafe Auditorium rehearsing for our dance numbers for the homecoming the next day. Heinrich Elinzano joined us for the first time here. 

DECEMBER 21, 2017

The whole morning was spent rehearsing our dance numbers on the actual stage itself in the Fiesta Pavilion of the Manila Hotel. The dance floor was not as wide as the stage like we practiced in Buenafe the day before. There were tables beside the dance floor, so there were parts where we had to snake through between them to make it to our mark on stage barely on time for the final sequence. There were classmates who gave us a pleasant surprise by showing up for the first time that morning, like Earl Mauricio, Blanche Decano-Orpilla and another undaunted fighter of our class, Jun Diokno. After a few run-throughs of both the Sexy dance and the Community Dance, we were let off for lunch and preparation for the formal ceremony this afternoon. 

Before the Final Dance Rehearsals at the Fiesta Pavilion: December 21, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

At 2:30 pm, we were all gathered at the Centennial Hall for the Medallion Ceremony. Our girls were all in elegant gowns in various shades of green, from mint to emerald to forest. Our guys (well mostly) were in black suits with maroon neckties. We all got our medals outside the hall and took our individual formal photos with the medal on already before we entered. The hosts for that event were Mia Nepomuceno-Perez and Faith Bocobo-Balmaseda. All the members of the celebrating classes were called in for their medalling by Dean Agnes Mejia. There were amazingly three members from Class 1952 (65th year) there and about ten or so members of Class 1957 (60th year), aside from Class 1967 (50th year) and our dear Class 1992 (25th year). Richard Casiano made his unexpected appearance in this event. There was an emotional moment when the son of departed classmate Regi de Leon received his medal in his behalf. 

Medal Ceremony: December 21, 2017
(photo credit: Jobert Collantes)

By 6 pm, everyone was gathered in the foyer of the Fiesta Pavilion for the Homecoming Ball. The foyer had blown-up photos of all the celebrating classes for the guests to look at and serve as backgrounds for their group photos. When we finally got to enter the hall and find our seats (and find out for the first time who our seatmates would be), everything looked very grand and glamorous. Once all the people in the lobby had filed into the ballroom, the members of our class were called outside to assemble for our grand entrance. This was the first time we saw classmates like Edna Vianzon, Raymond Evangelista, Mark Fernandez and Thanny Labio join in the festivities. 99 members of Class 1992 were in attendance at the ball that night. While that figure did not break any attendance records, it was way higher than what the "minimum deliverable" expected when planning began.

We arranged ourselves in order of height starting from tallest, one line for girls and one line for boys. On a cue, we boys escorted whoever was beside us in line through the ballroom on the red carpet to the stage to the tune of our Homecoming Anthem. I had the ever-energetic Alnette Tan on my arm during that entrance. Our formal sablay photos were being shown on the wide screens while we entered. There seemed to be more boys who attended than girls since the last few girls were being escorted by two boys. Jun Diokno joined us onstage as well. When we were all there, we "sang" (okay, lipsynced) Liza Ilag's gift of song to our class, "Walang Katulad."

(video credit: Irene Baluyut Larkin)

After the National Anthem and the UPMAS Hymn rendered by the UPMAS Choir, a very touching invocation was delivered by Cherry Bello-Bucu, text written by Kat Juliano. Shortly after the emcees for the night, Orville Ocampo, Anthony Cordero and Tech Gloria-Cruz, were introduced, the 4-course sit-down dinner (Prawn Mango Pearl Cocktail, Cream of Zucchini and Spinach, Grouper Fillet or Stroganoff of US Beef, Apple Pie with Vanilla) started to be served. After the Welcome Remarks by the Dean, there was a roll call of all the alumni classes for their members to make themselves heard.  

An award were given to Class 1967 for Class of the Year, Dr. Frances Lina Lantion-Ang, UPCM Class 1971 was named Outstanding Educator and Dean Agnes Mejia UPCM Class 1977 was given the Dr. Gloria T. Aragon Illustrious Faculty Award. The Golden Jubilarians then displayed their ballroom dancing prowess to the tune of their batch theme song "Moon River", the same song that won them first place as their TRP presentation. More awards were given after this, to Dr. Regina Pascua- Berba UPCM Class 1987 as Outstanding in Medical Service and Dr. Helen Agustin-De Guzman UPCM Class 1967 as Outstanding in Community Service. 

Admittedly we in Class 1992 were already in a tizzy backstage at that moment preparing for our number which came next. Honestly, what exactly happened after that intro spiel and intro tune of "Versace on the Floor" and the dance number began, I don't know what happened. Everything was happening lightning-speed during the "Sexy Back" part of the girls and the "I'm Too Sexy" part of the guys. Then while the Salsa group (featuring Joseph Yu, Thanny Labio, Jun Ruiz, Irene Baluyut, Giselle Gervacio, Cyn Ciriaco, Lora Garcia and of course, Alnette and Maybelle) was doing their "Kiss" dance, we were all busy back stage changing to our Sexy shirts. 

Then suddenly the strains of "Sex Bomb" came on, and the trio of Kat Juliano, Aileen Apolinario and Cecille Maramba went on stage in their amusing and cute fat suits with glittery two-piece red, green and gold bikinis. Then it was our turn to enter the stage to complement them at the back with a few more verses of the chorus before the finale music came on and we had to rush back to the dance floor part for the final formation. As we feared that morning during rehearsal, the tables in that left side area, with all the photographer and guest taking videos and photos,  made it difficult for us to reach our meeting points for our entrance. Before we knew it, we just had to go directly to our final points and assume the final pose. Everything happened in a flash, a blur. I need to watch a video to see how we actually did. Haha!

Because of the extreme adrenaline rush, I could not concentrate too much to the next awards given to Dr. Susan Pineda-Mercado UPCM Class 1987 for Distinguished Alumna, the Feliciano family for Family of the Year, and Dr. Francisca Tolete-Velcek UPCM Class 1966 for Lifetime Achievement Award. We still had to change to our solid bright colored shirts for the final community dance, which by now I all but forgot already. I got back in time to sing "UP Naming Mahal" which always gives me goosebumps no matter how many times I have sung it. 

We were already waiting in the wings backstage when UPMAS and Class 92 President Mayos Pe-Yan gave her valedictory address. Of course, she acknowledged her organizing committee for a job very much well-done. When every member of the Org Comm was onstage accompanied by thunderous applause, the burst of confetti rained on the whole stage. Mayos then turned over to Ricky Luna of UPCM Class 1993 the reins of the next Homecoming celebration, which they have dubbed "Uwi Na Po" to be held in the posh Okada Manila (an announcement which drew an audible gasp from the audience).

The final community dance was set to the upbeat tune of Meghan Trainor's "Better When I'm Dancin'".Our batch did our part of the dance for the first two verses and then we were joined by representatives from all the other celebrating batches in attendance that night. What a joyous joyous finale that climaxed in another cloudburst of glittery gold and silver confetti! The members of the Flintstones Band then came back on the stage and led everyone dancing to various songs from all decades until past midnight. At least that is what I think, I was not able to last that long because of sheer (but exuberant) exhaustion.

DECEMBER 22, 2017

The day after the ball and everyone was still giddy in the experience of the past three days. Shared a table with Rico Madlangbayan, Lalang Lopez, and Jojo Almendral. Earlan Bautista and Raymund Millan joined our conversation after a while. It seems we really could not get enough of talking about our past, present and yes, even the future got into the topics. 

Breakfast at Cafe Ilang Ilang, Manila Hotel: December 22, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

We actually got to speak to people we never really got to speak with much during our med school and discovered more about their lives they led and talents we never before knew they possessed. Everyone practically still look the same, give or take a few pounds and strands of hair. The 25th year is really the best reunion to attend in terms of health and energy. The 50th year is still too far ahead to envision as a certainty. Plans for more frequent intermediate reunions are already in the pipeline I believe, while everyone is still reeling from homecoming euphoria.

There was still a family get-together at Makan Makan Asian Food Village inside Ocean Park Manila at lunchtime. Unfortunately, I was not feeling too well after breakfast (felt febrile and dizzy since last night after the ball) so I could not stay longer. As Lalang said at breakfast that morning, the spirit may be willing, but the body may not be up to it anymore. Hehe.

Family Lunch at Makan Makan: December 22, 2017
(photo credit: Rico Madlangbayan)

Looking back at our tumultuous med school experiences now 25 years later, I would like to believe that ample time had passed and the wounds within our class have already healed. It is clearly time for our class to move on from our past controversies and leave them all behind. In so doing, we become a stronger and more united class than ever before. Consider our class officially reborn this 2017!

Classmate Rod Tanchanco captured this journey from onset to fruition in this beautifully sentimental slideshow of photographs and video:

(video credit: Rod Tanchanco)


Postscript: Dr. Mayos Pe-Yan would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Dr. Anna Victoria San Pedro, UPCM Class 2017, who served as her assistant during the last four weeks prior to the Homecoming. She designed all the homecoming tarps and was in charge of the AVPs during the Homecoming Day and the UPMAS Awarding Ceremony. She would also like to extend her gratitude to the UPMAS Staff led by Ms. Tess Paragsa and Rucel Bautista for being ever-efficient and dependable during the entire homecoming preparations and events.

1 comment:

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