|A colorful display of JPNHS logo. Top: The gymnasium-auditorium where the grand alumni homecoming next year will be held. - MWBpic by ALFREDO P HERNANDE3Z|
By ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ
Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
MERRILY, the focus right now of many Mambulaoans overseas is on the month of April next year; it is when a general homecoming of the alumni of Jose Panganiban High School (now a national high school) will be a major community show.
There's no available figure as to how many natives of the former gold mining town of Mambulao, officially named in the 30s as Jose Panganiban in honor of the hero from this town, Dr Jose Panganiban, are out of the country.
In the last homecoming in 2007, I was lucky to come and got enthralled by the energy radiating from each of the returning Mambulaoans and those who welcomed them home, who joined the long parade from the town church to the venue of the homecoming - our beloved high school that sits on a sprawling ground at the foot of a mountain on the edge of the Mambulao Bay. I came to the event with hundreds of others from across the globe.
Expectedly, this big gathering on April 28-29, 2012 could likewise attract hundreds from the 62 batches that passed under JPHS's "portal to wisdom and knowledge", so to speak, from 1950.
Basing on the 62 graduating classes over a span of 62 years - the number of alumni that honed their academic talents and molded their persons to what they are now these days could be around 12,000 or so. Of course, many of them could have been long gone.
Just like what it was nearly five years ago, only a fraction of this could come home to get connected once more with their former classmates and schoolmates.
The reasons could be many - from being in conflict of time with the scheduled event to simply being indisposed to make it.
But the spirit of being there, enjoying the significance of the day with their former classmates who these days surely no longer look the face of youth they were before -- but instead a bundle of overweight, asthmatic, diabetic or simply old persons, but still doing their best to find the joy of being together once more --is what the essence of this gathering is all about.
To those who passed the school 10 or 20 years ago and the ones who are graduating next March, the reunion would have its own touch of nostalgia.
After 10 or 20 years, what are they now? Questions like these would be hard to avoid even if they are asked in silence inside their heads.
Have they succeeded as desired - financially, socially and professionally? More or less, the answer would emerge somehow over bottles of beer in the evening following the gathering.
And those who have retired would be asking each other something like: Okay ka ba Pare ko...? Are you healthy ...? Marami ka ng apo ...? Andyan pa si Misis ... andyan pa si Mister? Things like these could evoke heavy emotions, much less confused feelings as to why it should be asked and more.
But between old mates, it couldn't be avoided. So be it.
And to our beloved teachers - those still here and those no longer around -- who belabored the nights 10 months a year working on their lesson plans that would guide them in picking our brains the next day for some intelligence, the question to ask themselves is: Had we succeeded in our noble, but thankless, job of educating the Mambulaoans?
There are questions and there are questions.
The bottom, however, line in this state of affair is that overseas Mambulaoans and those who are living elsewhere in the Philippines are coming home in full force to party.
And maybe, just maybe, while they are in the midst of this grandiose gathering, take a closer look at the community they have left behind many years ago in their search for greener pastures and see what they could do to give back - to our Alma Mater and to our beloved community.
Many, in fact, would like to do this.
This is the big news from them.