A colorful treatment on the JPNHS sign board seen inside the school campus. – MWBuzzpic by AP HERNANDEZ
JPNHS 2012 alumni reunion: What about those who are poor and could not come?)
THE GENERAL homecoming of the Jose Panganiban National High School (JPNHS) alumni falls this year – on the 28th-29th of April.
Held every five years – the last of which was in 2007- the gathering of several hundreds of graduates from this school has always been a happy occasion for those who are able to come however distant their bases across the globe may have been.
And without much emphasizing it, many alumni of JPNHS are rooted across the world.
Mention a place, just any place on the global map, and chances are there would be a Mambulaoan toiling under the sun, inside refrigerated rooms, in ocean-going vessels, in military submarines, in hospitals, in shopping centers, inside bread and biscuit factories, in oil rigs, in kitchens and in war-torn countries in Africa and Middle East, just to name some places that are easily recognizable.
They come home once a year to see their families, old friends, childhood chums. It’s an occasion to replay experiences at work – sometimes with drama -- over party tables, rounds of beer and bottles of scotch and brandy – things that made their life richer and their wallets thicker while being away from their love ones.
And whenever there is going to be a big gathering such as the alumni homecoming, it is always safe to assume that they would want to be there when the action unfolds.
This is a natural instinct among Mambulaoans – to be around with old friends and acquaintances and to grow a little bit more in spirits and in pride during the next 48 hours in which fun and laughter are to roll over.
They are able to come because they have the means. Many of them can do so yearly because their employers have been quite generous to pay for their return fares plus holiday money – making sure that they come back to work, to continue producing goods and time for the company. So that next year, they could again send them home for month-long break – all paid for, so to speak.
Others just have the money and can come home whenever they please.
And while the alumni gather among themselves, enjoying a new-found closeness and camaraderie, it would be obvious that there are still many among those who graduated from JPNHS who would not be able to come to party, although they are just around as they have never left home just like what many of their former classmates and schoolmates did and have been doing year in year out.
They could not join the celebration simply because they don’t have the means to pay for the P500 fees required of every alumnus to be able to become bona fide members of the JPNHS Alumni Association (JPNHSAA).
So, as expected, they would just satisfy themselves watching the members pass by as they march along the road that leads to the campus of their Alma Mater in baranggay Parang – a more-than-a-kilometer walk across town from the parish church.
These less-fortunate spectators may number in several dozens, who should be among those marching to the campus for the big celebration but could not because they are unable pay for the gate fees.
This little thing did not escape an alumnus who loves coming home to be with his former classmates during their batch reunion.
Yokosuka, Japan-based Arnel P Hernandez (Batch 73) has raised this little issue about other alumni being unable to pay for their membership fees, which he said could be taken care of (translation: sponsorship) by batch members who are financially able.
Hernandez said if each of those overseas members of Batch ’73 could sponsor the P500 membership fees of at least four of the less-fortunate colleagues in Mambulao, then there would more alumni who would be able to experience and enjoy a homecoming reunion.
But of course, our poor fellow alumni are not limited to Batch ’73 alone who are eking out a living right in Mambulao, as they are not fortunate enough to pursue education that could have equipped them to seek for a better-paying jobs elsewhere.
There were more than 60 batches that graduated from JPHS, now known as JPNHS, and each batch, for sure, would have many who have grown old without living their hometown.
And so, there is sense – merit, most likely - in this call from Hernandez – that is, for those overseas alumni to sponsor the membership fees of their poor batch mates who have been left behind during the scramble for jobs overseas.
He said that a US$50-hole in the pocket could anyway pay the fees of four unfortunate batch members.
There’s barely a month before the big celebration.
One thing that could be done is for those older batches – starting from batch 64 up to the last younger batches in the 1990s – to organize a search for their “lost” poor classmates in Mambulao and bring them the news that they could also join the party on the 28th and 29th of next month.
Who knows? Their being able to reconnect with their old campus mates from long time ago during this big event would turn a colorful page in their less-exciting lives.
And of course, we knew that the more alumni showing up, the merrier the reunion would become.
So, why not sponsor a batch mate? It could make you a few hundred bucks poorer, but would make somebody else’s life richer.