When I visited Philippines in November 2017, I was fortunate to get the chance to see a few of my high school friends. And that short but sweet meet up started it all. None of us knew that it will be the start of a “great plan” for our whole class. Our 25-year high school reunion that we choose to call as “FourTres: Muling Pagtatagpo” was born after a few chats in Viber and group video calls in FB messenger.
Fast forward to 2019, our 25-year class reunion official date has been set and travel plans of those who live abroad has been finalized. Thursdays became one of the favorite days for flooding our FB page with our high school throwback photos. Fridays and Saturdays were our official group chat or group video call days. This is one of the best things about today’s technology and social media platforms - we can set up groups and organize get-together and reunions easily, no matter how separated the group members are.
December 14, 2019 came, reality bites? Has it been really twenty-five years???
Upon arriving at the reunion venue, we can’t hide how we all feel, we literally run into each other’s arms and squealed with so much excitement. Who would have thought that a simple catching up over Starbucks coffee two years ago between 6 friends will become a meet up for the whole class?
That moment, it felt like everyone shared the same happiness and excitement. Each of us were a picture of an individual who was trying to “connect” with our younger days. And we all found each other to be the bearer of that “magic.” The magic to bring back that special connection that we are looking forward to. That evening, it felt like all of us can effortlessly relive one of the most exciting and happiest phases of our lives.
After 25 years, there we are – all the memories we shared were crystal-clear. For sure, a lot of things have already happened and the times that we now live in have changed, but great memories and good relationships cannot be easily changed by time and distance (I know, I’m getting a little cheesy here.) And after seeing my friends and classmates, I realized that no matter how different choices we all made, the 16-year old kid in us was still there. Suddenly, we talked to each other just like the old days, as if there was no 25 years that separated us, we played and danced just like how we were in our senior years in high school.
I remember how my aunt was convincing me to move to one of the private schools in Pasig (my hometown), she felt that I will have a hard time in that huge public high school. Looking back, I don’t have any single regret of not moving. My high school days was challenging (especially if you have parents who always expects you to bring home a general average of not lower than 90% each grading period) but high school days was really filled with fun and excitement. The after class hangout to one of the classmates house or anywhere in school, the cramming days to make it to the deadline for our school projects, the early arrival to the school to finish your homework, the rigid rehearsals for the school plays or contests, the different tactics we did just to stop our teachers from giving quizzes, and of course, who would forget the “crushes” that we thought were the ideal boyfriend/girlfriend to be and more importantly the friendship that we formed because of all the good and naughty things that we did together.
Our 25-year reunion was more than just seeing each other and being together, it was a reunion that’s different from all the other ones that we had in the past. The earlier ones were centered on how everyone wants to see each other because we are curious to see where everyone was and what the other classmates were doing. And maybe, one of the reasons why we came to our 10 or 15-year was our desire to show how the choices we made for ourselves set us well on our way to a great career, a happy marriage or awesome travel adventure.
For sure, most of us have experienced more than what we imagined since we stepped out of Rizal High School in 1994. After 25 years, we know ourselves better, the joys and pains that we went through after high school gave us a deeper understanding of being a human. This time, we don’t see things the same way. Life looks a little different for most of us. We know what’s more important - we respect reality… we do not make judgement easily and more importantly we value friendship.
At 42 (yup that’s our age), the concept of success has changed. Success doesn’t mean the same thing to us than it did in the 1990s.
I guess this clip is the best way to describe how we view things and how we all felt:
What maybe a measure of success to one may not apply to others. It all depend on the choices we made and what we prioritize - some of us are happily married, some choose to remain single, while other choose not to stay married. Some of us choose not to have kids, while others choose to have 3 or more. Some choose to stay employed and have a thriving career, while others put up their own business and enjoy managing their own time. Some choose to work and live abroad, while some stayed in the Philippines. But no matter how much different choices we all made, we still have something in common - we witnessed the same events, we watched the same movies, we listened to the same kind of music and wore the same fashion trends. And most importantly, we all searched our identities in the same four corners of that special place that nurtured our teenage souls – Rizal High School.