MHS CLASS 1958: An Ode to a Generation of War Babies

Amor Tantiongco Castro*

An essay about MHS Class 1958 could be best written using the lyrics of a song that goes “Memories, light the corners of my mind. Misty-water colored memories of the way we were”------------

The Way We Were
The members of our batch were either conceived, born or were toddlers during World War II. As such, we grew up with minimal conveniences in life. There was no running water or electricity at that time. Most of us have the responsibility of fetching water from a ground well or from the very few artisan well in town. We did the chores before or after school. We did our homework using kerosene lamps or candles. The laundry and bathing were done in the flowing clear water of the Morong River or using the rain water collected in drums.

We attended the first four years of elementary school in classrooms located at the first floor of the biggest houses in the neighborhood. During the fifth and sixth grade, the pupils from all the barrios/district/barangays attended the classes at the Morong Elementary School in Namay. Walking is the only way to get there and we brave the heat of the sun and the rain during rainy season. The two years gave us the opportunity to meet other pupils from all parts of the town, thus, expanded our interaction and socialization skills. During those years electricity was then provided by generators operated by the Morong Electric Company but only during night time. We were able to listen to a radio, thus kept us informed about what is happening outside Morong.

We did not have the luxury of toys except the paper Mache dolls for girls bought in Paete, Laguna during the yearly trip to attend the “Trumba”. The boys made their own toys trucks using the sardine cans and the Pepsi or Coca Cola tops for wheels. The boy’s games and entertainment were the spider fights, rubber band “sungkit” and “sipa”. Our group games are “patentero”, hide and seek and “bakya” to name a few. We used to play until sunset but obliged to be home when the church bell rings for the “Albi”. We used to get in trouble if we get in later.

Our batch was lucky that the high school buildings were already at the current location that we used to call “site”. Students from the neighboring towns of Baras, Tanay, Pililia, Quisao, Cardona, Talim Islands, Antipolo, and Binangonan joined us. We were a diversified group coming from all socio-economic level and with varied intonation when speaking. We were introduced to the use of uniforms, white blouse and blue skirt for girls and white shirt and khaki pants for boys. For footwear, we often used wooden shoes and leather shoes on special occasions.

The classrooms have minimal furniture, galvanized iron roofing that leaks when it rains and extremely hot on sunny days. The dirt floors are muddy during rainy season and dusty during dry season. The furniture is not always in good condition either. To describe the condition of the furniture we used, I recall that in our Spanish class, Mr. Aranda was teaching us the use of “la” and “el”. When the late Rudy Fradillada was asked to give an example, his answer was “ la silya, la sira”. We all laughed and of course, it made our learning fun.

We had great teachers; some of them were the first graduates of MHS Class 1945 like our class adviser Mrs, Virginia Aralar San Jose and Mrs, Araceli Napiza Romero as well as Mr. Bienvenido Nuque (Class 1948) and Mrs. Avelina Teston Llagas. We still remember Miss Masikip, Mr. San Diego, Miss Uta Francisco, Mrs. Martin, Mr. San Juan, Mr. Aranda, Mr. Pagalunan, and Mr. Balajadia as well as our principals Mr. Paterno and Mr. Bernardo. They influenced our lives, learning and are instrumental in our ability to cope and interact in the competitive world.

We were first year students when a soldier ran amuck while we were doing our final rehearsal for our annual field day. That was a time when the spirit of camaraderie was tested among our group. Teamwork, collaboration and creativity helped us always garnered the first place in drama contests. The folk dancers among us were regularly selected to perform during the school’s weekly program as well as in the town plaza during special celebrations. Our class is always represented during athletic competitions, girls and boy scouting, and as contributors in the school publication, the Chronicle. Incidentally most of the original “Flat Top Boys”, a well known group in town are also our classmates.

Teenage crush and courtship started during those years. Though only a few lasted and ended in marriage, it is a good conversation topic during reunions. Every time our class meets, the source of fun and laughter was when each one present was asked “ Sino and nagustuhan mo o naka gusto sa iyo noong high school tayo?”

To continue, I will again quote the lyrics of the same song that is “Oh, can it be that life was all so simple then? Or has time re-written every line? If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me would we-----could we?

What We Have Become

One hundred seventy two of us (102 male and 70 female) graduated as MHS Class 1958. Our class valedictorian is Benildo Bautista and salutatorian is Anita Angeles Alcasabas. We pursued several paths in our careers and became teachers, engineers, businessman/businesswoman, Real Estate Brokers, security officers, painter, government employees, dressmakers, food caterers, secretary, and hospital aide. A few became doctors, nurses, lawyers, chemist, optometrist, journalist, accountants, medical technologist, and school principal and superintendent. All of us have come to our retirement age and are enjoying the “bonus/golden” years of our lives with our children and grandchildren. Five among our classmates remained single and never got married.

After five decades, we settled in various parts of the world. Forty two stayed in Morong, fifteen in Cardona, fourteen in Teresa, ten in Pililia, three in Quezon City, two in Antipolo, one in each town/city of Binangonan, Malabon, Manila, Pasig, Taytay, Cainta, Tanay, Paranaque, Marikina, Batangas, and Cavite. Those who looked for a greener pasture settled in North America; twenty in California, three in Illinois, two in Florida, two in New Jersey, four in Canada, and one each in New York, Missouri, Michigan and Oregon. We will always remember the forty four classmates who passed away before we celebrated our 50th years (golden) jubilee. May their soul rest in peace.

When we celebrate the grand reunion on July 2009, hopefully a good number of our batch will be healthy and try to join us in New Jersey.

I will end this ode to a generation of war babies with the lyrics of the same song that is: “Memories, may be beautiful and yet, what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget. So it’s the laughter, we will remember, whenever we remember, the way we were-----The way we were.”

40th ( Ruby) Anniversary Souvenir Journal; April 4,1998
50th ( Golden) Anniversary Souvenir Journal; March 29 2008
“The Way We Were”; Allan and Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch

*Mrs. Amor Tantiongco Castro, ’58 is a multi-awarded retired registered nurse board certified in Gerontology who had more than four decades of professional and executive experience in her field. She has had extensive training in oncology nursing and other areas of nursing management since the time she graduated on top of her class from the University of the East RamonMagsaysayMemorial Medical Center in 1963. She moved to the US in mid-6o’s, obtained her Masters Degree at New York University and has been a very active leader and adviser of local and international nursing societies including the Philippine American Medical Society of New Jersey and The Foundation of the UERMMMC Nursing Alumni Association, USA, Inc. Among her many awards are the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society for Nursing and the Who’s Who in American Nursing. She was recently featured in the magazines American Nurse Today and Nursing 2007 being the model nurse leader that she is. She often travels with Dr. El Castro, her husband of 42 years. They reside in Piscataway, NJ and are blessed with three sons: Cesar, El, Jr., and Christopher.

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