Sunday, January 31, 2010

"Small but Terrible"
Wilhelmina (Pee-Wee) Reyes Bella
By Esther Lejano
I first bumped into Pee-Wee at St. Theresa’s College (San Marcelino) in elementary school and for the second time at PWU in Junior Year – High School. Our path would cross again for the third time in 1976 here in Canada. She was with Precious Conde Ramos (deceased) when we met while queuing for a haircut at someone’s house. We started going out together…….attending parties…..jamming at clubs and playing mahjong. For some reasons, we lost touch for several years. We meet again when Precious became ill. Pee-Wee helped care for Precious in the last three months before Precious succumbed to cancer.

Pee-Wee moved to Canada in 1973 with her then husband (name of ex-husband) while she was pregnant with her youngest daughter. She and her husband parted ways and she moved on with her life raising two boys and two girls. Along the way, Pee-Wee had a special relationship with three men, all much younger than her (uso na pala noon ang cougar); one is still with her.

She has four children, eleven grandchildren and two great-grand children. If you don’t remember Pee-Wee, she is a very petite woman…….small but terrible. Now that she is retired, she spends her days babysitting her grand & great-grand children; and doing errands and driving her children everywhere. Pee-Wee enjoys every moment of it.

Pee-Wee worked with several government offices and was working at the Worker’s
Compensation Board when she retired.

Friday, January 29, 2010


"When you find a golden memory, savor it."- by Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein, from Life, The Greatest Ride of All
EBB'S E-TALK: As our 50th high school reunion draws closer each day, I could feel the excitement on the air. I still remember the day when Sari e-mailed me about the 50th anniversary of our high school class. Honestly I wasn't very enthusiastic about it. Then my father-in-law's sudden death last March 2009, put a heavy financial burden on us (my husband being the eldest son had to give more). I don't remember what "magical" thing changed my mind. Before I knew it I said..."Yes! I am going to the reunion." One thing led to the other. Then I also said...."Yes! I'll start our PWU blog." I don't know what I ate that day but I didn't regret saying... "Yes!" I keep on asking myself what if I said "NO" to all this. There will be no "Gintong Ala-ala" and of course I will not be connected to many of you. My endless admiration goes to Sari for her faithfulness in connecting to many classmates over the years. I wish I had that kind of heart and spirit-friendly, persistent and ever caring. There are so many people to thank - especially those who work hard to make our reunion something to remember. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. My thanks goes also to Tessie Guerra for her beautiful watercolor rendering of our beloved PWU alma mater. I no longer have a vivid memory of that building. Tessie made it looks so fresh and new. It feels like I am again a freshman, in my cute white uniform & smiling innocently.
I am also getting excited about our Bali Hai show. I don't mean to be a "kill joy" for wanting to just be a post or statue. I will go with the flow and sway. When I was still very young, I remember that "South Pacific" is one of my favorite musical movie & play. The appeal is timeless. Last July 2009, when my husband & I were in New York city we watched the "South Pacific" Broadway show w/ close friends at the Lincoln Center. As always the play made me fall in love again. I am sure that during our reunion the friendship which started 50 years ago will keep us more closer in the years to come. Thanks a million to Puri for her creativeness and dedication to our "Bali Hai" presentation.
A few days after we attended the 78th PWU reunion in Sofitel last Feb 2009, a meeting was called for our first brainstorm-planning meet. Our retired diplomat classmate Linda Chacon-Baisa arranged for the venue at the Dusit Thani Board Room. We sat at this long formal table with floral arrangements and a printed menu for our initial dinner meeting. It was an impressive get together replete with live music by a father and daughter team of guitarists and singers brought by Gerry. And so we were IT, the next golden jubilarians. Linda reserved the Ballroom of the Dusit Thani Hotel that same evening for Feb 20,2010, a year in advance. It seemed like a very long time and now here it beckons sweeping us off our feet.
Present were Gerry Tiongson, President, Celia Espiritu, 1st VP and Lita Ramos 2nd VP of PWUAA who also happened to be our classmates. Also present were, Linda Baisa, Cora Gatchalian, Sari Valenzuela, Bong Staub, Roselani Mariano and I.
1960 was the first release of the well-loved movie South Pacific, a Pulitzer awardee for Best Drama based on James Michener’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel for Literature. We all agreed the theme would be based on the strength of the South Pacific. Suddenly light bulbs flashed in my head, and why not call it Bali-Hai? My head started spinning since then with blind faith, accompanied with fear of logistical difficulties as we are spread out across the globe. But this age of easy Internet access helped as well as an outpouring of magnanimous support from many.
As 1960 high school graduates, South Pacific was a story so fresh we still vividly remember, as it is as timeless as its music, its people, and its island paradise. It’s all about languages. It speaks and sings the language of a wide range of emotions. The universal language of longing, love, tenderness, heroism, prejudice, tragedy and triumph. All in the spirit of life’s lust for fun in its endless and poignant journey to Bali-Hai.
In no time, our avid chief honcho Sari Valenzuela searched high and low detecting clues on the whereabouts of missing classmates. Her perseverance rubbed off so most of us deployed our own sniff dogs as well. Our group email grew from 5 to 35. Soon we were glued to our inboxes for daily news and new additions to our group. It will put the local papers to shame as our topics went from silly to wild and hilarious.
Our artist classmate Evelyne Dirige Resella invited me to her blog to visit her painting gallery in early June. As I was raving she offered to teach me to do my own blog. But I quipped why for me, why not for our class? And so I named it Golden Memories. Our nationalistic Sari wanted a Filipino word so we just translated to Gintong Ala-ala. You may visit us at http// Evelyne does a weekly posting religiously. There we find each other as we have bridged a gap of 50 years. Our bios and now photos are posted along with our HS portraits so we will recognize one another with our new looks when we meet. It encouraged many of us to meet in mini reunions to renew acquaintances and fill up the long gaps in our lives. Because we discovered through the blog where each one lived, we connected instantly. It’s a small world now as many of us met in various places coast to coast from New York to Chicago to San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, San Diego, Napa, Tahoe and Canada. They brought about a series of laughters and excitement in finding and enjoying one another just like old times. Now we are ready for our Golden Jubilee Celebration that took us a year in the making. Our artist classmate Tessie Ocampo-Guerra painted a watercolor rendition of our school fa├žade nestled in an old acacia tree the way we remember it as we entered in and out of its iron gates. We anticipate a fitting Dinner Presentation, inspired by the South Pacific called “Voyage To Bali-Hai”. It is my honor and great pleasure to present this small production as tribute to my dear classmates and our beloved Alma Mater, our true Bali-Hai. Let us heed its call.
By Puri Capistrano-Laconico
PWU HS-1960
"Reunion Aftershocks" -Wednesday, March 25, 2009
From: Celia Espiritu
Can't get over how successful our last reunion was, both the grand reunion at Sofitel and the mini-reunion at Dusit. Nine years ago, when we were the Ruby Jubilarians, we were praying that we would all still be around for our golden jubilee which is next year, 2010. Nine years later, last Feb 21, it looked like our prayers were being answered. Meeting each other again after a long time brought squeals, much giggling and hugs. Catching up with each other was easy, bringing back memories of the old high school days. (Tessie, we missed you truly.) Cynthia Ugalde-Tan escorted by her husband for the second time around celebrated the occasion with us. Tey Laconico was also a repeat. Puri danced the Rigodon, I was a co-emcee and Gerry was on top of the affair, being the President and Chairman. A reunion would not be complete without giving honor to our beloved teachers but we spotted only a few - Mrs. Pura Sacro-Badoy, Mrs Lydia Marcos, Miss Abueg, now aStella Maris nun. But it was our mini-reunion at Dusit, efficiently arranged by our Class Diplomat Linda that fittingly solidified the renewing of ties. Present were Balikbayans Linda, Puri, Rose, Sari and Bong and locals Gerry, Cora, Lita and myself. Through Linda's connections, we were given our own function room where we spent the night dining, chatting, listening and dancing to the music of Amanak - a father-daughter duo who entertained us with their vocals and guitar accompaniment. Trust our Class Promoter Gerry to spot alumni talent - the daughter being a PWU alumna. We had waiters attending to our every need as the delicious dinner and drinks were being served. Linda, thank you so much. The second part of our "Alumni Dinner" was planning for 2010, our turn to become the Golden Jubilarians. We brainstormed about the theme, music, the program - Puri was a treasure trove of ideas-and came up with a Hawaiiaan theme - with the movie South Pacific asour musical number. Remember Happy Talk and I'm Gonna Wash that Man Right out of my Hair? Lots of ideas there about costumes, songs and decorations. Costumes can be muu-muus or sailor outfits. Our Class Gardener and Florist Puri will choose a flower (in gold) which can be used on our hair or leis and printed on our giveaways. It will be a family affair - and activities will be planned to accomodate the various age groups. Puri has dance instructionals on how to "hula". We all ended up on an excited note and promised to share our ideas as early as now via email. So ladies, any more ideas and websites, pictures, old records and tapes on this theme? The school must have a old video of the South Pacific Operetta performed on the Campus Stage - we all remember that was a big production.In the meantime, we need someone (Sylvia Estrella Caniza?) who has connections with the travel industry -to plan out of town trips for the balikbayans and their families. Soabout about it. By the way, my husband and I are visiting the West coast soon. We leave Manila April 17 for San Francisco for 2 nights, then drive to Sacramento to spend the week with Roby's sister Marissa who has cancer. We may go to Seattle to visit old friends, go back to Sacramento then spend a few days in the Bay area before we come back to Manila on May 7. Puri and Rose, let's get together - who else are in your area?

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Late Bloomer - Azucena Valenzuela Poblete

Azucena Valenzuela Poblete
After graduating from high school at Philippine Women’s University (PWU 1960) she continued her studies at the same university. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, major in Finance from PWU, 1964. Shortly after working with Far East Bank and Trust Company, Philippines, she moved to New York in 1970 and has lived in Queens, New York since that time. She loves living in Queens and considers it her second home. This is where Ening, as friends and family fondly call her, bloomed. Even Ening has marveled at how she matured when she established herself in New York City. She had worked for General Telephone & Electronics Corporation, Air India, Mobil Corporation, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ernst & Young, TIAA-CREF, and the United Nations. All these employers had relied heavily on Ening’s job knowledge, dedication, efficiency and close attention to details. Although Ening retired from the United Nations at age 60 (an automatic age retirement at UN), she was offered and continues to work as a consultant for her executive UN boss, who can’t seem to manage without her. Ening is quite active in organizations that promote the Philippine culture.
She was married to the late Cesar A. Poblete and is blessed with one daughter, Raquel, a flutist who is a member of the Brooklyn Symphony Orchestra and Queens Philharmonic in New York. Raquel, who is Ening’s pride and joy, is a flute teacher and performer. The renowned Julliard School of Music in New York is one of the schools where Raquel teaches flute when needed.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My Friend Girlie Rivera

It is with great pleasure that I write about my dear friend, Teresita Rivera, Girlie as we fondly call her. Girlie and I have been friends since first year high school. She was one of the first classmates that I became friends with when I transferred to PWU. The four Rivera sisters are all PWU high school students, and university graduates, including their mother, Mrs. Loreto Palis Rivera. All the seven Rivera brothers and sisters attended JASMS as well. Puedeng sabitan ng medalya for being true and loyal to PWU.
After high school graduation, Girlie and I remained close to one another. I was a frequent “bwisitor” at the Rivera household and came to call her mother “mommy”. I became a part of the family, and in the Rivera household, then and now, there is never a dull moment. The funny stories are never ending, giggles and laughters fills the air. You can feel the love and respect that the siblings have for one another, and a visiting friend would always feel welcome, and entertained by the whole clan.
Girlie is a good dancer. It was Girlie who taught me how to dance the boogie, and other dance craze that came after. She and her older brother Vic were my instructors. Every new dance craze, name it, brother and sister always at hand to show you the latest dance steps. We were always partying with Girlie as the party organizer. Can’t resist putting that big smile on my face when I recall those wonderful years
Girlie graduated with a degree in Bachelors of Science in Liberal Arts at PWU. In 1974 she left for Canada to join her younger sisters, Carmelita and Evelyn. In Canada she worked with the Montreal Trust and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. A couple of years after, Girlie decided to switch and work in a travel agency. She has been on the same job for 25 years. Girlie has remained single but have a long time beau of 27 years named Ed. Don’t blame Ed, it is Girlie’s wish not to get married, and Ed has been very patient in adhering to her wishes. Mommy Loreto mentioned to me a couple of times in the past (before she passed on) that Girlie did not want to be separated from her siblings, and her family. Girlie’s devotion to her family is super overwhelming, very unique indeed. Ed at this time is still hoping that Girlie will finally say YES to him. Incidentally, I have yet to meet Ed. I know his name, their relationship but have not met him in person. Cheers to Ed for being such an understanding, patient, and loving guy to my dear friend.
The Rivera family holds their yearly reunion in Virginia at the home of their youngest sibling, Ding. Invited or not, I join them whenever I can. Last August, Sari and I made plans to drive from New York to Virginia. Unfortunately I fell ill
and could not travel, Sari ended up not going as well.
My friendship with Girlie is the kind of friendship that even if we are thousand of miles apart, the bonding is there, tightly sealed. A true BFF (Best Friends Forever). I love you friend.

The Seasons of My Life by Celia Arreza Espiritu

Ten years ago, when we celebrated our Ruby anniversary, many of us expressed the hope of reaching our Golden Jubilee. Ten years seemed like a long time to wait then. But now that it has come, it surprises us and we can say “parang kahapon lamang”. The years went by so quickly.

The family has grown. Out of five children, three have gotten married. Our eldest Cheli is married to Art Tabuena and have two children Alex, 10 yrs old and Anton 7 yrs old. She is 1st VP of Security Bank and he is Finance Manager of International Container Terminal Services Inc. Ricky is a Wholesale Channel Head for Funds Business of IGN and is married to Rowena de la Paz. They have two daughters, Bianchi and Sophia ages 10 and 8 yrs old. Kitty is a fulltime housewife and mother to Alba, 18 months old. She is married to Rico Ricafort, a Pastor at Every Nation Ministries. Tinni is currently the Marketing Manager of Panoly Resort Hotel Boracay. Raffy, the youngest, and the one that took after me in terms of talent and inclination lives in Vancouver, BC and is a video producer and writer.
My schoolgirl ambition of continuing on to postgraduate studies and following in the footsteps of our beloved Tita Helen has long been burned out of me. Married a few years after graduating from an AB degree majoring in Communication Arts, I worked briefly as a copywriter for J Walter Thompson. It was during this time that I I got married to Roby Espiritu and the children came soon after. I quit my advertising stint because the schedule was not suitable to my complex roles of wife and mother and accepted a position as a Kindergarten teacher at the International School Manila where I taught for 8 years. It was so complimentary to that particular season in my life that I started my own preschool in our backyard in BF Paranaque. Our children grew up in that school and learned their basic rudiments of reading and writing and getting along with other children. Adjusting to the big school and the bigger world became easy for them as a result and I was proud to be a part of that. I had found my niche at last.
The eight years I spent at the PWU, graduating as high school valedictorian, being Editor in chief of the Philwomenian , Student Cabinet President , Secretary of the National Union of Students and the College Editors Guild, Bayanihan dancer of the national troupe, and one of 8 participants from Asia of the US Dept of State Experiment in International Living all seem to be a blur now but the lessons learned, the values imparted and the experience of the world opening up to me were invaluable and will forever remain in me – making me a better person and citizen.
Since our Ruby anniversary, my husband long- retired from Asian Development Bank as a Manager , and I have enjoyed the benefits of retirement, travelling to new places and playing golf as recreation with me as a very willing partner. But one thing I haven’t retired from is the renewing of ties with old friends and classmates, being active in the church community and organizations and keeping in touch with our dear Alma Mater - keeping its ideals and spirit alive and looking forward to the next decade of its Centenary. God willing, we, classmates of High School Class 1960 shall all be around to celebrate PWU’s 100th Founding Year and our Diamond Jubilee. Till then, God bless us all.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


PWU Class 1960
From Ebb: She's one classmate I will never forget despite of not seeing her for fifty years. Why? Who could forget one who was always seated next to me in high school class. Most of the time we were seated together alphabetically.....Dirige......then Dizon...etc. Like me Eloi was very quiet back in high school. I had no idea that someday she would be a successful doctor.
Here's her short refreshed bio: I went to UP for a Bachelor of Science degree, was there at the same time as Ebb,Cora,Linda, Sari although we did not see each other. I had no social life at that time, it was a very competitive atmosphere,just focused on getting good grades to get into the College of Medicine. Luckily,I made it and graduated in 1969 . I finished a pediatric residency at Phil. General Hospital, Manila and went to the US on the exchange visitor program . After a year of working in pediatrics,my kids and I were getting sick all the time from me bringing home the bugs from all the sick kids I was seeing , I decided to go into and finished a residency in Psychiatry .I thought mental illness was not contagious. I had expected to stay for a couple of years in the US but martial law happened so I decided to wait until it was over,but it took 20 years and I had reached the point of no return. I lived in Chicago for 30 years, I was medical director of the dept of> psychiatry at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Chicago and medical adviser to the Social Security Administration for 17 years.
I have been married to Rodrigo "Jun"Farrales for 37 years. Jun was my classmate in med school, he did his premed at Ateneo de Manila and is a diehard Atenean. In 2005 after he retired from his Child psychiatry practice, We started to do volunteer work , joined medical missions to the Phil. and did part time work in California and at the same time enjoy the weather and all that California offers. We have been in various places in California,all the places Puri Knows. For the past year we have been working at Atascadero State hospital. This is a forensic hospital which means all the patients are either criminals or not guilty by reason of insanity. We both consider this our" giving back "phase. When all this working is over, we plan to retire in Las Vegas. and continue with medical mission work. I have 2 sons, EricK is a lawyer,MBA married to another lawyer,, Roel is an MD and is an emergency room doctor at St Francis Hospital in San Francisco and Daly City. He is single and looking. I still have not been blessed with grandchildrenThat in a nutshell is how I spent the past 50 years. It seems that time went by so fast, I still have many things I want to do.
************************************************************************************* A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO PWU CLASS 1960 - BY Cora Fausto Gatchallian
To the long lost and newly found
To those who were never lost and were always there - in touch all these years
To those who we might still find within the next few weeks
To those in 'Labor Pains" as Puri aptly put it
To those who can not attend the reunion - you will be with us in spirit
Prayers to those who have left us for another world.

I have high hopes for 2010 - and it begins with a wonderful gift- that of seeing former classmates of 50 years ago - having a great time, bonding, praying together and thanking the Lord for allowing us still to be around to celebrate this wonderful occasion.
Looking forward to seeing you all in Bali Hai!!!Cora

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I was born on 6 December 1942 to Cecilio Chacon of Cagayan de Oro City and Gregoria Baisas of Paete, Laguna. Sadly, I had no siblings. I was never spoiled by my parents though, that was one of my blessings.
I grew up happily in a world of music and dancing. My parents were good dancers. They won in competitions in then Sky Room, Manila Hotel’s Winter Garden and many other places, several of which I witnessed as young member of the audience. There were times when there were no available babysitters so I had to tag along. My father was my partner in my first dance when I was only 15 years old. I recall how proud he was as he led me to the dancefloor. My mother watched amusingly as she saw how nervous I was. My father whispered to me, “Smile!”
As I pursued my Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service Course at UP, my parents tended a convenience store at the ground floor of our family home at 6th Avenue, Caloocan City after my father’s retirement from the City Assessors’ Office at Manila City Hall. I had to stay at the Banahaw Residence Hall on UP campus on weekdays owing to the distance between our residence and the university.
My father passed away when I was a sophomore. I applied for student assistantship at UP’s Office of Student Affairs where I was luckily accepted to support my mother and be able to continue my studies. I met my husband at that office. We had a good relationship at that time. My mother thought he was the best man for me so she readily gave her approval when he proposed marriage.
I married Leonardo Baisa, an accountant who later transferred to Sycip, Gorres, Velayo & Co, on 7 December 1963. We were blessed with a daughter, Rowena, and 3 years later, a son, Eric. Due to irreconciliable differences, my children and I decided to separate from him. I thought it was the only way to have peace of mind – for himself, the children and myself.
I brought up Rowena and Eric by myself without any help from anyone..... the three of us were happy inspite of occasional difficulties arising from being the sole breadwinner and the physical absence of a father figure for my children. With God’s help, we enjoyed a very normal, comfortable family life while I was posted in several countries as a diplomat. Rowena and Eric both graduated in Sydney with marketing and graphic designing degrees, respectively.
I joined the Department of Foreign Affairs as a young clerk in 1967. My first assignment was at then Philippine Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan where I was secretary to the ambassador for 7 ½ years. I felt lucky in having been part of the team that closed our diplomatic mission in 1975 following the Philippines’ One-China Policy. I stayed in Manila for almost 5 years for my children’s uninterrupted study at JASMS-Malate.

In 1980, I was assigned to the Philippine Consulate General in Sydney, Australia as Cultural Officer, then as Vice Consul-Cultural Officer. I completed 8 years in this post. After my recall for home office duties, I was designated Director for Culture and Information at DFA’s Office of ASEAN Affairs.
In 1991, I was sent to the Philippine Embassy in Athens, Greece as Second Secretary and Consul. I was crossposted to our embassy in Seoul, South Korea in 1994 in the same capacity. I was promoted to First Secretary before I returned to Manila in 1997. I returned to the Office of ASEAN Affairs and was again designated Director for Culture and Information. This position gave me much satisfaction as I was sent to the different ASEAN member countries and worked with my peers on various big cultural activities, such as ASEAN Film Week, ASEAN Song Festival, etc. I enjoyed them immensely as I interacted with ASEAN countries’ representatives/participants.
In 2001, I was assigned as First Secretary and Consul General to Hanoi, Vietnam. I consider this as my most interesting foreign posting. My 6 ½ years in Vietnam were most fulfilling as Vietnam assumed a very prominent role within ASEAN.
I retired from Philippine Government service on 6 December 2007. After completing usual clearances at DFA, I proceeded to Sydney, Australia and became a permanent resident. I took up advance computer course for a year to relax my mind. Then I did a part-time job as administrative assistant at a lawyer’s office. I completed a course on marriage celebrancy leading to obtaining a license as a Professional Civil Celebrant on 2 June 2009.
I say without batting an eyelid that there is so much happy and good life in retirement. God has been extremely kind to me.