ON CLASS REUNION
Friendship is forged in adversity. The more cruel the environment, the better for friendship. The less strenuous, the weaker the relationship is formed. Hence, friendship is memorable during high school years, unforgettable during college years and tremendous if fashioned in prison. The Bible says “A faithful friend is the medicine of life.” (Ecclesiasticus 6:16)
Hazing in college is merely an expressive means, at times a fatal process, where friendship or brotherhood is developed. The boring period of academic life, or in correctional facilities the unstable situation breeds depression which could only be rectified if there is adrenalin rush. Hardship and difficulties in coping provides the furnace on which friendship, whatever it is, is structured accordingly. La Rochefoucauld in Maxims submitted that “ A true friend is the greatest of all blessings, and the one that we take the least care of all to acquire.”
Gangs in prison and fraternities in Colleges were only a symbol on which to anchor one’s adrenalin rush. A reminder of friendship. It provides the color, the shape and the necessary life blood of camaraderie. It is precisely the meaning of alliance, of amity, of solidarity, of fellowship. Without this stimulating process, there is no excitement, no significance in every struggle to attain something. It is like a nation without a sense of nationalism; an organization without mandate; a man without manhood.
Thirty seven years ago, 38 of my classmates in Letran College bid each other goodbye during a ceremonious graduation day. A week ago, we, or what was left of the 38 decided to have a get together. We were only 9 or a measly 20% who made it. We presumed that most of our classmates were already abroad. Some if not most of them have retired from work and having some difficulties in their health. All of us are in the late 50s and early 60s and that means that we are already candidates for high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney trouble, liver ailment, prostrate or cervical difficulties, cardiac weakness, gout and/or physical deformities.
I could only see the usual familiar quality of my classmates from their eyes. Their postures have changed. Some added a number of pounds. The banks in their hair are gone and so is the glow. Hair color however could not hide the welter of wrinkles and the glow of skin. Surely youth has passed through and what remains were merely shadows of their former selves. I could vividly see their original poses from the silhouette of their mannerisms. Gone was the sprite. Gone were the juvenile antics. Gone was the youthful jape.
Years ago, we were the loud ones. Now, we were mostly the sober kind. We were once the trail blazers, now the blazed ones. The icons of yesteryears were the subdued elderly of today. Life is indeed a cycle. Time is catching up on everyone. The suppleness of youth, in a few strokes, is transformed into a weather-beaten leather of seniority. Thoughts become wisdom, jokes become witticism. Life goes on. And dying becomes an inspiration of the living.
NOTES: I am grateful for the visit of my college pals—Dan Bassig, Vio Mateo, Bong Feliciano, Tanggol Co, Ed Garcia, Angel Lee. They have seen how prison in Davao Penal Colony works under the aegis of their classmate from Letran College. I pray that Dan, a retired US Navy personnel and my buddy in kalokohan will overcome and triumph over a health adversity. He is too tough, a tough nut to crack actually. He will definitely win over time.