After half a century, man must have transformed himself physically, mentally and to a certain extent socially. Fifty years meant changes in or a toll on his poise, hair color, complexion, health and gait. Mentally, he becomes matured, patient and established or cautious, wary and petulant. Socially, depending on his circulation and relationships, conditions may either make him prosperous or virtually at a standstill.
Depending on where a person is coming from, success is measured from a variety of standards. It may come from the looks, the bearing, the jewels, the transportation. It may also be in the way the person talks, walks and balks. A person who is quick to laugh is sometimes seen as gay and considerate, a quality projected by accomplished personalities. A person who is serious, moody and somber is believed relatively to be more affluent, well-heeled and consummate. Those at bay or those who would rather stay in the background, acting regularly and ordinarily are seen as the typical guy in town, a fence sitter, archetypal.
But what happens to kids after 50 years? In this country where 50 years began in the mid 60s and culminates in the early 2000s, this meant a lot. The conscious years of the 60s were a period of re-awakening of cultural differences and fusion. Hence, the hippie culture or the people power fashion. Music has turned from melancholic to rock, from bucolic to urban. The 70s became martial and too restrictive for the youth, too demanding for adults but generally stable. The 80s capped with collective angst until EDSA Revolution ignited. Politics became shallow, cheap and retributive, a caricature of the past.
The 90s were meant for exploration and probe. This was the time when the educated class would leave the country for greener pasture. This would likewise signal collective migration or exodus if you may, which nearly caused brain drain in the country. While remittance from overseas work propped up the economy, the dearth of skilled professionals is found wanting among services due the people.
Among my elementary classmate friends who took the challenge, there were the Belen Maglalang, the Cora Leviste, the Susan Villafranca, the Me Ann Nd Steven, the Rodrigo Espanol, the Sonny Salvador, the Elmer/Butch Moreno, the Edmundo Rebagay, the Alfredo Tabayoyong and more. Accordingly, they made it in the so-called land of milk and honey. They were a class of their own, a notch higher than their counterparts if cultural and economic contact is the mode of comparison.
Those who remained, the Elmo Abad, the Lorna Diaz, the Judith Andres, the Natz Antonio, the Maria Lourdes Santos, the Bella Sabares, the Angie Cruz, the Rowena Ravelo, the Oca Carreon, myself and the rest, life has been a constant struggle and economic tussle. But we had advantages not only in terms of climate which we never bothered to adjust with but also in terms of familiarity in terrain. Not only are we on familiar grounds but also a stone’s throw away from the nearest sympathetic neighbor and relatives. We could only pray for our friends in faraway land.
Again the question is asked, what happens after 50 years. There will be a lot of expectations, gross expectations actually. Once reunited, we will all be tasked to retrace where we left off. We will definitely look at each other in the eye, the only part of human body which never changes. And from there reminisce those times we held each other’s attention. We will of course be bothered with signs of ageing; those telltale signs of deformities brought about by sickness or accidents, those wrinkles, those once supple complexions, the voice, the mannerisms.
I have friends who intentionally wanted to beg off from gathering. They would rather look at the group from a distance. They would rather appreciate and be animated using a ten-foot pole. They just wanted to be where they are and strategically far to be affected. Definitely, they will be satisfied and pleased, gratified even after watching his or her peer group re-unites. They would rather retain the impression of youth on neutral grounds at home without contributing to its evolutionary consequences.
But for those who would attend the reunion, it would mark as fitting gesture of a generation that began heartily and about to pass on in its sweet time its shadows to the next.