Good old friends from Bukidnon
Way back in 1993 Malaybalay, Bukidnon; I joined a high school fraternity. It’s one of those younger versions of groups like the Masons and the Knights of Columbus.
There were 24 of us in our batch. It was not a school-based group so I was able to meet new friends from other schools.
I got my first taste of fraternity initiation, all in the guise of belongingness. But it was fun.
I had two friends, from another school, in my batch who became my good buddies. Diany, who is now a high school teacher in southern Bukidnon and Mark, now an engineer at Bukidnon’s biggest sugar mill. We were called by our parents the “Three Musketeers” because we were the inseparable trio.
Among the corniest things we have done is to serenade a girl Diany was courting in 1994. We also got chased by village dogs near a military camp in suburban Malaybalay because we went home too late. One night, in summer 1995, we laughed our night out when we saw a piece of balot (a duck egg delicacy) on our way to a noodle house (lomi-han).
We asked Mark to pick it up but he refused. We ended up laughing at each other about self-control, luck and even karma for turning down on a grace (from the street).
Many times we sleep in Mark’s place. We spend a night away of singing with a mix of Christian music and love songs dedicated to our girlfriends (who by the way did not know we claimed they were our girlfriends!)
It was just our own way to pass over our failure to say the magic words (tor-pe, that is). High school was like that. It threw us into adventurism of all sorts – including testing the waters for teen relationships.
Our most memorable sojourn together was selling encyclopedia and other books around the towns along the shores of Macajalar Bay going to Butuan City. Mark’s mom was a book distributor and we took advantage of “Summer of 1994” (that’s how we call that experience now).
For Mark and Diany, it was just another summer vacation. But I was in the caravan for a number of reasons. By opening of the following school year, I would attend university in Miagao, Iloilo. I needed money from a summer job.
We really had fun for around 38 days in the book caravan. From talking to senior citizens, eating along beaches, meeting new friends, waking up as early as 3 in the morning! (to meet village fishers for very fresh catch for breakfast) among many others.
Unknown to the elders of the group, we also rowed a small banca to a small island in Balingoan, Misamis Oriental called “Pulo” (which is Tagalog for Island).
We left Balingoan shore at around 3p.m. and we “docked” in the island by 4:15p.m. It was a small island, the kind some parts of which submerge during high tide.
The island was mysterious. We went to its elevated part and inspected the whole lonely and secluded island. We didn’t see Captain Hook’s loot, but the emptiness made us feel so strange. We caught a quaint sight of the sun set in the bay. We had fun talking and teasing about, of all things, witches.
The next moment, we just realized it was already dark and we couldn’t see where we tied the boat. It was already 6:30 p.m. Much worst, the rain poured.
It was the peak perhaps of our adventurism. We were able to return to Balingoan at around 9p.m. Of course, we found the whole congregation worried and terrified about our “disappearance”. Nobody knew we left to cross the island. The eldest in the group told us that with the bad weather, they did not expect us to return safely.
From that summer to present, we have made it a point to update each other amid our separate lives and different paths taken.
The latest was Mark’s wedding to Pam over the weekend. Mark is two years younger than me and that is why he and Pam teased me about my plans to move on.
But it was a good reunion of sorts. Diany, who married three years ago, was not able to attend. But as Mark exchanged I DOs with Pam, I said to myself, finally my friends have said the magic words. They have sang their love songs and made their dream girls hear it.
Mark listed me among the groomsmen. The nerve! At one point, It felt like it was really a torture standing there in your friend’s wedding amid his teases that he has gone ahead and I’m the last.
I just hope, that I will not keep that role for good.