By Cesar D. Candari, M.D.
(A.K.A. King Cardarloko)
The venue of the 27 th Annual Reunion-Convention of the FEU-DNR School of Medicine Alumni Foundation was Houston, Texas, known affectionately by its citizens as the “ Bayou City.” It is located in the southeast Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Founded by the Allen brothers in 1836, Houston boasts of its interesting and extensive history, even serving as the temporary capital of the Republic of Texas after the war of Independence from Mexico. Today, Houston covers over 540 square miles and is the fourth largest city in the United States of America. Over 2 million people and 100 ethnic groups call the city home spreading, their unique heritage and influence out in every direction. It is a city of rich diversity. The residents speak more than 90 languages which is part of what makes it a global city Held at the Westin Oak Hotel the alumni reunion-convention was held July 5- 9, 2006. Ushering it was a Reception Dinner followed by the Scientific Seminar, A Filipiana Night (where the United Class ’61 presented its Hawiian Dance-Skit, and concluding with a Grand Ball, where the the Silver and Sapphire Jubilarians were honored and decorated with a medal necklace for their respective year by Mrs. Josephine C. Reyes, chairman of the board of the FEU-NRMF (Philippines), assisted by Rolly Casis, outgoing alumni chairman, and Arsenio Martin, outgoing alumni president. The host and local alumni chapter made good their promise of fun and festivities, superb CME program and altogether, a successful reunion of friends and classmates and their families.
Our United class of '61, the Sapphire (45 -year) Jubilarians this year, had the greatest number of alumni during this reunion, a consistent tradition and record since the foundation started the reunions, except for a couple of occasions, when it did not have the most attendance. At our Ruby Jubilee, we presented Mambo No. 5 group dance. We are, indeed, the United Class of ’61.
This year, there were 20 of us who came from all over the United States, and two of them flying halfway around the world, from the Philippines, to join our reunion. Together with the spouses, there were about 40 of us. About 50% of us are now retired, but all of us are looking good, strong and robust. Men, balding and with pot belly, the women a bit older but nonetheless still sexy.
During the Grand Ball we were in ourformal attire of deep blue cummerbunds and blue bow-ties for the males and a sapphire blue long gowns for the females. Our Sapphire jubilee was indeed beautiful and fantastically memorable !
Those present were: Lydia Aquino and husband Rene Mapua. Vic and Nora Azanza, Uly and Fe Baje, Mimi Bruno and Sonny Racela, Ming and Rose Buzon, Cesar and Cely Candari, Richard and Isabel Uy Chiu, Philip (our class prexy) and Farida Chua, Sam and Remy Diasen Sonson, Buddy and Lucy Foz , Fred and Glicey Lim, Rudy de Ocera and Zaida Padua, Lilia Pagtakhan-Luna, Lily Naguit and Abraham Sim, Bennie and Letty Subido Dacanay, Nancy Raymundo Calderon, Raul and Roslinda Doriendo-Seballos. Lilia and Lydia and Rene came all the way from the Philippines.
For the first time in 45 long years, Nancy Leona Raymundo-Calderon joined our class reunion. Obviously, we got out of touch, many of us seeing each other once a year or so, but in this occasion, our Sapphire Jubilee, we rekindled our friendship and camaraderie, from deep in our hearts, with great joy and excitement that exude whenever we got together. This love we have for each other will stay forever green in our group. You see, the yearning to see one another is never ending in this United Class '61, with the leadership of Philip Chua and the sincere closeness of our loyal members.
From the very first day of the festivities, with a Western Texas Style welcome reception, it was evident that the reunion was to be more than just nostalgia of our school days on Morayta. It was deeper and more profound than that. It was friendship and kinship reborn. Once again we were old suddenly younger, back to our days in the medical school. What a fantastic youth-transforming phenomenon.
The Alumni Filipiniana Night showcased the FEU version of the “Academy Award-winning presentation” of the “Sapphire Jubilarians, who presented a Hawaiian dance-skit on July 7 th. This was choreographed by the tireless and very talented couple, Abe Sim and Lily Naguit-Sim, and participated in by all the members of United Class ’61, where the male members were topless and wore (“nothing” else but) a crown made of green leaves, grass skirt, beaded necklace and anklets. The story before the dance was narrated behind the scene by Philip, which went:
“Once upon a time, in a tiny remote and secluded island in Hawaii, untouched by civilization, there lived a mighty king by the name of King Candarloko, who was very sad and depressed about his inability to father a son, a successor to the throne. His 8 wives failed to give him a son. One day at dawn, he had a dream. In his dream, out of the blue, he met a beautiful woman who bore him a son. His dream was so vivid, so real, he became so obsessed in finding this fertile maiden, but no one knew who or where she was. He believed that the gods would bless him, and find this fertile wife for him, if he made a special offering to them by the 7th sunset of the 7 th moon. He then summoned his best chieftains and their wives from the various regions in the island to perform an ancient religious dance ritual to please the gods. After the offering, like in his dream, the future mother of his son would suddenly appear from nowhere, and dance her way to his heart.”
King Cardarloko, played by Cesar Candari, was in his throne, while his chieftains and their wives swayed to the rhythm of the famous music from the cartoon movie Lilo and Stich as they performed the fertility dance to the gods. The females wore a long Hawaiian MuMu, a necklace and bracelet with large beads, while the men were topless, with authentic grass skirts, necklace and anklets, exposing their pot belly. Notwithstanding arthritis, all of us danced with grace (albeit out of sequence sometimes) and gusto. The dance skit was met with a standing ovation, and paparazzi from various classes swarmed our class, as we posed for a posterity souvenir shot. There must have been 30 “photographers” taking our picture. And there were some who came and took my picture while I (King Candarloko), with my rotund pot-belly, was sitting on my throne on the stage.
Philip has coined my new name, King Candarloko, with his subjects of lokos and lokas. As he has stated in a post reunion email to all of us, “our ability as a class to make fun of ourselves, make fool of ourselves, when the right occasion comes, signify our zest for life and our love to enjoy it….we are all “game” and sport, and willing even to dance practically “naked” in the name of friendship and fun and to entertain…All these qualities make United class 61 what it has been in our life and career and during our reunions”
Our Hawaiian dance-skit was only a five-minute presentation. We started practicing the dance on Wednesday and had only 3 practice sessions. Lilia attended the last session and still did well. Nevertheless, at the grand presentation, we turned out to be a colorful bunch, a magical production turning into be a big hit. As the story went, King Cardarloko finally got his wish, when a beautiful maiden (played by Remy D of Hawaii) came out from nowhere and made the king happy, and they walked down the sunset with his tribe and live happily everafter.
The practice sessions were full of fun. We were no more the intellectual, respectable, formal, and dignified doctors, rather, we were simply the young boys and girls of the FEU. It was full of joy and warm feeling, simply fun. The laughter, the giggling, the kidding, brought us back to those happy college years. It was as if we were at the FEU campus once again.
Seriously speaking, the spirit of class '61 is vibrant as ever. Historically, we have many unique qualities. The medical board examination was topped by a member our class, Vic Verzosa. Our class was also well represented in student councils and other organizations in the medical school. On top of that, our class got eight of the ten top places that year. We were the first to produce an alumna to become the director of the FEU hospital in the person of Lilia Pagtakhan-Luna. We are always first in school spirit and participation. We topped the number of attendees in most jubilarian celebrations. We did it this time after forty five years after graduation. We produced the hard-bound color yearbook for our 33 rd anniversary through the hard work of Philip, and was the envy of other classes. Many tried but could not duplicate this. If I am feeling very proud, please indulge me and forgive me. This pride in me in the United Class of ’61 is simply too malignant and has metastasized to my brain.
We danced the rest of the evening. We missed those that were unable to make it this time: Jobo and Ruby Chanco, Ot and Rosemary de Leon, Bert and Ching Baretto, Roger and Cora Acosta, Conrado and Nellie Doce, Ernie and Linda Aqui, Desiderio Segundo, Ted Julio Teodoro, Jimmy and Mila Sendaydiego, Manuel and Amelia Levardo Catalan (practicing in Carmona, Cavite). We also missed Luming Holgado Daza, and Mommy Baldemor, , Eenesto Madarang and Hai, Fred Milan and Marcela,Vic Verzosa, Remy Dionisio, Ruby Cureg, Bobby and Emma Dichoso, Ben “Doy” and Fely Camacho, Sally Nobleza, Sol Ganchorre, Marianito Chua and others whom I cannot remember now.
Those of us in the retirement circle are glad to have put to rest the headaches of medical practice. That darn phone ringing in the middle of the night that makes anal sphincteric contraction no longer happens. Now, we are free from the pains of managed care, capitation, market focus, competition, buy-out, and mergers of practices, and above all, the potential of malpractice lawsuits. Although we are on fixed income now, we are at peace. We are more content. Peace be with you all. Those of you who are still working, part-time or full-time, don’t give up the ship. Don’t change your tires while you still enjoy your work.
We came to this reunion to savor the memories and have great fun. At this stage in our lives, you can never predict the Almighty's will. We hope those who attended this convention shall continue to experience the great feeling of love, cohesiveness of the United Class of ‘61, with the bonds of friendship deepening even more as years go by.
Hope to see you next time around. May God always be with you.