Ateneo Grade School Class ’64 celebrates golden year

The author with her ‘boys,’ from left, former pupils Dan Macariola, Gil del Castillo, a faculty member; Tito Gallardo, Victor Pineda, Vic Santiago, and Paul Nelson

The author with her ‘boys,’ from left, former pupils Dan Macariola, Gil del Castillo, a faculty member; Tito Gallardo, Victor Pineda, Vic Santiago, and Paul Nelson

By Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D.

Numbers of folks who observe anniversaries say such events come and go. Not so, echo many who anticipate and plan ahead for those once-in-a-lifetime occasions. How about those that arrive five decades after, or dubbed ‘golden,’ in reference to the meaning of gold?

A little more than half-a-century ago, a few hundred, very young men from the seventh grade classes of the Ateneo Grade School, Ateneo de Manila (AGS, ADM) in Loyola Heights, held their graduation rites in March ’64.

Before Year 2014 draws to a close, a cross section, members of the above-mentioned class will get together at their old campus in commemoration of their landmark event. Distinctively, it is a pleasure for this writer to hear the views and insights from some members of that same Class ’64.

Bobby Fabros, sounding off from New York City, calls the many years since, “intervening decades that have dimmed many memories.” Still in reference to that same period, he continues to say: “One of the things I’ve learned over the past half-century is that the time spent accumulating experience, leaves less time to profit from it.”

Hernan Santos from California’s Silicon Valley gives the commentary: “We are celebrating the 50th anniversary of our 1964 class at Ateneo de Manila – it’s a cliché, but it seems only yesterday. After 50 years of diverse and varied experiences, I see myself as an individual who was very lucky to be part of a Jesuit education. Every year, the meaning of ‘AMDG’ becomes clearer. It’s the Jesuit motto: ‘Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.’ How appropriate for those of us who have decided to serve and worship one Master!”

“Life has certainly taken different twists and turns for all of us; however, life remains full of Hope and Love. We just need to remind ourselves every day! We are all truly blessed and we have to continue being good stewards of Our Blessings,” Hernan continues. “As I reflect and smile, what makes me smile the most is how I remember our home room teacher. She was a beacon then, and continues to be a reminder of how lucky we are, and that we never stop growing!”

Dan Macariola, a voice from the Golden State’s Vallejo, recalls his grade school’s offerings of extra-curricular events.

“Grade School was either gymnastics or Glee Club for me. Why? Because one was excused from doing the boring calisthenics every day from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Each year, the month of October ushers in the Christmas season. We would then start preparing merriment for the lantern parade, feast of the guardian angels, exchange gifts, goodies, and candies from our Jesuit headmaster.

“Class Nite was the most enjoyable part of the entire academic year. We were allowed to sleep over within the school building, and use all school facilities all night long. Those footprints of happy times during my grade school days will always be in my heart.”

Ricardo Bautista from the City by the Bay says: “For me, it would have been beneficial to start off sex education at grade school.” He admits to memories cherished: He remembers his grade 7 teacher, the late Ms. Alma Concepcion, describing her as a “very motherly teacher,” and he believes “teachers at the grade school level should be motherly.”

Emmanuel Fernandez states: “On a nostalgic hindsight, 1964 at the AGS, ADM, brought me to a new level of positive awareness.”

He thanks his home room teacher for “training me for the Reading Competition,” as the unforgettable event which gave him a silver medal, presented at graduation rites.

A serious note tinged with humility comes from Paul Nelson who lives in California’s state capital.

“This coming December, our ADM AGS ’64 class, will celebrate its 50th anniversary. To most of us, this milestone means more than 50 years of friendships and relationships. Up to now, I am blessed to have my Grade 7 classmates and friends, having fun, and enjoying each other’s company. After we all re-connected in April 2005, those friendship ties became stronger. I can still recall a lot of naughty things I did in grade school. Had I hurt someone’s feelings during those moments, I apologize.”

Nelson echoes what members from the same class have been saying since word arrived on the scene about a forthcoming half-a-century celebration: “Let us all enjoy this milestone to its fullest. Animo Ateneo!”

Post-grade school memories come from Frankie Guevara.

“Thinking back on my final year in grade school, 1963-64 marked the first of many doors that were to open for me on the path to my personal development. It was an exciting turning point for all of us. We were kings of the grade school campus, and there was an air of excitement as we prepared to say goodbye to the routine of grade school life. We were addressed as ‘gentlemen,’ a word we enjoyed hearing over and over again. We were going to a place where we did not have to wear school uniforms ever again.

“Amid all the excitement, there was always one nagging question: will we survive high school? At the time, it appeared fraught with numerous challenges and obstacles. As it later turned out, high school opened even more doors and choices, both in terms of academic, athletic and social pursuits. This was to continue for the rest of our lives.

“I now realize that all the preparation for our individual future would not have been possible were it not for the dedication of our grade school teachers who patiently hammered down upon us, not only their own personal values, but also the Jesuit ideals.

“This golden anniversary of AGS ’64, coming before the conclusion of 2014, is an appropriate time to express thanks to all our teachers.”

Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D. taught the honors classes of Class ’64 the subjects English Composition, Literature, Public Speaking, and the social sciences, the first woman to join the 7th grade faculty of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School: 1963-1964. “That graduating class is very ‘dear’ to me,” she says. While she believes “anniversaries need not be celebrated by splendor nor garnishment, all friendships and ties should continue to be kept alive through the pursuit of communication, and reaching out whenever possible.”

Ateneo de Manila today

Ateneo de Manila today

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