We were of diverse origin, but FATE had it planned for us to be the BEST of friends.
Second semester of year 1987 saw us, Francisco Vargas Castillo, Jr., Ma. Socorro Flores Sabandal, and me, Maureen Madrideo Mediavillo, meeting in the new experimental course that we decided to shift to. This is Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science in Education (AB/BSE) Major in English. I cannot recall what the previous blocks of Francis and Soc were, but in my case, I shifted to a course after BS Chemistry had been dissolved at Philippine Normal College (now, Philippine Normal University). Sad to say, I suffered from the institution’s decision of dissolving BS Chem since it could not produce board passers. I became pressured to look for an option that’s closest to my heart and which my parents could afford in that state college.
So, our troika was formed. Despite being new in the section, we didn’t find it hard to hit it off with the other members of the class. We were welcomed and quickly adapted to the English majors’ world.
As expected we were constantly seen together at the kitchenette, in Borneo (another dining spot), library, and even at UTMT (under the mango tree) during free time. We also made it a point to be seated beside each other in each class. As time passed, Francis also developed friendship with the other three male classmates in the course, making his “other” group. Well, Soc and I were obviously not possessive friends. We let him join another click. We did not have to worry about loyalty. True enough, Francis proved that his affiliation to us was stronger.
College life was not as colorful as high school life, but what made our college days worth treasuring was the fact that we found people who stayed behind us to achieve what we had dreamed of from the start. The three of us shared the same goal that day we crossed paths — that of graduating in college and landing a teaching job immediately to help our respective families. We would often talk about our plans amidst laughter during our break time. Oh, yes. One common denominator which we had was our sense of humor. No dull moment every time we were together. The most popular game in our section then was the “Bobo-Name Game.”
Francis: “Soc, gusto mong bumili ng kotse? Murang-mura lang.” (Soc, would you like to buy a car? It’s very cheap.)
Soc: “Okay, gusto ko.” (Okay, I want.)
Francis: “Kaso may grado ang windshield.” (But, it has a graded windshield.)
Maureen: “May dictionary akong imported at ibibigay ko saiyo. Gusto mo?” (I have an imported dictionary and I’ll give it to you. Do you want it?)
Francis: “Oo, naman.” (Of course.)
Maureen: “Kaso hindi alphabetized ang mga words.” (But, the words are not alphabetized.)
Laughter again… boisterous laughter again…
To others, it might be a shallow form of entertainment but it sold like hot cakes in our class. Now I realized that the pick-up lines popularized by Sen. Mirriam Defensor-Santiago had actually evolved from this “Bobo-Name Game.” This was how we enjoyed our days together.
We were fun-loving people, but when it came to our education, expect that we were all focused and serious. When we set our mind in earning a scholarship grant because of our academic performance, the three of us celebrated. It was an achievement for us.
Frankly, we had our own share of mischief, too.
When the movie of Sharon and Robin Maging Sino Ka Man (cringe-worthy memory!) was first shown at Harrison Plaza, we decided to watch it instead of attending our boooooooooooooring math class which was our last period for the day. We did not plan it. We had this invisible connection. So off we went from the second floor and down… only to meet our math professor! Well, we kept our composure and gave him an alibi. Then, we took a jeepney like excited teenagers forgetting that we just committed our very first cutting class offense.
What awaited us inside the theater was more fun! The super cinema at HP was already filled with a lot of people. We squeezed in ourselves until we succeeded in finding the seats in the front row. And there, joining the love team’s fanatics, we had one of the happiest days of our lives as friends.
Did we have a misunderstanding? For a very short period, yes, we had. We were normal people sharing a friendship that was also tested by unwelcome events surrounding us. But, they made our relationship stronger. Never did they diminish the trust.
October 24, 1995 was the very first reunion that we had after earning our degree in 1991.
It was in Palawan. Francis had the biggest surprise of his life when Soc dramatically bumped into him in the arrival area. It was only I, he was expecting to meet.
We made the most out of our moments together. From visiting the different tourist spots, to mountain trekking in the rain to island hopping, video-karaoke singing (“Isang Linggong Pag-ibig” became our national anthem that night), jukebox singing, to disco-dancing in a very crowded dancefloor! How we wished those days would never end, but we had to leave and go back to our own jobs — Francis as a teacher in Palawan State University (PSU), Soc as a radio announcer, and I as a teacher in Saint Jude Catholic School (SJCS).
Our next slightly planned reunion came on December 30, 1997. It was my wedding. Francis was my candle sponsor and singer, while Soc was my veil sponsor. I was the very first in the triumvirate to settle down. Their presence completed my entry to a new phase of my life.
Then, looooooooooooong silence. It was deafening!
October 2008 witnessed our reconnection especially with Soc. Not much with Francis and me since we were able to revive our correspondence three years after my wedding. He was already Las Vegas-based with a new job in a world far from teaching — it was in a mortgage company. Soc was still nowhere to be found. We had zero idea where she moved to. Nada… Until she sent me a message in my Friendster (the social networking site that started it all) account. Tears of joy. I did shed them. My happiness was really overflowing. Finding her again was one of my answered prayers.
Soc and I did not waste time planning our first meeting after a decade. The distance between Manila and San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan did not stop us from seeing and hugging each other again.
Francis was also very happy upon knowing that Soc had finally “resurrected” in our lives. Thus, when Francis had his next scheduled vacation in the Philippines, he set a date for us to have that long-awaited get-together.
In that long span of time that we hadn’t seen each other, many changes had already taken place in our lives. Francis had decided to leave a 10-year teaching career in their province to become a flight steward at Northwest Airlines, Soc chose to be an entrepreneur after teaching and broadcasting, while I remained in my chosen vocation -teaching. Clearly, I was “the last woman standing” in the world of the academe. In the course of our updating each other, I learned that the career my two best friends chose was actually what they had long dreamed of. They did not stop reaching for their ultimate goal which would give them happiness and self-fulfillment.
May 18, 2011 was again a memorable meeting for us three. It was a time reminiscing our struggling days and reaffirming ourselves that we have succeeded in braving the storms in our lives to be where we are now.
This is our story and this has not yet reached its ending.