In June 2002 my youngest son Anton entered Ateneo as a prep student. He was in Prep-Masunurin under Mrs. Sevilla, a very seasoned teacher who spent decades at the Ateneo Grade School teaching and loving her students. She was very strict that the boys (and the parents) all lived up to become our section – i.e. masunurin (obedient). She wanted all the boys to be honor students. Her being strict is coupled with loving gestures like baking cookies for them after they bagged the championship in the Math contest. Anton even told me a story how their teacher said, “Walk tall boys, remember you are Math champions!”
Kaye was our Class Parent Representative in Prep who was not only masunurin but also masipag informing all the parents what they have to know and bring for the salu-salo and other school activities. She went beyond that. She invited us to all their family parties. It started with her Prep son’s birthday party. And then her own and then her oldest daughter’s debut and then her second daughter’s debut. And we followed suit. I, for one, always had a separate birthday celebration with the moms of Prep-Masunurin. We’ve had spa-rty, aerobics/yoga party, Eat Pray Love party, 80s party, etc. Theme or no theme we always have very long lunches. We all look forward to each other’s birthday celebrations for these long conversations. A group text message invite would read, “Hello Gorgeous Masunurin Moms…” and then someone started calling the group GMMs.
I have also found in them friends I can watch Tagalog movies with, no need to bug Marvin to accompany me. Bebet, now my kumare, is our movie leader who seems to have a quota of movies to watch per month. She easily cries a river at the slightest dramatic moment in the movie. She always brings her shades because after each movie her eyes would be as puffy as Pacquiao’s boxing opponent minus the blood and cuts. Would you believe she even cried in the comedy movie of John Travolta entitled Wild Hogs? I’m a huge Travolta fan and a movie cry baby myself but I really had a hard time figuring out which part of the movie made her cry!
Our sons are now in third year high school, all taller than their moms and some even taller than their dads. They now belong to different sections. Some have gone to different schools here and abroad. But the bond that binds us together is still strong. We still love to talk about our sons, our original bond, and our friendship has gone deeper and stronger. We have celebrated first holy communion, crossing over, grade school graduation, confirmation, UAAP basketball championship back in 2002 which broke the 14 year dry spell, 4 peat championships (and looking into 5), milestone birthdays (ruby for some, golden for some), wedding and wedding anniversaries, and many Christmases together.
Then we realized that we had been friends for one decade already. Our friendship turned ten this year. And we decided to go on an out-of-town trip to celebrate. It was not an easy task to find an activity and a common date for everyone but thanks to Maan who cheerfully looked for a tour and a common date with the help of Dani. Some were still unable to make it but we were a good number that showed up on October 4, 2012. We were 13 – Dahlia, Mace, Dani, Karen, Mercy, Suzanne, Stella, Cez, Bebet, Maan, Aida, Teye and I. We went on a Kulinarya Tagala Tour.
Meeting time was at 6:15 am at Teye’s beautiful house, our favorite party place. Knowing fully well that some of the girls were prone to coming late, I gave a friendly reminder to show up on time via the FB thread created for this event. Unfortunately, some domestic drama at home care of our driver caused me to leave the house a bit later than planned. Maan, who rode with me, and I got there the last and the ladies were all seated inside the Toyota commuter van waiting for us. The only two seats left were the middle seat in the last row and the foldable extra seat on the third row. I never take any of those seats during long drives but what can I do we were late. But guess who came in even later than we did? No other than the owner of the house whose initials TAL her sons would tease to stand for Teye Always Late. She took the seat in front beside the tour guide. This was decided upon by the early ladies because at 5’8″ tall, she has the longest legs that need the most leg room. Well, she wasn’t very happy about it either but what can she do?
The drive was not the most comfortable. To begin with, we were all 15 in the van and each stop would further eat up into our limited leg room as we packed our Liliw, Laguna slippers bought at 3 for 100, fashionable heels at 350, rambutan at 25/kilo, smelly Lukban longganiza that made almost all of us dizzy inside the van and the breakable pots and other décor pieces from Ugu Bigyan secured in bubble wraps and big bayongs.
But somehow the complaints were tempered and almost forgotten because of the enormous fun we were having. We enjoyed the breakfast at Patis Tesoro’s Garden Café where we ate fried rice, adobong antigua (with coconut meat), crispy dilis salad and bottomless chokolate for our drink. There was a demo on how to prepare pansit buko using buko strips as “noodles.”
Late lunch was at Memphis Garden Café overlooking a man made lagoon of the two hectare Graceland Estates in Tayabas, Quezon, obviously owned by Elvis Presley fans. It is here where we offered a toast to ten years of friendship. We raised our glasses of Gumamela shake topped with a pistil, “Cheers!” Then we ate our sumptuous meal of pako salad with tinapa, sinigang na hipon with buko served in buko shell, fish tempura, pork binagoongan and rice wrapped in banana leaves. Dessert consisted of delicious bilo bilo and chocolate balls with lambanog. It was capped with a food demo on how to prepare kulawo, puso ng saging with coconut milk dressing, a really good siding for grilled food. I just don’t know why the food demo had to happen after our meals when all tummies were already too full to take anything. But the kulawo was yummy that I requested for containers so we could bring home what the chef prepared.
After lunch we went to the Parokya ni San Francisco de Assisi which was built in 1748 with a clock on its tower that still works. Then we proceeded to Villa Sariaya, a grand bahay na bato built in the early 1900s. We had a blast wearing old Filipino outfits – baro’t saya with butterfly sleeves and panuelos. We must have taken close to a hundred photos put together.
Late merienda cum dinner was at Ugu Bigyan’s beautiful place in Tiaong, Quezon. Ugu is not only known for his pottery but also for his cooking. We had a wonderful ginataan and lumpiang puso ng saging with tinapa and buko pandan juice. Before we left we had a pot making demo by Ugu’s assistant. Bebet gamely volunteered to do a Demi Moore (remember the movie Ghost?) but of course minus her Partrick Swayze.
It was past seven when we finally headed back for Manila. We were all tired and longing for our beds (and Honeys?) and you might expect us to just doze off to sleep during this three hour ride. But not these moms. The whole drive was spent talking and laughing, sometimes shrieking to really funny and intimate stories. Maybe we ate too much coconut for one day that we all went coco loco! During the drive some very wonderful stories of triumph, sadness and hope were shared. I know we will all treasure this experience in the years to come.
Thank you very much for a decade of friendship. Happy 10th anniversary to you GMMs!