To continue the narrative of growing up in Davao, I asked Perbs Balchand, my GS/HS classmate to write about college life at Ateneo de Davao. For college, I studied at Ateneo de Manila (1961-1965). So here is Perbs Balchand’s first-hand account of College life:
Memories of College
In college, a student discovers himself and his environment. Many thoughts, feelings and issues arise in his heart and mind. So, memories of college will mirror and reflect these.
Just as literature reflects the culture of its time, so will this chronicle touch on a gamut of aspects: classmates, ladies and relationships; parties, songs and dances; academic and extracurricular activities; friends, teachers and Jesuits; and varied moments: interesting, light, enlightening and enlightened.
In June 1960 I strolled down the corridors of the Ateneo College to enroll. My emotions were mixed. Excited because I expected the experience to be interesting. Unlike high school, college would be co-educational. But it would be a new ball game. So, I was very anxious as well, since I did not know what would happen in the years ahead.
Classes started in mid-June. After orientation week, the class organizations met to elect their officers. Our class met at the ground floor of the wooden building. We had our Spanish classes there under Mrs. Espiridion and Mrs. Consolacion Lim Quilaneta.
I still remember one of our first lessons in Spanish: using the conversational method, the lesson was about going to the movies: “Esta noche voy al cine. Yo voy mucho al cine. Me gusta las actrices lindas y los actores que representan bien.” Translated into English: “I will go to the movies tonight. I go to the movies often. I like the beautiful actresses and the actors who perform well.”
In the class election, I was surprised to be nominated for president, and even more surprised to be elected. We formed a core group of classmates from high school, plus some ladies. The group included Philip Kimpo, Glicerio “Boy” Tan, Petronilo “Titing” Ancheta, Augusto “Gus” Dacudao, and Alvin Babista. The ladies were Sylvia “Laly” Sison, Bertha “Betty” Valisno, Maria Elena “Neneng” Nazareno and Sofia “Pia’ Quimpo from the PWC; Elizabeth “Bambam” Cabreros and Amelita “Amy” Dayrit from ICC.
Our first activity was an acquaintance party at the residence of Bambam Cabreros, (corner of Jacinto and Mapa Streets). Planning brought the group closer together, as the members discussed the party’s different aspects: food, music, program, arrangements, logistics. On D-day, we were at the party site in the morning for the food preparation and physical arrangements.
All went well. Good attendance. The members got to know each other. They danced and had fun. They learned and danced the boogie or chacha. Pia remembers teaching me both dances. The top song then was “Itsy bitsy teeny weeny yellow polka dot bikini”. Which Gus Dacudao brought from the States.
The next activity was the college fiesta on August 15th. We set up a booth in which students would throw a ring on to the necks of duck figurines. For the dance presentations, our AB Department chose the “Tinikling” for our number, and practised at the residence of Neneng Nazareno along Chavez Street. Titing Ancheta and company practised the “Maglalatik” dance chosen by their department.
I met the family of Neneng and had good rapport with the mother. In our subsequent activities, picnics, parties and outings, Neneng requested me to ask her mom’s permission a few times. Later, the mom would allow her to go, knowing that I was in the group.
Emmanuel “Boy” Ferrer and Felix Gauce joined the group also, but probably shortly later, after discovering Neneng Nazareno and Pia Quimpo, respectively, in our group. Boy eventually married Neneng, and Felix married Pia. In fact, Felix shifted from Commerce to AB the following year just to be with Pia. (Boy, Neneng and Felix have gone home to our heavenly Father.) Alvin Babista had a crush on Bambam Cabreros and would walk her home after classes in the company of friends, but for them it was not forever. Romeo Butiu also courted one of our schoolmates, and for them it was “Till death do us part”. Gus Dacudao had a liking for Betty Valisno but it did not last.
Where was I? I admired Laly and Betty and Teresa Suarez, but did not go beyond friendships. I used to greet Terry when I met on the corridors, I would play with her name, addressing her Terryfic or mystery. She was talented, and practised as a CPA in Davao before moving to Australia. Neneng and Pia were my good friends also. When Laly and Betty went to the States after college, we communicated through letters – keeping updated with them. This is my paean of praise to them, even though Neneng and Laly no longer walk this earth with us.
Titing Ancheta was another great friend – cheerful and interesting. I remember Gus Dacudao and him coming to our house several times and tasting Indian food. Lito Lorenzana remembers tasting some Indian delicacy at our place, as well. Many years later Titing, Lito and I became close, as we worked together on a project in Manila when Lito was DILG ASEC during the term of Pres. Cory Aquino.
I was friendly with the ladies. Whenever I saw them, I would approach and speak with them, unaware of the effect when a guy was in their company. This did not sit well with their male companions. They felt slighted, thinking that I was intruding. They may have perceived me as a rival or thought that I was flirting with their girlfriends. Sometimes, we learn of misconceptions too late to be able to correct them.
We went at least once to the farm of Gus Dacudao in Calinan, and many times had music sessions at his residence listening to songs from South Pacific (There Is Nothing Like A Dame,) and My Fair Lady (Just You Wait).
Gus Dacudao took his first year of college in Davao, before moving to Cagayan for his Agriculture course. We became close friends and walked home from the Ateneo several times a week, discussing our class concerns, among others. I got to know the whole Dacudao family, and sometimes joined some of them to the beach. My friendship with Gus continued after he finished his course and returned to Davao.
Some years later he became the Ninong of Pia’s son Peter. Gus’s brother Ramon and sister Celine were good friends also of my brother Asan.
Some classmates–Alvin, Felix, Rey Vicente, Jose Solana, Teoffie Bartolome– had a common interest, booze, and formed a group. They called themselves Nazi Long Necks. They used to drink at the Johnny’s Cafe along Claveria Street. But once, I remember joining the group at the residence of Rey at the corner of San Pedro and Legaspi Streets. To this day, the building still belongs to the family of Rey..
Alvin Babista was a platoon leader in the ROTC and recalls that Arthur Adriano used to come late for the early Saturday morning drill. Like a good leader, Alvin discharged his function and punished Arthur with push-ups. The following Saturday, Arthur reported punctually in uniform.
The rumor circulated that Arthur slept the night before with his uniform on, and did not have to don his uniform in the morning.
Some students from other sections enjoyed the company of their friends in our AB section. They would gatecrash at our parties. We did not mind it, since they were our friends. Other students enjoyed playing card games with bets, near the property of the Ebros, beside the Ateneo College. But they would be on the lookout for Fr. Rodollfo Malasmas, who used to make his rounds of the campus to make sure all was well.
Alvin Babista recalls that one summer, there was a party at the residence of Pedrito “Toti” Morales in Bajada. Well, a rumble broke out over a lady with initials L.Y. Many people wanted to dance with her, but a group fenced her, frustrating their wishes.
Some classmates were interested in studying Medicine, and stayed at the Ateneo for two years only. They moved to Manila to continue their medical course. This included Alvin, Pedro “Pete Galvez, and Dominador “Dom” Perido, Art Perez.
A group of friends were active in the Social Catholic Action: Titing Ancheta, Rey Teves and Lito Lorenzana.
Anna Ferazzini was a classmate in the Religious Poetry class of Fr. Monaghan. . She became a family friend, and visited our home for Indian meals. She was an exponent of feminist art and did sketches for some books. She was a trustee of a museum and a board member of a development initiative group. We have remained friends for many decades, and I invited her home whenever she was in town. She transferred to Manila many years back.
There was a flurry of extra-curricular activities: Cheerleading, Student Council, Sodality of Our Lady, The Atenews, the Shield yearbook, Ateneo Alumni Association, debating and dramatics. I got involved in all of them.
As cheerleaders, we used to lead the Ateneans as they rallied the basketball players to keep their spirits high and to spur them to continue fighting even when the going was rough. Among the cheerleaders were Ramon “Nonoy” Morada, Arsenio “AC-AC” Acurantes and myself. When we cheered the “Fight A (clap clap), the students would say, “Fight A, Ac-ac.”
In those days, the Debating Club argued on propositions relating to China and the United Nations, and the Suez Canal, among others. Hildegardo Inigo, Roger Fernandez, Macapanton Abbas and Benjie Lacsamana were some of the debaters. In the Student Council, Virgilio Porticos was the President when I was a class representative; Jovenal Joaquin was president during another year. In the yearbook staff, Arturo Aportadera was Chief Editor in senior year and I was the Business Manager.
Alex Ozoa and Roger Fernandez and I were active with the Atenews. We joined the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, and travelled to Baguio, Iloilo, Manila, and other cities for the annual conventions. At a fellowship on a ship in Iloilo one evening, a lady delegate from Manila was feeling cold and I gave her my coat. She called me “Mahal” and I was in a quandary over how to respond.
The Ateneo Alumni Association was organized in 1960. Butoy Hizon was the first president, and Fr. Paul Finster was the moderator. Samira Borgaily was the secretary. I was one of 12 members of the Board of Directors. The first order of business was to have a Directory of the Alumni. (To be continued)