EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENT

The 2009 UST HIGH SCHOOL Grand Alumni Homecoming
 
 

Some 680 alumni of the University of Santo Tomas High School trooped to the Benavides Building last February 21 for the 2009 Grand Alumni Homecoming (GAH) of the USTHS the first time for the GAH to "return" to the High School Building in over a decade. The number of attendees far exceeded the average 400 that usually attend hotel-based homecomings.

 

The event’s theme was: "Together Forever…. It’s the Real Thing," a fusion of two pop-music hits from the 1980s. The wardrobe motif was "smart casual black." All batches, including the diamond jubilarians from 1949 and many others in between, down to USTHS graduates of the 1990s and the new millennium, were represented at the event.

The entire celebration began with a Thanksgiving Mass at the UST Chapel at 5:15 p.m., officiated by Fr. Allen de Guzman, O.P., USTHS Assistant Regent who is himself a USTHS graduate from Batch ’88.

The evening’s proceedings unfolded via two programs: the "Welcome Home" program at the newly refurbished USTHS Auditorium located at the third floor and the "Prom Nite" show at the Roof Deck on the second floor above the Cafeteria.

AUDITORIUM SHOW

The Welcome Home program emceed by Dr. Menchie Solano of Batch ’84 featured a Welcome Address by Principal Eden Tolentino, and a Production Number by the USTHS Glee Club, the USTHS Music and Psalm, and the USTHS Cultural Dance Troupe. All of the Auditorium’s 325 seats were taken during the program. Many viewers were happy to have watched standing by the aisles. This program was likewise simulcast via a projection screen at the ground-floor lobby where many others stayed tuned.

 

Dinner was served around 8:15 p.m., right after the Welcome Home program. Given the large number of attendees, the alumni batches were divided among four locations within the Benavides Building’s first two floors: the pre-1970s batches were seated among the three classrooms parallel to the Roof Deck, the 1970s batches had their dinner in the PE Room, the late 70s batches up to Batch ’82 had their meal at the ground floor lobby. The more junior alumni batches had "standing dinner" at the Roof Deck.

PROM NITE PARTY AND THE RAINMAKERS

All of the attendees repaired to the Roof Deck for the Prom Nite program at around 9:00 p.m. This was hosted by USTHSAAI Vice President Leebai Esquivias-Gamboa of Batch ’78. Cocktails and drinks were liberally served after Batch ’84 President, Topets Capinpin boisterously announced the open bar.

For more than two hours, the deck was jampacked with people standing shoulder to shoulder, far exceeding capacity even as only cocktail tables were used in the party venue.

As with a "regular" junior-senior promenade, the Prom Nite show featured the Coronation of the Homecoming King and Queen. From among the hundreds of attendees, the GAH 2009 Organizing Committee selected the married jubilarian couple of Glen and Mary Ann Mirabueno, both of Batch ‘69. To the thunderous applause of everybody present, the couple made the ceremonial walk to the stage complete with a crown, septre and cape. The Rainmakers, a popular vocal group in the ‘70s, serenaded the audience with a medley of immortal Original Pilipino Music. The members of the group are from various high school batches, but mostly from the Class of ’69. They reunited mainly for this special homecoming celebration.

Also recognized were the eldest and youngest alumni present, both individuals cited serendipitously belonging to the same clan: Marina Gatdula-Alma Jose of Batch 1948 and her granddaughter, Abigail Alma Jose Reyes from Batch 2008. The 1984 silver jubilarians came with the biggest delegation totalling 94.

BATCH CALL

The Prom Nite affair was further highlighted by the traditional Batch Roll Call. The USTHS Pep Squad made the batch-by-batch call

replete with thunderous bass drumming. The batches of attendees made hearty noise, hollered, hooted and shrieked when their respective batch years were called out in random order. Portable cannons fired confetti into the air, whistles blew loud and one batch even brought direct from the States a pair of giant balloons bearing their batch year. The evening continued with the Candle Rite and concluded with all-night dancing to ’80s music, spearheaded by a dance number from a group representing Batch ’84.

 

 

A number of incumbent USTHS faculty members were on hand to welcome and assist the attendees during the event. They were recognized during the Prom Night show at the Roof Deck. Many former teachers also came and went home with special gifts from the silver jubilarians.

The USTHS GAH had e-PLDT as main sponsor and presenter of the event. It’s Managing Director, Ray Espinosa is also a USTHS alumnus from batch ’73. As a matter of standing policy, all earnings from the event went to the Scholarship Program for Secondary Education jointly managed by the USTHS Alumni Association and USTHS administration.

 

ORGCOM

The Organizing Committee was constituted as early as May 2008. But the group was hindered by venue problems even after it had previously reserved the Quadcen Park in front of the USTHS building. The gymnasium and poolside were also not available. Compounding the OrgCom’s problems were the absence of the other celebrating jubilarians which should have joined the committee. Hence, it was only Class of ’84 in the OrgCom. Sadly, the batch was also not yet organized.

The Plan D that eventually worked was the alumni association’s adventurous brainchild again: to bring back the GAH to USTHS after more than a decade of hotel-based homecomings. It stepped into the OrgCom’s work in order to facilitate organization of the event. The 2009 Grand Alumni Homecoming will go down in history as having been organized in only 44 days. The road to the event was truly difficult.

Numerous tasks were transferred away from the OrgCom in order that they may concentrate on beefing up attendance for their batch and raise funds to mount the event.

Volunteers from other non-jubilarian batches stepped up. VP Leebai Esquivias-Gamboa ’78 led the communications brigade to reach as many batch leaders and alumni as possible.

Exequiel Delgado ’81 and Laureen Morales ’73 courted ePLDT to be the presenter of the affair when it was clear the event was in peril, financially. The net income target required from the event to fund the scholarship program was P210,000. Even as attendance exceeded expectations, the event itself earned only P126,000, an P86,000 shortfall required to sustain the scholarship program for the coming academic year.

Aped Santos ’77 took the job of volunteer Show Producer of the event. Homegrown talents from USTHS were tapped to render performances Latecomer witness and first time volunteer Bert Sulat of ’86 did the souvenir program. Master Teacher Eden G. Tolentino, USTHS Principal saved the event for the OrgCom by agreeing to hold the event in the high school building after being presented with the homecoming concept.

In the end, it was fusion and convergence between the high school and the alumni association that brought success to the event. As Bert ‘Write’ said, there are 680 ways of telling this story...the symphonic confluence of ideas, effort and dedication

all for the magic and glory that is UST HIGH SCHOOL.