Friday, July 28, 2006, will go down in Xavier history as a momentous date, because it was at this time that the first-ever grand reunion of faculty and staff was held. The occasion, which is one of the highlights of the Xavier School Golden Jubilee celebration this year, brought together six decades’ worth of returning and current faculty and staff, including Jesuit priests and brothers.
At the forefront of this event is the Grand Faculty and Staff Reunion Committee, comprised of the following subcommittees: Invitation, Registration, Program, Prayer Service, Food, Exhibit, Souvenir, Physical Set-up, Security and Traffic. As early as September of last year, the committee had taken on the task of planning and preparing for the faculty and staff homecoming. Excitement, coupled with anxiety, was in the air and numerous details had to be kept in mind and attended to. All those involved tried hard to make the reunion a success and thankfully, it turned out to be a triumph.
As early as 12 noon on the big day, people were already signing up at the registration tables set just inside the Multi-Purpose Center (MPC). Slowly, steadily, the venue became filled with the excited shouts, warm embraces, as well as fond and tearful reminiscences of those who have not been back to Xavier and who have not been in touch with their colleagues for a long time. Among those who came were Fr. Alberto Ampil, SJ, the first Filipino director of Xavier School (1985-1991), Mrs. Norma Sandoval, Xavier Grade School Principal (1987-1994), Mr. Robert Suntay, Xavier High School Principal (1991-1997), Mr. Ernesto Malillin, Mr. Wilson Mendoza, Mrs. Ada Rivada, Miss Irma Paycana, Miss Pachot Ilagan, Mrs. Luisa Relatado, Mrs. Rosel Valenzuela and Mr. Boy Marquez.
Many decided to attend the blessing of the new Archives Office, marveling at the improvements in the school landscape as they made their way to the area previously occupied by the Printing Department but which is now the repository of Xavier history.
The program began with a prayer service, which included an in memoriam tribute to all the faculty and staff, both lay and Jesuit, who have passed on.
The two very capable hosts, Dr. Joseph Ng (Xavier alumnus who is presently the Prefect of Discipline in the High School Unit) and Miss Zarah Gagatiga (head of the Grade School Learning Resource Center), led the audience down memory lane with song-and- dance numbers with video presentations highlighting the various decades starting with the 1950’s. Among the talented performers were the Central Administration Choir, Anton Ferraz, Caloy Marquez, Evan Gabriana, Gani Marcorde, Kris Carla Lawenko, Vivian Ocampo, Karen Baylon, Adrian Asis, May Hernandez, Andrew Pinlac, Dolly Joya, Wendell de Ocampo and Aissa Andrade.
At six in the evening, everyone proceeded to the Father Rafael Cortina Sports Center, for a sumptuous feast. The bubbly duo of Mr. Christian Bumatayo, High School English teacher, and Miss Rachel de Vera, a staff member of the Registrar’s Office and also the new president of the Central Administration chapter of the Facampa (faculty and staff association) hosted the dinner program.
The excitement level remained high as the hosts called on many returning faculty and staff to receive gift certificates from Goldilock’s and cash prizes from Mrs. Estrelle Nabua. As the night wore on, some people took to the dance floor while most preferred to stay in their tables to catch up on what had happened to their colleagues over the past years. Though it was raining that evening, the atmosphere at the Sports center remained warm and festive.
Almost 200 returning faculty, staff and Jesuits graced the occasion, surpassing the expectation of the committee. Many more would have wanted to come, but for one reason or another, they could not. This early too, many are already looking forward to the next grand reunion. Until then.
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