by Nelson C. Borrero
The long preparations paid off as UPNAAI achieved many meaningful milestones -- a testament to the board members whose hard work and diligence shaped the outcome. The leader of every committee was relentless and made sure that the event transpired as envisioned. With Peregrin C. Francisco at the helm of this splendid esprit de corps (the first UPNAAI president outside of California in the association’s 33-year history, a milestone in itself), the organization chose the reunion theme: “Exploring and Preserving a Legacy of Excellence.”
The venue could not have been more fitting and appropriate. Colonial Williamsburg is the cradle of American heritage where early native Americans once roamed and the first English colonists settled, both groups thriving on the bounty of the land. The location is clustered with historical edifices maintained for the next generation to experience and see. Preserved along these structures are great ideals, American values and the legacy of the American spirit --- the quest for freedom. Indeed the place is an inspiration to all. And for UPNAAI, its aspiration is the quest for excellence, a legacy to uphold and to be similarly preserved.
As the event drew closer, the DELMARVA Chapter, the reunion host, prepared the groundwork. Various committees were in full motion, arrangement for the shipment of the 2012 Yearbook from California was done, and The Nursing Journal was on its way. Both sets of items of items were expected to arrive at Williamsburg Lodge at the very latest on August 9, 2012. On that same day, alumni from around the world who were aboard in cars, buses, trains and planes started streaming in at the break of dawn. Those who flew in made their way through Virginia’s nearby airports: Norfolk, Richmond and Newport News. By noon time, groups, batches and classmates gathered among themselves, exchanged pleasantries and surprises. By all indications, the party has begun and continued throughout the night.
Early morning, on August 10, the sun appeared brightly at the picturesque Virginia horizon promising a colorful day. At the conference center the registration desks were set, the audio- visual equipment checked, chairs and tables were arranged, and breakfast was ready. In no time, the room was filled with the highest number of attendees of any UPNAAI seminar in history- --another milestone for the association. The challenging yet very informative topics were comprehensively expounded by outstanding speakers. Meeting all course objectives, the seminar was a great success. The effort of the Education Committee members manifested itself in the result, no doubt a job well done. The morning segment was highlighted by the presentation of the J.V. Sotejo Medallion of Honor to a very deserving recipient, Dr. Minerva Salinas Guttman’68, Chief Academic and Administrative Officer, Henry P. Becton School of Nursing and Allied Health, Farleigh Dickinson University. She received the award for her dedication to enhance competency in nursing practice through the integration of nursing education and other skills. Chosen by peers, the Medallion of Honor is the highest recognition of a U.P. nurse for achieving a notable breakthrough, for unique and meaningful contribution to the nursing profession, and more importantly, for selfless service to community, country, and humanity.
Ably presided by Flor Sison Castelo’50 (UPNAAI’s Founding President), and Emy Geluz Goodrich’74 as emcees, assisted by Jesusa “Toots” Santa Barbara Czach’74 and Theresa “Tatess” Liboro Abad’81, the luncheon and the “Roll Call” that followed were utterly hilarious. It started with a really good lunch, then came the awaited moment when each one could speak to fellow U.P. grads about oneself, about others, about the class and had fun doing so. Their jokes and some off the cuff remarks by Flor Castelo brought the house down in an explosion of laughter that was heard from a distance. With attendance exceeding expectation, the afternoon session was another achievement for UPNAAI.
The morning of August 11 was focused on UPNAAI business. The traditional Chaptership Meeting to discuss current issues and future activities was amply attended by the directors, officers, chapter representatives, & guests. Meanwhile, other alumni, their families and guests, took the opportunity to tour Williamsburg and neighboring Jamestown and Yorktown. They marveled at the historical sites and enjoyed exploring local restaurants for a taste of Virginia delicacies.
Attended by a record number, the Gala Night was a lavish culmination of the reunion. The queue started early at the entrance of the hotel’s grand ballroom, an ornate setting with its high ceilings and bright chandeliers. Resplendent in their ternos and evening gowns, well-coiffed hair and radiant faces, the ladies were just lovely and beautiful. Not to be outdone, the gentlemen were simply handsome and sharp in their dark suits and barongs. Everyone enjoyed the sumptuous dinner at the elegantly decorated tables and displayed graceful steps to the rhythm of the music at the dance floor. It was a joyous affair highlighted by the jubilarians whose presentations were profusely applauded by an adoring audience. The gala was directed to perfection from the first note of the anthems to the last beat of the Auld Lang Syne, by very capable mistresses of ceremony, Chato Ansay’73 and Mady Rivera’68. It was a night to remember; it was enchanting.
Finally, the enrollment for life membership was another significant milestone. The few months that led up to the reunion and throughout the event brought more than fifty (50) U.P. alumni who joined UPNAAI as new members, a number that far exceeded Perry Francisco’s goal of a 2% increase in membership in 2012 & 3% increase in 2013. By the end of 2012, after more alumni joined UPNAAI, the total increase in membership for the whole year was almost 8%.
It was a magnificent gathering realized by the several months’ worth of hard work & collaborative efforts of several alumni such as Iren Bobis Roldan’69 (UPNAAI’s treasurer & Vice-Chair- Program Committee, Yearbook Editorial Board), Jesusa “Toots” Santa Barbara Czach’79 (3 rd VP, Chair-Membership Committee, Yearbook Editorial Board), Lyvia MendozaVillegas’68 (Chair-Yearbook Editorial Board & JV Sotejo Medallion of Honor Committee), Natalia “Nati” Matitu-Mercado (Yearbook Editorial Board), Nelson Borrero (Yearbook Editorial Board), Jessie Fernandez Ivins’69 (Yearbook Editorial Board), Marlon Garza Saria’98(1st VP, Chair-Education Committee), the different class coordinators e.g. Perla Miranda’62, Delia Delarama’62, Leticia Lantican’62, Phoebe Dauz-Williams’62, Merle Flores Borrero’67, Rhodora “Dors” Maligalig’72, Elizabeth Schein’77, Susan Orate’77, Marlene “Pinky” Cataylo Chance’75, & others.
One can notice the “busy bodies” during each event of each day, in the likes of Perry Camilon Franciso’69 (President, UPNAAI & DelMarVa Chapter) & her husband Dr. Rey Francisco, Carmina Villaluz Bautista’74 (2nd VP, Chair-Program Committee) & her husband Tito, Lyvia Mendoza Villegas’68 & her husband Rudy Galang Villegas, Iren Bobis Roldan’69, Jesusa “Toots” Santa Barbara Czach’79, Theresa “Tatess” Liboro Abad’81, Emerita “Emy” Geluz Goodrich’74, Marlon Garza Saria’98, Marlene “Pinky” Chance’75 & her husband Dennis, Edita Paraiso De Lima’73, Charito “Chato” Ansay’73, and the members of the DelMarVa chapter & their husbands: Gloria Amayun Smitka’69, Mady Madrinan Rivera’68, Erlinda Cruz Paguio’72, Jo Sabile’62, Mary Ann David’75, Aida Layug Limcaoco’68, Jo Versoza Sabile’62, Anastacia Directo Bersamin’62, Ely Amurao Miranda’65, Sion Guerrero Manglicmot’56, Estelita Nuevaramos Delima’57, Merlie Lacson Mendoza’57, Gloria Espolong Suede’59, Lori Magalindan Montano’60, Nita Gutierrez Mendoza’68, Jasmine Bermudez’63, Daisy Tansiongco Denham’69, Guia Layo Caliwagan’73, & Aida Arcibal Imperio’71, Lucy Ross’81,
Yearning for more, the get-together continued the following day with some staying on for a few more days. Surely, everyone brought back home a trove of treasured moments.