Tonight I have set a dinner date with my former students who are now working in Manila. Actually all of them have come from Surigao City, which is also my native town. These students of mine belong to the primary batches taking Information Technology degree at a state college where I am previously teaching some four years before. As pioneering groups, I happen to believe that “first impression lasts” because they have proved something and somewhat created a lasting impression on me. Most of all they are hardworking, talented, and dedicated who also set a high regard for themselves and keep focus toward their personal dreams. Mind you, they are innovative and active especially on class-related activities. Our relationship even goes beyond the school campus because we even consider each other as friends too. Most of them have shared their personal life and struggles to me. Having a humble and down-to-earth attitude I know they will succeed someday, and I my intuition never failed me. Now, they are earning the fruits of their sweat and hardships because they have been doing so well in their own career and path of achievement. I should say they have realized their aspirations in life. And now, I am excited to see them once again and try to know what they are up to after all these years.
We depart at 6:00 o’clock in the evening in hopes to arrive in Greenbelt 3 in half an hour and having enough time to explore the area for good restaurants. But sadly, the rain comes heavily pouring down while we are waiting for a cab at the road corner. Having three kids and a nanny, this situation pose some level of difficulty knowing that rain showers, regardless whether it is heavy or little, could cause flooding in most parts of metro Manila. Added to that, it is rushed hour and it is expected that that there will be a dense traffic on our way. Some taxi drivers also will take advantage of this scenario by ripping off their passengers especially those who cannot hitch a jeep. So I am a bit worried for the kids while we perch on a small commercial shop. Praying and hoping that we can all reach the venue safely. I am glad my prayer is answered because a gentle taxi driver halts near the shop and makes a hand sign for us to get inside the cab. Using a single umbrella, Jesse carefully transports the kids one by one into the taxi. Thankful enough we embark to our destination with much comfort.
Ordinarily, it takes about 25 to 30 minutes to travel from home to the mall for but this time we wince at the idea of traveling for 1 hour and half because of the horrible traffic. In the long stretch of the road, the vehicles parade like of some slow motion stars. Constant beeping and horning can be heard everywhere, this is one thing I don’t like in the metro, the noisy and terrible traffic jam plus the unpredictable downpours and swamping. Gladly we entertain the kids through smartphones and iPad otherwise we can be in a chaotic situation just like the traffic flow outside. I even sing a nursery rhyme to entertain them during the whole ride.
Like I said, one hour and 30 minutes we finally arrive in the mall. However, my barely-a-month old iPhone accidentally drops into a shallow water canal as I go out of the taxi. Jesse immediate takes it and wipes with his shirt. Sipping and blowing the water in between the sides of the phone. He turns it off to avoid any problem wheevern the water pierces into the phone. Again I am worried and a bit mad with Andrei who put the phone on my lap without my knowledge and have not warns me either. I compose myself, control my anger, and remind my child of the proper way to hand over the phone back to me once he is through using it. But really I am scared. And slowly I push the power button. Just as the phone turned on that Jesse realized how stupid he is to taste the water that is really from the sewer! Yucks! Ewwww…he feels gross. Wipes his mouth with a baby wipes and washes his hands with disinfectant alcohol. Anyway, if I am on his shoes, I will also do the same just to save the super valuable and expensive smartphone of mine.
Anyway, we use the mall directory and look for a very nice restaurant. Most of these fancy dining bistro and eateries are at the third level so we immediately head to the area because of the little time left. After many minutes of scouting for a place with a good setup and tasty food, we settle at Gerry’s Grill. I remember, one time, a friend of mine refer this restaurant to me. So I try the recommendation. But it is Friday and many have considered it as a FLY-DAY, the place is jammed pack with people. Luckily we got a spot suitable for a group of ten to twelve persons.
I place orders of pancit bihon, fried chicken wings, chicken kabab, sizzling fish, sizzling beef steak, rice and individual choices of drinks. Gerry’s Grill is a favorite dining and resto bar of most social elites and drinkers in town. Believe or not, people will queue outside for hours waiting for any vacated tables. On one table there is a couple showing their gesture of romance by spooning each other with their own dish. At a far end, there’s a full group of friends that are laughing and teasing each other while trying to empty a barrel of beer. And honestly, I feel a bit awkward because we are the only diners with kids. But anyway, the kids are having fun and so I am. Jesse approached a waiter and ordered a bottle of Antonov vodka ice. I know this one thing that my husband loves in Philippines –no regulations on alcohol intakes, which means anywhere at any time, regardless of age, one can buy all kinds of alcoholic drinks in any stores. No wonder he already consume about three bottles before our food have been served. I check my watch and it is already 9:00 o’clock in the evening. The images of my students are nowhere to be seen. I keep sending stream of text messages to them while they keep on telling me that they are really on their way but are trap in traffic queue. I am hoping that the traffic and this heavy rain will not spoil our date. Otherwise, I have no other time to meet them again. Meanwhile, I also keep calling my brother who is also in Manila for a 6 days training but he can’t come because he has to take three rides and will spend 3 hours to get my location. I am a bit worried and hope that this rain will stop so soon. But we are already tempted with the smell of sumptuous meals. We cannot stand any longer especially the little kids who are tired and exhausted and so we begin our dinner and lavishly take spoonful of our orders.
Not until an hour later that Rix comes first followed by long-time college sweethearts Jennelyn and Gypsy. But only one student did not come, Concepcion, because she goes for a church volunteer program in Switzerland. Anyway, these guys are dressed in somewhat I call “ready for Friday night” outfit. They have physically changed a bit. Rix has gained fuller body weight and stands tall in his white polo, khaki jeans, and sneaker shoes. He is working as an account executive in a pharmaceutical company. Jennelyn has now a well-maintained figure and is an executive secretary at one of the biggest shopping malls in the country. Gypsy appears handsome on his stripe red-black-white colored shirt paired with jeans and leather shoes. He recently quits is regular job and concentrates on networking business on health and supplementary products. We altogether have great time catching up each other while almost endlessly taking pictures.
For me it is a great feeling to be reunited with these people whom I have touched in my own little way by nurturing their immature minds of much needed skills and knowledge for life’s realities and work demands. Five years after graduation, they have accomplished so much in terms of their life experiences and career growth. I consider them equally professionals as I am that is why I don’t like them to call me “ma’am”. I just like to be called by my first name. But because these people set a have high regard for their educational experience, they still prefer to think of me as their mentor.
Gladly the rain did not curtail our moment together because it stops when we head to the taxi stand, giving plenty of time for us to continue chatting until we catch a cab and goes home. It is a nice way to end up our second day. At least, I was able to extend my gratitude to these humble and wonderful people who have also become part of us.