As The Bamboos Sway: My first dance after Seminary life


As our Saint Louis University Boys High School (SLUBHS) Class ’68 Golden Reunion is approaching this January 26-28, 2018 in Baguio City, my mind is surging with many recollections that I find myself smiling with the thoughts even as I am typing this story.

One of those moments was my first dance in third year high-school after I left the CICM Minor Seminary. While I was with my batchmates during our first-year high school as a seminarian in the same school, I was separated from them when our seminary was moved to Maryheights in Bakakeng in Baguio City. Maryheights was the sole desolate building nestled among the Pine trees in the then green mountains of the now crowded Bakakeng. This meant that as a seminarian, along with other pioneers of Maryheights, we were isolated in the mountains. It was only us with the priests, administration personnel, cooks – all males. The only female was our middle aged labandera. Being trained as seminarians, we did not have parties, ergo, we had no dances.

Thus, I found myself stunted and far behind from my SLUBHS batchmates when I rejoined them in third year high school after my two years minor seminary life (Why I left the priesthood path is another story. Enough said for now that I was among those called but I refused to be chosen). So, stunted, like my batchmates were strumming the guitar with most of the Beatles and Bee Gees pops while I was still on ‘When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go, downtown…’ which I learned ions of years before. They boasted who they have made love with the previous weekend while I kept quiet as a curious listener, wondering how it really felt to be in love or something like that.

My classmates had already formed the Tutinkx Society. There were also the Columbian Squires and other elite clubs. I envied their social skills and their conversations specially about their girlfriends and their escapades. I locked myself out for I had nothing to boast about. Who would want to listen to seminary life to which my mind was still hovering about?

And they held almost every weekend discothèques. Yes, discotheques were how they were called.

“It’s only for five pesos,” Dido Salgado, the class president had told me. With that I would have a coke, a sandwich and pansit. And I could dance with any of the girls the whole night through.

“But I do not know how to dance,” I said.

“We will teach you.”

Society members then taught me the Bye-bye the morning before the party. Hold the girl’s hand. Left, right, left, left. Right, left, right, right. One-two-three-four. One-two-three-four.

“It’s that easy,” Dido, Andrew Filler, Genando de Leon, Rufo Bautista, Ebong Rivera, Joseph Flores other classmates said. “Now, if you can’t handle that you can always go ‘Maski Pops’ – ‘Maski Papaano” which translates to any which way you go as long as you jerk or gyrate and flap your arms with the beat. “And don’t be shy. Girls are as interested in us as we are with them.”

At the party, I thanked the dimmed lights but still hid behind my classmates as Beatle songs after Gary Lewis songs after Dave Clark songs sent my classmates, minus me, plucking girls to trample on the dance floor with the screeching of a phonograph. As midnight approached, I was feeling relieved that I would be going home although I have not danced. I did not have to hide anymore. But when ‘I saw her standing there’ started to blare, classmates of mine shoved me in front of this girl.

I don’t remember if I uttered “May I dance over you, under you, or around you.”

I also don’t remember her saying “certainly.” It could have been “center-ly” in my nervous hearing.

I don’t even remember who whisked who from her seat to the dance floor.

So, I held her hands. That was my first exchange of body fluids with a girl. No, not a wet kiss. Perspirations from my hands to hers. There we stood, she, waiting for my cue. Was that left, left… no… right, left… no.

She started to lead me, I, swaying in dissonance to my hard to uproot unbending feet from left, right, left, left, right, left, right, right.

“I… I… am… so… sorry,” I said. “This… this… is my first dance.”

“You are doing fine,” she said. “You are the one who just came out of the seminary, huh!”

What? She knew about me? And I remembered Dido’s words: “Girls are interested in us as we are with them.”

That was my only dance that night.

She became, though, my best friend’s girlfriend.

I would tell her some years later when we met again that I owed her a lot.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because if you had not been so accommodating and nice to me that night, my ego could have been shattered and I could have not recovered, becoming a degenerate shy person.”

And we shared a hearty laugh at that episode. We still do.

But above anything else, I thank my classmates, specially Dido, for building my confidence leading to my first dance and evolving my further confidence beyond then. #


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