Friday, May 30, 2014

JICA Science 1987: MEETING OLD FRIENDS IN U.S.A. @ 2014

I happened to be in New York for Continuing Medical Education activities for two weeks and the best part was meeting up with old friends.

The first set of friends I met were fellow Philippine delegates to the Friendship Program for the 21st Century, which we participated in last May to June 1987. Our group was the Philippine Science Students and many of us were Medical students (19), Dentistry students (2) and Engineering students (4), with a total of 25 Science students.

We all agree that our participation to the Friendship Program was a surreal experience especially to us, young students then! We had the time of our life with the beautiful places all over Japan that we went to, the cultural exchange and discussions, homestays and of course, long lasting friendships we made with our Filipino co-delegates and Japanese tomodachi, who were our Japanese counterparts!

After 25 years, a few of us met in the Philippines when Dr. Ed Catibog came home and interestingly, Dr. Jon Abaquin was able to gather Dr. Monina Garduno, Dr. Jessica Mateum (from Iloilo now in Manila) and me (from Cebu now in Zamboanga)!

This year, after 27 years, I met three of them in New York, Dr. Emil Tayag (from Pampanga now in Illinois),  Dr. Gretchen Ira (From Quezon City now in D.C.) and dentist, Dr. Oliver Fernandez (from Manila now in San Francisco).

I know how difficult it is to gather us, who now happen to be in different parts of the world and many, with growing kids!

Here are some of our before and after photo collages: 
Dr. Emil is now a Neurosurgeon in Illinois!
Gretch and Emil - - - really didn't change much in appearance!

with celebrity dentist, Dr. Oliver in SF, but has a Sensodyne commercial (nangingilo) spoofed by Michael V. in Bubble Gang!

Gretch and me...we were several pounds lighter then! (LOL)

Dr. Emil looks very Japanese!

another set with Dr. Oliver, who happened to be our leader then...
also saw him in San Francisco!

Emil, Gretch, Oliver and I went around Manhattan:
***from Courtyard Marriot at 30th Street
we have the view of the Freedom Tower from the hotel window!...
the Tower has risen again after 9/11

***to Greenwich Village (Bleeker Street) 
with the Magnoilia Bakery Blueberry cheesecake!
***to Times Square

***to the Rockefeller Center

***to Macy's and Uniqlo at 34th Street and Sixth Ave.
Gretch "obsessed" with Uniqlo!...
Omiyage kudasai!!!
*** to Columbus Circle.

~~~while walking around and also riding the New York subways!

... And the rain did catch up with us!!!

Gretch must find me too weird... taking her "picucha" (picture!)
even if it was really raining hard as we walked back to the hotel! 

Oliver also got caught up in the New York traffic due to the rain with risk of "flash flooding" according to advisory! (credits: Oliver's photos)
What a fun time we had together... just seemed like yesterday!

And then, I was so glad to meet my dear friend, Dr. Karen Cruz in San Francisco, too!

We ate at a wonderful Peruvian restaurant, Puerto 27
at Pacifica, CA until the restaurant closed for the night!

... The 27 in Puerto 27 seems to be timely for the 27 years!

It is indeed fortunate to be given the chance to have a fabulous reunion with old friends you haven't seen in decades, and find out that deep inside, they really haven't change that much in terms of the attitude, zest and enthusiasm for life (no wonder we were chosen Philippine delegates!) together with the success each one has attained in their family life or in their professions!

One day I hope that there would indeed be a grand reunion for JICA Science Students 1987!


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