I was out in New York City for a leisure trip. As soon as my plane landed and opened my facebook account, I was faced with the terrible news.
Edcel Genteroy messaged me to call him asap. Mary Rose simply told me that the Principal is dead. Suddenly my face turned from the look of exhaustion to grim. I simply slumped my shoulders in the cabin. My wife asked me what happened. I said, “patay na si Principal,”.
“You mean yung dahilan ng reunion nyo, wala na?”
A year ago when we had our batch reunion, I teased my classmate Rene Catly about the other school’s Grand Homecoming. “Ano ga? Buti pa ang academy eh may nakaka-dalwa na yata. Tayo wala pa eh,” sabi ko.
“Ay papaano’y walang nag-papaumpisa.” sabi nya.
“O ay di umpisahan na natin, habang malakas pa si Principal.”
And so Rene and I discussed initiating a Grand Reunion while our great ‘principal’ would still be there to see it. It might be a little short when it comes to preparation, but one of our aim is to make sure that Principal would still be there to see it.
And so I started a facebook page to initiate discussions and some groundwork to jumpstart the process. Even though I am here in the states, I started calling around AGMA personalities to ask permission and advise on how to proceed. I spoke to Sir Nonot, Sir Jay, Ma’am Erlith and Ma’am Fe, Sir Nesting, Col. Feraro, Sir Boy Gipan and others.
The feedback was more than welcoming.
You see, I owe my high school education to him. I was a problem child when I was younger. My family decided to bring me to AGMA para tumino. I caused headaches to the faculty and almost got kicked out several times, but always, he would let me stay.
I remember several times, in times of emergencies, my family would go to him for help, and we don’t have to say much, he is more than willing to help.
I remember one time at school, while we are doing the CAT, he personally chose me to command the platoon. But when I started giving out the command, nabatukan nya ako. “Put@#$a! Boses P#$e ka!”, and started laughing. And all of us laughed because indeed, my voice was so squeaky like a sissy. But that made me feel I am special. You know kapag nabatukan ka nya, you are special to him. And I feel that everytime I see him afterwards.
When my father died and he was there with Ma’am Luth, he saw me and smiled and simply said, “Ano ga?”.
He is the most disciplinarian person I know but also the most koboy. And my respect for him transcends into all of his family. He might be a public servant, a father, a director, a teacher, and a mentor to all of us. But for me personally, he was my Principal. And I take that word very seriously and with a special meaning.
He is the only Principal for me.
Of all the people I have talked to while discussing plans for a Grand Reunion, I purposely missed one… Principal Jaime. And now, I regret that fully.
I was simply hoping and expecting him to be be there at the Grand Reunion. Since our plan was much more than just a homecoming, but more of a tribute to our mentor, Sir Jaime Gutierrez Sr., I planed to talk to him personally at that event to let him know, coyly, that “Ano ga Sir, all of this is for you,” and I was expecting him to reply, “Ala’y lintik kang buraot ka,” but with a smile that I know is full of fatherly love.
But knowing the Principal, he has his own plans. And with all the preparations we have for the homecoming, he made his own homecoming with the Lord.
I know at the Grand Reunion, he will still be there watching, and smiling, over all of us.
Salamat po Principal!!!