Apo beta nu 40th

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Beta Nu Alpha Phi Omega on its 40th

To All:

I just had a pleasant lunch at one of my favorite Chinese restaurant. I had the usual shrimp on a lobster sauce, fried rice, an egg-drop soup and tea. After a quiet meal, I opened the fortune cookie left on my bill that said: "From the floors of the ocean, the waves of the tide, a vacation awaits you far and wide." I don't know where the fortune cookie makers got the almost timely passage, but it certainly hit the correct note just as I was adjusting to the whirlwind trip I had in the Philippines with my wife.

We went as far as Lamitan, all the way to both Bulingan Falls, popular among the locals, and Calugusan Beach, a rather unknown place to some, with three seasoned PNP officers as bodyguards provided by our friend Mayor Oric Furigay. And to Palawan where I met two brods and a sis: Bernie "Boy" Sampayan (Beta Nu), Romy Garzon (MSU Chapter), and Beth Leo (Ipil Chapter). One of the road or street islands in Puerto had a concrete APO sign on it. Beth brought us to Retired Commodore Fernandez's (his wife is one of my wife's best friends) house up on the hill in Puerto Princesa which had become a tourist attraction because of its size and its swimming pool.

While in Lamitan, we had the chance to see the newly built church, and a friend's collection of guns and ammunitions. In Palawan, we saw the famous underground river and snorkeled in Honda Bay with a couple of British teenagers, two Canadian female lawyers based in Singapore (one was really cute in a two-piece bathing suit), and a female Hawaiian-Japanese. It does tell you how popular Palawan has become to outsiders. We also attended General Sunglao's birthday in Zamboanga (his wife is also my wife's best friend) where I met and had a picture with Mayor Lobregat and former Mayor Manny Dalipe (Ateneo classmate of my older brother Manuel).

Anyway, we almost cancelled our trip because of the two typhoons that havocked part of Luzon. But we did take a chance and arrived safely in Zamboanga, a little jet-lagged, but glad that we did get there. We checked in at the Orchids Garden Hotel at about 9 a.m., thanks to James Makasiar for the reservations which was the first of a series of gratitude that I have to express, and right away my wife called Alavar, the sea food restaurant that used to be very popular years ago, but they didn't have Curacha, the tasty red crab.

I think Hai San took its place where I met Lepeng, whose parents used to run a business in Campo Uno, a barrio in Lamitan. (I used to brag kid stories with Lepeng's brother Cesar or Leao, who is a successful seaweed exporter. We played golf in Midlands, Tagaytay near his house at one time. Cesar used to sell Sweepstakes when he was 9 or 10 years old to make a living. I topped it by saying that I used to walk from Lamitan to Campo Uno, a good seven kilometers away, to sell Comics and Newspapers when I was 9 years old. This just sums up what I always thought of what Emily Dickinson said: Luck is not chance, it's toil. Fortune's expensive smile its earned.).

For all we knew, Lo! and behold, [:Image:IMG 3382.JPG|James had Curacha]] at his house prepared for lunch for arriving Charter Members with help from his lovely wife, Tess. We rode on James new SUV from the hotel with Roger Buenvenida assisting and got to this rather impressive large house owned by James and Tess in an oasis amid the surrounding shacks and disorderly buildings.

A lot of Brods and Sis came and we did have lunch over Curacha crabs, fresh fish, sugpo shrimps, fried rice, fruits and vegetables - so scrumptious that we indeed had our fill for the week or month on sea food! We helloed here and there, exchanged stories of old times, funnies and sads, embraced and shook APO handshakes, between foods and drinks and loud laughters. We made fun of age and grey hairs. We were all there, I thought to myself, who the heck was preparing the party? Well, it turned out that the party was well prepared and everyone did their own part to make it a sucessful anniversary scheduled for 5:30 pm. that afternoon.

I was with Pastor Roger Mijares (I still can't get used to seeing Roger delivering a sermon on a pulpit to say: The end of the world is at hand. Repent!) and Eric Enrile was our driver and went to attend part of an APO National Meeting with President Magleo presiding. While in that meeting, my wife went with the other Sis to a hair salon and for a quick sight-seeing of the City. We were there listening to Q and A's at the meeting for a few minutes and left to pick up my APO embroidered Barong Tagalog for the party that afternoon.

We heard the bad news that Ferdie Florendo was not coming because of the floods in Dagupan. Also a no-show notice for Jung-Jung Aquino possibly because of floods in Manila. But there was Sonny Arpa who came in just on time all the way from Manila on an afternoon flight despite the flood-damage on his property. I distributed a liquor containing chocolate for everyone near us and Bob Yap helped pass around the chocolates. A lot of handshaking, stories telling, laughing at past mischiefs, appreciating good deeds, surprising notes from brods and sis who didn't make it because of travel diffidulties, tons of jokes, plenty of songs and singers, and a lot of picture taking.

The party started with a prayer and the rest of the activities followed exactly as the program had enumerated it to be. I did the toast which was not in the program. I was approached by one of the Sis to do it. The pictures could better show how the party turned out to be. In closing, I certainly express my deep gratitude, not only coming from me and my wife but for the rest of the Brods and Sis who didn't have the opportunity to say it, to James and the rest of the Brods and Sis who did put their time and effort to make the 40th Anniversary a real success!

Please see pictures attached. I'll send the rest as much as the memory on the e-mail could hold.

Claro Cartagena