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Class History, MMSU-LHS Batch 2000


by Samantha Loj S. Batara

Sitting alone on a concrete bench, shaded by huge acacia branches, one cannot escape
staring at the old Mariano Marcos State University – Laboratory High School classrooms that
had served as second home to many. The wandering thoughts of someone who survived in them
for four long years, when tamed into disciplined reflections, can bring back colorful memories of
yesteryears. Not a foolish graduate can ever let those bygones be bygones. Vivid graphics of the
last four Christmases or Valentines cannot be easily relegated into oblivion, just like that. The 48
months are worth painting if you can supply enough canvas. If you can’t, you’d better reminisce
with me.

The Freshmen
“Dreams take patience
They grow and flower
In their own good time…”

Was it June 1996? Cute boys and girls, bewitched by summer cares, nursing hurts caused
by a few farewells from six-year grade-school acquaintances and abruptly cut budding crushes,
wandered into the mysterious up-and-down glass-louvered classrooms. Fronting childish
shyness were slightly parted lips, exposing temporary teeth, wishing to begin new friendships.
Some were in suspenders, bobs or pigtails, while others were tugged along, hiding behind the
skirts of moms as they traversed the MMSU greens. Full of uncertainties mixed with anxieties,
heavy footsteps followed by lighter ones cautiously trod the LHS corridors. Veteran students in
uniform patiently pointed to the footpath leading to the “barrio” where greenhorns had to be
“initiated” in preparation for “city life”.

With relief, we found our seats in the cuddles of Mrs. Cristeta Pedro, Miss Jeannette
Gaoat and Miss Marijane Mangguera who were to mother sections Amethyst, Sapphire and
Emerald respectively. Because of the influx of ambitious alumni-to-be, this batch required a third
section on top of the usual two. Thus began the history of the first batch of new millennium
graduates. The era demanded that our dreams must be lived and take tangible shapes.

After a few days of adjustment and “adaptation” into the new mysterious environment,
keenly observing how those elders behaved, we began creeping out of our nutshell, slowly but

School politics drew the attention of the upperclassmen to us when two Freshies got into
the Student Body Organization. Chester Lee Antonio of Amethyst and Samantha Loj Batara of
Emerald were elected Sergeant at arms, and were soon there mingling shoulder to shoulder with
other SBO officers from the upper years, attending meetings and alleged extra-curricular
Academic excellence was prominently running in our veins, uncontrollably surging to be
noticed. Newfound mathematicians surfaced during the Philippine Math Olympiad, division
level, where Patrick Daniel Chua, Chester Lee Antonio and Samantha Loj Batara garnered first,
second and third places respectively, displacing without difficulty all other contestants from
various secondary schools of Laoag City.

Students who did not wish to participate in the aforementioned competition did not want
to be left behind as backbenchers. They thought it better to go on an adventure. To Batac they
went on a farm experience – full of fun indeed, desiring to be free from the usual rigors of day-
to-day school activities.

Man gets richer in wisdom as he ages, an adage runs, but our class proved that expertise
did not always go with chronological age. We exposed our worth to the so-called elders when we
bested them during the Linggo Ng Wika. Fresh from the spell of the grade school, we gave the
natives an unexpected match. In the Song Interpretation Contest, the Sapphire greenhorns
glittered beautifully blinding the rest of the competitors, landing first place, with Emeralds
trailing second. Consequently, the unbeatable Sapphire seized the crown in the Speech Choir
Competition, while selected first year students captured second place in the Neo-ethnic Dance

Intramurals found a special nook in our hearts too. The Class donned laurels through the
piano expert Anne Lorraine Balucay (Emerald) garnering first place, and second placer Marie Jo
Jesusa Madamba (Emerald) in the Organ Playing Competition. Songbirds Rowald Hagen Castro
(Amethyst) and Charity Hope Domingo (Sapphire) allowed no compromise. They sang to their
forte unerringly and secured first place in the Song Duet, while April Anne Corpuz (Amethyst)
landed second in the Vocal Solo Category.

Several late afternoons, even deep evenings, of practice and the unsolicited patience of
dads and moms waiting for their kids at the gate, sculpted for history one of the best Cheers and
Yells ever where almost all of the Freshmen eagerly participated. We smoothly settled second in
the Neo-ethnic and Modern Dance Competitions, and third in the Folk Dance Category.

An ear for music we were gifted indeed. Tiny little fingers were itching for the strum. In
spite of the heavy academic load starting to envelope us, Marijo Agpaoa, Samantha Loj Batara,
Mary Patricia Dane Camaquin, Janice Lardizabal, Carla Kristine Saturnino, Melgy Tee Sy and
Michelle Villanueva coined extra time for practice in the School Rondalla. Some sumptuous
breakfast at Fort Ilocandia after an stringed appearance or two compensated blistering fingertips.

Off the record noon trips to Jollibee were countless before we detected expert cooks in
our midst. Chefs did abound and were just waiting to be unveiled. Admirable talents, or skills as
the case may be, were exposed during the Nutrition Week Cookfest when Venadel Cristobal,
Maricris delos Reyes, Lei Marcelle Pascua and others of section Amethyst, and Anne Lorraine
Balucay, Samantha Loj Batara, Janice Lardizabal, Cristy Ann Manayan and Aladine Sagisi of
Emerald were adjudged best in culinary arts.
Drama talents sprang out during the Speech Festival where Section Amethyst ranked
first in the One-act Play, with Gerald Stephen Garo judged as Best Actor, Mary Patricia Dane
Camaquin as Best Actress, Jemuel Warren de Castro as Best Supporting Actor, and Cheri Rose
Victoria Visaya as Best Supporting Actress. The Sapphires pinned their wares too, leading in the
Pantomime and the Speech Choir, while Emeralds firmly planted an unbeatable stance in
Parliamentary Procedures.

Budding astronomers had the opportunity to explore the Starlab – the Planetarium –
courtesy of proud sponsors, the Science Club. Lying down keenly observing the galaxies, various
thoughts undeniably entered young minds. How great and mysterious God and his creation could
be! Every watcher drowned into the vastness of the abyss and the enchantment of the world that
lie beyond. One could shudder at realizing how tiny humans were, and ignorant of what lies
ahead of them. Ah, let the unbearable heat of summer pass! One year under the leadership of our
clever Freshmen Class President, Cherie Rose Victoria Visaya, had unnoticeably gone.

The Sophomore
“Yes, dreams take patience
And dreams are yet to be realized
for dreams should not remain dreams

How time flew! It was then June 1997. The proud cheers we exclaimed in chorus
immediately after our last final exam that we were already Sophomores could no longer be
questioned by anyone. It really felt good to be resettled at last to the “city”.

New set of advisers greeted us welcome: Mr Edwin Rivera (Neptune), Mrs. Carolyn
Paguyo (Venus), and Mrs. Juanita Licuan (Jupiter). Just like previous advisers, second parents
they were.

Remnants of shyness were cast to the side and we were totally out of our nutshell.
Inquisitive minds were more excited to explore the world around. Braver to grin at the incoming
Freshmen who were made to believe we existed there a hundred years and were native to the

Similarities probed with the passing of time grouped us into bits of forces to be reckoned
with. Our Math and Science wizards were a team to watch, and indeed, Hezron Bagay,
Alexander Baluran and Cherryanne Cristobal grabbed first place in the Science and Math Fair,
Division level. Naturally, the same trio was the unbeatable team at the Regional level, bringing
home the bacon once more.

Another Linggo ng Wika Celebration brought us no surprise when we captured first place
in the Song Interpretation Contest, and third place in the Neo-ethnic Dance Category. Those in
Jupiter came second while those in Neptune settled fourth in the Sabayang Pagbigkas.

Beauty and brain were an inseparable couple that served as our asset. The Search for Ms.
Intrams discovered Florentina Janapin who came first runner-up in the school category. Felie
Marr Jose was proclaimed Most Articulate and Best in Filipina Terno during the Interhigh School
Palaro Search for the Ms. Teen MMSU ’97. Credit goes also to our gyrating dancers who seized
second place in both Modern and Folk Dance Competitions at both the School level and the
Interhigh Palaro. Our Choir crooned their harmony to a comfortable second place during the

Various other school activities further unlatched latent skills. Our tummies reigned when
those of Neptune, inspired by Aladine Sagisi and company, won second place in the Nutri-
Cookfest. Creativity begins in the tongue, the taste. Internationalism also invaded the class when
those of Venus championed during the UNO celebration with the Dangkal-dangkal and in Flag

Our second Christmas at MMSU was a time for deeper reflections, a time to pause, to
reckon the things we did, and undid, within the calendar. Satisfaction was far fetched, and every
one needed to exert more efforts to attain more, less than half-way to the finish line. The
remarkable direction of our Sophomore Class President, Jhoana Lynne Miguel, would certainly
see us there.

The symbolism of the tug of war during the Palarong Pamasko made us realize that being
torn between two poles would allow us to drift, to nurture uncharted dreams. It would be futile to
face a dynamic, hi-tech world, without keeping pace with and getting immersed into its realities.
A long trek was still ahead of us, trail ways waiting to be trod and explored. Only by venturing to
step on that we would unravel grandiose secrets on the way. Only by doing our best and toiling
to the fullest that we could live out our dreams.

The Junior
“Life cannot be just dreamed;
it must be lived…”

June 1998. We were undeniably turning into full maturity, awareness and solidarity. The
class was not just a mere set of people divided into three sections but a whole big family bonded
as one. Where we used to mingle only with our peer groups, we now learned to interact with
everybody else. The walls between year levels that separated us either from our older or younger
brothers and sisters was finally torn down by our urge to expand our grounds and discover more
of what is in life. The days of indifference and individualism slowly drifted away and a sense of
unity developed from within us all, bringing us to a far better stage of self-belonging and
understanding for our fellows.

Who could deny that now we were more sophisticated in preparing ourselves to become
the “manongs” and “manangs” in the school. As we settled to our sections of III-Scorpio advised
by Mrs. Claudia Rosario Corcuera, III-Pisces by Ms. Grinelyn Donato (later to be Mrs. James by
the end of the school year), and III-Aries by Ms. Lilibeth Guillermo, the certainty of our
relationships with our classmates and teachers also firmed up. Nobody was a stranger anymore.
Indeed, our skills transformed into a leap of excellence and the achievements we gained
proved the stupendous ability that we were more ready to exhibit now than before. It was no new
encounter for Alexander Baluran to win first place in the Philippine Math Olympiad, together
with second placer Chester Lee Antonio and fourth placer Cherryanne Cristobal in the Division
level for the individual category, while as a team they bagged the first place.

Our glamour for arts never failed to bring us victory. During the Linggo ng Wika
Celebration, Scorpio students placed second in the Bulletin Board Making, with Aries tailed as
third. Who could ever defeat the suave move and graceful sways of the Juniors who won first
place in the Interpretative Dance. A whole bunch of more jeers filled the MMSU skies as we
came second in the Speech Choir. Aladine Sagisi of Pisces won first place in the Poster Making
Contest, while Kris Edward Borja of Scorpio came second. Also, Pisces was second placer in the
Jingle Making and Presenting, and Scorpio collected Essay Writing prizes.

Suzette Naceno definitely outshone other contestants in the Search for Miss Intrams ’98,
winning first runner-up to the Miss High School Intrams. Jemuel Warren de Castro, the Best in
Sportswear and the Most Articulate, came second runner-up, while Jhoana Lynne Miguel came
third runner-up in the Search for Mr. and Ms. Teen MMSU ‘98.

Intramurals, although physically tiring, were always an exciting, spirit-boosting event for
everyone. In the school level, the Juniors, full of energy and enthusiasm, won first place in the
Cheers and Yells and Modern Dance Competition, placed second in the Vocal Duet, and third in
the Battle of the Bands. The undefeatable champion we were in 100 m dash (girls), 4x100 (boys),
Badminton doubles (girls), Basketball (girls), Chess (boys and girls), Long Jump (boys and
girls), Shotput (girls), Softball and Table tennis (boys).

Lifted by triumphs in the school level we faced a tougher competition against the other 4
MMSU campuses in the Interhigh Palaro. Proud third year students dominated the UHS-Laoag
team. Champs Mark Lester Cardenas, Jemuel Warren de Castro, (Basketball and Volleyball),
Jeffrey Mejia (Soccer and Volleyball), Giovanni Agustin, Alexander Baluran, Elmer Antonio
Castro, Gem Raguindin (Volleyball), Jim Paul Quindara (Soccer), Ria Cruz, Vianney Marie
Diego (Basketball), and Jay Roger Braceros and Angelo Martin (Taekwando) playfully dumped

With inexhaustible vigor, strengthened by the will and determination to be the best and to
achieve goals to the fullest, Baluran, Braceros, Cardenas, Cruz and Mejia made it to the INAA
and IRAA Meet.

Hands those of Picasso’s, skills those of da Vinci’s, Charmine Marie Campos won in a
series of Poster Making Contests. She came first in the UP Namnama Provincial level, third in
the Regional, and second in the DTI Provincial. A promising debater and an efficient speaker,
Filamer Miguel and her team members attended the UP Namnama Debate Tournament and won
first place in both Provincial and Regional levels.
An intelligent leader, a politician in the making, Cherie Rose Victoria Visaya held high
the green and gold as she was elected Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member of the Junior
Government Council.

Skilled with theatrical acting were the Aries talents that won second place in the Sci-Act
during the Science Week. In the English Week, Florentina Janapin of Pisces garnered second
place in the Extemporaneous Speaking, and Lucille Gypsy Zabala of Scorpio came third in the
Essay Writing. As one, the Juniors came second in both the Tongue Twister and Charade

Who can forget that one sunny day in January? Out of nowhere, boys in long sleeves,
slacks and suspenders, looking like lost waiters, and girls in pigtails, unmatched socks and huge
ribbons attached to the front of their blouses, were all roaming around like a bunch of silly-
looking, frustrated COCCians. One could hardly imagine how much hardship they had to bear
everyday, morning and afternoon, to finish what seemed like a life-stripping training. But
nothing could bring down their aim to graduate from the COCC, not even the glaring heat of the
sun, nor sharp pebbles under their knees, nor the sight of collapsing fellow aspirants, bleeding
knuckles, wounded arms, throbbing headaches. Whatever it took to finally reach the finish line,
everyone gave his every inch of energy, with his courage, patience and prevailing vivacity. They
indeed succeeded. Truly, nothing is sweeter than reaping the fruits of all the efforts and diligence
one sacrificed for victory.

While others had their own dose of jubilation as their groups victor among the rest during
the Speech Festival, the deserving and much acquainted Gerald Stephen Garo was awarded Best

Oh, the memories of our first promenade. The razzle-and-dazzle vibrantly hanging in the
atmosphere during the days of preparation when we weren’t sure enough of what to wear, whom
to dance with, and being undecided of the food we would serve the Seniors, and of the venue. We
finally brought them to the Sierra Madre Ballroom of Fort Ilocandia. All a little frenzied to be
seen and to see others, the honorees let the short night pass too soon. Some were shy to ask
partners to dance with, others got stiff to be asked, while the rest just preferred the good
company around their table and watched a few extroverts dance. Sweet, sweet dancing, grooving
to the music being played, and among the partners mesmerized by these moments, Delfin Jesus
Mina and Samantha Loj Batara were chosen by magic wands to be the Prom Prince and Princess.

Who would dare to remember the GSP National Encampment? Who went where? All our
girls in green were very much thrilled to go to Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Bright smily
faces of the ever adventurous Samantha Loj Batara, April Anne Corpuz, Charity Hope Domingo,
Michelle Christ Galiza, Love Joy Gallardo, Janice Lardizabal, Shanerell Mae Lorenzo, Gina
Angela Lumabao, Mae Dawn Rohanny Palmaira, Carla Kristine Saturnino, and Lucille Gypsy
Zabala were there. Fun combined with lots of challenges, not to mention the tears, made these
girls surely experience a lot, to keep for themselves and to share with others.

Wait till you become seniors, they used to say. Juniors we still were, and a lot more
happened under the guidance of our smart Junior Class President, Rodney Joel Ramos.
Life is an adventure, we may have gone through much but ahead of us is far more than
what we have left behind, and with every encounter we make, one by one we answer the
questions that we are living for.

The Senior
“Dreams serve to push the dreamer to live.
Life is indeed beautiful
Because of lived dreams…”

June 1999, it was half-annum to the new millennium. Seniors at long last! It was our final
year in the greens of MMSU. We couldn’t help but look back to the very first time we stepped in
as little girls and boys, afraid and unsure of our surroundings. Now, we’re grown ladies and gents
portrayed as the veterans by those who now had to look up to us as their guiding elderly school
siblings. Nothing much changed except that we were taller and stronger. Like flowers in full
bloom, scented with the fragrance of endowment and experience, we were the Camias,
Sampaguitas and Ilang-Ilangs of our green-thumbed mentors Dr. Ligaya Diculen, Mrs. Estrella
Pacis and Ms. Jeanette Gaoat.

Competitive we still were and always aiming to reach the top, the battlegrounds now
seemed less intimidating as we were sharpened by the test of time and challenges. Lucille Gypsy
Zabala of Camia prevailed during the Nutrition Week as she garnered first place in the Poem
Writing and second in the Essay Writing. Camia, represented by Rizalie Agbayani, Ninotchka
Ballesteros, Samantha Loj Batara, Rodney Joel Ramos, Aladine Sagisi and Carina Valdez, won
first place in the Cookfest. Kris Edward Borja of Sampaguita showcased his artistic skills as he
landed third placer in the Nutri-Post Slogan.

Seemingly not getting enough of winning, Kris Edward Borja again flaunted a first place
at the Poster Slogan, while Aladine Sagisi came second placer, and Lucille Gypsy Zabala won
another second place in the Essay Writing during the Buwan ng Wika Celebration.

Getting more active and reaping more laurels, donned with pleasure and mastery,
members of the Junior Sci-Act Contest Group, Giovani Agustin, Charmine Marie Campos,
Venadel Cristobal, Florentina Janapin, January Julian and Shanerell Mae Lorenzo bagged the
first prize. Lucille Gypsy Zabala came second in the Essay Writing Contest and Extemporaneous

The Division level of the Science and Technology Festival favored Charmine Marie
Campos, winning first place and Lucille Gypsy Zabala placing third in the Poster Making.

Hobbyists abound, but not very many in stamp collecting. MMSU is a nook where one
can find the scarce. Who would ever think that during the Philpost One Philatelic Exhibits
(POPE ’99), Provincial level, Cherryanne Cristobal and Hannah Cher Samonte settled second in
the Group Quiz, while Samantha Loj Batara anchored second in the On-the-Spot Essay Writing
For the UP Namnama, competitions are not only of the brains but determination. Our
own competitors possessed both and we witnessed them towering over their contenders. The
Asian Parliamentary Debate Team, with Filamer Miguel and Lucille Gypsy Zabala in it, brought
home the gold without difficulty in the Provincial level. Samantha Loj Batara placed second in
the Essay Writing Contest, and Charmine Marie Campos came third in the Poster Making. The
Super Quiz Bee Team composed of Hezron Bagay, Alexander Baluran and Cherryanne Cristobal
eased into third place, and again raked in another bronze in the regional level.

Although exhausting, a very exhilarating fun-filled experience was the UP Banuar Debate
Tournament held in Baguio City. Our delegates Mary Patricia Dane Camaquin, Abraham delos
Santos, Filamer Miguel, Cherie Rose Victoria Visaya, Lucille Gypsy Zabala with our Quizzers
Hezron Bagay and Cherryanne Cristobal climbed the pined mountains to the pinnacles of their
skills and ability.

Gifted with the art of analytical, interpretative comic, January Julian won first place
during the UHS Editorial Cartooning, and fourth place in the Division level.

Leadership, a quality of a truly versatile person, was exemplified by the elected Junior
City Officials in the Youth Congress, Jemuel Warren de Castro as Junior City Vice Mayor, and
Jhoana Lynne Miguel and Rodney Joel Ramos as Junior City Councilors.

The brass and sabers that pulled the COCCians to brave through the almost unbearable
catastrophe of the last summer military training pegged into attention our custom-made CAT
Officers. Col. Rodney Joel Ramos became Battalion Commander, and was backed by Lt. Col.
Gerald Stephen Garo (Staff 1), Maj. Jay Roger Braceros (Staff 2), Lt. Maj. Alexander Baluran
(Staff 3), Lt. Shanerell Mae Lorenzo (Staff 4).

Present arms. The Alpha Company was steered by Coy. A Capt. Mark Lester Cardenas
(Company Commander), Alpha Lt. Capt. Kris Edward Borja (Company Executive Officer), Cdt.
Sgt. Angelo Martin (1st Platoon Leader), Cdt. Sgt. Barnie Magne Gonzales (2nd Platoon Leader).
The Bravo Company was led by Coy. B Capt. Venadel Cristobal (Company Commander), Bravo
Lt. Capt. Carla Kristine Saturnino (Company Executive Officer), Cdtte. Sgt. Jessica Mae Simon
(1st Platoon Leader), Cdtte. Sgt. Jessica Buanjug (2nd Platoon Leader), Cdtte. Sgt. Jhoana Lynne
Miguel (3rd Platoon Leader), Color Sgt. Lei Marcelle Pascua (Color Officer). 10-shun!

Beauty and brain were never out of our league. Felie Marr Jose was the epitome of such
asset in our class, being crowned Ms. Teen MMSU ’99, receiving most awards like Best in
Casual Wear, Best in Poise, Best in Evening Gown, Miss Avon, and Most Charming. She later
stood at Teatro Ilocandia as Miss University 2000 1st runner-up, after being recognized as Best in
Swimsuit, Most Photogenic and Miss Pepsi Cola.

Brains like calculators? Maybe better, and not an amazing surprise if Alexander Baluran,
Hezron Bagay, and Cherryanne Cristobal, were first, second, and third placers respectively
during the Provincial Search for Math Wizard 2000. In the Philippine Physics Olympiad,
Provincial level, the team of Hezron Bagay, Cherryanne Cristobal and Jessica Mae Simon
bagged first place, while in the individual category, Bagay garnered 2nd place. Again in the
Population Quiz and Science Super Quiz Bee, Division level, Hezron Bagay amusingly gained
the second place.

Linggo ng Kabataan ’99 also prepared for us pedestals of triumph when Hezron Bagay,
Cherryanne Cristobal and Abraham delos Santos reaped second place in the Group Quiz,
Provincial level, while Charmine Marie Campos picked up first place in the Poster Making

The Senior days, under the tutelage of our brilliant Senior Class President, January Julian,
were probably the most carefree. They were no perfect days. We had stormy days just as we had
sunny. Because of the imperfections we often came across, we learned to see how beautiful life
could be. We knew that the four good memorable years would soon end as we were faced with
career explorations and decision making for a future that was beyond the windows of MMSU-
LHS. The thought of our parting ways somehow brought the deepest mantle of blue from us, yet
in our own jolly ways, we did our best to be always together in laughter and happiness.

Even before we trod into the verdant MMSU forest, we were walking forward to success.
Now with MMSU occupying a big cubicle in our hearts, our success would not be too far to
encompass. True enough, as we stepped up the ladder to receive our diplomas, we the graduates
of the new millenium were filled with sadness as we bade farewell to loving mentors who
cradled us with basic knowledge, and with joy as we would utter hellos to a wider world of

Go on, dreamer. Live on. Whew.

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