"We hope for a progressive, stable and hopeful future for us and the generations yet to come."
GALLI is the new go-to Spanish restaurant across the street from the Sacred Heart Church in Makati. A number of friends have suggested that we go try the place as it was comparable if not better than the more famous ones like Alba’s and Casa Armas.
I finally had a chance to do so when our Ateneo College Class ‘72 president, Goody Hernandez, a banker and finance person whose six-year stint as the Philippine Representative to the Asian Development Bank during the last administration made available funding for a number of advocacy projects in the Philippines, invited us for the bienvenida party of another classmate, Eli Remolona and his wife, Marie.
Eli who just retired as the Regional Director for Asia-Pacific of the Bern-headquartered Bank of International Settlements—the central bank of all central banks (please be advised, Conrad de Q., in case you do not know), will now call Manila (specifically Imus) his home after years of stay in Hong Kong. Before BIS, Eli worked at the US Federal Reserve serving as assistant to then Chairman Alan Greenspan.
He has been asked to teach at the University of the Philippines (UP) where he took his Masters Degree in Economics before proceeding to Stanford University for his doctorate. So, to those students (or even instructors) who are interested in knowing and understanding the inner workings of the global banking and financial system given the increasing complexity of the global economy, here is your chance to get it from one of the experts in the field. Better get to enroll now as I am told Eli has also been asked by Williams College in Massachusetts to be one of their prestigious line up of visiting professors.
Now, back to Galli. I did not even know it was owned by another classmate, Jess Villongco, who was some sort of a “kilabot-ng-kolehiyala” type in college until that lunch. Jess has retained his gait as he regaled us with his offerings of paella, salpicado, gambas and pumpkin soup during that bienvenida party. I was told there was cuchinillo as well but my wife and I only got to taste some left overs as we came in quite late and the buffet table was already half full.
In any event, as happens during such a gathering of friends (with the wives of course) the same can only be complete with kantiyawan, jokes and stories of days gone by. The what would or should have beens. the good things about our Class ‘72 batch at the Ateneo. We have been seeing each other every so often during all these years and sometimes only during homecomings in December. But thanks to Goody and our permanent “invitation committee,” we have been meeting more frequently these days. Probably because almost all in that committee have retired and are simply savoring life after 60.
Sabagay, puro kasi successful guys. Like Lito Bauza who just oversees his communications and printing business, here and in Canada, aside from taking issue with how we have somehow lost our way in promoting arts and culture and i preserving our heritage sites and activities.
Or, Mike Molina who has made it big in construction and now merely stays around promoting certain issues, as usual, against the manner by which Big Business has been running roughshod over the poor and the marginalized including taking over businesses and even titled and, worse, public lands with impunity. Lito and Mike usually take coffee somewhere in Makati with another “invitation” member, Dado Capellan who with wife, Techie, is heavily involved in energy and environmental concerns. I am told they have the usual Tuesday sojourn with another classmate, Minow Nivera, who was a top officer of a telecoms company and now manages Canlubang Country Club, originally established by the family of another classmate, Joey Yulo.
Of course, Minow who was to celebrate his birthday the day after was able to finally convince another classmate and his boss early, TonyBoy Cojuangco, to join us in welcoming back Eli. As his usual self, TonyBoy let the others do the storytelling and just injects some thoughts (and kantiyaw) every now and then. Silent water talaga. Kaya nga he had straight As in college and graduated as one of only three summa cum laudes in our batch. Another classmate, Art Lopez, who was also a kind of sleeper cum laude had stories to tell about his pioneering agri-business ventures in Mindanao.
Indeed, get togethers like that which happened two Sundays ago will always have moments of introspection. As we recall the years, we have never lost our yearning for a better life and a better future not only for our families but for the country as well.
Not that we have a monopoly of such but that we noticed the fire has not only been burning it has in fact even grown as we reached what we call the fourth quarter of our lives. After all, we are and have always been filled with such yearnings since we got involved and made our marks in the midst of the famous First Quarter Storm in the ‘70s which in effect ushered new ways and initiatives for a better life for all. We have come a long way indeed. And even as we decry the toxicity of politics and relations in the country, since we continue to wish that before we finally close out in this Fourth Quarter of our lives the country shall have done away with the battles of the past and moved on united to confront the challenges and embrace the opportunities for a more progressive, stable and hopeful future for us and the generations yet to come.
And if Galli can provide such an environment for settling concerns and agreeing on what can and should be done then I will suggest to the “invite” committee to have more lunches as the one we had two Sundays ago. This time with a wider circle of friends and associates. I am sure Jess will welcome that as we look forward to more hearty lunches just across the Sacred Heart Church. See you at Galli.