inside the chapel. under renovation for quite some time now.

still, i like the old chapel. more spacious and more peaceful. hopefully this one looks ok after the renovation Posted by Picasa

Seminario on my mind....

By Bong Miaco | Batch '83

"...A song of you Comes as sweet and
clear as moonlight through the pines...

Still in peaceful dreams I see

The road leads back to you"

(ray charles. georgia on my mind)

I never knew back in the summer of '79 of what I would be into and up to as I was about to embark on a so-called journey... that of a life in the seminary. As I was packing up my clothes and leaving behind some of the stuff dear to me, I was contemplating and played the words time and time again in my mind, "Maybe the reason why I have to be there is because my elder brother Charlie is already in there."." Maybe I am called but definitely I won't be chosen.", and so I thought. By being the youngest of the two in the family, I somehow enjoyed following my brother's footsteps. Murudoy-pudoy baya... I was always looking forward to mingle with his seminarian classmates and friends especially during their free days and listening to their stories in awe while they related them to each other followed with loud laughter. Somehow I felt then that I, considered an outsider, already belonged to this group of young men. As a gawky and naive young boy as I was, I had no inclination that such bold steps (entrance exams, interviews and a couple of days stay in the seminary) would somehow be the start of a life-changing experience for me that I will carry on through life.

As I entered the seminary on that very first day of the school year and having that great feeling of being officially called a seminarian, I never noticed how exhausted I was from a hot summer break in Manila in which me and my brother did every summertime with my Dad. Outside on that very day, the sun was shining brightly and chirping "salampatis and mayas" were up in the trees and somehow gave me a slight glimpse of what the future might be... a new day, a new beginning! Raucous young boys running around added to the festive nature of the occasion.

I was thinking, " Gee, this is a huge room (big dorm) and so many beds...". Most of us were engaged in conversations with the usual "kumustahans and taga-diin ka" stuff. Although we felt we were still strangers to each other yet we all knew that we were in for a good time. We heard those strange accents and dialects from each other or so-called "dialect diversity". May mga kurutumon (teeth-grinding accent), odd ones and pure Bicol as well yet we managed to understand what the other guy was trying to say which was a kind of a feat in itself. As I waved goodbye to my Mom, I suddenly realized that "This is it!" and that knocked me back a bit. A sudden surge of feeling of apprehension and sadness was felt by me. Reality had finally set in, and indeed, it would be different from that time on. That feeling lasted only for a few minutes and was followed by a welcoming one especially with the jubilance of nearby classmates which was quite infectious... I started to settle in and once again transformed into a smiling young boy in the face of a crowd. Then the bell rang... a sign for us to follow a life of order, of rules and discipline.

It was not difficult for me to adapt into a so-called regimental lifestyle for having lived with a military father (an air force officer to be exact) and a number of uncles who were all in active military duties at that time but somehow seminary training was different because it wasn't much focussed on the physical aspect although it was a part but mainly it was centered on the spiritual, academic emotional and psychological aspects. Life inside the seminary can be a tough one for a young teenager with normal attitudes of "No Rules", "Rebel Yell", "No Fear", and words such as "Damn if I do, Damn if I don't", "Boys will be boys, as you know it" and the like... because of a huge number of dos and don'ts in which were all should be strictly followed.

As youngsters, we did not realize though that those rules were the ones that would prepare us for the greatest battle that lies ahead until be it for another 8 years plus for the chosen ones (Philosophy, Theology and on) or life outside the fence (an ex-seminarian living in the outside world). These rules prepared us to become disciplined, tough, tenacious and resolute to any adversity that would one day befall upon us.

We would be able to manage and survive any hardships we might encounter because of those characters embedded into our psyche through those years of training. Elvis Palma (a former classmate of mine during our first year) was right when he was asked by one of the priests with the question, "Why did you enter the seminary?" and he answered in a simple yet profound way and if I'll borrow his exact words again, they went like these, "Father, I entered the seminary because I want to be a P.C. (Philippine Constabulary)." And laughed we did... but if we won't take those words literally but instead dissect them like keen anatomy or physiology students in our final term... for sure we all know that it was the perfect answer. We were all placed there to be trained... to be prepared for something we could not possibly knew at that time.

Seminary life gave me a new meaning of the word friendship because it became real to me. I found lifelong friends when I was there. The bond between "sanos" especially with your own batchmates or as I put it... "my own tribe" could not be exchanged for a dollar. It will always be there and distance won't be a hindrance (for sanos living overseas). It is within you and somehow you can feel it running in your veins (blood-brothers perhaps). A friendship that has stood and survived the test of time. In some point of our lives... past and present, might be sordid and crappy at times and memories that can be so poignant and bleak... all of these can be overshadowed by the memories we spent at OLPS. These memories will haunt us in a nice kind of way.

Sometimes when we get lost in the "wilderness of of the world", what we do to start afresh and renewed is to retrace back the steps we took and curiously enough that always take us back and lead us to the great one... The Our Lady Of Penafrancia Seminary. From there, we regain our strength as we continue to trudge along again with our lives. We always recall those memories as if they are like a drug for us to take to get a fix or a song that we have to rewind and replay to listen to and feel the essence of the melody and message that can give us so much joy. A fading memory perhaps yet most of the remnants are still lurking inside us as if they were digitally encrypted into our brains so we can replay them as we choose to do so with such clarity, crispness and in finer details.

If heroes have to be lauded... we have so many... ourselves included and those people who supported us and helped to mould us. Our parents most especially whose sacrifices for us knows no boundaries, a total one. The priests, faculty members, the seminary personnel and friends outside who were/are one way or the other became a part of the whole saga.

Indeed, it was such a pleasure to be a part of that great institution... that silently watched over us through those times when we were still there and/or choose to go back to visit her... our beloved alma mater. We all know that she can proudly smile because she was able to transform naive, shy and sometimes wild-eyed young boys to become great and legendary men.

(Bomick or bong Miaco of Batch '83, lives in Adelaide, Australia. He works as a research laboratory technologist by day and is a rockin' rollin' axeman by night and most of his free time. you can read more about him here)

big dorm toilet stairs

still the same Posted by Picasa

bigdorm down shower

civilized looking di ba? but still smells with muriatic acid and cleanser Posted by Picasa

big dorm down toilet

wow ano? looks wayyyyyy cleaner than i can remember.

but the ceiling has still that slimy greenish gunk Posted by Picasa

big dorm

batch 86 visits big dorm Posted by Picasa

big dorm

 Posted by Picasa

big dorm

traditionally, the dorm of freshmen.

a silent witness to freshmen's cries of loneliness at night (esp the first night away from home) :D tsaka yung pagkahulog sa bed. i miss the T-Bar hehehehe Posted by Picasa

remember these floor tiles? quintessentially OLPS talaga. Posted by Picasa

closeup view of the tiles Posted by Picasa

2nd floor pasillo

favorite hangout of main building occupants.

the roof of the kitchen and the toilet were also favorite tambayan and place to dry laundry or shoes and to sun beddings Posted by Picasa

2nd floor pasillo

seminarians jamming Posted by Picasa


remember tio nard's culinary experiments? Posted by Picasa


they use lpg now. wara na idto na lutuan na upa an panggatong Posted by Picasa


medyo malinis na pagkitaon ano? iba talaga pag lpg hehehe wara nin agiw nan abo :-) Posted by Picasa

the letter

the most awaited letter during the summer.

remember how you felt when you opened and read it?

it was a proud moment in my young life coz i thought then that entering the seminary was like being in a elite group of people sort of like being in the scout rangers :-) hehehe the few, the proud kuno baga.

this pix came from the batch 82 blog


 Posted by Picasa


lots of trees now gone. Posted by Picasa

main building

the main building Posted by Picasa

big dorm up is still big dorm. the rooms below used to be at various points during my stay, -chemistry and lab room, pantry, cat room, big dorm down, small dorm down.

now its an office and infirmary. am not sure what the other room is Posted by Picasa

small dorm

looking up the small dorm up. beacuse of dwindling enrollees, the small dorm up currently lays unused. it just looks sad.

like when seminary is on summer vacation and you go back and take a peek at the dorms. the emptiness jars you up a bit. coz ur used to seeing the dorms full of beddings and stuff and noisy teenagers. Posted by Picasa

garden main building

how do we call this nga? main garden ba? the aguho tree is gone and so is the big mango tree and the rimas tree near the kitchen. looks a bit bare but more open. i dunno but the seminary looks way more lonesome, and rundown than before. gurangunon na pagkitaon.

mga rich na sano, batugi na tabi nindo magdonate bago magkaruruba an mga buildings :-) Posted by Picasa


the parlor looking down from the second floor -what used to be the prayer room. it has been removed so the parlor became like a high ceilinged receiving area Posted by Picasa

the "object of desire" of many basketball crazy seminarians hehehe. paurunahan pag 4pm Games!

the boards are plexiglass. remember when they used to be made of wood and every now and then the karpinteros and Pay would replace the rotting panels with new ones? Posted by Picasa

Nostalgia: right court

 Posted by Picasa

the b-ball courts are now equipped with plexi boards. this is the right court with a "grandstand" something ---where the volleyball court used to be. the court remains still the skin scraping concrete paving Posted by Picasa

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