Memoirs of a Navy Brat






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After the failed attempt to enter the Philippine Military Academy...... and the shattered dream, I was back to college the following semester. I transferred to the school campus in Manila at that time so I could just commute from Cavite, which only took roughly 45 minutes to an hour of travel then.

A year later, I was back at the main campus, staying at Narra Residence Hall. Those were the days of Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, and the Beatles. The bell-bottom pants and the long and wide sideburns were the fad, influenced by the big names of the entertainment world.  The TV show "This is Tom Jones" was very popular among the dorm residents.  My dorm mate, Former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, would always take time out from his studies to watch the TV program. He was the one who baptized me as the Tom Jones  of the dorm, as I had curly hair and long sideburns like the singer. That moniker would rub on to the other residents of the dormitory.

Those were also already the tumultuous days of student unrest against the Marcos administration. Street protests and mass demonstrations were being held at close intervals in front of the old Congress Building in Manila and in the Mendiola area near Malacanang. Most of these mass actions would end up with violent dispersals, with students battling anti-riot units from the police and the Armed Forces.

There was this one big rally that ended violently, in which my dorm mates and I participated. Student activists from different universities in Metro Manila converged in front of the old Congress building early that afternoon and later marched on to Malacanang. The protesters were met by military and police personnel in anti-riot gears in Mendiola, to prevent them from getting close to the Malacanang complex. Later that evening, the violent dispersal of the demonstrators ended up with the students seizing, and setting on fire, one of the firetrucks spraying water on the activists.

One evening at the dorm, my roommate motioned me over to him to show me a magazine.  It was the week's Asian edition of the Newsweek Magazine, and the front cover showed a close up photo of student demonstrators in front of Congress. At the center of the photo were my roommate and I, with my sunglasses on. I should congratulate the photographer for having a keen eye for spotting model materials that will sell. Ha ha ha! We should have sued that fellow for unauthorized publication of our  photos! Lol! Joking aside, there was a sea of demonstrators that hot afternoon and we didn't even notice somebody was taking pictures. I been trying to locate a copy of that issue, which maybe between the years 1968 to 1970, but has been unsuccessful so far. My search in the internet had yielded negative results.

This was already the prevailing atmosphere in Metro Manila when I went back to college. During my last years in school, students from different campuses  would take to the streets to carry the fight against an administration which started out popularly, but whose popularity was slowly eroded by abuses, excesses, and corruption.

[Retirement From Navy]



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