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From Lipa to London: Peps Villanueva, Child of the Universe in the Age of Aquarius—a parallel story


First of a Series

This is a story within a story in medias res.

For it was the height of their summer solstices as in Quijano de Manila’s.

Jose Villanueva—later to be christened Peps Villanueva—was a high school student at the La Salle Green Hills in the late sixties. A predecessor of the coño boys, shall we say of Enrique Razon, Jr., Gary Valenciano, Ralph Recto, Francis Pangilinan, the Santiagos, etc. From a respectable family, Jose is a native of Lipa City in Batangas Province. Obviously, his color was green as luscious as the idyllic city in modern times. He was exclusively green and white. Oh! One of the academic pillars of LSGH was poet and radio broadcaster Clemen Bautista who taught Filipino to the many English-speaking boys on the campus.

Peps Villanueva with his father Jose Villanueva Sr.

Jose’s roots were planted firmly on closely-knitted clan tradition fertile grounds and multiplied like robust veins, greens, and vegetation to spread filial love and teachings of generosity and compassion to anyone—kith and kin. It’s like the mission and vision of Saint John de Baptist de la Salle, patron saint of education and educators among the youth (founder of La Sallian learning), who never tired of sharing knowledge and human values for the well-being of his students and fellowmen alike. It was from the start his influence in Jose’s early childhood and later a legacy from his Batangueño and Batangueña forebears.

Balisong (knife) was only a symbol of the fastidiousness of any kababayan who wanted to reach out to people in multi-direction as seen from a young boy’s eyes.    

As any baby boomer, Jose was in the thick of things of rock ‘n’ roll not necessarily but mostly Beatles, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Spiral Staircase, and the likes if not the Electro maniacs. The Association was also dishing out songs to the tune of “Windy” in a horsey-horsey dance beat with the first-ever Filipino member of an American band, Larry Ramos and Hollies was traversing the road most traveled by “Bus Stop.” Maskipops and bang-shang-alang were bumping hips to hips. It was the time when poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran was taking not only the world of the adults’ but also the teens’ life by storm. The dawning “Desiderata” was a mantra as well.

Peps Villanueva with wife Julie Villanueva

On one side, Villanueva and his classmates were confined in the four corners of the classrooms to learn among other secondary curricula “Florante at Laura,” Nick Joaquin, trigonometry, chemistry, and PMT.  They were nurtured the camaraderie in-campus. They were taught to educate well-rounded not only for themselves but for others as well no matter they were more privileged than many students off-campus.  Once classes out, though, family chauffeur and school buses picked up the boys to send them to the comfort of their homes.

On the other, the flame of youth idealism mostly in public schools like UP was beginning to burn with fervor as they went out to the streets not only in protest against social injustices and inequities but an uphold to the community and civic work as well.

Meanwhile, at the E. Rodriguez Jr. High School, a public estate in Mayon Street in Quezon City was bringing in students, one after the other, to P. Bernardo Park for fellowship among other public high schools and at the corner of Highway 54—later renamed EDSA—and Quezon Avenue on weekdays’ recess and vacant periods to literally weed out tall grasses from the idle, vast land to give way earlier, on one hand, to informal settlers in some homesteads right side along the road and years to come to Centris, on the other.

In the mid-semester of 1968, this public-school learner had transferred to the same institution for the masses and the peasants in the province, the Lopez Provincial High School in Lopez town in Quezon Province. The field day in the so-called parochial garden day culmination round of a school year saw the male and female juniors and seniors dancing to the beat of the Dave Clark Five and still, The Association. It seemed like an endless celebration of colonial dance and music as extra-curricular activities while teenyboppers were threatening to replace the foreign pop consciousness among the children of NVM Gonzales’ ash-covered loom by way of popping in the music charts of Nora Aunor, Tirso Cruz III, Eddie Peregrina, Esperanza Fabon, Perla Adea, Vilma Santos, Edgar Mortiz, and their ilk.

In exclusive boys and girls’ schools in Manila and other cities and urban centers, one could imagine how intrigued they were and chided as well the bakya crowd and the frenzy created by pop idols in Nora-Tirso, Vilma-Edgar etc.          

The scions of the elite and the middle class in LSGH city, for the meantime, were still digging The Beach Boys and The Monkees and The Beatles.

Jose got to his fourth year high in the school year 1969-1970 with college prep orientation and Catholic teaching while this public schoolboy was in his third year to spend in academics of Social Studies, English, Filipino, and other core subjects minus religion unlike LSGH although time and again, there were visiting local priests who would take on catechism and other complementary Biblical studies in an elective course or cognate. Even if LSGH wasn’t a technical school like Don Bosco Academy or St. Martin Technical Institute at the time, it also had and still has technology courses as part of a well-rounded education which Jose had also taken part and learned from.

Jose finally graduated from secondary school in March of 1970 in commencement exercises fittingly for guys who were prepared to enter the more challenging collegiate life while this public-school goer had stepped up to his senior year to choose between a college preparatory course or a vocational track. It was a distinct, formal, and neat graduation rite for Jose while this public-school attendee was looking forward to colorful and fancy graduation in 1971 where he could wear heavy feather garlands apropos to the neck-high fresh or synthetic leis of flowers offered to idols like Guy and Pip.

Jose was made to choose which university he would enroll in. Would it be in a Catholic school again?

Where would he take entrance exams? Would he pass them? What would be his thoughts on leveling up his learning? (To be continued)

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

PHOTOS

1)      Peps Villanueva with Coco Martin

2)      Peps Villanueva with fellow rallyist against misrepresentation of Filipinos

3)      Peps Villanueva and congresswoman Geraldine Roman

4)      Peps Villanueva with Alex Gonzaga

5)      Peps Villanueva with Althea Vega

6)      Peps Villanueva with Anton Lagdameo

7)      Peps Villanueva hosting a basketball game

8)      Peps Villanueva with the cast of “Be careful with my heart”

9)      Peps Villanueva with the cast of “Be careful with my heart”

 

 

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Unang Yugto

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