Date posted on August 22, 2007
As the SIF-ASEAN Student Fellowship I attended in 2002 came to an end, the Fellows agreed on a pact to meet again in Singapore five years after. The date, 20th July 2007. In short: 20.07.2007.At first, I thought it wasn’t a very good idea to have a reunion that soon. I reasoned some of us may still be studying then, or just finished college and are just starting to work. I thought it might be better to wait for our 10th year. That way, we’d all be established in our respective careers and better disposed to covering the expenses for the reunion. But it had already been agreed upon, so I shut up and just looked forward to that fateful day.

About a year ago, my Kabayans and I thought of jump starting the preparation for the reunion. We wanted to make sure more people can go, so we thought of ways to maybe market money and subsidize the lodging and transportation costs. However, most of us were busy with our jobs and whatever plans we eventually fell through.

Early this year, the Fellows started talking about the upcoming reunion. Talks of holding the reunion in Genting Highlands in Malaysia, but we eventually decided on holding it in Singapore. Always, the priority being making it convenient for the most number of people.

I was so excited. There were even requests from some of the Fellows for me to bring the old videothat I made so we can view it again in the reunion. While burning a DVD copy of that video, I thought, why not make another one? I had more than 10 hours worth of footage from the Fellowship. Surely, there were lots of clips they haven’t seen that they’d love to see. I kept putting it off because I was busy with work, and by the time I gathered the old tapes from the Fellowship so I can at long last start editing a new video, I only had a week left before the reunion.
Previewing the tapes took most time. I salvaged around six tapes, around 8 hours worth. Going through that wouldn’t normally take that long since I can breeze through it by speeding the playback. But when you’re reviewing footage that contained precious memories, you can’t help but sit back and watch. Countless times, I laughed myself silly watching and reminiscing those days. Memories that have taken refuge at the back end of my mind suddenly came rushing to fore.

Two days before my flight to Singapore, I started editing this music video. I wanted it to be a fitting tribute to the 5th anniversary and first official reunion of the SIF-ASEAN Student Fellowship Batch 2002. Back then, I had all the time in the world to make sure that the “Seasons of Love” music video I was preparing came out exactly as I intended it to be. I was able to make sure all the important events that were caught on tape edited into the final cut. I made sure all the Fellows had a few seconds of exposure. With only two days left, I just didn’t have that same luxury anymore. I worked for two days, rushing to make sure I made it to the reunion. I finished at 5.30AM on July 21, and I had to dash to the airport by 6AM if I were to make my 8AM flight (I got to the airport at 6.30AM, almost didn’t make it!).

When I got to Singapore, the Fellows were engaged in the Singapore Heritage Race, fashioned after the Amazing Race. Some of the Fellows arrived earlier than the agreed upon date, and have had their fill of Singapore. I didn’t want to go to Su Lynn’s house (our generous Singaporean host) by myself, so I decided to do my shopping at Orchard. I went to the spots I frequented back when I was still studying in the Lion Cit: Kinokuniya, Borders, Raffles City, Citylink Mall.

It was already evening when I finally met up with the Fellows. I got to Vivo City (the spanking new mall at Habour Front) a little past 9PM. I felt a little nervous as I walked toward the restaurant… I didn’t know what to expect. When entered Marcher, I was awashed with delight to see so many Fellows in one place, and so many whom I haven’t seen for a very long time. Duong (who came with his girlfriend, Phuong), Lum, Cynthia, Vippy, Danny, Joel, Ivy, Man, Ben, Hang, OPS, Jeffrey, Dat, Su Lynn, and my Kabayans, Duke, Richard, Kenneth and Natz. Of course, Gerald was reliably there to shepherd his erstwhile flock, all of us now older though not necessarily grown up 😉 The very pregnant Claudia arrived a few moments later with her husband and our adopted batchmate Kevin.I had so much fun catching up and goofing around with the Fellows. The faux-marketplace theme of Marcher added to the festive atmosphere. One might think it wasn’t much of a reunion considering we didn’t even reach half of our batch’s total number, but gathering 22 people at one place is no mean feat. And having that many number of people sitting together to honor and commemorate an experience that we all hold dearly in our hearts is just overwhelming. Euphoric.

We went to Fong Seng, one of our former hang outs during our Fellowship days located at the outskirts of NUH. We continued to exchange updates over roti prata and teh tarik. We relayed news about our other Kabayans who couldn’t make it, learned who among them just recently tied the knot, became parents or are expecting, relocated, and graduated. What they’re doing and how fat their paychecks are now. We also exchanging contact details. Riza joined us at Fong Seng, bringing our number to 23.After long drawn goodbyes to those who had to go home because of other obligations (Joel, Kevin, Claudia, and Vippy had to go home, Cynthia had an early flight the following morning), we went to Su Lynn’s house. We nestled in the basement and feasted on the snacks we brought from our respective countries. Someone took out a bottle of vodka, but no one seemed brave enough to initiate the drinking. It seemed like only a few of us were genuinely excited about the vodka.

They clamored for the long awaited viewing of the Seasons of Love video. Riza preempted my surprise a bit when he asked if I was showing a new one. We set up the laptop and waxed nostalgic as we watch that old video projected onto the expansive white wall of Su Lynn’s basement. It’s like viewing it again for the first time the way everyone laughed and cheered as familiar clips were played. 

Then, I took out the other DVD I brought and played the video I recently edited, the one I almost didn’t finish in time. Unlike the previous one, we watched this new video more solemnly. Perhaps it was because it was fresh to them, because of the new clips I included in it. Or maybe it was because it included clips of our parting, footage of fellows crying as we said our goodbyes five years ago. I’ve always loved the song “Your Home Is In My Heart” by Boyz II Men, from the soundtrack of the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.” Over the years, I never got the chance to make use of it. I finally did with this new video. 

I relished the irony of being in Singapore, reunited five years after, huddled as we watched our younger selves crying, waving our hands as we bade farewell and depressed at the probability of never seeing each other again. It’s like we were spitting on the notion of goodbye. 

Warmed up, we finally mustered enough courage to tipple the vodka. After offering Gerald the ceremonial first sip, we started passing around the shot glass. At first, it was just OPS, Man, Kenneth, Lum, Dat, Duke and Richard who were game. Due to our insistence, we eventually managed to bring most of the others into the circle. Dat intiated drinking games which we initially thought too corny but went along with anyway. We finished the entire first bottle before long.Late in the evening, we succeeded in bringing everyone in our drinking games. Su Lynn generously offered us another bottle of vodka from her father’s bar. She also brought left over chicken to add to the the junk we’ve been feasting on. W

e had a blast! Especially when Dat kept losing most rounds of the games he’s supposed to be the master of 🙂Even Riza whose religion disallowed him from downing the penalty vodka shot (he drank water intead, though he still seemed drunker than most by the time we finished). Duong fell asleep early in the game, clearly unused to the drinking. Others who we were initially reluctant were unable to resist our prodding. Even Duke who was scheduled to fly out in a few hours got wasted a bit more than he intended.We were all drunk or tipsy when we finally retired. We took our places on Su Lynn’s vodka stained carpet (sorry again, Su Lynn) and started snoring.

When I woke up the next day, we had gathered at the poolside to chat. As they took orders for their lunch, I said a temporary goodbye to head off to Orchard and change since I didn’t have time to bring extra clothes the previous night. After a quick shower, however, I dozed off and woke up late in the afternoon. I learned that most of the Fellows have left by then. And that was that, an abrupt end to a surprisingly wild but sentimental weekend.

This is a new, re-edited cut of the video, with some footage that were not included in the version I premiered during the reunion drinking session. Five months in Singapore summed up in a five-minute song to celebrate five years of friendship.

The footage may be rusty and dated, but the sentiments remain as fresh as ever.Now looking forward to our revitalized pact to meet again in three years: 20th October 2010. In short…