The UP Beta Sigma Grand Reunion of May 23-25, 2009

The Great San Francisco Reunion: Nature Trips

(May 26-28)


The Wild Old West, Granite Country, and "Bear" Stories

By Angie Garbes ‘62b

[Photos by Angie Garbes, Bobby Manansala, Caloy Las Marias and Willie Vergara]


When we left Foster City Park, the picnic was still going strong and I suspected it would for the rest of the day. Our host and patriarch who is in the habit of signing off as humble servant, wanted to show us the old western town of Sacramento and maybe meet the "Terminator". Alas, because of the Memorial Day weekend, the bankrupt state coffers, or both, the Capitol offices were closed. The Las Marias couple, Josie, and I now had the distinction of being the first Tatang visitors in the old town not to have our pictures taken at the Guv's office!!! We did have a nice walk at the Capitol grounds, relieved ourselves at the palatial Grand Hyatt Hotel with "sculpted" landscaping and, after a few Kodak moments, drove around town.



Caloy & Cora las Marias, Angie & Jo Garbes and Tess Vergara at Capitol Building, home of the "Terminator", and at Grand Hyatt Hotel


Finding Tatang's favorite restaurants closed, we proceeded toward Rocklin, stopping for a Japanese Buffet dinner along the way. It was during this dinner that "bear" stories got told which, along with the prospect of "roughing it," almost made us consider skipping the trip to the majestic granite rocks of Yosemite. Our anxieties about the trip were allayed by reassurances from Tatang's son Vic who provided us with camping gear including a flashlight, sleeping bags, cooler and portable grill. It was dark and getting pretty late by the time we got to Tess and Tatang's house where our tired eyes feasted on the art works of a certain Willie Vergara. Our gracious hosts were by now running on fumes, having spent the previous night and morning jug-a-lugging and recalling life in the Diliman campus circa 1960's.  As much fun as we were having with live Tambayan banter, we decided to call it a night and plan on an early morning start.


Early morning found us waking up to Tess Vergara's freshly brewed coffee, and enough eggs, roast beef and hotdogs to stuff our bellies and the cooler for the trip. Tess, who could not come with us, was dropped off at work and we headed on to Yosemite pretty much on schedule. After a few wrong twists and turns we finally righted ourselves and with the GPS (global positioning system). We saw spectacular sights as we approached the Yosemite Valley, and finally arrived at the Park 1 or 2 hours behind schedule.


Yosemite Valley




Bobby Manansala, Ray Bantegui & Pogs Gaspay guard the Yosemite entrance


We met up with the Abon Family with whom we had a few pictures taken at the towering El Capitan. Together, we witnessed the spectacle and frighteningly booming sound of a rockslide along El Capitan's face. On the opposite side we saw one of Yosemite’s most prominent waterfalls – the Bridal Veil Falls -- which the ancient Indians believed as a guard to the entrance of the Valley.  According to legend, inhaling the mist of the Bridal Veil Falls would improve chances of marriage.


Yosemite's El Capitan - "The Rock"


The Las Marias, Garbes and Abon families with Bridal Veil Falls at the background





Ed Abon, Angie & Jo Garbes, Caloy & Cora las Marias and Rose Abon pose for a Yosemite souvenir shot 


Patiently waiting for us at camp registration was David (2), Tatang’s kabatz who, in Tatang's own words, "came to serve." He wasn't kidding-- throughout the rest of our stay, we now had not one but two "humble servants" (and I mean that in a reverent humble way). The back of Brod Dave's CRV was packed with enough provisions for us and for the Palo Alto group, Pogs Gaspay, the Bantegui brothers (Ray and Bernie) and Bobby Manansala who arrived from a long hike along Mist Trail leading to Vernal Falls.









Now if this puppy were to fall on your house...


While we were setting up camp. Pogs, the Bantegui’s and Bobby slept at Curry Village, but they all came to eat and jug-a-lug with us at Housekeeping camp with ***** (five star service) from Brod Dave. Following a short trip to the village and museum, we feasted on Brod Dave's tacos, burritos, steaks, rice, pomelo, and washed it down with IPA, Coors and Budweiser. We locked everything in Bear-proof metal lockers for the night.


BS (Boy Scouts) of America: WillieV'67, DaveD'67, BobbyM'67,RayB'69, PogsG'68, AngieG'62, CaloylasM'67, BernieB'68


Boy Scouts na may baong beer at pulutan? Bistadong Tabets talaga!


Healthy breakfast naman ngayon - banana, wheat bread at pork and beans



Brods, rise and shine, ready to go!


A hearty breakfast consisting of eggs, sausages, pork and beans was waiting for us when we woke up the following morning. While the beans must have filled us up with gas, that was not so for Pogs’ Honda, which we had to leave at a mountain lookout to avoid emptying the fuel tank. We did get to Glacier Point where one can see a most spectacular and unforgettable view of the Yosemite mountain ranges and the Yosemite Valley down below.


Hindi lang naman pala Betan t-shirts ang kinokolekta (ina-arbor?) ni Bobby...


Bobby's UPD'67b batzka, retired OB-Gyn Caloy, seems happy to be vacationing away from his home state Florida






Yosemite's magnificent Half Dome







A memory that will surely last a lifetime


On the way back, this left us little time to go to Toulumne Meadows as originally planned. We had to settle for Sequoia Grove which was not a bad compromise. It was late afternoon/early evening by the time we all went different directions from El Portal--Dave to Visalia, Pogs and the Bros Bantegui towards Palo Alto, and our group, Cora, Caloy, Bobby M, Tatang, Josie and I towards Oakland where Josie and I were going to spend the night with her sister before flying home to Seattle the next day. There was a lot of discussion, angst and arguments about the remaining group's itinerary for the next day, but the romantics ruled the evening and Mendocino it was going to be.


Bear stories???? Truth be told, despite all the hype and anticipation, we never saw a bear during the two days we were there, just BEER, which is just as good, since you are used to beer stories and I will not have to tell about it.


Cheers!!!! and Thanks to all who made this all possible.






A Remarkable Trip to Mendocino
By Bobby Manansala
[Photos by Bobby Manansala, Caloy las Marias and Willie Vergara]

I will remember very fondly the last van standing (pun intended) after goodbyes were said or not said at a gasoline stop at a junction at Yosemite. So it was just me and Tatang, Angie and Jo Garbes, and Caloy and Cora Las Marias. Ang tatapang nila at parang wala silang kapagod-pagod! Come to think of it, for a while there, I thought I lost my sense of adventurism, perhaps due to advancing years na rin kaya may gulat na rin ako unlike when we were younger with our who-cares-attitude.

But these guys were willing to travel 4 more hours at almost 11 in the evening after a brief but sumptuous dinner stop at a Chinese restaurant in Oakland, courtesy of Angie’s sister. In a sense, they would not allow the day to end yet but would rather keep it going all the way to Mendocino. That's amazing! I would have registered my ‘over-my-dead-body’ objection if I knew how far more we were going into the dead of the night! For a while, I thought I had an ally when Cora started complaining about too many of the twists and turns along the mountainous road in the wee hours of the morning. Earlier, Tatang turned over the wheels to Caloy in order to take a catnap. Unfortunately for him, I didn’t allow him to grab some sleep. While we were negotiating a narrow zigzag on Highway 128, Caloy confessed that he is not used to driving in such terrain. Tatang insisted on getting the wheels back, but Caloy said excitedly , "Ngayon pa, ginaganahan na ako!" when asked to turn back and take a safer route. Added to that, we must have seen 10 or more deers on the road that kept our speed within the regulation 25 miles per hour. Medyo natauhan na rin ako at that stage and enjoyed the ride. We arrived at past two. The hotel staff signed off hours before and just left our room keys at a ‘secret’ hiding place. As if we were just in our teens, we all woke up after 3 or 4 hours of sleep.



Mendocino turned out to be a fine choice for our final stop before heading back to San Francisco. The scenery was terrific, and it was a pity that Tatang and I did not have our respective partners. Cora described the place as ‘heaven on earth’. I could not disagree with such a description. We left Mendocino at 5 pm, this time negotiating Highway 128 zigzag where we enjoyed the site of amazing redwoods at every turn.
























May 29 - back to the "City" from "Nature": the Yosemite/Mendocino troopers fill up at Kiko Delmendo's home






The Final Goodbye at San Ramon
By Willie Vergara

June 11, 2009. Fifteen days after the formal end of the Grand Reunion. Phones of 12 brods kept on ringing. Caller: Bernie Bantegui. He was still in Northern California and we didn’t even know! He wasn’t in either of the two ‘hang-over gatherings’ held separately at Don Juan Salud in Pleasanton and at Senora Cy Abiog at Foster City. He was in Yosemite with another group.

Allowing only one to three days notice, Bernie said he wanted to see some brods at Andie’s home in a posh village in San Ramon before going back to Pinas. For those who don’t know it, Andie was the baby Rhea way back in the late 60's/early 70's at the Bantegui ancestral home in Sta. Catalina Street, Quezon City.

How did the UP NorCal brods/sis respond to this call for a snap gathering?

Only Pogs Gaspay could not make it because of an important family commitment. All other invited brods arrived, some with their respective spouses – Mercy, Julie, Cheng, Lleva, Cy and Nel Gacusan. Even Tatang and Boy Ramos arrived, who came in as singles like most, after having been grossly misled by the Tom-Tom GPS. Bernie quickly retorted, “Next time, you buy a “Lone Ranger GPS”, not a Tonto.” Lucky for Tatang, Boy was the navigator and it was he who had to narrate yet another “Lost” story. Cyrus Fagar found his way out of his Saturday office work and arrived with Ike Araneta. All others you could see in the photographs.

The evening was one more ‘blast’ of an event that featured another round of good food, recent Grand Reunion stories, interspersed with some karaoke singing by Doc Ting and Ding Cavestany. At one point, Ed, the youngest brother of Bernie and Rey, treated us to nostalgic folk songs while accompanying himself with his hollow guitar. The ladies did some reminiscing themselves, recalling the jokes of Tito Garcia that kept a large group of brods and sis awake till the wee hours of the morning just before the send-off picnic. Until it was time to say “Goodbye, I hate to see you go but have a good time!” And yes, this time it was, indeed, the final goodbye.








   The air was filled with music,
The stories, nostalgic,
The bonding, harmonic,
The humor, fantastic,
The ambience, artistic,
The food, prolific.
The kinship, authentic...


The End







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