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August 16, 2007
By Eric J. Dedace

Remember those two old wooden grandstands of yore? Yes indeed, the ones where we can literally sing…..”I feel the earth, move, under my feet”, like Carole King! That’s where we had our initial feel and excitement of the QPHS Intramurals, which to us then still wide-eyed greenhorns, was mind-boggling and awe-inspiring!

Way back, I only had an inkling of what was to come when Miss Normita Atienza and the rest of the English I Department faculty started teaching us the rudiments of cheering for the Freshmen Team. It was a series of memorization works and practices, at the classroom and later at the big grandstand, if you can still remember. Come the opening day of the 1973 Intramurals, I saw the biggest parade of my life, and a very colorful one at that…..the Red Seniors, the Orange Juniors, the Yellow Sophomores and of course, we Freshies in Green and White at the lead pack!

There was a sense of electricity in the air particularly when the parade wound up at the then vast-looking grounds of Quezon High, and into the big grandstand! After the QPHS Band under the supervision of Mr. Romeo Licda and the baton of the beauteous Leonida Ponido of the Seniors played “Lupang Hinirang” and the Alma Mater Song, the prayer “Panalangin Para Sa Bansa was said, and the School Principal Miss Paciencia A. Daleon declared the games open. While our Green and White field dancers burst into action, the cheering started, with us at the southernmost end of the grandstand, next to the yellow Sophies……”Boomalaka! Boomalaka! Boomalaka! Freshmen Team! He-e-e-ey! Ye-ye-ye!”

Then we started the good natured “kantiyawan” blues with “Betsemene-Betsemene! Kawawa ang Seniors!” This instantly provoked a very loud and deep “Booooo!”, with hoots and mocking laughter from the Red Team at the northernmost end of the grandstand. With “Betsemene Betsemene! Kawawa ang Juniors!”, it was the turn of the Orange Group to holler their “Booos” and catcalls, and whistle their mockery at us. The next door Sophomores were even more emphatic with their disdainful banter to “Betsemene! Betsemene! Kawawa ang Sophies!”

They stomped their feet loudly on the wooden floor of the grandstand and some made mocking faces by placing both palms on their temples with a waving motion, tongues sticking out and a-wagging! A number of them even started throwing crumpled candy wrappers and papers! Of course, they were venting their revenge on innocent us, for their underdog status in the previous 1972 Intrams, enjoying and savoring the moment tremendously! Instantly, a rain of the same crumpled candy wrappers and papers plummeted back into their direction, good natured fun at its jesting best! “Ang Freshmen Team ay Green and White, ang Green and White ang winning team!Freshmen, Freshmen,
Freshmen! FRESHMEN!” The older teams roared with mockery and derision just as we clapped and cheered!

Whatever, it was the Sophomores ’playground demonstration that stole the day! Four of their boys were dressed as “mga tandang na pang sabong” in four “Papel de Japon” colors representative of the teams. With the then very in “Tic-Tac-Toe” as background music, the yellow “talisayin” demolished the competition one after the other with a very apt “sabungan” choreography! The mimed “ fowl play ” was cheered, clapped and stomped-on-the-grandstand upon by the ultra elated Yellow Team, countered by the “Booos” and catcalls of the defeated “tandangs” disapproving supporters, their respective “Papel de Japon” feathers torn and in shreds!

As expected, after the smoke and debris of the two-day games were cleared, the ’74 Seniors won overall, while the ’77 Freshies were the “kapututan” of them all! Banking on tradition, we would have fared much better for the next Intrams, but there never was to be a 1974 edition of the QPHS games! The old tottering wooden grandstands were torn down early the following school year, that attracted a host of enterprising urchins to look and scavenge for old coins, which accordingly, resulted in a casualty…”naipit daw ng pison” or something! Whatever, the whole track and field area became one big construction project for the forthcoming 1975 STAA, to be called henceforth as the Alcala Sports Complex!

Come the 1975 Intramurals, we found ourselves the Juniors of the year, and, together with the Seniors, we definitely missed the historic old wooden grandstands. Their much-missed percussive character when stomped upon once added to the cacophony and the exciting sound effects of the cheering…..never mind the jittery earthquake-like ambience! Indeed the concrete grandstands were very big improvements, though they were still in the unfinished stage…..rushed for the regional games of the previous school year. Of course, it felt odd to be marching at the heels of two younger batches who have yet to experience what the QPHS Intrams was all about…..”tumanda at nagkasungay na ang mga dating meek and mild daw!”

The Sophomore field demo dancers did the longest sequence of all on the ground, probably to make up for not having experienced any Intramurals the previous year. They performed to a then very popular Commodores dance number. While doing their cheering piece, they were suddenly jeered and hooted upon by the Juniors because they were singing the lyrics of what our Orange Team was supposed to incorporate into our very own cheering, albeit for a slightly different tune, and their replacement of Juniors with Sophies! “Madadaya, nanggagaya!”, was the catcall followed by a loud “Booo!” So when the very passionate cheering Master Ofelia Lascano mounted the concrete stand and orchestrated the “Pep song”…..”We are the Juniors of the year! We will fight for our team’s name! Whenever we go out, the people always shout…..Hey! They are the Juniors of the year, Tra-la-la-la-la-la-la-la!”…the Sophomores hooted and booed back the same catcalls! It was the cheering and the “kantiyawan”, more than the actual games themselves, that never fail to deliver the excitement and the great fun of the Intramurals! Agree?

And, the Juniors’ Team field dancers gave the most hip and the classiest performance of them all! The storyline was….. there were four sets of “kelots” representing each batch in their respective colors, who tried to “ make porma ” and impress the beautiful Orange ladies…..with the Juniors becoming the lucky guys of course! For the very first time, I was part of an Intramurals field demo cast, as one of the Sophies “ wanna-be’s “ who got rejected and thus “ stomped out in disgust “, a more sedate mime performance than those Freshie “cry babies!” The Junior pretty ladies (if my memory served me right…that was almost 32 years ago today) wore orange derby hats, short-sleeved orange and white checkered polo shirts and orange shorts, over white rubber shoes,… and jazzily danced to the 1960s popular Brazilian song “Bim-Bom”, done by Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass group! Very chic indeed, wasn’t it?

And the overall athletic performance? Well, we placed second to the Seniors…..not bad! But raring for the plum prize, we geared for the final Intramurals of our carefree High School lives…….

Intrams ’76 began on a very high, over confident note for the Seniors, who painted the QPHS town red! It was almost a mini river of red in my mind that flowed into the QPHS athletic grounds renamed “Marcos Sports Complex”, care of the recently-concluded 1976 Palarong Pambansa and politics! Whatever, it was a hot sunny day, and we were so poised to reap the rewards and laurels of an expected victory…..”For the S, for the S, for the S_E_N! For the I, for the I, for the I-O-R! Seniors! Seniors! Rah-rah-rah! Seniors! Seniors! Sis – Boom – Bah!” That was our battle cry, remember? Also, “ 1-2, I-2-3, 1-2-3-4 SENIORS !”…..which was our battle clap!

And indeed, the Seniors Team field dancers wore striking get ups… short-sleeved shirts, tucked into jumper style denim pants, elevator shoes, and red flu-flus on both hands! The Magnificent Seven beauties namely…….Aurea Antenor, Ruth Trinidad, Maritess Donasales, Nelita Macaraig, Leonila Remo, Hilda Jabrica and Maritess Parafina danced and wowed their way into the fiery and passionate “ Hawaii-Five O “ theme by the Ventures! It was a very crisply choreographed number that was a guaranteed heart-stopper, as our ladies in red blazed in the golden sunlight, and pirouetted into the wind!

At the stands, the Seniors cheered and shouted themselves hoarse with pride and admiration, with Mrs. Elvira Mitra waving a Mega phone blaring a siren-like wail to drown the opposition, especially during the very successful volleyball game over the Juniors! Many Marca was true to form, the fastest runner alive in QPHS that time, a true heir apparent to batch ’76 Lito Ofrecio, widely acclaimed then by his Pegasus-like speed as “Kabayo!” But what happened next was so incomprehensible, that it dampened the premature enthusiasm and inspiration of the supposed battle scarred and tested Big Brothers and Sisters on campus. The Seniors lost in many of the ball games, to the Juniors and the Sophomores, and even the basketball and volleyball boys’ championship crowns could not save the campaign.

In the end, we only managed to limp third place overall, after the Juniors and the Sophomores, just ahead of the Freshmen underdogs…..which was an unforgivable dismal flop! The spirit was so dampened that the erstwhile noisy and boisterous siren-wailing Megaphone was shut off. They said that it was a first in the QPHS history books, that a Senior Team lost, and we were the unfortunate recipient of the record. Of course, everything is water under the bridge now, a high school triviality that had long been forgotten and will not matter anymore in our high-tech, twenty-first century lives! But as we wax nostalgic about those days, as erstwhile transient inhabitants of dear old Quezon High, Intrams ’77 style…..its excitement, amusement, downsides and character as I’ve tried to recapture and write for everyone just now, will always be, to us late forty somethings, truly refreshing, worth remembering, and one-of-a-kind!

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