A summer to remember- 2nd NDM Alumni International Reunion by Frances Marian Morales-Estella

This is quite a lengthy report of our recent NDM alumni reunion but to give you a short summary will not allow you to know the joy and excitement that we experienced during the 3 summer days when we gathered in Atlantic City. Read this only when you can spare the next few minutes to savor the wonderful time we had with fellow Notre Dameans. 

The 2nd Notre Dame of Marbel International Alumni Association Reunion held in Atlantic City, NJ was a blast. The 3-day affair started with a Meet and Greet at the 6th floor rotunda of Ballys Hotel & Casino at 5:00 p.m. on July 15, 2011, Friday. The hors d’oeurves of assorted cheese, crackers, bread, fruits and veggies were spread out and the bartender was ready to serve. We have prepared the souvenir bags filled with goodies.  My ever-efficient classmate, Alicia Silauso-Cimene from Reseda CA, and I eagerly positioned ourselves at the registration table. My husband, Tino, put up our NDMIAA banner where everyone would notice it. But where were the alumni?  The 3 of us,  the bartender, and the waitress looked at each other every few seconds. As I sip my cocktail drink, I was getting a little antsy. Were we going to waste all these food? Will we keep ordering drinks and get ourselves drunk just so the bartender will not be bored?


Anyone coming? Finally, the Notre Dameans did – past 5:30 p.m. First to arrive was Loreto (Toto) Yap from Toms River, NJ carrying in his arms a box containing our souvenir programs. One by one, two by two, in groups, the alumni trickled in; at first with a little bit of trepidation. But once they saw a familiar face, they smiled followed by a loud exclamation and warm hugs.  “Hoy!” “Aaay! abaw!…”  “Kumusta na?”…. ” Dugay na guid wala ta nagkitaay, no?… Maayo nag-attend ka” “…Ambot na lang, a.” The room filled with excitement and laughter.  More than 70 came to register. After 40 years, I saw my batchmate, Eddie Reyes, and his lovely wife, Nenita Madria-Reyes (HS 71) who now live in Troy, MI, Marian Hilomen-Robinson (HS 71, Corinth, TX) looking much like she did in high school, Rebecca Himan-Titus (HS 72, San Jose, CA), Rebecca Dela Flor-Evangelista (HS 72, Norwalk,CA), the Yap siblings: Anna Yap-Pastor (HS 64, Corona,NY), Teodulo (HS 68, Reno Park, NY), Ric Yap (HS 71- Gen San City); Zeny Evangelista-Claudio (HS 69- New Milford, NJ ) with husband, Dr. Luis Claudio, among others. The Sandig siblings – Erlinda (HS 67), Angel (HS 70), Gloria (HS 72) Emy (HS 82), all from central New Jersey, were present with their spouses (Ed Visca, Bert Mabilangan, Adonis Crispo) and relatives- Bal (HS 62) and Mila Trespeces (NDMC 66, Jersey City), Dr. Luis Reyes (HS 60) and wife Josie from Ft. Washington, MD. They were joined by Dr. Ben Lamorena (HS 63, Chicago, IL). The lovely Soriano sisters- Gladys Dionisio (HS 71), Dinah Abad (HS 72), Azela Gozar (HS 76) all from the New Jersey shore area, walked in with Oscar Bugante (HS 72, West Covina, CA),and Reynaldo (Bebot) Bugante (HS 67, Sterling Hts, MI). Sally Ong (HS 67) and husband, Noli Liangco, arrived from Toms River, NJ with Tootsie Dela Cruz (OLPH 70, Florida).  Dr. Diosdado Non (HS 54) and wife, Chris, drove from Jackson, NJ with his batchmate, Nang Lucring Aguirre who flew in from Tennessee. My beautiful classmate, Redempta Dela Flor, from Chino Hills, CA looked radiant with husband, Mark Dela, by her side. Straight from California and Atlantic City International Airport, President Don Donaire (NDMC 85) with his entourage -wife Eva, Fr. Roming Subaldo (NDMC 85), and Fr. Alex Salas (NDMC 87) came with our official banner and T-shirts. A happy Jerry Llaban (NDMC 89) joined them. Bro. Paul Meuten, Assistant Provincial Treasurer of the Marist Brothers, and Bro. Willy Lubrico, NDMU President, with Edith Plecis (HS 60) caught up with the rest of us. My sister, Anne Morales-Reinoso (HS 74, Houston, TX) and husband, Manny, with children, Daniel and Gabriel, were seen chatting with batchmate Willie Acosta, wife Veda, and his charming mother- Mrs. Julita Acosta, all from Chicago, IL. Of course, our active alumni officers, Paeng (NDMC 79) and Ellen (NDMC 78) Fernandez from New Haven, CT were there to lend a hand as always. Nang Nilda Infante-Lozada ( HS 57) came all the way from Marbel. Grace Camiring-Bernardo (HS 78) from Jersey City and her husband were happy to join us even if according to her, she did not know anyone. That’s the spirit, Grace. She did find friends before the evening was over. It was a happy sight to see everyone interacting.


We registered everyone and distributed souvenir bags and T-shirts. Sorry, we ran out of extra large size. “Nagdako ka?…. American size na abi,e”  Everybody looked happy. It was a good start – seeing old familiar faces now matured and older, former schoolmates exchanging pleasantries and reminiscing about their Notre Dame days, meeting new friends and long lost relatives, and cameras flashing all around to record the moment.  I knew the next two days would even be better. We parted a little after 8:00 p.m. The night was still young and groups went their separate ways to enjoy the rest of the evening. My hubby and I had a nice dinner with Bro. Paul, Edith Plecis, Alice, and Nang Nilda at Caesars Kwi Restaurant. Some tried their luck in the casinos. May nagdaog ba?


Saturday- July 16, before 9:00 a.m., Alice, Tino, and I went to the Community Center by the beach at Ventnor, NJ to prepare for the Alumni Luncheon. First alumni to arrive were the Yap siblings who helped us set-up. Gladys and husband, Jr., came with donuts and coffee. Thank God for cellphones- it was easy to give directions to those could not find the place……kung mabati-an ko mag ring.    By half past ten, the hall was bustling with noise from the same group as last night’s.  “Late na kami natulog….. Napuyat kami…..Nagdaog ka?…. Wala a. Nag-deposit lang sa casino….  Hoy bayad anay kamo sa registration bago maubos ang kuarta niyo.” We proudly wore our alumni reunion T-shirts. Once again, cameras abound and spouses like paparazzis were busy taking group pictures. ” Hoy upod ako sa picture.” Newcomer Dr. Joesan Gabaldon arrived from New Milford, NJ and mingled easily with the crowd. So did my niece, Kristine Morales-Starks (NDMU 95) and her husband, Greg, from Lebanon, PA; Jerry Sandig (HS 76) and wife Joy; Malou Trespeces-Garcia (HS 72) and hubby from Jersey City, NJ. At past eleven, trays of food were brought in by the Soriano sisters and their spouses (Jr., Dong, and Raffy). We had our lunch catered by a local Filipino restaurant. Pancit Bihon, Pancit Canton,lumpiang shanghai, sweet and sour tilapia, Bicol express ( sarap ng sauce),pepper steak, apritada, ginataang sitaw at kalabasa (kanamit no’) fried chicken wings, and adobo. For desserts, we had maja blanca, bico, cassava cake, brownies, and pakwan.Fr. Roming said grace. Now, we can eat. Over 80 alumni and their families got together for lunch. We initially ordered for 50 registrants. Fearing that we will run out of food, Gladys and Oca ran out to get some more from a Chinese restaurant. Everyone was fed and more. Better late than never, my sister, Eileen Morales-Pelaez (HS 60, Cherry Hill, NJ) arrived with her husband, Ray, and family members including her first grandchild- Xavi. Her classmates, Edith and Luis, (who she has not seen since high school- 50 years!) were very happy to see her.

After lunch, we had fellowship games with my sister, Anne Morales-Reinoso, as game master. One of the games was “Sing that Line” with “boys” versus “girls”. I must say they were very impressive. Not only did the contestants sing very well and on note; they knew the lyrics to the songs….well, most of the words anyway. In the tie breaker (yes they were that good), the guys beat the ladies by singing the correct line to “Immaculate Mary”.  Hey, ladies, weren’t you members of Sodality of Mary? But wait a minute now……..Fr. Roming Subaldo was in the guys’ group. May expert coach gali silaWala abi madre sa grupo sang mga babae. The games were so much fun for both participants and spectators. Ay! kasadya gid.  Siyempre, may prizes ang nagdaog. Even the losers got something. After many group photos in front of our banner, we dispersed at 2:30 p.m. to allow guests to shop at the outlets, make pasyal on the boardwalk, watch the sunbathers and swimmers on the beach by the Atlantic Ocean, or try their luck again at the casinos. After some accounting and working on our checklist for dinner, Alice (my expert accountant turned R.N.) and I opted to take a restful nap.


Before 7:00 p.m., we headed to Ballys Traymore Ballroom for our fellowship dinner.  The hall looked elegant with the lovely place settings. A few alumni were already there. I finally met Wilson Reyes (HS 55, Chicago IL) in person. He is a regular writer to our Yahoo group and a good friend of my parents. He brought with him his wife, Connie, and son, Chris. More guests came with their spouses and family members. The Del Rosario family from California- 6 in all which included Cesar Sr. (HS 73), Mena (HS 74), Cesar Jr. (HS 97)- made it to Atlantic City after some delay in their trip. Eileen Espanol (HS 77, Houston, TX) came with her cowboy boots on. The young Gabaldons showed up- Jesse II (HS 88) and Randy (HS 85) with their dates, as well as Jerry Corpus (86). Chit Calingasan-Teodoro (HS 60, Stafford, TX) drove all the way from Canada with her mother. A lively group of 8 guests from ND Lagao and ND Dadiangas from all over the US joined us in our celebration. Romulo Roda (NDMC 70) was not to miss this reunion and came straight from Brooklyn, NY after a hard day’s work.

So the table was set, the dance floor was polished and the banquet was ready. What’s left to do- get down and have fun!  We started with an invocation by Fr. Alex Salas, followed by a welcome address by Pres. Don Donaire. Our first course of the evening was mixed baby greens with mandarin oranges and pecans topped by balsamic vinaigrette dressing and crumbled blue cheese in crepe. Everyone liked the dressing and said so. Our entree was a combination of grilled filet mignon, chicken breast, and shrimp with baked potato, sour cream and asparagus. The meat was tender, with each bite almost melting in my mouth. Heavenly! Then the dessert- Oooooo……a plate of chocolate sampler of flourless chocolate cake with fresh strawberry, Godiva chocolate quenelle raspberry sauce, chocolate mascarpone cheesecake, and ivory mousse with Contreau in a cup. Yum!!! Thank goodness our DJ played funky music in between courses so we could dance away those calories. Music was great and everyone hit the dance floor.  Even the men joined the women in line dancing. You should have seen Bro. Willy dancing the boogie. ( I think Edith caught it on video. Check it on FB )  Our emcees, Anne Reinoso and Paeng Fernandez, hosted a lively program.  Bro. Willy gave an informative talk about NDMU, its status and projects being undertaken. Bro. Paul gave a short message replete with jokes which kept the audience laughing. Way to go, Orb Luap! Drs. Louis and Josie Reyes presented a special number of Tango.  Their graceful and artistic performance in ballroom dancing entertained a delighted audience wanting for more.


We had a game of trivia to test the memory and knowledge of alumni in the history of NDM. And guess who won?  Table occupied by graduates of the 1950’s!  They got 9 out of 10 correct answers. That goes to show their brain cells are still intact and wala pa Alzheimers. Congratulations!!!


We also gave special awards and recognition to the following:


Oldest batch- HS 1954: Dr. Non and Mrs. Lucrecia Aguirre

Oldest Alumni- 1950s- Mrs. Julita Acosta

Oldest Guest- 86 y/o- Mrs. Flor Calingasan

Youngest Alumnus- HS 1997- Cesar Del Rosario, Jr.

Youngest Guest- 6 y/o – Gabby Reinoso

Most Number of Batch Alumni- HS 1972 (Oca Bugante, Becky Dela Flor-Evangelista, Becky Himan-Titus,

Gloria Sandig-Uy, Dinah Soriano-Abad, Marylou Trespeces-Garcia)

Most Number of Alumni Family- Sandig Family (Erlie Sandig-Visca, Angel Sandig-Mabilangan,

Gloria Sandig-Uy, Jerry Sandig, Emy Sandig-Crispo)

Alumni that traveled the farthest to the reunion- Ric Yap (GenSan), Fr. Roming Subaldo (Alabel),

Fr. Alex Salas (Banga)

First Alumni to register first for the reunion- The Del Rosario Family


It was a great evening to remember. Everyone enjoyed a good dinner, and they had a good time dancing for hours. Kapoy pero sadya kaayo. Of course, more photo ops. We danced until the last song was played and we called it a night at a little past midnight. Well actually, Alice and I stayed up till 2:00 a.m. doing more accounting. Sorry, Alice, may pagka-slave driver ang amiga mo.


Sunday, July 17- Once again, we gathered at the Traymore Ballroom, this time for Sunday mass at 9:00 a.m. We were fortunate to have 2 alumni priests with us so we were able to arrange to have mass celebrated at Ballys.  Fr. Roming was our main celebrant with Fr. Alex assisting.  We rehearsed our mass songs the day before at the picnic so everyone joined us in singing. Despite lack of practice, I strummed my old guitar to accompany the lead singers- Emy Sandig, Ellen Fernandez, Fr. Alex, Don, Eva, and Tino. Kabalo pa man gali mag gitara. 


After mass, we shared another meal and our last of the reunion- brunch prepared by Ballys with good selection of pastries, fresh fruits, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, sausage, hash potatoes, French toast,

granola and cereals, assorted juices, coffee and tea. Busog na naman.


Right after brunch, we held our biennial alumni meeting and elected our new set of officers for 2011-2013 who were inducted by Bro. Willy:


President- Willie Acosta, HS 75, Chicago, IL

Vice-President- Mariam Morales-Estella, HS 70- Cherry Hill, NJ

Secretary- Ellen Fernandez, NDMC 78, New Haven, CT

Treasurer- Alice Silauso-Cimene, HS 70- Reseda, CA

Auditor- Oca Bugante, HS 72, West Covina, CA

PRO- Eileen Espanol, HS 77, Pearland, TX

Immediate Past President- Don Donaire, NDMC 85, Pacifica, CA







East Coast- Joesan Gabaldon, HS 64, New Milford, NJ

Dado Non HS 54, Jackson, NJ


West Coast- Redempta Dela, HS 70, Chino Hills, CA

Rebecca Himan-Titus, HS 72, San Jose, CA


Mid West- Ben Lamorena, HS 63, Chicago, IL

Nitz Madria-Reyes, HS 71, Troy, MI


Central- Marian Hilomen-Robinson, HS 71, Corinth, TX

Anne Morales-Reinoso, HS 74, Houston, TX


Philippines- Fr. Roming Subaldo, NDMC 85, Alabel, S. Cotabato

Ric Yap, HS 71, General Santos City

Nilda Infante-Lozada, HS 57, Koronadal City


We also voted on the venue for our 3rd International reunion in 2013.

Chicago, IL won hands down despite Dr. Lamorena (a Chicagoan) trying to dissuade voters facetiously from choosing Chicago over other suggested places. Well, get ready, Ben. Chicago is our kind of town.


After singing Notre Dame Hymn and Notre Dame March with gusto, it was time to say goodbye.

It was kind of sad, but a warm and happy ending nevertheless.


The newly elected officers had a short meeting thereafter to plan for the next reunion. Strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.


Well, we promised a good time in Atlantic City for our 2nd NDMIAA reunion, and everyone had a wonderful time. For all the work and effort we put in to make this 3-day affair a success, it was well worth it. Just seeing the happy faces of those who attended, and hearing all the positive comments were enough to validate a job well done. Your kind words and expressions of satisfaction were quite overwhelming and truly heartwarming. It will be remiss on my part not to acknowledge the people who made this all possible.


So thank you to everyone who contributed to our successful reunion:


Jing Ang-Ureta, NDM Alumni Coordinator, for her continued support and help in coordinating this affair;

Don Donaire, President, 2009-2011, for your leadership, and ordering the souvenirs and T-shirts;

Ed Fernandez, for taking care of the incorporation papers of our association and thereby legalizing our status as a nonprofit organization;

Paeng Fernandez for posting the announcement of our reunion on the Filipino channel and with wife Ellen – always ready to assist and help where needed;

Angel Sandig-Mabilangan for inviting all her siblings, relatives, and friends to ensure a good attendance;

Gladys Soriano-Dionisio and her sisters, Dina S. Abad and Azela S. Gozar for helping to find a location for our picnic, and coordinating food for our luncheon, and getting their husbands, Jr., Dong and Raffy to help;

Anne Morales-Reinoso for coordinating the fellowship games and prizes and acting as emcee of our dinner program along with Paeng Fernandez;

Alice Silauso-Cimene- for a smooth registration process and making sure everything is accounted for (sorry for the late nights, Alice)

Oca Bugante- for encouraging alumni attendance to the reunion and helping me navigate along the NJ parkway looking for picnic parks (even if he is from California). Together, we saw many parks I have never been to in all my years in NJ.

Toto Yap – for his generosity and services to print our souvenir program for free. You did a beautiful job coordinating with Jing and her IT crew from NDMU who did the layout.

Kuya Dado Non and Edith Plecis- for taking care of the ride, registration, and accommodation of our honorary guests- Bro. Paul and Bro. Willy.

Fr. Roming Subaldo and Fr. Alex Salas- for leading us in prayer during our gatherings at mass;

Bro. Willy and Bro. Paul- for your presence and representing the Marist Brothers at our reunion;

Tino Estella- my husband, for his understanding and support of all the reunion preparations I was engaged in. And for simply smiling while everyone spoke in Ilonggo, even to him who mainly speaks Tagalog.

And last but not the least- to all those who attended our reunion in Atlantic City. YOU made this event happen. YOU contributed to its success. We prepared a banquet for you and you accepted our invitation. Over 100 guests registered and out of that were 57 alumni. We made sure that you had a great time. And I believe that we delivered. We look forward to seeing you in two years in Chicago and we hope that many more will join us. I know you enjoyed AC and you will have an ever better time in the Windy City, right Willie? You have 2 years to prepare. Spread the word. Thank you for the opportunity to host the 2nd NDMIAA Reunion in Atlantic City.


It was indeed my honor, privilege, and pleasure to chair the event and provide an occasion where Notre Dameans from Marbel had a chance to rekindle old friendship and reminisce happy memories of their youth and education at Notre Dame of Marbel. For 3 glorious days in AC, we were blessed with beautiful weather and we gave you a piece of Marbel.  I hope that you all got home safe and sound; and best of all, keep the happy memories of your visit to the east coast alive and burning in your hearts. Jing and others have posted many photos and video of our 3 day reunion on Facebook and Shutterfly under Notre Dame of Marbel International Alumni Association. These are happy reminders of a summer to remember in Atlantic City.


Let us continue to stand for our Notre Dame and remain loyal and true.


And our hearts forever, praise thee Notre Dame.

And our hearts forever, love thee Notre Dame.


Most sincerely,


Frances Mariam Morales-Estella HS 70, Ch


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