(I wrote this nostalgia piece in 2010 for the University of Santo Tomas Faculty of Arts and Letters souvenir program. The class of ’85, which I belong to, was celebrating its 25th year of “freedom” or homecoming. 😀
(It appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer later that year. So as to lessen the strain in your eyes, I’d like to share it with you in three installments. Those who came of age in the ’80s would know what I’m talking about. For those who didn’t, well, it’s about time you start learning about some pop culture history. The article is meant to be savored in small servings. Enjoy! :-D)
IF I could sum up 25 years, the span of time between our graduation from college and our homecoming tonight, into one article of clothing, I’d readily go for a pair of socks or, to be more gender-specific about it (a term unheard of during our un-PC, smoke-where-you-like days), stockings.
I’m pretty sure most ladies tonight wouldn’t dare step out of their houses without slipping into a pair of Anfana or Kanebo stockings back in college. It seemed no matter how crisp that two-piece white-and-blue uniform was, the look seemed incomplete without wearing a sheer pair of hosiery before slipping into the latest high heels or penny loafers from Cardam’s or Syvel’s.
Stockings, despite eating up a considerable portion of every young woman’s limited allowance, were simply a must.
Never mind if they were going to an exposure trip to the slums of Leveriza or a lightning rally with their politically-awake objects of affection from one of those alphabet soups of organizations bent on seeking Marcos’ ouster, no fashionable woman from the University of Santo Tomas’ College of Arts and Letters (or AB to you and me) simply left home without ’em.
Even then, some college rituals defied explanation. Basta, it was simply how things from 1981 to 1985, the years we spent earning a bachelor of arts degree, were done.
Guys had a different, albeit opposite, concern. Whereas it was de rigueur for their women friends to hide their legs under those stockings, it was considered uncool for newly minted men-about-town to wear socks with their latest Top Siders, espadrilles, K-Swiss and even leather shoes from Marikina Shoe Expo and Cartimar.
How things have changed! While women these days, including 40-something cougars, have ditched inconvenient, snag-prone stockings in favor of going “nude,” men of a certain age risk being accused of not acting their age—or worse, likened to DOMs (dirty old men)—should they insist on wearing leather shoes without socks.
And long before the likes of Courtney Love and Lady Gaga popularized “heroin chic” (read: smeared eye make up akin to black tears), not a few former UST AB coeds back then were probably among the first to unwittingly sport the look after their first brush with truncheon-wielding, tear gas-throwing riot police during one of those anti-Marcos rallies along Mendiola or Liwasang Bonifacio.
Wearing high heels and fully made up before the rally, complete with up-and-down eyeliner, full mascara, dripping lip gloss and half-a-can of spray net to keep those mini “tsunami” hairdos from sagging, not a few hapless PYTs went home their separate ways with ruined stockings, limped hair and bloodshot, raccoon eyes soon after. What were these girls thinking?
Since there were no cell phones yet, there was no way for us to text each other and regroup after being rudely scuttled by Marcos’ attack dogs.
That was only half the comedy, er, tragedy. The day after one of those rallies, I remember asking a female classmate what their beef with the dictator was, and all she could gush about was how cute and “principled” some of the male demonstrators were. She failed to say if those pretty boys were from UST, but I’d like to believe they were (wink).
If you find that lame, wait until you hear this story. Another group of demonstrators was out in the trenches shouting themselves hoarse in unison: “Marcos, Hitler, diktador, tuta! Marcos, Hitler, diktador, tuta! Marcos, Hitler, diktador, tuta!…diktador, tuta!”
Amid the din, one confused coed turned to a fellow coed and asked: “Nicanor? Sino si Nicanor?” I nearly fell off my wooden armchair upon hearing it the next day. Rumor has it that she was wearing a white-and-blue ensemble with an inverted V for a tie. Well, at least, you’ve got to give her a flat 1 for honesty. (To be continued)