Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Decade of Homecomings: UPAME

To start, it doesn't feel like a High School reunions you see on TV, if there were any drama, they definitely didn't show it, not yet maybe, ehe.

Yesterday, I attended the UPAME Grand Homecoming at Teacher's Village near UP. I received the invitation almost two months early via email and random sightings in cons by members. The reunion is done every five years and hosted by the current batch, which is aptly described as BATCH 10. The numerical designation serves also as a perfect reminder how long has been since UPAME sprouted from the minds of four young anime manga enthusiasts (or geeks, if you please XD) and decided to create an org dedicated solely to the appreciation of the then hard to acquire (and understand!) media called anime and manga. From a humble starting group of twenty on the first semester, to the almost riot number of new members lining up to be part of AME we see today.

The Homecoming was held at Bulwagang Claret, a social hall located under the church beside Claret school. Took me a while for the irony to sink in regarding the wanton fanfare held under an institution built on solemn meditation. To spice things up, the theme was suppose to be MTV Awards: you basically go dressed as some MTV star or starlet. Arriving in my hugot-closet attire representing some denim-clad Village Peoplethrowback, I was slightly embarrassed of the fact that everyone else decided to be in classy evening wear. Not that I didn't have other throwbacks to hang out with, as I was happy to notice that good 'ol Deedrick, fellow FA batchmate, was in his denim jacket attire as well as the rest of the night I would fondly call him Mr. Big.

That aside, the setup was buffet type catering with fancy tables and dinnerware that definitely gave an air of formality (again, pressing the point how rugged I could be in these gatherings) but it all ended right there as the upper batches started their stage entertainment during dinner. Followed by friends in both suave and sexy attires (Ey Diego, hi Mic!) nothing says class like this homecoming.

Being in demin though has its perks, like I could just grab my plate and walk around anywhere I want as I watch the entertaining combined performances of Batch 07, 08, 09 and 10 with live acoustics, stage acting, comedy sketch and of course (what's a show without it?) a very compelling dance number about rainbows and robot unicorns.

I was also the first person to be asked to join the Pinoy Henyo game, where I felt I was punked up by the whole crowd when they keep agreeing to terms like "tubular", "wet", "can be held by both hands", "can be ridden on" and "Yaoi". The answer was the word (and name) Deng, a fellow alumni and friend who wasn't able to attend that night. Honestly, if they agreed to "Yuri" I would have guessed the answer, hehe.

Later on, during a lull on the program near the end of the party, Deedz and I had an interesting conversation regarding UPAME org in particular. As usual, we talked about "the good old days" of AME where we most fondly remember our own presentations consisting of wrapping our friend James in newspapers designed to look like a Magical Princess with 1.5 liter Coke bottle chests, or me pretending to be an Indian conman with Japanese paper for a turban, or then-Pubcom Head Diyosa being our unwilling bloody high pitched screaming bimbo for one of our "harrassment" scenes as James would swoop down, Magical Coke Bottle Boobs and all, to save them. Those were the times we were glad the Internet Social Network wasnt invented then. XD

Aherm, going back to the topic at hand, I asked Deedz what made him join UPAME other than his friends being there. Apparently we both had the same reason then: the org was a rich resource of anime and manga, where the only source of hard to find media is either from generous peeps who would agree to have their original Japanese stuff pawed over by enthusiastic fans, or those who had contacts in Hong Kong or Taiwan who can get the"fake" stuff with them. These copies were no joke: there were really nearly the real deal, as copies were so high quality and having their own packaging that the ones I have still are still in good condition despite the years, not unlike the rapidly copied clones we have now, being sold in the streets, which deteriorate in less than a year. It was so hard to get these stuff, that filmshowing were necessary for the org in order to continue the motto of appreciating japanese culture through anime and manga. And the reason why members then get together, is because they want to ask or share their knowledge of any particular anime title. Some have even become exclusive walking Wikis on a title, because they were the only ones to have a complete copy of it (even more so if they got to xerox copies of Japanese magazines with articles about that said anime or manga title, and they themselves translated them). That said, I decided to stay until the end of the party to actually talk to the Batch 10 group.

I got in touch with such group as people were starting to pack up. First I want to apologize for not remembering names, but i guarantee that i remember your faces. One day I will take the effort of writing them down immediately after. Promise.

Going back I asked the group first what made them join UPAME. And as predicted, it was because their friends were there. When I asked what do they talk about when they're together. They answered "We talk about life po!" Curious, I asked and if they didn't mind answering, what exactly do they mean about that. They said that since anime and manga are so prolific and mainstream, that anyone can now download or view online any manga or anime they want, everyone already knows all the small details. Miss anything and one click to its Wikipedia entry or main site will solve it. Cant understand Nihonggo? Get the basic rudimentary translation via Google Translate. Anime subs and translated manga galore thanks to free uploads by very generous translators. Technology has caught up and made anime and manga convenient. So what else can they possibly talk about? Real life apparently.

Batch 01 would talk about anime and manga and compare it to real life, while Batch 10 talks about life, and once in a while, compare it to the anime and manga they love.

Today's UPAME may seem a bit overwhelming for me considering how these people no longer have the exact same reason we did when we joined AME. But then and now, we still join for one reason alone: because we love anime and manga.

Joining for any other reason are simply for posers.

Thanks for the memories AME Batch 10, congratulations on a successful homecoming event you whipped up for us.


Photo Description: I didn't bring my camera then, as usual, so I used this photo courtesy of Yuri Camus' Facebook album (Contacts only viewing). That's me, Mel and Deedz being the only Batch 01 peeps currently brave enough to have their picture taken. But the rest followed suit. And yes, Deedz and I were on our knees cuz we couldn't find a platform for Mel, ehehe joke! Under my denim jacket is my own AME Batch shirt design on black shirt (see Yuri's photo) I thought up long time ago and appropriately made for this event. Working on my favorite anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, I made a parody of our AME logo based on the NERV logo design with our made up motto that I felt truly describes our Batch.

"Alumni na ang mga pasaway. All's right with this org."

The other batches wanted copies of the shirt. Hehe, well, I'll think of something up for the other batches perhaps in the future. As for the actual Batch 01 peeps, if you would like to purchase the shirt and design, just email me at

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