I had lunch at the company canteen together with Boy Trillana. He introduced me to the rest of the brand group who joined us in one long table. I was pleasantly surprised to find four of my former classmates and batchmates in the Ateneo grade school and high school were in the marketing department. They were already brand managers since they started as management trainees directly out of college at about the same time I began my advertising apprenticeship.
The brand management group was quite large. In addition to the toilet soaps group the company had interests in personal products, detergents and a foods business as well. If I was surprised to see my former schoolmates they seemed to be even more surprised to see me there. There was Butch Unson (Butch outstripped us all when he was promoted to Marketing Manager of the Foods Group, a senior management position, but this was short lived as he migrated to the US soon after), Nilo “Ambo” Santos, Tony Bautista, and Ding Camua. Nonoy Reyes, another classmate was to join later.
Because of my long absence from their kind of milieu, some of them thought that I studied abroad but some who knew that I went on to FEU were puzzled as to how I could, a reject in Ateneo high school manage to get a job in PRC marketing. PRC was looked at as one of the few multinational companies that every member of the crème de la crème graduating batch of the elite universities and colleges aspired joining. The competition for the few available slots in the management trainee program was so intense that even those graduating with honors were not assured of entry into the company. To the credit of the group their reaction did not go beyond that of being surprised. I felt accepted by the brand group and this seemed to be without any reservations. My former classmates even put in some effort to make me feel welcome. I was doing my job and that to them was what was important.