When I was a kid, I dreamed of experiencing a "Jollibee" or any "mascot-filled" party. Apart from the traditional spaghetti and chicken joy or burgers, I aspired my party to be packed with perky clowns and a set of magical mascots. However, since my parents preferred home cooked meals especially and creatively made by them, and the fact that there's so much fun in seeing our neighbors flock in our house and be delighted with my parent's dish, I never wandered on "what ifs" party themes and simply dig on what I have!
If you are a kid of the 80's, I'm pretty sure you'll get to picture what kind of birthday party I had. My mother had always prepared spaghetti paired with skewered hotdog and marshmallows. My relatives would also help in preparing the lumpia, chicken, menudo and relyenong bangus. For dessert, there's always the ice cream, fruit salad and the cake. And speaking of the cake, my Dad consistently bought us chocolate or vanilla flavoured cake form Goldilocks or Merced topped with some action figures. Looking back at these appetizing memories, I can't help but affirm that I truly enjoyed my birthday celebrations with my family and friends.
My birthday parties were always celebrated in our house in Lagro. Normally, it would take days for my mom and dad to prepare for that "requested" celebration. But then again, on some hectic days, my Mom would just order pastries and what nots from her officemates as an addition to my food party. Nevertheless, my visitors were always delighted with my Mom and Dad's unbelievable hardwork! I thank them for that!
I started to look at birthday parties differently when I got into college. I realized that I'm already old enough to bother my parents on my special day. And so, from bringing out mayhem in our house in Lagro on my birthday, I shifted to just treating my friends out in a fastfood or a budget-friendly restaurant. With my talkative and creative friends, there was never a dull moment in my celebration. Seriously, my friends' presence was more than enough to replace the absence of a mascot or some jolly party host.
My family and friends are always with me, in joy and in pain. And so, I look at my birthday celebration as a reunion to look back on those good memories in the past year. However, as I age, I start to perceive birthdays very different from the traditional notion of simply eating out, endless chitchats, laughter and receiving gifts. Honestly, I currently look at birthdays as a form of liberation. More than raising the numerical symbol, a birthday is stepping into another exciting year packed with challenges to conquer.
I can't deny the fact that leaving the "teen" stage and rolling into the "mid-20's" group doesn't bother me at all. At age 25, I experienced a raging "psyschological storm;" Call it, first Quarter Life Crisis. Seriously, there were a lot of things that happened in my life that made me question my life; I was 23 when my mom died; I was so burnt out with my career in a television network; and I felt like my life was heading somewhere - a direction I didn't even thought of. Thankfully, with support from family and friends and guidance from God, I picked up the shattered pieces of my so called puzzled life and headed back on the race, more fierce than even before.
I guess, the way you perceive your birthday largely depends on what's happening in your life. I must say, the first birthday I had after the death of my Mom was just unforgettable. It was memorable because of three things: (1) I longed for the home cooked meals she always prepare on such special occasions, (2) It was the day I cried not because of overflowing joy but because I was embraced with sadness, and (3) Her absence was powerful to let me realize how I should be strong for myself and for my family. How can I forget the day that I saw black as a predominant hue in my mind.
Birthdays remind us how time flies. For a person like me who just turned 28, it's more than a gentle reminder of the changing times. In fact, it's sometimes harsh in a way, bitter yet sweet. To me, birthdays have just transformed as a source of pressure in relation to society's norms; At 28, a person is expected to marry someone and perhaps to have a baby; At 28, a person is expected to achieve financial stability in relation to running a senior/supervisor post in a company; At 28, a person can have further studies. Fortunately, with the above life goals, I must say that I'm playing in the right game. Although I'm still single ( since birth), I enjoy every second with myself. But of course, settling down is on my list. I'm just clueless of the perfect time and of who that person is. Hopefully, God will grant me one. =)
I have a lot of things to be thankful for. That's the sole reason why I always welcome my birthday with so much fun and excitement. More than the bonding session with friends, a connection with my family, and some throwing of penny that gives priceless returns especially seeing people's smiles and glow, my birthday is a celebration of who I am, of all my blessings, and of one big wish of fulfilling dreams and overcoming another set of hurdles. And seriously, more than the pressure initiated by our society, I still enjoy adding another year in my life. After all, as they say, age is just a number.
To prove that age is just a number and with some spontaneous twist to celebrate my day here in Brunei, I threw a Jollibee Party. Okay. I always love Jollibee (way way back in the Philippines).
Here in Brunei, I eat at Jollibee every Wednesdays. Yes. Wednesday is Jollibee day. With this routine, the staff and crew at the nearest Jollibee in our office have become "callous" with me. They have even become soooo familiar with what I order: one piece chicken joy with rice, iced tea for drinks and thigh for the chicken's part. And with this deep connection, the staff greet me with so much gusto even if I'm just on my way inside the food chain. With this high level of friendly relations, I decided to order Jollibee meals for my birthday. On the side, I jokingly asked for balloons and party hats.Surprisingly, the staff gave my requests!
My birthday celebration didn't end with a Jollibee party. The next day, I had another party. It was a party that Jomai and I planned. With Jomai's Birthday falling on the 20th (Sunday) of June and mine on the 18th (Friday), we just opted to throw a simple food treat to our officemates on a Saturday. We just shared the expenses. That's me and Joms in the first picture!
The staff from Dandelion, our sister company, came over. The bosses were all present. And of course, there were a lot of picture taking as we finish the food!
Seriously, the food was sooo great. It was specially prepared by Jomai's Mom. Everyone loved the pasta, the chicken, crabsticks lumpia and the fish! We also had leche flan and sago salad for dessert. Diet? Naaaaaah! Forget about it!
And that's how I welcomed another year in my life. Always, with a BANG! Now, I'm all set to open a new chapter in my life. Although two years from now, I'll be saying goodbye to my "20's," positively, I'm happy and excited for new experiences, challenges and perhaps, love. On top of that, I wish everyone good health, more love and success in every endeavors! Cheers!