I celebrated my birthday at home this year. Compared to the previous birthdays where my family and I usually go to restaurants or enjoy staycations, this time, it’s a bit different. The pandemic has made home celebrations an acceptable norm in honoring birthdays and other special occasions.

Prior to my birthday, Metro Manila and other provinces were already in General Community Quarantine (GCQ). However, it was switched to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) until August 18 because of the uncontrolled increase of COVID-19 cases. That scrapped my initial plan of bringing my family to Tagaytay. I thought of treating them to a Bulalo restaurant or Bag of Beans to enjoy the food and the scenic view. Anyway, I just settled with celebrating at home with my family because we had no choice.

A day before my birthday, we were supposed to visit Daddy in Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina. However, upon hearing that three barangays in Marikina were placed under lockdown, we decided not to go. That made me frustrated again.

Birthday Blues

While I was cleaning the house on the morning of my birthday, I burst into tears. This is my first birthday without my Dad and I just remembered the good times we had whenever we celebrate my birthday. Maybe the weather was also gloomy that made me more emotional.

Also, Jhoi made a video greeting that made me cry. It was a short compilation of our group photos with Karen. Her message also triggered a soft spot in me but I really had no intention of wallowing on the day of my birthday. It highlights the message of realizing Jhoi and Jem are still there for me, no matter how hard the journey has become for me this year.

I cried over the thought that I lost two people so dear in my life this year and it’s my first birthday without them to cherish this special day.

Little Surprises

Two days before my birthday, my sister Jaika gave me a pair of LiteRide Crocs. I didn’t know she will give me this one because she’s been complaining that her reduced clients also decreased her monthly salary. So sweet of her to give me something she knows I won’t buy myself. It’s just a small dream she made come true. Yes, shallow but that’s true. Maybe I can afford it, but it’s not a priority.

My mom gave me a nice perfume from Nike. I love the note attached to it too. Even if we are already grown-ups, she still never fails to give us simple presents on our birthdays. Though mom and I usually have this love-and-hate-relationship, I still can feel her genuine love for me.

She has nice handwriting, doesn’t she?

I also got this Badtz-Maru Funko Pop from Chris. He’s my favorite character in Sanrio since I was in gradeschool. He’s a spiked penguin with moods and attitude but dreams of becoming the boss of everything. I’ll be displaying this in my new room in Cavite. Hopefully by then, I’d be adding more Funko Pop figures to my collection.

Three Cakes for Three Decades

I received just not one cake, but three cakes! One is from my mom, 2nd is from Kit, and third is from Cassie. Mom bought the cake when she and Jaika went to the grocery to buy the ingredients for Kare-Kare. An hour later, Kit told me to go outside my house and meet her. I really thought she will be visiting, but I was surprised that she ordered a cake from her officemate and had it delivered to my address. It was a minimalist cake with a cute design. Lastly, the cake came from Cassie. She’s been conniving with Jaika all along for this cake surprise. A week before that, Ming and I’ve been teasing her to treat us with the famous strawberry shortcake from Vizco’s but she came up with another idea. We didn’t know that she took it seriously so she ordered cakes for me and Ming from Red Ribbon and Goldilocks online.

Sorry for my swollen eyes. I just finished sobbing.

From my mom
From Kit
From Cassie

I really appreciate the effort of these people to hand me the surprise. It was raining hard that day and delivery options are limited because of the MECQ. Thank you guys!

Birthday Food

My birthday food is just simple. I opted not to have a lavish food party because there would be batches of food deliveries coming in the next weeks and I don’t want to overly splurge. I asked Jaika to cook her signature dish Kare Kare, a favorite in the family. I also ordered Squid and Bagnet Palabok and Barbecue from Joanna’s Wow Palabok. I really like their version of Palabok generously topped with Bagnet, squid and sauce. The small size is already good for 8-10 people. The taste of the Barbecue renders well when it comes to the right tenderness and seasoning. The Isaw or chicken intestines are thoroughly cleaned and without the bitter aftertaste.

Jaika’s Kare Kare
Joanna’s Wow Palabok
Pork Barbecue and Chicken Intestines

I invited Jem to come over but since it was raining hard and we are also looking after her safety, we didn’t insist. Instead, I went to her house to drop the food and she was very happy and full.

Jem and me

Things to be Thankful For

I wrote my birthday wish list a week ago, but none of these were granted. Instead of being sad like a kid, I looked at the bigger picture. We may have not received the desires of our heart, but God blesses us in other ways that we often take for granted. Here are the things I am grateful for not just on my birthday, but on this year:

  1. We survived the loss of my dad. He is now promoted to heaven and enjoying God’s presence. Many people helped us in financing his hospitalization, funeral, and burial.
  2. My mom had a successful gallbladder operation. Many people also helped us with the hospital bills.
  3. My sister and I still have stable jobs this pandemic.
  4. No one from the family is affected with the virus.
  5. I won in the cooking and writing contests I joined.
  6. We’ve finished the installation of tiles in our new home.

Thank you, Lord for giving me another year!