25 April 2016

Mama's 75th Birthday (Part 1): Complete Family

And I’m finally blogging again! Hurray! ☺

I know I owe so many stories from January (plus the pending kwento of the rest of our Canada trip), but first I want to share Mama’s 75th birthday week. Why? Because even though there were so many great things that happened during the past 4 months, this was simply the best. And you’ll find out why later.

It all actually started last year a few months after Mama turned 74. My siblings and I wanted to do something special for her next birthday, and since she’s never had a grand birthday celebration her whole life, we started planning for a bongga kind of party…you know, like a debut. But we wanted it to be a surprise because if she knew about it, for sure she’d say things like “Hindi na kailangan!” (There’s no need) or “Sayang ang pera!” (It would be a waste of money). So we started looking around the internet for ideas, caterers, venues, and other suppliers.

Unfortunately, we realized it wouldn’t be feasible because (1) Although my brother and his wife were in the Philippines, they didn’t have the time and enough money to check the possible venues, meet suppliers, and pay downpayments and deposits; (2) If we wanted Mama’s siblings to attend, we would have to shoulder their and their families’ air or bus fare to Manila and provide accommodation. This was an added cost that would be out of our budget; and (3) Because it would take place in the middle of the school year, only my eldest brother, my sister, and I would be able to go home. Our spouses and children wouldn’t be able to attend. So we stopped planning.

Then in December, Ate Ning suggested that we have the celebration here. There wouldn’t be any party. Instead, we would have a family reunion in Dubai. After all, it’s been almost 8 years since we were complete (the last time was during our wedding in May 2008), and Mama has always wanted to see us all together since then, so it was a great idea.

Several messages were exchanged, tickets were purchased, visas were applied, white lies were told making me and my siblings dramatic actors and actresses, and finally, the day came when Mama, Gabe, and Ate Ning were at NAIA. Here’s the first surprise Mama got (sorry, you'll have to turn your head sideways somewhere from the middle of the video):

Mama and Gabe thought it was only the two of them who were going to Dubai with my sister, just like all the times in the past. But then Kuya Boyet, Lhet and Lenci came up behind them with their surprise. All along, Mama thought they were just there to see them off; even when they were all going through Immigration, she still couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t until they had all settled in their seats and the doors of the plane had finally closed did she find her voice and told my brother happily “Talagang sasama kayo sa amin sa Dubai?!” (You’re all really coming with us to Dubai?!)
Mama was still in shock, which explains her almost blank face
Back when we were still planning for Mama’s supposed party to be held in the Philippines, Kuya Boy kept telling us there was a possibility he wouldn't be able to go home because his boss might not allow him, that they couldn’t leave their kids alone without an adult (because of school), and so many other reasons. He continued giving these excuses when we changed plans to have Mama’s birthday in Dubai. For several weeks, we all kept trying to convince him and make him feel guilty if he didn't come. Finally in mid-March, he sent me a private message to call him. I did, and with the help of my sister (and unknown to the others), we gave Mama her second surprise in the early morning of the 10th of April:

the April birthday celebrants
The picture cut-outs that my brother and his family used were actually Kuya Boyet's idea.  He said we would use these in our group pictures so that Kuya Boy's face would still be included...plus it would be a funny way to tease him and keep making him feel guilty because he wasn't going to come (or so, they thought) ☺

Finally, the whole family is complete!
More stories and surprises about Mama's birthday coming up! I promise ☺

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