Turning Thirty

Being a milestone age and all, I’ve always thought I would have a grand celebration on my 30th birthday. I even had party ideas in my mind, but as the pandemic went on with no end in sight, Miss ‘Rona would have just derailed my plans before I could fully flesh them out.

The birthday blues hit, and they hit hard. I had wanted a big birthday bash with as many people as I know and love all in one room, then the Philippine National Police Chief made gatherings a total faux pas, so that idea had to be thrown out of the window. I held on to hope the pandemic would be over by the time November rolled around, but while Cebu City’s active cases lessened significantly, it still wasn’t a good enough reason to be complacent.

Besides that, it really is just a tough time to celebrate. People have lost so much in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak—income, opportunities, loved ones—not to mention #RollyPH and #UlyssesPH had recently caused major devastation in various parts of the country.

(Side note: I was born in the aftermath of Typhoon Ruping. Yolanda also happened close to my birthday in 2013. Everyone should be terrified of what’s going to happen to this world when I turn 40 or something *knocks on wood*)

So, yeah, it’s kind of hard to be in a celebratory mood given everything, and I was just set on letting the day pass like any other ordinary day… except, some people won’t let me. And I love them all for it.

My mom has always made a big deal of my birthday, all the more so since she moved out of the country. I allowed her to throw a small gathering with my family a day before my birthday. I decided on Circa 1900 for an intimate venue that still enforced social distancing and other biosafety measures while keeping us all in one room.

What I didn’t expect were the balloons and the unicorn cake I’ve been wanting, and another cake from my cousins.

On my actual birthday, instead of a big party, I spaced out small gatherings with some people: For lunch, my immediate family and I hit up Royal Krua Thai in SM Seaside City for a long-missed Thai lunch (and yes, with leftover pad Thai I will be enjoying shortly—leftover pad Thai is the best).

I went to Church briefly to light some candles for my grandfather who passed away on my 18th birthday. This is a tradition I’ve practiced for years, though it’s still discombobulating to see the Church near-empty, even on a weekday. It was nice though, to have the place to myself.

Then I had a socially-distanced Starbucks date with my college friend Micah who I haven’t seen since the lockdown and an equally socially-distanced dinner with two other loved ones Anton and Joanna at the Radisson Blu Cebu. One seat apart, masks on when we’re not eating or drinking, disinfecting our hands frequently… then rushing home to beat curfew because we all lost track of time, oop.

It was also really nice to come home to a massive bubble unicorn balloon from POP Luxury Balloons, gifted by my favorite twins Jennifer and Jasmin and their husbands. I’ve ordered them a few times for client events but I’ve always wanted to have one for my own—and a custom-made one at that to match my cake too! I confess to occasionally checking on the balloon and making sure its horns and ears are still in place, heh.

And while I was content with how my birthday turned out, my Asian Baby Girl Kor surprised me with a compilation of greetings from friends, to go with all the birthday messages people left on my socials (there were so many, Facebook actually blocked me from replying for a few hours because it thought I was spamming, lol).

I’m writing all these details down not only to remember this momentous celebration by, but also to express something I’ve realized: It may be a tough year but it’s not a bad life. Despite the Now Normal and enforced distancing, there are still people who believe I’m significant—and for someone who struggles a lot with self-love, this is groundbreaking and heartwarming all at once.

This particular birthday may not have turned out the way I originally envisioned, but it was all the more special for the effort people made to celebrate with me. Every birthday message, every moment with a face mask on, every creative greeting—they all count. Thank you.

And yes, the accidental magical unicorn theme also matters. Thank you to everyone who just rolled with it; it amused me to no end.

In a time when people are flipping their profile photos to a plain black background or an image of a candle to signify the loss of loved ones, a burst of rainbow and sparkles is a visual reminder that there are brighter and happier days to come—perhaps not immediately, but soon enough. That’s what it was to me, and I hope it can be that for you as well.

While you’re here…

If you’re looking for where to make donations for the families affected by #RollyPH and #UlyssesPH, here are some drives you can look into:

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