birthday party

I surprised my mother a debut-themed 75th birthday party in Thailand


Today, Mama Toria is set to hold her 78th birthday party.

Three years ago, I pulled off a grand 75th birthday party for her here in Thailand, and a surprise one at that. It was my mother’s first time to ‘dress to the nines’ for a birthday party. It was her first time to dine and sleep in a posh hotel.

birthday party

Her birthday party was only one of the series of her ‘first experiences’. She arrived in Thailand on February 26, 2017 ticking her first travel abroad and her first plane ride. I could still remember how she looked when she came out from the arrival area. There was excitement on her face although she was obviously tired from her domestic flight from Butuan to Manila, then Manila to Bangkok.

“How was the trip? I asked. “It was smoother than a bus ride,” she replied without even batting an eyelash. Her confidence was a total opposite of how worried I was while waiting for her to arrive at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport waiting lounge in Bangkok.

The Early Mañanita Surprise

In the early morning of March 6, she awoke with an early birthday ‘harana’ courtesy of Tatay Doming, Belle and the other 2 L’s – Ate Leah and Letty. It was her first to experience a mañanita. While she was really happy, she was apologetic too. The ‘suman’ that she prepared the other night wasn’t the best. She said she could have done it better had she known she had some guests for her birthday.

Little did she know, the grand surprise has yet to come.

 birthday party

Prepping for the Debut-Themed Birthday Party

After lunch, I asked her to get ready  for the wedding party in the evening. Three days earlier, I told her about this ‘suppose’ wedding as an excuse to get her a birthday dress. She was very reluctant to buy the gown I picked for her because she felt that she was too old for it. She had no desire to socialize and asked if she could just stay at home. What convinced her to go along was that I told her that only very few friends were invited to the wedding reception.

We checked-in at our hotel room at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. She gasped over the serene view of the Nan River from our window. She liked the room, but it was too cold. I had to turn up the temperature from 18 to 25 °C.

The make-up artist arrived at 4 p.m. Although she protested against the idea of putting on some colors on her cheeks and wearing some lipstick, she concurred in the end. At 5, the guests started to arrive and they were ushered by my two best accomplices – Ate Leah and Letty. When everybody had settled down, the other 2Ls gave the cue. I escorted the clueless birthday celebrator down to the reception hall where the big birthday party surprise awaited her.

 Mama's birthday party

Mama Toria’s 75th Birthday Party

When the door opened, my mother realised there was no wedding. It was a birthday party meant for her. “Unsa man ni oy? mauwaw man sad ta ani, kadaghan ba’g tawo!” was all she could say. Although she was uncomfortable of the attention, she beamed with so much joy. I’ve never seen her that happy.

The night went on and Mama Toria was the star of the night. She danced with the younger guests and gamely posed for selfies with them. She hopped from one table to another for photo opportunities with her well-wishers. My mother was normally shy except for that night – she exuded confidence. She had the best time of her life.

The Canete brothers – Kuya Loyd and Dodong James and Tatay Doming were gracious to serenade Mama Toria with timeless Visayan songs. Like a real debutante, she had her ‘7 Roses’ and ‘blowing of 5 wish candles’ moments too. Best of all, she received birthday presents. She couldn’t believe she got bags, shoes, dresses and cash gifts for her birthday. I remember her excitedly quipped “Nindot man diay diri magbirthday sa Thailand kay tagaan man tag kwarta!” whilst opening her gifts.

 birthday party

Celebrating her 78th Birthday Party in Heaven

Today, Mama Toria turns 78. I’d like to throw another grand birthday surprise for her, but she had gone home in 2018. One year after she had her momentous birthday bash here in Thailand, she returned to our creator to join Papa Ensoy in heaven six days after her 76th birthday. It broke my heart into pieces. Until now, I still struggle to make amends with the reality that both of them – Papa and Mama won’t be able to celebrate their birthdays with us anymore.

But Mama Toria must be happier now. She’s celebrating her birthday with Papa Ensoy who missed her debut in Thailand three years ago. The party must be even more extravagant and glamourous. But knowing her, she must be having just a simple and quiet celebration.

Today, I’m lighting a candle to say…

Happy Birthday in Heaven, Ma.”

Also read:

The Most Important Lesson 2019 Taught Me

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