about me, food is good, my travels, this is life, this is my family

My Birthday Weekend

Some people get emotional on their birthdays but I was never the type. Last year was different though…

36 was much better than 35

After my Papa died, we didn’t care much for celebrating anything, really. He passed late October 2015, so the first Christmas was sullen and so was the rest of 2016. Who can celebrate when there’s a void in your heart? The void is there, still. I don’t think it will ever go away, but we all know that life goes on… so we push forward.

Last year my birthday was uneventful. This year I decided the family deserved a treat, so I booked a weekend at Shangri-La Mactan and we flew to Cebu. Oh it did not disappoint.

I watched the sunrise as it came, during our second day in Cebu. I saw the whole thing transform from dark to light–it was beautiful. It was raining when we arrived so the sunrise was a welcome surprise when I woke up the next day.

Revisiting Cebu

My Papa’s last assignment in the military was in the Central Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, in Cebu. Years before that, he was 205th Wing Commander, so for a time, Cebu was our second home.

During our quick trips to city, he would take us around to food hop and we would have lechon, lechon manok and even more lechon. During one trip we had with him he surprised us by showing a Huey which was his 1st chopper, as a young pilot. He found it, and he placed it in what would be a mini aircraft museum, today (his chopper was the first one erected on the field).


For this birthday trip, I made sure we visited Mactan Airbase to see that chopper. It had been refurbished. His name removed (it was just painted on) but it was still amazing. It was raining when the shuttle drove us to the site but the skies brightened a little, and we were given a chance to take photos. Seeing Papa’s Huey was our first stop–and it was a great one because it got us all excited for the rest of the trip.

It was nice to be back in Cebu. Back in my Papa’s old turf. The last time we were all there, it was for his retirement. We weren’t exactly beach-mode because it was a much formal setting. For the few days that we were there, we were attending testimonial dinners and parades–knowing well that the world we have known for decades, will be no more.

Papa’s retirement. In the military, at 56 years old, when you celebrate your birthday–the AFP let’s you go and relieves you of your service. It’s bittersweet, really.

Anyway, I may have been 8 or 9 years old during my first time in Cebu and we traveled to Argao Beach Club. I was quite young. My sister and I spent an entire afternoon catching starfish and shells until we were so dark. During this Cebu trip, my sisters and I spent almost 8 hours hanging by beach of Shangri-La Mactan. We woke up quite early to have our breakfast buffet and we claimed a good spot at one of the lounge areas.

We spent 8 luxurious hours by the sea. I talk about luxury because we don’t always get that much downtime in our everyday realities. Our daily lives involve travelling through traffic, walking in uncomfortable shoes, attending to our respective careers and living with responsibilities. Rest, back in Manila, would be a few hours over a good meal or a nice movie. Rest, back in Manila, would mean to SLEEP–so the luxury of 8 hours of utter idleness is bliss. The luxury of 8 hours of no responsibility, is fantastic.

And lounge we did, for 8 hours. We had sweet potato fries, shakes and cold beers. I read my book. Slept under the sun and regretted it. Haha!

Today, a week after the trip, we are all peeling from being sunburnt. If you spend 8 hours under the sun, it’s impossible for you to come out of it unscathed. So yes, like lechon, we got ourselves roasted in Cebu.

Me, roasting.

Oh you should see me right now. I am seriously roasted. It’s so funny, when my assistant saw me when I got back, she said, “Doc ang pangit mo!” (Doc you’re so ugly!) Ouch.

Travelling with the Family for My Birthday

We didn’t have much when I was growing up, but we traveled because my parents believed in enriching experiences. Some said that travelling is a wasteful investment because you cannot turn it in for cash, but our parents believed otherwise. We were lucky, too, because my mom was employed at Philippine Airlines so we always traveled for FREE (well, almost). Growing up, I never had expensive shoes or bags to school. I never got on with the fashion trends, but we were lucky enough to travel to different places, because that was the “expense” my parents were more than willing to splurge on.

It had been awhile since we traveled as family. And when Papa got sick, that almost seemed impossible. We traveled with friends, and enjoyed our own trips, but I sure missed travelling with my sisters, so I am happy we did this.



We did a lot of eating during my birthday weekend. First meal was lechon at Rico’s then coffee and cake at the quaint ukelele cafe across the street. Dinner was Italian food at Acqua, where we had cake and rose’. But before all that we had a quick dip in the beach and the pool, where we were surprised by a lovely fireworks display–so we pretended it was for me. I guess when it’s you’re birthday, blessings abound because apart from the lovely gifts I got from my family, I got cake and wine from the hotel, which we devoured the next day.

Last year I didn’t even feel like celebrating my birthday but I forced myself to be happy. This year, there was no need for that because everything was just perfect.

Oh yeah, I also got this, btw… ☺

So yes, I enjoyed turning thirty-six…

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