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One morning last month I woke up and realized I was a year older. Another year added to the long parade of years behind me. Here I am, standing on the threshold of a new decade. Oh dear, I am so old! I thought in dismay, thinking back to what life has been, and is.
Did I live it as I wanted to live it? Did I make my dreams come true? Have I made promises to myself—and how many of those promises have I kept? Have I made a difference in this world, or even just in my own little corner of it, just by being born, and by existing? Made a difference to any one particular person or persons? And... will now be more reluctant to look in the mirror, to notice another line here, a wrinkle there, more flesh where there should be none, sags and bulges where before none existed?
OMG! (Got this expression from TV) I'm so afraid this self-interrogation is getting too close for comfort. Let me talk instead about the "surprise" birthday party my children threw for me.
It was a surprise in the sense that I didn't really know where it would be held. I had wanted a get-together with just family, relatives, and close friends—and that's exactly what it was. I just had not realized that family alone already made one third of a crowd of some 60-odd people, with no children below 18 years, except for the grandkids, the six of who were here, four belonging to Victor, and two to Nikki and Jed who were here with their two boys Niko and Jon for their annual visit. Nikki celebrates her birthday, Vida's birthday, and my birthday on her visits home.
But this time they all said this birthday was really special and had to be celebrated in a really special way. For me, just having my children (except for the youngest, Michael) and my grandchildren (except for Benjo, Bam and Momong, all of them Bong's boys), and especially Vic, around me—this was more than special, this was the greatest gift of all.
Funny, isn't it, how wishes, desires, needs, and tastes change with the years?
So we had a party at Alba's, a classy place with atmosphere, romance and old-fashioned glamour—important ingredients for somebody like me, who was celebrating a birthday like mine. That's how my children, especially Nikki and Vida, put it.
It was indeed a beautiful party! My children outdid themselves. There were "speeches" from the younger members of the group, and of course a lot of photo shoots. But most, if not all, of those photos I'll probably never see because they were all shot from mobile phones. And yes, wishes for "many more birthdays to come." Until then, I had never really realized what that particular phrase meant, or what its significance would be for me. Now I believe that every birthday should indeed be celebrated, for it is a celebration of life renewed... a new lease on time.
Even when we sit down to breakfast, we're celebrating a new day, another day awaiting us, perhaps with obligations to meet, tasks to do—school, office, housework, even people we may not want to see but need to see. Still, it's a new day and we're alive in it by God's grace and it's up to us to use the day as we should, and not waste it or spoil it or destroy it.
Not all news is bad news. Here are some headlines that can perk up your day, that call for celebration, too: Twenty-one-year-old Jomel Lapides, a UP graduate and this year's topnotcher in the board licensure exams for nurses, wants to work in the public health sector, especially in underserved areas in the countryside. Another UP topnotcher in this year's medical board exams, Mark Augustine Saguido Onglao, wants to apply at PGH (Philippines General Hospital) and hopefully join its team of surgeons. "It's not about the money, but the people and their lives," he says, when asked why he decided to work for a hospital that caters to the poor, why he feels it's more gratifying to serve and take care of Filipinos right here in his own country.
* * *
So easily Jomel and Mark could apply for positions abroad—in the US, Europe, Canada—(the word "abroad" seems to be the magic word) but they opted to stay here and offer their services here.
And what about shy, 12-year-old Janela Lelis from Malinao, Albay, who saved her country's flag from being destroyed in rising flood waters at the height of typhoon Juaning on July 26? No second thoughts, no hesitation. She did what neede to be done, her motivation being her love for country and respect for the flag that was its symbol—because this was what she had learned in school and more importantly, what she felt and knew in her heart to be true and right.
Doesn't it make you feel good to read about young people like these who know just what they want and whose idealism remains untarnished?
It's good to know that there are still so many unsung heroes in our midst. Look around you... you may just have bumped into one!
* * *
And now for a brief postscript about another heartwarming newsbit—Manila Bay sunset "visible" once more. Not quite an accomplished fact yet, but they're already talking about it, those people who want to see a boulevard where you can sit by the sea wall and watch the setting sun in all its gorgeous, fantastic colors move majestically down to the sea and disappear into who knows what magical echanted place beyond the horizon? Sunset in Manila Bay... it was a magical moment indeed. Something visitors to this country remember with nostalgia, a memory that earlier generations of young lovers cherished in their hearts. Ah yes, that will be a time to look forward to. As for me, I too had my moments with the beautiful, bewitching sunset at Manila Bay.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of HerWord or BusinessWorld.
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