the birthday that time forgot

pic collage : a labor of love by Mahal. :) thanks for everything!

pic collage : a labor of love by Mahal. 🙂 thanks for everything!

AFTER ALL, it’s a birthday blog, so it doesn’t need to make (that much) sense, does it?  It’s just an excuse to say whatever I want, and if you don’t like it or aren’t entertained, well, birthday gift nyo na lang sa kin ang pagbasa, Precious Reader. (Just tolerate it as a birthday gift to me is the rough unGoogle Translate, Precious Read.)

I had anticipated either working for 10 hours in the dead of night, and/or getting a satisfying homemade dinner, very late in the night (or very early in the morning), on my birthday, because first, I asked for a birthday leave (which my employer graciously gives the celebrant) the day after, so as not to disrupt shift schedules (it would be complicated to find someone to fill in for my night shift), and to take advantage of a Friday leave translating into a long weekend.

No way goodwife Mahal would let me forget it was my birthday though, as she promised to cook up a sensational dinner for me whether or not I was up for it, I would either eat it 2 am after the shift ended or in the morning when I woke up.

As it turned out, a Wellington downpour unparalleled in the last 50 years intervened (it had to happen on my birthday right?), and for the first time in as long as I can remember, a work shift was canceled.  I was actually lucky because, being on a later shift, I was spared having to go to work in the daytime and facing the risk of the nearby stream washing out the bridge and cutting off commuters from the only road back home.

At the same time, Mahal came down with a stupefying allergy attack that all but stopped her from doing anything but going to work, it would be unkind of me to ask anything else of her especially since she’d been bringing me to and from work since the week started…

So as I said, I was prepared to work my behind off between 4 pm and 2 am and then have two or three beers with myself on a Thursday night, or at least have a late night dinner (also with myself), but not sit with myself the whole day with only the MagicSing videoke and Candy Crush to keep me company (Mahal also being at work, keeping regular hours).

*****     *****     *****

Not that I was complaining.  As anyone with normal body temperature, not a vampire and not a werewolf (or aswang or manananggal) will tell you, night shift sucks.  I’ll sleep at night any time.  But here I was, doing nothing, unexpectedly, on a birthday.  I also couldn’t take a walk or run, two of my favorite activities, because of the terrible weather.

I got dozens and dozens of Facebook greetings, thank you to all who bothered.  I tinkered with my settings without supervision, so I ended up not allowing people to post on my page, I could’ve gotten a few more greetings but that’s all right.  I got a missed call from Second Brother back home in the Philippines, too bad the phone was inside a bureau drawer.  Also got SMS messages from Eldest Brother (also in Manila) and Fourth Brother in Auckland.  Thank you brothers.

Late afternoon, I received phone calls and felicitations from the kids, the most emotional and heartwarming from Bunso, who still gives me the odd impression (caused by the similarity of our voices) that I’m talking to myself.  Said that the good times were only beginning, and that we think so alike that we can never stop talking to each other and about each other.  Thank you too, anakis.

The best part of having an altered work day that happened to be my birthday?  I slept normally that day, besides the love of my life, sharing her warmth and her company, which is more than any man could ask for.  After a few beers of course.

Thanks for all the kind thoughts, life has just begun!

belated happy birthday Kirby !

Kirby with batchmates during our latest reunion last July 14th. He is the distinguished looking gentleman in the suit in back row.

belated happy birthday (4th August) to batchmate Mr Kirby Hartigan-Go !

IF IT’s true that quiet confidence speaks loudest, then Kirby was definitely one of our most confident contemporaries in high school.

In his words, gestures, academics, and leadership skills, the strength of his conviction carried the weight of someone far beyond his build, the wisdom of elders far beyond his years.

But even these meant little next to the conviction of his faith, a badge he wore proudly then and to this day.

It has undoubtedly paid dividends to him in this world, but he gives more weight to the rewards in the next.

About that belief, we have every confidence, you can be sure.

Belated happy birthday Kirby, sorry for the late greeting, thanks for serving as one of our most dedicated Batch Officers, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

belated happy birthday Noemi Bolaños !

Noemi with hubby 🙂

ADD TO our great frustration of never being classmates with Noemi our frustration of not seeing her at our 35th anniversary high school reunion. It would have been great to see you batchmate, and be regaled by all your stories about carving out the career of a lifetime in Arizona.

I met all your kabatch and close friends though, as you will see in a thousand and one Facebook uploads shortly. There wasn’t enough time for every batchmate to update everyone else on his/her life, but you probably guessed that already.

I can assure you though that at one point or another during the reunion, a lot of us thought of you and wished you were there.

Belated happy birthday Noemi (6th July), so sorry for the missed greeting, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

wanderlust notes from all over on a rainy Tuesday night, Tao Yuan Ermita

clockwise from back row extreme left: Ricky Cheng, Roderick Ko Pio, Dennis Sy, Lucy Linda Lee, Hedy Ong-Soliman, John Sy, Kathryn Que, Doc Peggy Ting, Mel Asiddao, Maribeth Ang-Wong and Carol Ng Sy. Thanks Dennis for the pic !

IT STARTED OUT a bit awkwardly, and everyone was just figuratively shuffling their feet and thinking of something clever to say.  Or maybe it was just because we were more than an hour, embarrassingly late for the small gathering?

In any case, as soon as we sat down, we warmed up to both the food and the great company, and things flowed naturally from there.

One of the batchmates around talked about how hard it was to manage fine dining establishments, shuttling between Singapore and the Philippines, and spending quality time with the family.

Another kabatch talked about how hard it was to quit a vice that was a disadvantage to both health and career, something all of us, regardless of age, could relate to.

Still another friend marveled that despite all the far-flung outposts, wild adventures and life dramas we had reached and experience, we were all back home ready to trade stories and inspire each other.

Such was the stuff of our dinner with classmates from overseas, as distant as the Americas and Canada, as far down south as New Zealand, and as close as four hours away in Singapore.  Pagkalayo-layo man ng narating, sa simbahan pa rin ang tuloy..

Thanks SJCS 82 officers led by Ricky Ko Pio for the generous treat, and Ms Maribeth Ang-Wong for hosting !

Now, onward to the grand reunion!

Thanks for reading !


belated happy birthday Ricky Ko Pio !

clockwise from left (standing) : Mel Asiddao-Chiong, Klemson See, Teresa Tin, Wilson Lu, the celebrant, Maribeth Ang-Wong, Carol Cuan-Chua and Kirby Hartigan-Go

IT’S SOMETIMES UNFAIR to let one role, task or achievement define a person, but in a few cases you do the person sweet justice.

In elementary (primary) school, Roderick (Ricky) was an outstanding student, was a stats whiz in basketball and tennis, and was popular with anyone who had an ability to discern a quality person when she/he saw one.

He continued this trend in high school, but he had a peculiar trait : he could make you like him without saying a single word or lifting a finger in his favor.  He could’ve been the consummate politician, but he had no need to be one.  That made him even more likeable.

When we sadly had to join the adult world, as far as we could tell, he got along with everyone, and I mean everyone.  There was/is not a single mean bone in his body, which was a bit inconsistent with the fact that he was/is a canny businessman, watching over every major detail of his property insurance enterprise.

I’m getting to the role that defines him in my book, don’t worry.  It was a bit overdue by the time it was his turn to head the SJCS Batch 82 association, although he succeeded many overachieving presidents.  Lo and behold, along with the rest of his officers, he has continued the trend of overachievement, throwing everything but the kitchen sink in their effort to make this year a banner year in the annals of Batch 82.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that 2012 is our 30th anniversary since graduation.  But Ricky, Carol, Kirby, Evelyn (Cheng), Maribeth, Melanie and the rest have done everything to make us proud of ourselves.

Oh, and have I forgotten to add that our president is a devoted husband and father, a role that takes precedence over everything we’ve mentioned above ?

You have outdone yourself Mr President.  Take a bow please, so sorry for the late birthday greeting (27th June), regards to your beautiful family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel


belated happy birthday Marivic Ching – Chua !

Lovelies all: Clockwise from left: Penny Rose Tan, Annette Sy, Mary Jone Tan, Eunice Cobankiat-Pacual, Arlene Ayuste, Stefanie Victorino, the birthday celebrant, and Evelyn Go-Sy

Belated happy birthday (6th June) to Ms Marivic Ching – Chua !

MY FIRST memory of you is you punching me in the arm for some forgotten, lame-brained joke during our humid and muggy adolescent years.

My next memory of you, strangely enough, is also of you punching me in the arm, our senior year in one of my many visits to your classroom two floors up, to mooch and appropriate half-eaten snacks and lunch leftovers hardly touched by dainty appetites.

My last memory of you, in cozy reunions and after-dinner coffees years past is well, punches in the arm.

Through all those punches you’ve been a devoted batchmate and an even better friend.

Belated happy birthday, so sorry for the late greeting, regards to the family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

happy birthday Harvey Tan !

still the same dashing and fit-looking guy, Harvey’s been all these years. I’d hate you if I didn’t like you so much kabatch 🙂

Belated happy birthday (27th June) to batchmate Mr Harvey Tan !

There are so many good things to remember about Harvey, who was a contemporary in both primary and middle school.

He had few peers in forensics and theater arts.  He was in the officer corps for Citizen Military Training.  He had a bottomless reserve of jokes and quips and matched some of our teachers pound for pound in quite a few class discussions.

But if I know Harvey, he would love above all else to be remembered as a comrade in the classroom, and just as importantly, as a friend.

So sorry to have missed your special day, thanks for all the awesome memories, and God bless you always Harvey!

YLB Noel

happy birthday Teresita Sy – Chingkaw!


Tessie with her date, I think. If you can look this good after 3 decades of married life with kids, it’s probably as good as it gets. Woohoo!

Happy happy birthday (27th June) to a beloved kabatch, Ms Teresita Sy – Chingkaw!

BY HER lovely self, Tessie would’ve been enough to have been one of our most popular batchmates, I’m referring of course to SJCS Batch 82.  Without trying too hard, she was one of our loveliest, most charming members, not to take anything away from our other kabatch, who do stand out among many batches as one of the prettiest Judenites bar none.

But Tessie has added value to her luster by being one of the most dedicated, pro-active and self-driven batch officers around, always giving 101% of herself in each and every worthy project of the batch.

She is never absent from any batch party or reunion, whether it be Christmas / New Year’s, Mooncake Festival, or any other commemoration, and is one of the prime movers behind this years 30th Anniversary reunion.  She and her fellow officers certainly deserve our kudos.

But for today, the stage is hers alone.  Thanks so much for the wonderful memories classmate, for giving our batch your blood sweat and tears, and just as awesomely, for being our friend.

Happy happy birthday, have a great one, and many happy returns!

belated happy birthday Kathryn Que !

Dragon baby Kathryn in one of her many trips abroad, I think she’s based in Chicago USA..

INTERNET AND FACEBOOK bring to life the science fantasy of not only returning through mileposts of time, you can also freeze memories and, in special cases, bring them forward to the present.

Even before I had the chance to reconnect with Kathryn my friend from fourth or fifth grade, I already preserved good memories about her.  We weren’t BFFs or anything, but it was remarkably easy to remember her.  She was like me one of the smallest in class, so we always had to sit in front, she was one of the prodigious note takers on whom a good portion of the class depended for accurate recording, this was way, way before the era of iPads and touchscreen tablets.  And lastly, she was one of the friendlier classmates we had, with whom we exchanged more than just routine conversation or humphs and grunts, and more like how your day was going and wonder how long the rain was gonna last.

Years and years later, we were amazed to know that through instant emails and status updates, she not only remained the same person we knew from SJCS, we also retained the same golden memories that we knew about each other.

The only slight difference in the time intervening being that, she evolved into the successful career person that we always envisioned her to be.

So sorry to have missed your birthday (18th May) big time Kathryn, thank you for being the same wonderful classmate we’ve known through the years, hope you had a wonderful birthday, and many happy returns !

YLB Noel

belated happy birthday Marilyn Chingbingyong !

Marilyn, hubby and sons. Still pretty after all these years! 🙂

belated happy birthday (10th May) to Ms Marilyn Chingbingyong – Villanueva !

For all the corny jokes laughed at, all the unfunny antics that won you over,

All the puns that you went along with, and the boring stories you pretended to like,

All the smiles that inspired and melted a lot of SJCS hearts,

All those e-mails and hellos exchanged, and the high school years that flew past,

All the birthdays remembered and missed, and the future reunions,

thanks for being our batchmate, Marilyn, so sorry for the late greeting, regards to your family, and many happy returns!

YLB Noel

( PS. Thanks Marianne for the lovely pic ! )