I got surprised!

I think the people who really know me know that I’m not festive at all. And so I’m not into parties and social gatherings. And to be honest, I do not know exactly why. I’m the kind of guy who just prays through his birthday day for the most part. For me, it’s just a personal thanksgiving day, which I spend just looking back on the past year, and being grateful for how it had unfolded for me.

Yesterday was quite eventful.

Two days after my birthday, unbeknownst to me, a certain team of people have come up with a surprise birthday celebration for me. This cunning team of “suspects” apparently included some of my closest, closest friends, and, to my surprise, my family.

It was well planned out. And up to now, I’m still trying to put the pieces all together as to how it was all conjured up for as short as two weeks. Apparently.

As I try to wrap my head around it, I am feeling utterly overwhelmed by all of it (understatement). I am still in shock (understatement). I am tremendously thankful (understatement). And I am extremely happy (understatement).

But after it all, I got reminded that I am fortunate, I am blessed and well loved by these people who are collectively my family. They’re the “village people” who have helped raise me and shape me into who I am today. I thank the Lord for them. This memory will always be remembered and treasured.

And so here are some photos from yesterday.

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Yo, Momma!

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My love for this woman is beyond description. And beyond myself even.

My gratitude for having her in this lifetime is beyond measure.

Her role in my life is irreplaceable. Her impact and influence, irreversible.

Praying that you feel and absorb all the love and the blessings surrounding you today.

Love you Mothaa! The best is yet to come.

24 at 24

I turn twenty-four today. That’s right. I’ve almost reached a quarter of a century basically. And yes I’m feeling kinda old. But honestly, I’ve never felt more mature, more wise, more courageous in my entire life.

And so I thought I’d share with everyone 24 life lessons I have learned–lessons that have helped mould and cultivate my identity as an individual, in my career and personal life. They are also insightful, meaty nuggets that I have learned from the people who matter to me; things that were taught and imparted by the ones I love and have become significant to me. I managed to write them in my own words, and the closest to the way my mind comprehends it.

This post is inspired by the “23 Painfully True Lessons You Learn By Age 23” by Thought Catalog. All the original photos I’ve used are from HD Wallpapers.

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Twenty four donuts

Work out the maths and you got my age. Because we wanna go unconventional this year! Thought the “cake” was pretty unusual, might as well go all the way through!

Dream cake + amazing people + God’s favours = I can’t complain. Thanks to everyone who made this day extraordinary! I’m beyond thankful. Here’s to the next 24 years. Hopefully the number of donuts will double as well!

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Special times

What a day it’s been! I thought I’d share a glimpse of that through a few snapshots. So my Lola (Grandmother) has just turned 75 today! And my family and I are just absolutely thankful that she gets to spend her birthday here with us in Syd, after we’ve been separated by distance for some eight long years because she now stays in the US.

Just like my family, my Mommy (that’s what we call her) isn’t very festive as well. When asked about how she wanted to celebrate her birthday, she really just wanted to celebrate it at home with us. No massive feast, no visitors, no frills whatsoever. She just wanted to spend time with us, and celebrate this momentous milestone.

During the day, she wanted to hear a mass (I know, I’m not even used to saying that anymore as I haven’t been Catholic for years now). I think this is her being traditionally Filipino, because if it is your birthday in the Philippines, you have to make sure you come to church within the day to say your thanks, and summon blessings and good vibes. That’s basically it.

And so, we went to St Mary’s Cathedral in the city. It’s one of Sydney’s most beautiful church buildings I believe. Like seriously, it’s so grandiose, so majestic. And it’s been my Lola’s favourite go-to since she arrived.

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Then we had a mini celebration at home. My Lola particularly requested my Pancit Palabok to be in the dinner menu, and so I tried my best to perfect the ever elusive recipe of mine.

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The ’75’ photo collage I conceptualised and created, made from (real) printed photos. It contains old and new images of my Mommy and our family. This really made her frisky! She loved it. It was worth the 3 hours of toiling, past midnight.

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How do I sum up the day? It’s pretty simple, nothing too festive or ostentatious like she requested. We just stuck together and had heaps of fun.

I guess we’re a family that do not really depend on material things to get happy and feel blessed. The most valuable thing we could offer each other and gift to each other is our time. And just being together overthrows any need for material stuff or lavish settings. We know how to be content with what we have with thankfulness and appreciation.

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It is also that time when we realise how important our Lola is, and how thankful we are that she’s been given another year to live, love and serve. Another year to be healthy, happy and favoured by our Lord. Another year full of grace and hope. That’s probably the most significant reason why we all must celebrate birthdays, however simple or grand it may be.

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Spent this day listening to this incredible woman. Happy birthday to my first love and first musical inspiration, Carol Banawa! I can’t even begin to explain how much this artist means to me, but what I’m absolutely sure of is that I wouldn’t have this much passion for what I do today if not for her pristine voice and divine music.

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R.

DA 25

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He’s one of the few artists I call my “idol” (and well, it’s in the name of the competition he came from).

One of the artists that has always had a huge impact on me, like seriously massive I can’t even begin to explain.

This guy’s a genius. His passion for what he does is too incandescent it becomes infectious and contagious.

Most importantly, his voice is his most powerful tool. It’s moving, it’s uplifting. A real soul supreme.

And despite his long hiatus in the music industry, he remains to be that great artist I will always look up to, and wish to take after. And I do remain a rabid, Archie-hungry fan.

He turns 25 today.

Praying that he gets to have more fruitful and victorious years in the industry doing just what he loves to do; producing magnificent music, communicating God, and inspiring countless people with his passion and brilliance.

Happy birthday Archie!

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R.

Image by Arlu Gomez, Ivory Music, 2012.