Happy 33

Oh my, it’s finally two odd numbers side-by-side but it might just be the best age yet. 33 is not so bad, taking into consideration that 33 was the age when Jesus reappeared in the Bible; that there is no odder number than 33 (not really); that double numbers always lead to double of everything (now, I’m not so certain whether I truly like this notion or not); that 33 is another added year to the many years that God blessed me with. Yes, 33 is a good number.


One of the reasons I made my birthday private in Facebook is not to test friends or family (trust me, even the closest of my kin forgot my birthday — let’s hide her identity under the name Cynthia) but because I just did not want people to make a big deal out of it. It’s no big deal really. Everyone goes through it ever year. Besides, I did not want any special treatment, nor did I want to require people to greet or talk to me when on normal circumstances they probably will not. I just want to celebrate my birthday quietly (as much as possible) and share my blessings with whoever was willing to share it with. Quiet was hardly the description I will describe it but blessed would be the most appropriate.


Photo credit: Ma. Libertad Mella

I spent the night before my 33rd year with respected mentors of the humanitarian sector (*cough, cough*). They are the Mamus, the Titas, the Madams and the Kuyas of our organization who made sure that our ears burned of logical decisions, of creative ideas that embedded gender and protection at every curve, of projects that advocated for equal rights and fought against injustice – and that unnerving concept called poverty. Like how I phrased it in the novel that I have been trying for years to finish, that night I rediscovered the appeal of nightlong gatherings – talking about the usual office debacle. All night, we infected each other with the fervor of what nots, what should have been dones, and what the hell was the problem of that funny old man who insisted on being friendly with our group. We stuffed ourselves with scrumptious food, washed them down with soda and beer, (free shots of tequila later on when the resto owner arrived) and sang our tonsils out.

I was not alone when I greeted my 33rd year so my tradition was not broken. I had cool people who were with me until the clock struck 12 and showered me with birthday greetings, well wishes, and warm hugs that went beyond words. I even got to crash at one of Tacloban’s expensive hotels without digging into my pocket for cash. (Thanks Ms. Cor!)

Happy Birthday Den

When I woke up a few hours after, I had work. My life these days revolved around work. I am exhausted most of the time but I love my job. I arrived at the office greeted by friends and colleagues. Apparently, news travels fast, most especially if social media butts in. By mid-afternoon, I prepared a little shindig for the people in the office to celebrate my thanksgiving to God for 33 blessed years. I said to myself, “Today was not a day to be serious. Today was not a day to pay attention to all the nuisances of daily life. Today was a day of goofing around with good friends, good people and injecting excessive happiness in your malnourished heart.”

I was determined to celebrate 33 things that night so I dragged friends with me. They did not know what I had in mind, nor did I know of their plans. They surprised me with a mango-flavored birthday cake and 3 cute cupcakes (Many thanks, Cross-Cutting Team!) and in return I surprised them with my plan of gulping down 33 bottles of beer before the night ends. They were not too supportive, taking into consideration that there was work the next day, but they tagged along anyway. In the end, we were 14 bottles short and felt more mature after paying heed to our liquor limits; well, all except Victa who was already nodding off after just consuming one-fourth of her first bottle.


I couldn’t be happier. I felt loved. The day ended perfectly and I thanked God for surrounding me with good people.

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