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My 18th

That was 10 years ago. I was in the 2nd semester of my 2nd year in college patiently enduring the complexities of computer science then. While most teenagers plan and hope for a grand debut celebration, I envisioned mine to be one of those ordinary days in my life.

Let me reminisce....

I grew up with lechon (roasted suckling pig) almost always present in my birthday photos with most of my childhood/neighborhood buddies present in them. There were actually no games and prizes to make each celebration something exciting for us kids. All I remember is how my mom would personally organize and manage the menu for the party. She plays chef, my Aunt Celia is the assistant while I and my cousins were the little tasters of their masterpiece dishes and their official errand runners. Three or four of our Uncles play the butcher roles and two of them are in charge of roasting the suckling pig that will serve as the highlight of the celebration. The party starts with me, as the celebrant dressed in a beautiful birthday outfit, posing for a solo shot with all the food on the table. The fairytale-accented cake and the mouthwatering lechon are both scribbled with “Happy Birthday Donnalyn” on them. All my little guests will then surround me and the table for a group picture-taking. After a few more Kodak moments, everybody will sing “Happy Birthday” followed by the most awaited tsibugan (eating) time.

I can picture almost the same scenario on my first teen birthday except that my guests were not so little anymore. I was then given the choice on how I would want my birthday to be celebrated on my next teen years which got simpler each year until my personal preference ended up to treat each supposedly big day of mine to be something ordinary. I went to college in a city far from my family and no birthday celebration is a good way to spare my stingy self from spending my own allowance.

Fast forward to my 18th birthday…I did not have plans of celebrating it but I wanted to do something special for myself. My hair, considerably long (for the world), became my object of affection. I went to the salon alone and you can figure the rest of the story. Back to my boarding house, I found everyone busy at the kitchen that left me dumbfounded when my landlord declared that we are celebrating my 18th birthday. To ease the shame I felt, I asked about the expenses and was assured that I need not worry about anything. I can’t remember what exactly was served except that I know for sure that rice was present. Although nothing extravagant, my 18th birthday was made special by people who cared and that meant so much to me. (This is just one of my best birthdays, by the way. Other meaningful ones, I hope to blog about someday...)

Reality is... that was 10 years ago- when life was a lot less complicated: when all I thought and be concerned about was to maintain a grade point average for my college scholarship, graduate on time and earn a good-paying job thereafter. As I look back, I see how I hurried myself up to get past that point in my life. Though no regrets, I wish that I had the kind of relationship I now have with Jesus as early as those days.

When I laid myself to sleep last night, it finally sunk in to me- I am 28. The increase in my age goes to show in the kind of responsibilities I am dealing with and the concerns that give me great deal of anxiety at times. Life has been tough and still is. Mine is a drama of battles won and lost. Some remain to be fond memories but some needs to be buried to its grave. What keeps life going though is the fact that Someone up there sees me through all the highs and lows.

Life is indeed tough but I claim to be tougher for I believe that “greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world! (1 John 4:4).”

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