Even as early as January, people around me were fretting on my upcoming birthday. The day did not excite me.

First, men do not usually look forward to their debut. I kept saying, ‘I’ll just turn 21, what’s special about it?’ I’ve been contented to receive greetings regardless of how they heard of my birthday. Gatherings and special treatment are simply bonuses, if not unexpected.

Second, I look forward for nothing. As I turn 21, will there be change? Can I determine and consolidate my plans and goals in life? Am I bound to nurture and inspire people around me? I didn’t have the answers until March, which makes this point only partly true. I actually wrote some of it on my personal calendar. When someone skimmed through the scribbled notes and aspirations for my birthday, I got teased due to ‘hypocrisy’. Ha-ha. After all, I’m still waiting for it.

Let me tell how the day went by thanking people.

For the 21 years of celebration, thank you. I’m the most difficult-to-read member or maybe the unforeseen black sheep. Perhaps I’m the most inexpressive, but that doesn’t mean apathy. In reality, I care for this family the most. Whatever I go through, family will always be on top of my list. Thank you to Mom, Dad, Andrei (my brother), Tita Melyn and my cousins, and Lola Lydia for sharing dinner, cake and ounces of ice cream with me. I have always wanted simplicity on this day and you gave that joy to me. Special credits to Mom for practical suggestions (and sorry for the sharp words I said) and to Lola Lydia for opting to stay in Manila until my birthday.

Thank you for the surprise dinner, Giboy, Arvin, Fatz, Mads, Kuya Kerwin and Bernard. That scenario was completely unheralded until I saw you arrive one by one! Catching up after quite a while was remarkable. I enjoyed the chat and laughter we had at Il Pirata and Happy Lemon. Special credits to Giboy (The Mastermind) for initiating the surprise I know these people wanted to give and to Kuya Kerwin for going to Eastwood just in season! Thank you for extending the joy another day. Friends beside me are precious blessings I want to keep forever and putting them together in one place on your special day is enough to create the firework in me.

For the week-long greeting-and-teasing, thank you, IBM batch mates (Jan, Nikki, Sasa, Carmela, Laila and Marco)! My first days with IBM could have been unimaginable without Milo, jokes and lunch with you! Forming new friendships is indeed a pleasant gift to receive. I truly appreciate the stories we’ve shared and the greeting despite being teamed up with words ‘Libre!‘ and ‘pizza‘. Ha-ha. Salamat din sa panlalaglag during our Business Writing training!

I also decided to deactivate Facebook until that day. I kind of didn’t like mass greetings that have become quite obligatory whenever someone celebrates his/her birthday. It looked artificial. With this, I thank those who remembered me through text and Twitter. These are the people who either know my birthday by heart or who constantly set their calendars to remember me. I appreciate them so much.

And how can I forget those who utilised electronically creative means of getting their messages sent? This is a very nice concept, Giboy! Thank you for engaging the following people: Fatz, Mads, Arvin, Kuya Kerwin, Dave, Bianx, Miko, Pia, Kim, Eric, Mica, Junjie, Jepy, Ed, Rhowell, Queng, Rowen, Aza, Marianne, Sassy, Nadine, Ellen, Racie, Shalma, Cams, Nang, and Ryan Chua. These are some people whom I have worked with and I’ve missed. They have touched my life in different ways and seeing them in unison under a greeting card was empowering.

I may not have mentioned other names but they are in my heart. Thank you for the friendship, one of the best things given to me each year.

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