Helen Gamboa holds birthday bash on Mother’s Day

RAZZLE-DAZA - Pat-P Daza - The Philippine Star
Helen Gamboa holds birthday bash on Mother�s Day
Ceremonial candle blowing of birthday girl Helen Gamboa-Sotto.

Helen Gamboa’s birthday is on May 7 and this year, she spent her natal day in Baguio City with hubby, former Senate President Tito “Tito Sen” Sotto, and their two daughters, Apples Sotto and Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio. Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian Sotto and youngest Ciara Sotto could not make the trip to the City of Pines from May 6 to 8, but Megastar Sharon Cuneta and daughter Miel joined the celebration. To make up for their absence, Gian and Ciara surprised their mom with a boodle dinner when she arrived in Manila on May 8.

For her “dabarkads,” Tita Helen hosted a Chinese dinner at the Red Lantern restaurant in Solaire hotel last Sunday, May 12, Mother’s Day. This was quite appropriate since Tita Helen has always been very maternal in her love and devotion to those near and dear to her. And she communicates her love by feeding friends delicious food, which she sometimes even cooks herself. 

Birthday celebrant Helen with hubby Tito Sotto, Maricel Soriano, Sen. Grace Poe, Ciara Sotto, June Rufino, Law Tan, Shirley Kuan, Baby K. Jimenez, yours truly, Anes Plata, Veana Fores, Apples Sotto, Rafi Reavis, Mike Antonio, Gelo Jamias, Lala Sotto, and Jaypee Plata.

It was my first time dining at Red Lantern. Tita Helen had reserved a private room for us with two round tables, each of which could seat 12. The first table was occupied by our “dabarkads.” Tita Helen was flanked by Senator Grace Poe to her left, and Maricel Soriano to her right.

Helen and Tito Sen with their son, Quezon City Vice Mayor Gian, with wife Joy and their six kids.

Also at our table were Shirley Kuan, Law Tan, Veana Fores, Gelo Jamias, June Rufino, Baby K. Jimenez (who had just arrived that day from Canada), Paul Cabral, and the children of Tita Dolor Guevarra, Jaypee and Anes. (Unfortunately, Tita Dolor couldn’t be there because she was not feeling well.)

Loving couple Helen and Tito Sen.

At the other table was Lala with husband Mike, Apples and boyfriend Rafi Reavis, basketball player for Magnolia Hotshots. Gian was with wife Joy and their children, while Ciara came with her son Crixus. Tito Sen arrived later since he came from the Guillermo Mendoza Memorial Scholarship Foundation awards, where he and his TVJ buddies Vic Sotto and Joey de Leon were honored with an award. 

Shirley Kuan and Jaypee Plata.

As expected, the food was sumptuous and sublime. For starters, we had marinated jellyfish and shredded white radish with spring onion sauce. This was followed by the heavenly steamed shrimp dumpling “har gau” with black truffle, and the spinach and fresh crab meat soup with egg white.

Maricel Soriano, MTRCB chairperson Lala Sotto-Antonio and Senator Grace Poe.

Of course, what’s a Chinese meal without Peking duck? I downed at least three pancakes with sliced duck, onion leeks and hoisin sauce, but who was counting?

Helen and Paul Cabral.

The main course consisted of sauteed scallops with asparagus, salted fish in sweet chili sauce, homemade braised bean curd with black truffle and Lingzhi mushrooms, wok-fried diced angus beef with shallots and black pepper sauce, stir fried duck meat served in lettuce, yang chow fried rice, and wok-fried misua with seafood and egg for long life. For dessert, I had two pieces of the “deadly,” deep-fried avocado rolls.

Birthday girl with Maricel and daughter Ciara Sotto.

When it was time to blow the cake, the celebrant had three beautiful cakes to choose from: a fondant cake, a huge caramel cake from Paul Cabral, and a spectacular sponge cake filled with fresh, giant, succulent strawberries with blueberries from Lala (who refused to divulge where the cake was from). Of course, Tita Helen made sure we all had a slice of each cake.

Paul with Veana Fores and Baby K. Jimenez.

As a combined birthday and Mother’s Day dinner for Tita Helen, this was a wonderful evening filled with peals of laughter, abundant and delicious food, and intriguing conversations.

Beautiful sponge cake with fresh, succulent and sweet strawberries plus blueberries.

Thank you, Tita Helen Gamboa-Sotto, for the gift of your motherly friendship and for celebrating your lovely and blessed life with us. 

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