SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

A friend turned 81 last week, and a bunch of us got together and threw her a surprise party, complete with pancit, lechon and candles on the cakes – and a hilarious 18 roses ceremony, actually just one rose recycled 18 times (good thing it wasn’t 81 roses, since we were only about 40 people at the party). This despite her having declared that she was no longer having a party or doing anything special to celebrate her birthday, having been told that after 70, one should not make a big deal of one’s birthday.

This is so that you don’t draw the attention of whoever (or whatever) is flitting out there or up there, keeping track of goings-on hereabouts on this not-so-green earth. They might just look down and spot you whooping it up and think, “What’s that old lady still doing there?” like an old overstaying general, and consequently you get called up.

Whether superstition or old wives’ tale or urban legend, it seems to be more common a belief than I thought. At a reception recently, as another friend and I were talking about our mutual friend’s 81st birthday and her not wanting a party, another guest (who turned out to be the son of my mother’s barkada in high school – talk about a small world!) chimed in his observation about not antagonizing “whoever is flying up there.”

I guess it is one way of getting around having to spring for a party or at least some form of blow-out. But hey, that’s only for the over 70s so to you bagets reading this – I still expect a birthday blow-out.

Among us oldies, birthdays can cut both ways. For one thing, you’ve been around so long, do you really still want to celebrate another year, or think that it’s worth celebrating another year?

On the other hand, perhaps precisely because you’ve been around so long, you should be celebrating another milestone, a testament to your longevity. Besides, who knows how many more birthdays you will be around to celebrate (I’m not being morbid, just facing the facts)?

Another thing, perhaps the more important reason, a birthday is a reason and a chance for old friends to get together and make merry, although I must point out that old friends don’t need a birthday as a reason to get together, but get together just because you can, and want to. A glass of wine (or two), a pot of tea, a delicious meal shared among friends is reason enough to celebrate.

My family has never been big on marking birthdays, except my Amah (paternal grandmother)’s birthday, which was always a big deal with a big lauriat. Tradition dictated that birthday celebrations are held only by children for their parents, as a sign of gratitude and respect. Celebrating one’s own birthday is a definite no-no, not just frowned upon but considered vulgar and in very bad taste – it is not for you to say that your life, your birth, is worth celebrating. Thus, new parents celebrate the first birthday of their child – especially their first child, and more so if it is their parents’ first grandchild.

Next week we’re having a fine lunch to celebrate three of our barkada’s birthdays, including – again – the 81. No roses this time, just a cake with three candles, lots of wine (and tea for me for sure), great food and laughter until the belly aches and the tears flow.

vuukle comment



  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

Get Updated:

Signup for the News Round now

or sign in with