TIMwork makes the dream work

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - The Philippine Star
TIMwork makes the dream work
Tim Yap celebrates with children from Smile Train in Enchanted Kingdom.
STAR/ File

A head-turner himself with his chinito good looks, height and celebrity, Tim Yap will turn his head, stop and greet you on the road or the red carpet even before you greet him except… when he sees a stray cat.

He will stop, pet the cat and coo some comforting words to it first before going his way. I bet if a cat somehow found its way to the red carpet, Tim would stop in his tux and his tracks to greet it, too.

That’s what I like about Tim — his gentleness to all despite his presence being a resounding one. And yes, he has a photographic memory for names, and the names of his seven rescue cats: Orange, Shadow, Mama Cat, Tiger, Ming, Luna and Tux.

The Birthday Boy Tim Yap with Liza Soberano and the author.

Tim recently celebrated his birthday, and, as expected, was feted in a string of parties. But he spent his actual birthday detached from the social whirl — at the Bahay ni Maria with the elderly, and after that, with children/beneficiaries of Smile Train. He treated them to McDonald’s favorites and took them to Enchanted Kingdom. Oh, the smiles that erupted on the children’s faces.

During a dinner given for him by Ricco Ocampo in his (Ricco’s) Makati residence, Tim also recalled asking the advice of a tai chi instructor while on vacation in Palawan late last year on how best to celebrate his birthday without feeling stressed.

“He asked me, ‘Oh, how are you?’ I said I feel so relaxed now, but I’m kind of pressured because come January, it’s my birthday party time. And there’s an expectation for it to be bongga’!”

The tai chi instructor then asked again, “What does bongga mean? Does it mean meaningful? ”

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian and Bianca Manalo.

“And I go, ‘Oh my God, exactly. It’s not about bongga, it’s about meaningful,’” Tim continued. “So if he thrust that word ‘meaningful’ into my psyche, that is what it should be about — what’s meaningful and what’s purposeful. And that is what bongga should be.”

So bongga it was on his birthday.


“The morning of my actual birthday, I went to Bahay ni Maria, a home for the aged and spent some time with them and gave them a little something for their home.  Right after, I went to Enchanted Kingdom to be with the kids of Smile Train, a charity I have been supporting for years while running marathons around the world for their cause,” Tim shared.

(Smile Train is the world’s largest cleft-focused organization. Over the last two decades, it has supported safe and quality cleft care for over 1.5 million children. In addition to life-changing surgery, its local medical partners provide essential care, such as speech therapy, emotional support, nutrition services, and orthodontic care.)

Ricco’s dinner was bongga because Tim invited friends near and dear to him. Tessa Valdes, who led the grace before dinner, asked each guest her/his wish for Tim, starting with herself. She wished him abundance.

After dinner of gazpacho and roast beef, among others, guests then rocked the night away with the versatile and talented Mojo Nova band, as it played hits from all decades.

Abundance Tim seems to have, especially an abundance of “meaning” in his life! Happy birthday, Tim!

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