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Once in a Lifetime Birthday Bash for an Expatriate Agnoan in St. Croix
By Paul N. Najera
One night, after the late night news in Toronto and I have nothing much left to do, I switched on my computer to see what messages are waiting for me to be read. A message from my sister Imelda immediately caught my eye. She wrote:
I need your help. Rosalinda, is turning 60 on Sunday. It is a significant number so I want to give her a surprise birthday party, a simple but fun-filled one. Here's what I want to ask from all of you. Pretend you don't know or forgot her birthday. Those who can, please send a funnycard or a short letter. Send it now but address same to my mail box.
It would be too late for those in the Philippines to do this so send her an e-mail birthday greeting instead - short but sweet or funny. Remember I might read it during the party. If you can't think of what to write now, just send "Happy Birthday! but feel free to send a follow-up message if you could think of something fitting to say to her.
Please send the e-mail to me "for Linda" please don't make a mistake not to send e-mail copies of this subject to Rosalinda and Rosalio!
I am not telling them yet. It is very easy for them to let slip this secret due to a "slip of the tongue". So don't forward e-mails to them about this matter. Any suggestion to spice up the surprise Leopoldo?”
I always remember my sister Imelda as a beautiful and energetic woman. She was the Agno fiesta queen years ago in our lethargic little town located in the far-flung west of Pangasinan province in the Philippines. It could have been her always cheery and friendly personality during her youth that made her popular with her classmates in the Agno High School where she graduated as valedictorian in her class. She was always full of life and energy. A bubbly young woman! Every so often, even in her 60s, although she thinks she is not as pretty and attractive anymore as when she was younger, this agreeable nature always comes back to her. She has still a lot of friends she can count on because of her very attractive personality. I am not surprised, therefore, when she planned this bolt from the blue surprise birthday party for her younger sister Rosalinda.
My sister Rosalinda, on the other hand, has a quiet and reserved personality unlike her older sister but she is also loved and well-regarded by all. She is very popular with the Filipinos in St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands where she has taken up permanent residence. In fact, a Filipino event is incomplete if she and her husband Sofronio are not present. There are about 150 Filipinos in the three islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John. in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The islands are situated in the heart of the Caribbean Sea and are the most popular destination there. It is a United States territory and people born in the islands are "native-born" Americans. Although Rosalinda is quiet, reserved and hesitant during our youth, she turned up to be a confident young woman, always frank, very considerate, and is gentle in temperament. Besides being pleasant to get along with, she never fails to help others in need. Everybody in St. Croix holds her in high regard.
Rosalinda got her wits wondering with trepidation as she and Sofronio walked into a traditional birthday song and shouts of “Surprise!” from a large crowd of people who surrounded them. They were all jumping and dancing with arms waving in the air with excitement.
This was followed by an upbeat and sizzling music provided by Imelda’s husband Antonio who provided the music with a CD bought in Manila, as no music of this kind, is available in any place in St. Croix .
Linda was asked to sit in the middle of the Dizon’s courtyard and people, including newly arrived Filipinos, acted as “ambassadors” from all over the world. Each read to her a message from the four corners of the world collected by Imelda, the result of her folk's response to her e-mail for the surprise birthday party.
Rosalinda was asked to cut her birthday cake and then a friend dedicated and sung a beautiful and stirring song for her. The male guests approached her one by one and each of them offered her a long stemmed rose or carnation flower, each wrapped in a baby’s breath of flowers and ribbons. The gentlemen, who each tendered her a flower, also gave her a nervous but warm and earnest kiss. My reserved sister must have almost passed out from the sheer enchantment of the events. In fact, someone overheard her say: “I can die now!”
Mrs. Chiu said with her eyes wide open in awe: “I saw my husband kissed you! We are married many, many, many years and I never got a kiss from him!”
Poor Dr. Chiu! There may be some truth to this. I know personally the doctor as a quiet and reserved person and a hard look at him will make you think, that he is a man who could, or would, not show his ardent love for a partner in any way, especially in public. And as for the opposite gender giving him even just that wistful tang of a man's amorous desire is concerned, his male competence is in question.
Imelda wrote: "He is a gentleman but is a confirmed dead fish." Poor Mrs. Chiu! I am sure Imelda wrote this to me only as a joke.
The party went on till the wee hours in the morning. There were more of the traditional dancing, train dancing, stories told and just pure fun.
Imelda’s pretty grand-daughter Miko danced on and off all night with glee and her little brother Michael deed a break dance.
Their mom Michelle turned upside down Imelda’s picture cabinet to look for pictures and create a large poster with various photos of Rosalinda in different stages of her life which added a nice touch to the “One-in-lifetime Birthday Bash in St. Croix ”.
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