Monday, January 05, 2004

Last night's party was one of the most memorable not only for the birthday celebrator but also for the guests as well. It was a surprise party for my very, very good friend Jorge held at their house in Fort Bonifacio. We were asked to be there at 6 p.m. so I went there right on the dot after our Matrix Philippines meeting thinking the others would already be there. I was wrong. The only people there were the construction workers that Jorge has in his employment and they told me that Jorge and Sheila might return home after a good hour or two. Worried that there might have been a change of plans I called then sent Sheila a couple of text messages saying that I was already at their house and nobody was there. The worst thing was it was already getting dark and I had nobody else to talk to. She couldn't text me much since her hubbie was with her so she directed me to coordinate with Jorge's older brother Joseph.

We finally met after spending some time in the nearby carinderia, turns out that he was already on his way driving when I sent him the message. Tables were then set, drinks were cooled in the cooler, additional rice was cooked, and a couple of bottles were opened so we could relax. Sheila was already at her wit's end trying to come up with some more excuses to delay their arrival. Joseph told her that the other guests haven't arrived yet so she should buy more time. It turns out that the whole thing was masterminded by Sheila since her hubby has been depressed lately due to lack of finances, so they called all his friends to contribute some food and gather around to celebrate his birthday. Next to arrive was Joseph's girlfriend Dana bringing half of the goodies she cooked at the brothers' parents' house nearby. Then Imee and Joel came bringing even more goodies for the party. Then their other friends arrived along with another batchmate of ours Dennis and his wife Jen. The weird thing was, without them knowing it most of them were wearing red shirts. Around 7:30 p.m. Joseph called his brother to ask where they were and when he learned that they were nearly home those who have cars moved their vehicles far from the premises, while those who were left behind hid behind the house and turned out all the lights. Dennis had a hard time stifling his boisterous laugh during the time we were hiding and we had to shush him. Then we scared the living daylights out of the birthday boy when we all yelled "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" just before he reached the door.

Over dinner Sheila recounted the delaying tactics she had to employ to keep Jorge from going home: they first had coffee when they arrived in Greenbelt, then they heard mass in the park after hearing some stories how the mass can go on for eternity in that particular parish. But it turns out that it wasn't in their case. The mass ended at 6 p.m. so she dragged Jorge to a bookstore to browse around. By this time Jorge already wanted to go home since he had to buy some beer from the neighborhood store before it closes. Since he didn't have that much money he didn't plan on inviting anyone else, except Joseph, to wait out his birthday at midnight. But Sheila was nonchalant about all this and still went on about him spending time with her. All this time she was also receiving and sending text messages without showing Jorge who it was that sent them (they don't usually keep secrets from each other), and when Jorge asked about where Joseph was she told him that he said that he was still at home. Jorge was beginning to be incensed about all this development, how come his own brother communicated with his wife and not him? Sheila even said that she wanted to relax some more and drink some coffee since she would be doing some studying that night. "E kakakape lang natin kanina magkakape ka pa ulit ngayon?!" was his incredulous reply.

Then after spending almost two hours in that place Jorge put his foot down and said "Magdadalawang oras na tayo dito hanggang ngayon di mo pa nauubos yung kape mo. Tandaan mo 'to birthday na birthday ko sinisira mo, pag ako nasaraduhan ng Vergara (the neighborhood store) ikaw bibili ng beer sa Magallanes!"

We were laughing the whole time this was being told. Jorge was apologetic and at the same appreciative while he was planting kisses on his wife's cheek when she recalled how he became pokerfaced on their way home.

Having a great time with their highly significant others (from left) Sheila, Jorge, Ivy, and Joel.

Imee playing shrinking violet behind Joel.

Dana and Joseph, the best cook and best brother together.

The brothers' mom and dad dropped by for a short visit and they too contributed a good laugh to liven up the already festive mood. A good four hours later and the birthday boy's still overwhelmed by the surprise feted to him. Then it was his turn to tell his side of the story regarding the good scare we gave him: He became madder when he saw the lights in the driveway weren't turned on. He got down from the car and called his workers to complain about this. Sheila was driving the car and he got alarmed when he saw a group of figures in the dark near the door of their house. Thinking there were burglars he cautiously walked on the far side of the driveway trying not to panic, he wanted to warn Sheila but she was already pulling in the driveway. At just the right time Dennis led our singing the birthday song and turning the lights at the same time. This led to even more ribbing and laughing. Some of the guests also talked about their experiences in the war down south, ideals formed when you've graduated from PMA, the real height of people during the old times, pyramids of Egypt, St. Peter's Church in Rome, etc. etc.

Getting serious. Not!

Modelling the latest fashion in military headgear and taking a picture of it using a Nokia 3650.

At exactly 12 midnight Joseph began singing the birthday song and shaking and spraying his beer on the birthday boy. The others took their cue and started pouring the contents of their bottles on Jorge's head.

He never saw this coming. Yeah!

Pleasantly surprised all over again

"Pare, meron pa yatang konti o."

Freezing but extremely happy.

The area was really cold much like Baguio but more windy. Jorge shivered for a while, gamely posing for our cameras before changing his clothes inside the house. Just before we left we shared another round of brandy (tastes like hot acid by the way). Before I left Jorge showed his appreciation with hugs and warm fuzzy praises of how much of a good friend I was to him (and to those who matter to him). I told him that it was because I considered him like my own brother too. There will be another round of celebration this coming Friday and I'm look forward to seeing these guys again.

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