CELEBRATING 57 YEARS

“A birthday is a glorious day filled with good laughter, gladness and great memories,” wrote Lailah Gifty Akita in Pearls of Wisdom: Great Mind.

On the early morning of January 5, at around 2 am, I was checking my emails when I heard someone posting on the wall of my Facebook account.   I opened the page and there I read the message of Linda Bolido: Happy birthday.  My former science editor (when I was still writing for Press Foundation of Asia) made the record as the first person to have greeted me on my birthday.

Several others followed.  One of the most memorable messages was from Dr. Jun Ruiz, a fellow writer at Health and Lifestyle and Travel Plus magazines. “Happy birthday to a wonderful friend and award-winning journalist Mr. Henrylito D. Tacio who celebrates his birthday today,” he wrote.  “You have God-given talents that you generously share with us.  You are a thoughtful and conscientious friend.  Thank you for the friendship, support, and your belief in me.  Enjoy your special day.”

Another beautiful message was from another friend, former journalist Miguel Ongpin (he used to write for Manila Bulletin). “Happy birthday to the most relevant feature writer in the Philippines today,” wrote the youthful-looking man who accompanied me last year during the Bantog Awards.

A few years ago, 2005 to be exact, I celebrated my birthday with some of my closest friends here in Davao.  (I usually observe my birthday at home a day before or after my actual natal day.)

Since I had few friends then, only a couple or two come.  As years go by, the number of people attending my “exclusive birthday bash” (to quote the words of a lawyer friend) grew bigger.

 It’s now a tradition that four days after the world welcomes New Year, my friends and I are having some sort of a feast.  They have to stop their diet for a while to celebrate my birthday with me.

 I invited twenty-four friends this time.  Only 19 people came, including my nephew, Gerry Tacio, who was leaving for Manila at midnight.  But since it was too early for him to go to the airport, I asked him to be my photographer for the meantime (which he did).

 The earliest person to arrive was Harvey James Lanticse, corporate branding and communication specialist of Aboitiz Power Corporation.  His friend, Wilson Catingub, who is connected with the San Miguel Foods, Inc. came a little bit late.

 Then, they came one after another: Armand Mortejo, who is with the Davao Doctors College; Darrel Blatchley, owner of the D’Bone Collector Museum; Cyrus Medina, communication head of the regional office of the Bureau of Fire Protection; Daniel Solana, another BFP official; Wilfredo Rodolfo III, assistant vice president of the branding and communication of Aboitiz Power Corp.; Dashiel Indelible, of the local government unit of Mati City, and Rogelio Canales, chief executive office of the Mixed Temptations Mobile Bar.

Media was well-represented.  Among those who attended were Rudolph Ian Alama, of Philippine Information Agency; James Galay (who came with his wife, Aiza) and Allan Abais of ABS-CBN; and Elric Ayop (with his wife, Maria Fe), of PTV-4.  Tek Ocampo, of GMA-5, came late and wasn’t able to join us in dinner (but he did sing a song at the karaoke bar).

At least two physicians came, too: Dr. Dante Comedido (who is with the Rose Bakeshop) and Dr. Richard Mata, the uncle of Bong Go, who is running for senator this coming May election.

Davao del Sur board member Lanier Cadungog failed to come though.  Former actor Bonz Militar wasn’t sure if he could come and so it wasn’t surprising, he didn’t show up.  Cromwell Bonghanoy begged off some days before the actual birthday celebration (although he attended last year). 

 Tony Uy, owner of the Caffé Antocinno, the venue of the celebration, wasn’t around since he had some family matters to be attended.  But his wife, Christine Sy, baked a special chocolate birthday cake for me, which we ate with much gusto.

The lawyers, whom I called the Justice League, were not able to attend, too.  Atty. Israelito Torreon, dean of the college of law at Jose Maria College, who was called on duty; Atty. Kelvin Lee, assistant secretary of President Duterte’s Executive Secretary; and Atty. Nick Caraquel (a multi-awarded immigration lawyer who returned to New York 4 days before my birthday; but he attended the previous birthday bash with his team).  Atty. Edwaldo “Baste” Legaspina also failed to attend; not sure why he wasn’t able to do so.

Yes, I just turned 57.  “Our birthdays are feathers in the broad wings of time,” Jean Paul Richter once said.  And we should be glad we have reached this far.  “Age is an issue of mind over matter,” American humorist reminded.  “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”