Travel and Food Living

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Happy Birthday Jeff!!

By September 04, 2017

This is a special feature and part of the LINK WHEEL. 

Taking off from writing food reviews and travel articles to honor someone’s birthday today. He has been part of the journey of this travel blog almost every weekend, thus, deserves a space here to mark his special day.

One of the most fabulous things in life is really to find a person whom you can go so naturally, it already feels as though you’ve been best friends for the longest time. Even if you’ve just met lately. It feels so good that being with that person already feels like home. And that’s how I described my connection with this remarkable human being who is celebrating his birthday today. He has been my constant companion on several weekend food crawl in the city, providing this site with amazing food photos.

And oh, well, unfortunately I could not personally greet him today, we're like "he's there, I'm here" sort-of-thing, so I'll just write an open letter to let him know how much he is in my thoughts today and how much I feel so blessed to have him as a friend.

Happy Birthday Jeff!!

This might not be your happiest birthday in years. 
You’ve gone through a lot of emotions the past weeks due to your father’s sudden demise, and the process of getting rid of those torments over losing a dear parent is a tough one. But I’m hoping every inch of joy found in this world be upon you today. You deserve to be happy because you are a marvelous person with so much goodness in your heart. I am pretty certain bright hues of life will shine upon you after passing a devastating emotional storm.
You’ve brought light to every room you’ve entered, making you so extraordinary in every aspect. For so long, it felt like I’ve been gazing at the cracks of life’s wall, wishing something brilliant would filter among the grayest shades. Then there’s you, providing that single hue. And it shone the brightest.

Amidst the harshness of the world and the rudeness of the people around, you’ve shown to me that hope has not lost. That I can still meet God-fearing, gentle, kindhearted person who could understand my oddness. Someone I could count on when life becomes unfair. You’ve shown to me that, despite the notorious lifestyle in the city,  I can still live in a safe environment free from fears of getting harassed.

You’ve been so good to me and I can’t thank you enough for that. For your thoughtfulness, for being so protective when we walk in the street, for being so generous with your time when I need someone to talk to, or go with. For being so supportive. For continue helping me to see the other side of the world I never knew existed. For understanding the core of my being. For accepting me of who I am. For respecting my life’s choices.

And for just being you.

While others badgered me stupidly to explore and try new things, you would tell me that there’s no need to change my ways because this is me, and I am entitled to my own preferences. You’ve got that wonderful uniqueness in you that radiates in everything you do.

I remember the first day we met. It was my birthday and my first day in work. And all the misfortunes seemed piling up in my horizon. I looked terrible. I’d a bad hair, my eyes were droopy, my shoes got tangled up, I wore a shabby pants and I did not have a company badge. I thought I was going to have a dreadful day on my birthday. But you’ve got a great sense of humor, you made everything so light. And did something unique out of the ordinary. 

You announced to everyone that it was my birthday. I had a silly laugh because I haven't greeted by a crowd in such a long time. Call it weird but I find it uncomfortable when people greet me on my birthday. I hate to be the center of everyone’s attention. So I always kept my birthday a secret.

That day was different. I began to acknowledge the importance of recognizing birthdays. Because birthdays are special. It reminds us that there’s a beautiful reason why we were born. That is to see God’s miracle each day through the people we encountered. Looking back, I know it was God’s work. He made things possible. As if the whole world was perfectly aligned.

I’m so wrapped up in a small world with a very tight circle of associates. Only fewer acquaintances ever became my close friends. Because I don’t easily open my door to others. Not that I am snooty and a bloody snob but because I have reservations toward individuals who breathed an unconventional lifestyle.

I would turn my back to acquaintances whose level of openness and vulgarity shocked me. Who are boisterous and insensitive. Especially when they start carping every inch of my timid self. I hate it because it feels as though I am losing part of my individuality each time they would criticize my gone-with-the ages lifestyle. I always feel they have crossed the barrier. And that's something I could not just simply take.

 Here's to more weekend food trip!

I am often misunderstood. Misjudged as outdated. They thought I am a lost generation that needed to be re-calibrated to conform with the current norms. Deep inside, I felt humiliated.

But you’re different. 

You always put up with me and defended me. You accepted my flaws and queerness. You never peppered me with humiliating questions and never criticized my pathetic, monotonous life. You know how to handle my “little tantrums”. And you know impeccably how to please me. My being introvert is quite an issue to others, but you understood it pretty well and accepted it.

But I know things are temporary.

In the morning, when I gaze at the bright sunrise shimmering on trees, everything looks magnificent. But in the afternoon sun fades and trees wither, acknowledging the fact that nothing lasts forever. Even connections. Tomorrow or the next day, the story might be entirely different. Circumstances might push us to different directions. To a separate intersection of life.

Each day, my fear of losing you to someone sounds like a roar of an approaching train. It becomes louder as moments pass by. So I am savoring every minute that I spend with you while you’re still free to go with me. But whatever lies ahead, I am grateful the encounter happened. Your friendship is always a great blessing. It taught me so many things. It opened my eyes to many realizations.

As you celebrate your birthday today (and welcoming another significant milestone in your professional career), my earnest wish is not so much on material abundance but for you to have a richer wisdom. Because having a gift of wisdom spills a huge difference. It makes you wiser, decorous and a more balanced human being. It allows you to reflect the real value of humanity. It gives greater meaning to life and will bring you further into your life's journey. You’ll be ahead of others. Ahead of your contemporaries. 

Always surround yourself with the right people. They will provide you with good influence in acquiring greater wisdom. 

May you will be blessed also with a healthy mind and body, a thriving career, a peaceful heart with genuine happiness, a fulfilling future and a secured existence. And grant every wish that your heart desires. 

Though somewhere in your heart, a sting of emotion on your papa’s passing still lurks, and you might find the idea of celebration a little ironic, I still wish you a happy gathering today with your loved ones and the friends you’ve chosen to share the joy. Relish each moment, but acknowledge your grief and don’t forget to remember your father in silence.

I may not be there every second of your life to witness your triumph, but I will be watching you from a distance, lauding you as you reach the pinnacle of your dreams. Keep the faith and be grateful for another chance to witness and experience God’s benevolence.

Life itself is a gift and it should be cherished. Having to enjoy every moment is a gratuity. So have that special moment of discernment today, watch the beauty of the world as it unfolds, recognize the bounty of blessings you have, savor the pleasure of reaching another milestone, both in personal and professional life, and create memories. 

Have a wonderful day ahead and more happy returns! 

Until then.

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