More than anything, presence of other people you love most complete birthday celebrations.
That’s how it is with my family. As long as we’re together, no matter what the activity, a real hug and a shower of kisses make every celebration meaningful. The children and I wondered what to give their dad, having a list of what he wants as a gift. Instantly, five days before the birthday, I said, “Let’s go to Palawan!” I knew in my heart of hearts that both the dad and the kids want this most.
My husband Constancio is stationed at sea in Palawan. Knowing fully that this is his last leg of sea duty in his entire career as a sailor, I felt it was just right to be together.
Just as I expected, Palawan welcomed us back in all its glorious beauty, setting us up in the most serene atmosphere of celebration to honor the natal day of the man we love the most.
Coincidentally, it was also the ship’s birthday month and my husband deemed it right to also the honor the day she was commissioned to duty. Thus, the dual celebration. It was held in Rita Island, a privately owned, secluded island of Palawan.
The ship crew were busy in preparations. I know with their cramped lifestyle and days of sea duty, they anticipated a day of fun and frolicking. For sure, they also looked forward for the ship captain to let his guard down for awhile on his birthday.
What more could be fun than a beach bash in August, which is usually a month of typhoons in this part of the world. I was sure to be left at peace while the kids busy themselves in the beach.
I watched my husband smile and laugh as he enjoyed watching his crew have fun in the beach. The kids were amused to watch the soldiers play games — beach volleyball, swimming races, tug-of-war, basket buko (!) and sack race. It was an afternoon of basking in the sun, wading in the clear waters of Palawan and good ‘ol beach food!
At nightfall, the Captain and the soldiers feasted on an extra special boodle fight. A boodle fight is a style of sharing meals in the military to symbolize unity, brotherhood and authenticity. It is one time that rank is not a major consideration in Philippine military life. The usual menu is culture food. Food is spread out in a long table, usually in banana leaves and soldiers gather around to partake in the blessing, usually eating with bare hands. My husband has made it a tradition in his ship that every time a crew celebrates his birthday, a boodle fight on deck shall commence. Afterwhich, it was happy hour for the boys. My son joined in for awhile to watch the band. He was initially taken aback and then delighted when the soldiers put on their singing caps and dancing gear. He said, “Mom, the steward is sooo good in dancing!” It was a night to remember in the ship. I was sure everyone enjoyed the Captain’s birthday.
I did. Being together simply brings unspeakable joy to the family.
Happy birthday, Sir!