We interrupt the Japan blogs for this special entry.
Prologue: My family has always celebrated my Mama’s birthday with a family bonding staycation. My Papa planned it every year. During his birthday, or their wedding anniversary, only the two of them would go off somewhere only they know and we would only know where they went when they come back the next day. But for Mama’s birthday, we’d book a villa at Fontana in Clark and the entire family would bond for two whole days. I think it’s because Mama’s birthday falls on November 3, which coincides with the All Saint’s Day holiday(s). It would be feasible, schedule-wise.
My father passed away in February this year. It’s the first time that Mama will be celebrating her birthday without Papa. Truthfully, it was a challenge for us. Will we still continue with our yearly tradition?
The answer was given by Papa, himself. We usually plan Mama’s birthday celebration around August every year so that we can make our bookings as early as possible. Back in August this year, Papa would appear in our dreams in various scenarios that would point to one thing: continue with the annual tradition. Due to her health condition, Mama wasn’t up to it as she’s not comfortable with travelling long distances. I just made bookings at nearby Seda Vertis North for November 2 to 3 instead of going to Fontana again. Besides, that place had too many memories with Papa. We’d all probably just bawl our eyes out for two days if we go there.
A bit of a segue for a backgrounder: Mama is never a fan of any artista but for some reason, she adores Alden Richards. For the past two years, Mama has been asking me – jokingly, but I think she’s a bit serious – to invite Alden to her birthday. Of course, it’s not that simple. I did manage to ask Alden for a couple of video birthday greetings, which totally made Mama’s day.
Mama had a stroke (her second in 15 years) at Christmas last year due to stress from worrying about Papa’s condition. Her memory was affected and she couldn’t remember a lot of things, including her husband’s name. The one thing that she never forgot, and would always tell me about it, is Alden. She would tell me to ask Alden to visit her at the hospital. I’m such a wuss, so I never had the guts to ask him or his manager if he could drop by to see Mama.
Sometime last month, this idea came into my mind: since it’s just within the vicinity, we can have lunch at the Quezon City branch of Concha’s Garden Cafe after we check out from Seda before going home. And then maybe, just maybe, I could ask Alden to drop by in between his commitments since you know, it’s his restaurant, after all and he usually passes by Concha’s in between Eat… Bulaga! and Sunday Pinasaya rehearsals. All I have to do is grit my teeth and have the courage to ask. It looks simple, but people who know me would know that I would need to draw a lot of guts for me to do that. Even asking for video greetings take a toll out of me; how much more if it’s a huge favor like inviting him to my mother’s birthday?
Still, it’s for my mother. Any child would do anything for her mother. So I took a deep, deep breath and asked Alden’s manager Madam Carlites for this huge favor, which she gladly obliged. The only problem would be Alden’s availability. His schedule has been nothing short of INSANE these past few weeks.
Weeks passed and it’s not confirmed yet. I was close to giving up. Who can compete with a schedule?
October 30, with still no final word, I worried about it before going to sleep. I closed my eyes thinking about Alden, but it was Papa’s face that popped into my head. What the…? I had to shake it off. It’s like, 1:00am.
October 31 around lunchtime, I got my answer. Alden is a go.
Is this what you were trying to tell me, ‘Pa? That you got this?
November 1. Mama told me that for this year, she doesn’t want a video greeting from Alden. She wants to see him and have a photo with him. It took a lot of self-control for me not to spill the beans on her that Alden is coming. You see, I decided to make it a surprise. I only told my siblings and my niece that he’s coming so that there’ll be someone else manning the cameras to take footage. This is one moment that I want to be sure that will be documented for our memories. Mama and the rest of the family didn’t know.
November 3. Mama’s actual birthday, Concha’s Quezon City. Mama has been feeling melancholic all day because it dawned to her that we’re celebrating her birthday without Papa. We did our best to console her, but it’s just not enough. The only time she finally smiled was when the crispy pata was served.
Long story short, it was nothing short of EPIC when Alden arrived.
THAT SMILE. Truly priceless. We couldn’t contain our happiness seeing that from Mama. My family also couldn’t get over the fact that Alden is the nicest, most polite celebrity they encountered. They were astounded when, without any prodding, Alden himself picked up Mama’s cake to bring it closer to her to blow the candle. They were even more dumbfounded when Alden said that he will be doing solo photo ops with each and everyone of us. Frankly, we’ll be more than happy with just a solo with Mama + group photo with the fam. Even I got a little bit confused when he was directing us to where we should do the photo op. I can’t share the photos in public, though. Trolls everywhere, you know, and I still have a target on my back.
Lastly, Alden passed by our table one last time before leaving Concha’s to say goodbye. Which artista does that? Only him. Only Alden.
Side note: I’ve always loved Alden’s trait of looking at the person straight in the eye and giving his full attention to anyone he talks to. It shows his sincerity. This guy has nothing to hide, contrary to what his bashers are saying.
It’s been a day and my family is still gushing over what they experienced yesterday. I’m pretty sure that the conversations will still continue once we’ve all returned to work/school this week. I’ve been witnessing Alden’s off-cam moments for the past three years and I still couldn’t get over how different he is from other celebrities I’ve encountered. Mind you, I’ve already encountered a lot.
I wish more celebrities would be aware of this special gift that they have wherein a simple gesture can bring so much happiness to so many people. I think Alden is aware of this. The great thing is that he always willingly shares this gift to everyone, regardless of who those people are. That’s why he’s so blessed.
To Alden and his management team, from my family and all those who know my Mama and truly appreciates what you did for her: we are eternally grateful. MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT.