My Second Birthday in a Pandemic

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Avatar for rayselp
3 years ago

March 15, 2020.

The day that started the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) here in the Philippines. In other countries, this is known as the lockdown period where no one is to go outside to prevent people from acquiring the disease COVID-19.

I am working as a full-time teacher in a private institution in Quezon City, Philippines. The last day that I was able to see my colleagues and my students was on March 9, 2020. It was a typical day, we didn't realize that it will be the last day of seeing each other face to face inside the school campus.

So, I decided to go home to the province and spend at least 2 weeks for a month, because I thought everything will go back to "normal" after that period of ECQ, or so I thought... that two weeks of being at home, was extended to a month, to two months, until I decided to go back to the Metro because of our unstable electricity and internet connection in June of last year.

That was the longest time that I've stayed at my father's house since I entered college. I was only 15 years old when I left home to pursue my studies at the University of the Philippines in Los Banos, Laguna. I finished my degree in 5 years, then I landed a job right after my graduation. I stayed for another two years in Los Banos until I got a teaching job in Quezon City, where I am still currently working.

My birthday is celebrated on the 25th of May. For many years, I've never celebrated my birthday at home because I was away - doing summer classes and after college, because I have a full-time job. I don't remember when was the last time that I spend and celebrated my birthday with my most immediate family. So, last year, it was a really special day for me because it's the first time in so long that I get to celebrate with my family. Unfortunately, my birthday was celebrated with restrictions, as we were still in lockdown during that time. Nevertheless, some of my cousins and other relatives came to the house per batch to be able to celebrate with me. I only had a limited budget during that time, so, I opted to cook pancit bihon, and maja blanca. My uncle gave me a cash gift. I asked my cousins to use the money that my uncle gave me was used to buy roasted chicken. Another cousin of mine who's already working gave me baked macaroni as her gift. My sister who is staying in QC during that time asked my cousins to buy a cake for me. So, they came to the house with something like a potluck. I was surprised! I am grateful to them. :)

It was a simple celebration of my second year in my third decade in life. (So, that's my age. Please just analyze what it is.). I was happy because I get to spend my birthday with my immediate family, even when the celebration was only simple, it really made me happy.

As I've mentioned, I came back to the city on June 10, 2021, and from that on, I was not able to go back to the province due to the restrictions in terms of transportation, etc. So, I worked online as a full-time teacher in my institution, I only get to go out to do important and most essential stuff like buying groceries, and going to the market. I sometimes go to my partner's house and stay there for a couple of weeks.

Fast forward to today. It's May 23, 2021.

My sister and I decided to celebrate our birthday today because we will be going to our partner's houses to celebrate with them. My birthday is on the 25th, hers is on the 27th. We are staying in an apartment here with one of my college buddies. Since we were not able to celebrate our housemate's birthday last February, we decided to celebrate hers too.

We're thankful that our father sent us money to be used for our celebration! Wow, for the first time in so many years. Lol. (We love you, Papa!). So, we decided to just order birthday food from Amber, one of the most popular restaurants that offer delicious "handaan" food like spaghetti, barbecue, lumpiang shanghai, pichi-pichi, among others. I also ordered a chocolate cake from Chocolat with the dedication - HBD to us :). Our housemate also ordered 2 boxes of pizza and a tub of avocado ice cream! Yay!

Before the food arrived, we went out to buy some decors from a nearby flower shop. There, I saw the sunflowers, and I bought 3 sunflowers, one for each of us. Our celebration was so simple, we took a lot of photos first before diving into eating the food - the food was too much! I thought we can finish everything.

More than the food, we give importance to the joy of celebrating a special occasion with your friends and family. I know that right now, we are still facing a pandemic and that we should normalize the "new normal", it's just sad to think that we can not be with our loved ones during such special moments of our lives. The joy of celebrating your life with your family and friends - sharing a burst of laughter or two or too much is what I long and miss.

This is my second birthday in a pandemic, it may sound sad, but my only hope is that we can all see the light at the end of the tunnel, that there will come a time that the Filipino families will be able to be together again - celebrating not just a simple joyous occasion, but celebrating each other!

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