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A different kind of Valentine's

For Valentine's this year, we were invited by my good friend Kye to her birthday celebration - but it's no ordinary party. She decided to celebrate her 24th year with the kids of the Sta. Rita Orphanage in Sucat, Paranaque, and she wanted all of her family and friends to be there with her. It was a simple, heartwarming get-together. It was particularly moving, especially because it was truly a joy to see the smiles on all the kids' faces. The entire afternoon was a testament of how kind and generous our friend is, and I'm so, so proud of the woman she's turned out to be.

Not known to a lot of people, Kye was struck with ovarian cancer sometime in 2011. It was a very difficult time for everyone in her life, especially her family, whom we saw struggling to be courageous for her and with her. She is the eldest, the ate, but somehow she also seemed to be the most gentle. Our entire barkada felt completely helpless at that time, because while we wanted to do our part by reaching out to her family in case they needed our assistance, there really was not much that we could do. We wanted to see her, but she couldn't receive a lot of visitors. We wanted to make her laugh, but we had a hard time holding back our tears every time we're told of how physically weak she was. But in those devastating times, it was actually Kye who showed the greatest strength and optimism. She was determined to graduate; she was decided on beating the sickness. And defeat the Big C, she did.

The pretty birthday girl in pink 

Among the nine of us in our group, Kye has survived the most and (I believe) has turned out to be the most beautiful person, inside and out. I've seen her hurt so much in the last few years - physically, emotionally, mentally. She's gone from chemotherapy to heartbreak. She's conquered some of our worst fears. And yet, she's come out unscathed - and still the nicest, gentlest, most sincere person I know.

It's no surprise then, that a celebration like this would come from Kye. We really couldn't say no. So what if it was Valentine's day? Ludwin and I, and everyone else in my barkada, were more than glad to share the love to these children who need it the most. I was so happy to have spent the day with my high school friends, too. All of us are going through our own respective rough patches, but coming together and making an effort for these children was more than enough to put the salve on our own wounds and realize that the world is bigger than our bubble. There are more people in pain; there are more people who deserve to experience joy and love, even if only for a day.

Armand + Kassey, Mikka, the birthday girl Kye, Hope, Trixie + Joa, Karla + Ludwin

The party was sponsored by Jollibee, which meant great food and great fun! It brought out the kid in all of us - although in my case, I think it brought out the frustrated-ate-that-wants-to-tease-little-kids :)) I'm the baby in both sides of my family - an only child, no first cousins in the Vistan side, and Lolas' and Titas' favorite playmate in the Bernardo side. I've always been the girl in the spotlight, the "pinched" and the "bitten." (Yeah I was a very chubby kid.) So imagine my delight upon seeing these little kids that I could gigil and harot! Hahaha :))

Not that I pinched and bit any one of them for real ha! I was just extra excited and managed to tickle every single baby I played with :)) [Yeah, I have the makings of a truly, pang-asar ate. No wonder I didn't have siblings! Siguro kawawa sakin! HAHAHA!]

I love you, Jollibee! You're still my number one (secret) study place in Katip!

There were actually two rooms / sections in the orphanage: the nursery where the babies are, and the playroom for the toddlers. We had to be extra quiet and careful inside the nursery because some babies were asleep, while some others were in sensitive conditions. But it was nice to spend a few moments with them, even though they hardly responded. The way they touched us back, you knew these are little children who are craving for real, genuine hugs. Meanwhile, the bigger kids in the playroom were the ones we got to "party" with. Some were active and cheerful, a few others were more quiet and reserved. I played and bonded with several kids; I think Ludwin had a grand time seeing me try to be a nice ate / tita. Pasado ba? Parang mas kid pa ako eh. :))

Trixie with this cute little Cabbage Patch baby (!!!)

The three naughtiest girls in the playroom: Nina, Mary Anne, and Rea

Ludwin with Krisha (whom I kept tickling because her kili-kili is sooo chubbyyy! I couldn't take a proper picture with her because she was too malikot), and me with this little boy in the nursery (whose name I didn't get to ask but he was so sweet and cute and loved touching my hair)

Since it was a kiddie party, we had all the games, singing, and dancing. Yep, including the time-honored traditions of Musical Chairs and Hep-Hep-Hooray :)) No surprise that we were all such eager beavers! I think the grown-ups enjoyed more than the kids did, because they were just too caught up with the food and prizes to even care about what was going on :))

It was certainly an afternoon worth remembering. Truth be told, I've always been a recipient of something special for Valentine's, ever since high school. (#habanghair!) This was the first time Valentine's meant something different, but conveyed love all the same. It was refreshing to do something not-romantic, yet nonetheless meaningful. It's so humbling to be reminded that yours is a blessed life; but it all the more compels you to serve and give back to those who have less.

Happy, happy birthday, Kye! Thank you for inviting us; you're always a blessing and an inspiration. Couldn't have celebrated February 14 any other way :)


We didn't plan on anything special for just the two of us, but when Ludwin and I got back to QC after Kye's party, we decided to eat dinner together somewhere (1) not crowded, (2) not expensive, and (3) not too far away.

So we ended up at Brickfire. Which isn't too special... except that it is, because some time during the meal, we suddenly remembered that it was the place where we first held hands! About a year and a half ago, we went on our second official date at that steak place. That was the night I almost gave up on eating steak because I couldn't cut up the meat (I'm an idiot with knives, haha), and the night he promised he'd be the one to slice all my steaks from then on. Hahaha! :)) #cheese

 Sorry, we suck at selfies :))

We're not big on flowers and all the grand gestures, but I'm the luckiest girl in the world for having a man who cares for all the little things instead. Sometimes I still shake my head in disbelief when I realize how far we've come since we first met, and since we first started going out. Who knew I'd end up with my crush? And that he'd turn out to be such a great boyfriend/best friend/lover/person, inside and out? Well, naka-jackpot rin naman siya sa'kin. Hahaha!

Happy Valentine's day, love!