Pagodabells. I have no proper wordings to describe myself now other than that; I’m tired, I’m sleepy, I’m hungry, and this new bubblegum float from McDo isn’t working for me. What does, however, is that my dad was completely happy in blessing both ways, because blessing is like that; you get filled up and it topples over the people within your circle. And the circle we have is our extended family from Northville 9, whome we invited in this pre-birthday party / thanksgiving / affirmation of faith. DS Jose Umali, whom you might have heard as the new voice of “Hardin ng Panalangin” led the worship in a completely fun and comical way, because he’s like that; God’s words should land in our hearts in a way it it is understood. And it perched nicely into the listeners’ hearts in a nice way that affirmed their spiritual status, as well as guided them to what should be.

4 baptisms happened today. When DS Umali asked if there was anyone in the congregation who wasn’t baptized, this opened a chance for two children and one mother to be recognized by their faith. And so, this day, other than a worship-service-done-by-the-pool, is also the baptismal day of three special people. Of course, there was the immersion, and when my dad called for the rest to change their clothes to prepare for their affirmation, all kids jumped out and yelled and giggled at the thought of splashing into the water, which, by the way, did not happen at once, because there’s a program that needs to be in order.

My brother was there to take photos, as well as Mrs. Digna Umali, who happily took snapshots of her husband as he waded into the deep blue chlorine -filled pool with his robe on as he led the baptism. My dad was there too, in his gray shirt and shorts, and both of them tapped heads into the pool for a few seconds and finally helping them out, each with new bearing as they stepped out of the water.

And the day doesn’t end there, for there’s lunch. Aling Mely whipped up and amazing feast, as well as great service from her amazing crew, who dressed the venue and prepped the food and served us like little kings and queens that we all felt pampered, belly-wise. Soon enough, guests started to arrive; relatives and churchmates and friends and former workmates and people in the ministry. And they came in groups and sat and feasted with us, my dad, clad in his slouchy pants and slippers, which was a complete contrast to being the person-of-the-day. And despite my bad feelings that the program happened after so much reluctance and delay that half of the guests have gone home and had not experienced greeting my dad on his old, smelly mic, I was happy. I was happy to hear people saying the same good thing about him, and I was convinced that here was a man who hardly let anything change his inner core other than to love more. And I’m so proud to be called the daughter of this man, despite our many ups and downs, despite failing him so many times, despite not being that successful person that everyone expected me to be. I’m guessing he teared up a bit after my speech (because none of the earlier tributes made him tear up so I’ll keep pushing mine, hah) and people kept saying that I’m exactly like my mom. I’m cool with that.

After saying all our pieces (me and my brother made pahabol speeches because we were at the back trying to evade the MC but then she caught us and then voila) and taking family pictures and saying goodbye and thanking our caterer, we left. We had big smiles in our faces as the owner of the resort took her time to tell us it has been an awesome celebration, and that she was teary-eyed hearing the heartfelt transformations of the people whom my dad ministered at NV9. This birthday is not just his. This birthday has been everybody’s. Today, they were born anew.

That’s what real celebrations are all about.