No Beer for My Birthday (or how I survived it without alcohol)

Posted: March 30, 2007 in All and Sundry, Musings, Travel Diary

claire.jpgI spent my 30th birthday with no booze, no dazed and confused moments, no crying, no “risky” behavior, but just pure plain beach frolicking fun with food on the side and some videoke singing.


The first ever of its kind in my adult history, I admit.

While I was disappointed with not being able to go to the Reggae Festival to watch Ziggy Marley play with Jr. Kilat, this didn’t stop me from enjoying my birthday. As I’ve blogged before this that if I want to make my birthday really memorable, I’m going something about it by hook or by crook. Painful glutes and a weak left leg aside, I decided to have a last-minute birthday bash at Palm Beach Resort in IGACOS, an island garden city fifteen minutes away from Davao by ferryboat.

It was a last-minute (spontaneous to some extent) decision. And by way of saying goodbye to twenty-something-dom, I decided to invite my 4th year BA English-Creative Writing block (all graduating except for one) to hie away to the island with me along with my twin sisters, Rose and Pearl, and Johnnypanic as unofficial designated chaperone (just kidding).

john-and-kat.jpgAs soon as we arrived, we plopped ourselves inside the cottage and gorged ourselves with junk foods. (Come to think of it, the whole activity was very “Claire” what with all the junk we stuffed ourselves with before eating lunch.) While eating, we suddenly realized we didn’t bring plastic cups and other utensils like forks and spoons! It seemed that we  failed to pack our stuff like we were trained to do as Girl Scouts or Y-Clubbers. “Always be prepared.”

I had to constantly remind myself that the whole thing was unplanned just to erase the guilt circling in my head: “maybe they’re hungry, maybe they’re thirsty, maybe…” I sounded like an old fart, a mother hen worrying over her chicks.

As usual somebody always saves the day in situations like this. This time it was one of the twins. As an Architecture major, Rose is used to converting ordinary found objects into usable/functional ones. She cut the empty mineral water bottles we brought and transformed them into plastic cups for us to use. The two liters of Coke didn’t go to waste.

Before noon, we were already frolicking in the sea. It was a little unnerving for me to not be able to swim towards the deeper waters because of my left leg. And being a varsity swimmer in the past, not being able to do a basic crawl in the water is a major disappointment. I had to be content with wading in the water and taking in more sun that I could. Plus, I took the opportunity to strengthen and stretch my gluteus by walking slowly against the underwater current. (In my research, I have discovered that this is actually one of the important exercises that runners and other athletes who have leg injuries do in physical therapy sessions.)


While in the water, I requested Beauxy to do an arabesque as a birthday present. Just for kicks, really. Good thing she obliged. Mae Ann was forced to wear the triangle-shaped bikini I got from Brazil. Lemuel apparently had fun teaching his classmates how to swim. He’s a closet siokoy, that boy. That’s the only thing that’s closeted in him.

By noontime, Chi emerged from the waters ala Venus rising in her wet shirt and baggy cargo pants offering me a starfish for a gift. I love it when students make seemingly ordinary moments symbolic. Although, I never thought of myself as a starfish, perhaps that moment can function as an objective correlative for some emotion yet to be telescoped.

Later in the afternoon, we all ended up in the videoke area, armed with several one peso coins to feed the videoke box. The condition was that we should all sing. Of course, we did more than that. Lemuel was the Diva of the day with songs from Celine, Whitney and Mariah. Johnnypanic looked suave during the Morissey number: “the more you ignore me the closer I get.” I almost thought I saw him raising one of his eyebrows while singing. The others, including my sisters sang alternative rock songs mixed with Spice Girl numbers. For my part, I sang Meredith Brooks’ “Bitch” and Karen Carpenters’ “Superstar” because they were easy to belt.

I realized that it was around ten years ago that I sang “Bitch” in some bar in Dumaguete and meant every word I sang. It’s a wonder why all that angsts didn’t swallow me whole. FYI: The first ever music review I wrote and published was on Meredith’s first album, with “Bitch” as the carrier singles. I was so in love with the whole renegade mystic of Lilith Fair back then. Now, if you come to think of it, that whole thing belongs to that time. After that, female musicians often say they suffered the backlash.

clara.jpgAfter taking a last dip with Lemuel entertaining us by picking every underwater organism in sight and explaining what they’re called, we left the island the way we arrived—speedy and no time to look back. By the barge area, while waiting for our time to walk into the ferry, some girl riding a Revo, passed by us and called out Chi’s name. The car stopped in front of us for awhile as she rolled down the window wearing her cutesy smile.


As though exercising common courtesy, Chi asked her: “Hi. Where have you been?”


The girl paused for a moment to think then blurted: “Aaaah…. sa Samal?”


It took her some time to realize how incredulous her answer was before she closed the window and waved goodbye to us. We were after all still in Samal.


What a way to end a perfect day with a perfect punchline. Thanks to that girl for making me laugh. It wasn’t her fault though. She didn’t know any better.


It was fun being with twenty year olds. Especially twenty-year old graduating students whose growth as student writers I have witnessed throughout my four years in the University. I taught them research paper writing when they were still wide-eyed freshmen students grappling with the English language and dealing with the necessary rhetorical devices that they have to wield in order to create coherent, unified, and understandable papers. From then on, I taught them, with whatever meager skills I have, how to write good Creative Nonfiction and Fiction pieces (although I’m not an “established” writer for some people. Whatever that means). I shared them the different lenses to use in our Gender and Literature class, and by doing so, I’m quite pleased that I have a small part in shaping their way of seeing/perceiving the world with a gendered perspective. Whatever they decide to do with those knowledge is no longer my business. They have after all, grown to be intelligent twenty year olds.

A few days after, GinaMos, the Kilat’s keyboardist commented on my blog that they did have complimentary tickets for Ziggy’s concert. Too bad I forgot to text her. I screamed in utter regret (I mean literally) then realized after a few minutes that perhaps there was a reason the universe made me spend a day at the beach with twenty-somethings.


*thanks to Pearl for agreeing to be the official photographer for a day despite the clear and present danger of failing statistics. The photos above were taken by Pearl and yours truly with of course, the Cannon AE1 slr.

*thanks to the 4th yr BAE block for being there. (roll call: Giselle, Beauxy, my thesis advisees Lemuel and Katrina, and Chi)

*a million thanks to Johnnypanic for the cd that contains a playlist a 90s music romantic should have.

* and a million hugs to my sisters for the photo frame. hehe

for more pictures go to flickedphotoes


  1. youzi says:

    happy 30th to you.

    greeting fr m’sia. 🙂

  2. to youzi: danke!

    i don’t feel thirty. hehe….

  3. ella says:

    yiheee beach. i can’t help myself, hahaha ang sexy ni lemuel! ^_^

  4. sam says:

    happy birthday Cat! What a bday celebration there!

    shit… i totally forgot how I “celebrated” mine…

  5. JOEY Sison says:

    Happy Birthday Claire!

  6. elizabethwong says:

    vellkom to da club!
    happy birthday!!!!!!!!!

  7. moonjunkie says:

    wahahaahahhahah!!! (thats all)

  8. Claire, you look like seventeen!!!

  9. i mean, you look seventeen! bweheheh! sweet and always young!

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