Letter #18: Seven

April 8, 2019

Hello, Lia.

A couple of months ago, I asked you which gift you'd like for your seventh birthday: a simple family celebration or a getaway. You chose the latter. “Gusto ko mag-try ng mga ‘di ko pa nagagawa, Mama,” you said. Surfing was on top of your list, next to hiking. You even wanted to go to Mati in Davao to do both.

We arrived in San Juan, La Union on a searing Thursday noon and waited for the 39-degree heat to wane a little in a breezy seafront brunch place called Barefoot at Le Point. There, we were told by an instructor that because the sea was flat (as is often the case on summer days, according to her), surfing isn’t possible and we might have to wait until June.

But at 3 pm, a little further toward the hippie bars, the waves surprisingly grew. Just a few minutes before sunset, after a 10-minute surfing lesson and on your second paddle away from shore, you were able to stand up on your longboard. You rode the waves like a pro – as you did the third time, fourth, fifth, and so on. Seeing you brave your fear of drowning after years of not venturing into waist-deep waters is among the proudest moments of my life.

I waited on the shore to catch you, and every time I did, you gushed, "Mama, marunong na 'ko magsurf! 'Di na 'ko takot!" I asked if you are happy. Every time you eagerly jumped back on the board, blowing kisses and turning to smile at the glowing sun, I knew you really were.

Now, not only do you know how to surf, you also know that sometimes, happiness can be found when you go into depths you’ve so feared once.

We took the night bus to Baguio and arrived to find cold, wet roads. The forecast for days: sunny with rain showers. Still, the following day, despite having woken up so late (enough to miss checkout time and be stressed by managers in the condotel we were billeted in) and the threat of rain, we took the one-hour hike to Mt. Yangbew in Tawang with Tita and Ate MJ.

You rode a horse at the summit while overlooking the Cordillera mountain range. Sunlight was ample. It didn’t rain a single drop until we checked out at noon. 

I hope your birthday reminds you that when uncertainties lie ahead, the best course of action is to take a leap of faith (proper planning and safety taken into account, of course). The universe always finds a way, as it did on your birthday. Choosing to believe and moving forward, no matter the outcome, is the only way to truly know how it is to live. 

Happy seventh, dearest. May your days be filled with moments worth remembering and your years with newfound highs and illuminating lows that lead you to self-discovery.

Always ready to catch you on life's shores,

P.S. You’d be happy to know that you got both the getaway and the simple party. Yesterday, you  had another celebration here at home, with Caitlyn, Enzo, Tita Grace, Tito JB, Lolo, Lola, and Daddy. Picture below from Tita Grace. All others were taken  with love by your Ate MJ. Seven must be a really lucky number, I guess.

*LU and Baguio photos by Maia Imperial

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