The Amazing Raviv Turns 5 Part 3: Superhero Get-ups & Guests

continued from The Amazing Raviv Turns 5 Part 2: The Superhero Party Food, Cake, and Lootbag

In fairness, I’m keeping my promise!!!

After 3 months, here’s the last installment of Raviv’s superhero-themed birthday party at Gymboree, yahoo!

The Amazing Raviv’s Costume

First, let’s take a closer look at Raviv’s outfit:

IMG 0109Of course, he had to be Spider-man!!!

IMG 0170

IMG 0185Handsome face behind the mask revealed!

Raviv loves this costume immensely.  It’s a “muscled” The Amazing Spider-man Costume.  He’s oh so proud when he wears it.  I was lucky to have found a seller online who’s based in Sta. Rosa!  Otherwise I had to order this from the US.  Kumusta naman lang pagdaan pa sa costumes at sa port congestion, ‘di ba? This costume is actually for kids 7 and above, so it’s big for Raviv; the seller had no other stock so we had to make do with it. I got it in October, and I told Raviv he has to sleep early so he would grow and then the costume would fit him.  Hahaha!

On Raviv’s invitation, we encouraged Raviv’s guests to come wearing superhero costumes, except for Spider-man.  Mamaya may guest si Raviv na Spider-man na mas bonggacious pa ang outfit sa kanya, kawawa naman ang birthday boy.

League of superheroes, assemble!

In fairness, all of Raviv’s guests came as different superheroes.  No one else came as Spider-man.

But, there were 2 Spider…er…girls.

IMG 0330

IMG 0172This is Bella.  Her mom, Lindsay Abcede-Sese asked me first whether her lovely daughter could be Spider-girl.  Pwedeng-pwede!

Aside from Bella, Raviv’s cousin Yoona also came as Spider-girl.  The kwento is that my sister-in-law Ruth forgot that guests should wear costumes!  So the night before Yoona’s flight from Davao to Manila, Ruth and I were brainstorming what Yoona would wear.  Magpa-panic daw si Yoona if she learns she doesn’t have a costume on a costume party (Yoona is arte like her Tita Dewmaine.  Hehe).  Then we finally agreed on something:  Raviv’s other Spider-man costume plus Yoona’s tutu.  Lookie-lookie:





Most of Raviv’s guests were also dressed to the nines, superhero na superhero!

IMG 0965Raviv’s classmate Ethan as Batman, and his classmate’s brother as Superman

IMG 0250

IMG 0768Raviv’s schoolmate Sean as Wolverine…

IMG 1160

IMG 0237…while his other schoolmate Anton was Capt. America!

IMG 0978

IMG 0200Lia, daughter of my good friends Gerry & Mars, charmed everyone as Wonderwoman!

NewImageThis boy came as Thor.  His dad is Randy’s childhood friend and compadre

IMG 0995Juanmig—son of Randy’s friend—was either Ironman or a Transformer, according to Raviv.


Super duper daming “Super”!

And of course, there were lots of Supers: Superman, Superbly, Supergirl and Superwoman!

IMG 0988My inaanak Chug Chug was Superman…

IMG 0165 Lucas and Ethan, too!

NewImageTatay Randy was Clark Kent (who has undergone LASIK, I suppose, thus the missing spectacles)

IMG 0825Daddy Mike and Baby Marcus were a Superman & Superbaby tandem!

IMG 0029Kuya Dodong and Yaya Isay’s Baby Bethany was Supergirl…

…and of course, I was Superwoman!  Here I was with my “minions”:

IMG 0993

Even those who came without costumes went home as superheroes, thanks to the arts & crafts activity that was cape decoration.

IMG 0798


IMG 0807

IMG 0827

IMG 0829

IMG 0945

Even though this party has since been months ago, I am still grateful to everyone who came!  You amazed The Amazing Spider Raviv and his Super Parents.

Thanks @luther_abcede for the wonderful photos! 👍🏼👏 Can't wait to blog about #TheAmazingRavivTurns5

A photo posted by Dewmaine Sales-Ladaga (@momsterteacher) on

Thank you, thank you, you all!


IMG 1172








IMG 1154




 (All images courtesy of Luther Abcede)

PS:  In case you’re wondering where I got my costume, Lindsay—who’s from Australia—got it for me.  She brought it when she arrived here in the Philippines only 2 days before Raviv’s birthday.

IMG 0315

It came with everything, on the photo: top, skirt, boots, belt and cape.  The blue leggings, however, were not included.

The Amazing Raviv Turns 5 Part 2: The Superhero Party Food, Cake, and Lootbag

continued from The Amazing Raviv Turns 5 Part 1: The Superhero Party Program and DIY Event Styling

Superhero Fuel: Food

Last year, we served Raviv’s guests sliders/mini-hamburgers, cookies, spaghetti, fried chicken and fruit and vegetables salad.  Our cook forgot to cook the hotdogs.  At first I thought it was enough.  After all, that’s the same food served at a Jollibee or McDonald’s party, right?  But after the party, both Randy and I thought we should have served more.  Visual feast will always be trumped over by a gastronomic feast, as it’s the hallmark of any party.  So this year, I made sure we add more food.  But my goodness, this was December 26 and we had no catering.  So what happened and what did we serve?!?  Here:


Food superhero birthday party diy


MG 9641


IMG 1078


MG 9615

IMG 0754 

Teacher Joanna said that some of the guests asked her who our caterer was, because the food we served were delicious.  Why, what an honor!  Because actually, we cooked most of the main dishes, and outsourced the others.  Ate Evelyn, my Mom, Yaya Isay and I prepared the following dishes: hotdogs wrapped in bacon, chicken lollipop, baked macaroni, chocolate chip cookies, nachos, and fruit and vegetable salad.  We ordered the lechon (with free dinuguan) and pancit sotanghon from different suppliers.  

Randy said that a lechon in a party makes any travel worth it; it automatically gives the buffet table “WOW” factor. At first I didn’t want to order, but when I learned that Raviv’s cake will cost just as much as a medium-sized lechon, I gave it a go.  

IMG 0734

We also placed nachos with dips and veggies on every table


And before I forget, S&R helped me a lot, too!  Hehe.  Raviv’s cupcakes and corndogs were from there!  

MG 9611


Aaaand, I was particularly happy about the instant mini pastries I scored from S&R.  I know how expensive mini pastries are, but they are a must in prettifying any dessert table.  So when I saw these in S&R:


S R mini sweet treats dessert


…I knew my dessert table has a chance.  I got 2 boxes of each. 🙂

Superheroes Party Dessert Table


Superheroes Birthday Party Sweets Table


On top of a fondant cake, I also ordered superhero-themed cake pops and sugar cookies from the same supplier.

Superheroes Birthday Party Dessert Buffet Table


 Here’s a closer look at Raviv’s birthday cake:

Superhero Birthday Cake

Superhero party birthday cake

I’ve ordered cakes, sugar cookies and cake pops from this same supplier a few times in the past.  In all those past occasions, I was all praises.  But not now.  Unfortunately, the cake artist was not able to finish all my orders on time.  And I think the Spider-man logo on the cake bungled.  See the black part in the middle?  Moreover, the cake itself was not delicious this time.  As in none in our family—including the kids—wanted to eat it.  I will no longer mention the supplier  (it’s not Bakeville, FYI.  Nek of Bakeville has just given birth via C-section so she is not taking orders this time) because this is the first time she bungled.  Moreover, I’m still grateful she accepted my orders.


IMG 5389

Raviv’s after-party “candle-blowing” at home.

Superhero Lootbag

Aside from the capes that the children designed, we gave two more loot bag items: 

Superhero party lootbag

IMG 5999

This red plastic contains superhero puzzles and action figures


IMG 5998


Whereas these Gymboree tumblers were filled not with juice, water or any liquid but with more sweet treats!


Gymboree birthday party lootbag giveaway tumbler

IMG 5393

Gymboree birthday party tumbler giveaway lootbag



On my third instalment, I’m gonna show you our familia get-up, the guests’get-ups and the hard copy of Raviv’s invitation. 🙂




The Amazing Raviv Turns 5 Part 1: The Superhero Party Program and DIY Event Styling

The decision to throw Raviv a full-blown birthday party for his 5th was a no-brainer.  First, the 5th birthday party is the last birthday party a child could celebrate at Gymboree, and we still fully remember how much he and his guests loved his 4th birthday party at Gymboree.  Second, he now has sure guests even if his birthday falls on the 26th of December.  Third, his abuelito, abuelita and cousins are coming over for the Holidays.  And fourth, he requested for it.  Anyway, he didn’t have full-blown parties on his 2nd and 3rd birthdays.

It seemed everything was all set, until I learned that:

  1. The caterer I want to get (Jen-Dre’s Catering—it was our food caterer during our Grand Opening) is not available on Dec. 26.  I also called Center Table (it was our food caterer during Raviv’s baby dedication aka binyag and I love the food!!!) I and asked whether we could pick-up “paluto” from them.  They don’t accept daw, because it’s a busy season.
  2. Teacher Roxanne and Teacher Clarice—the Gymboree Sta. Rosa teachers who handle Play & Learn classes and host birthday parties—will both be out of town on Dec. 26.

That means:  I will have to DIY everything (food and decor), and I have to learn how to host a Gymboree birthday party.

Ako na.  Ako na si Superwoman.

And true enough, I was Superwoman on Raviv’s party.

Adult Superwoman Costume

Thank you so much Lindsay Abcede See for buying me this Superwoman costume!

I told you, Superwoman.  Literally and figuratively.  Anyway, let me share with you the photos of Raviv’s birthday.

It’s a Gymboree Party…hosted by the Superwoman/Supernanay

Instead of listening to Christmas songs on Christmas Day, I was actually listening to a loop of Gymboree songs and practicing the actions.  Yes guys.  You know how musically-uninclined I am, right?  Exactly.  Add to that the fact that I have never ever hosted a Gymboree party before.  Kahit nga Play class man lang, never pa eh!  So I had to practice; I didn’t want to just wing it.  I was determined to make it very fun for my son.  Kaya nga nag-costume pa ako.  Ika nga ni Lindsay, “Ganun talaga para sa anak!”  Add to that the fact that my balahura friends were attending!!!  My gosh!!! Actually, I didn’t want to invite them at first because I knew they’d make fun of me (Chrysanthemum Collado, I’m referring to you).

So yeah, on top of the other preparations and entertaining the guests, I was also the main host.  Based on these pictures, mukhang hindi naman ako nagkalat. 😀

IMG 0095

This is it!  I formally began!

IMG 0192

IMG 0145

Marvel Justice League Superhero Birthday Party

Here I was, making all the children feel like real superheroes!

Superhero Party Gymboree Sta Rosa

IMG 0674

Best superhero birthday party Fotor Collage

What I am most proud about Gymboree birthday parties is that all guests—the children and their parents—are always happy and are never bored while keeping everything wholesome.  Look at those smiles!  The superhero-themed activities that made the children believe they were superheroes saving the city were all patok!

After the junior superheroes saved the day, Teacher Joanna invited them to the Arts & Crafts room to design their own superhero capes.  It was my time to rest and drink water.  Hehe.

Gymboree Activity Superheroes Birthday Party

IMG 0778

Superhero Capes Arts Crafts Party Gymboree

Raviv and his guests all had a blast decorating their capes (which they took home as souvenirs)!  They proudly wore their capes back to the Gymboree playfloor for the bubbles and parachute time!

Justice League Marvel Superheroes Birthday Party

Superhero THemed Birthday Party at Gymboree

Most fun Superhero Party

And to add more fun, we invited a special guest.

Everybody, chant with me:  We want, we want GYMBO!  GYMBO!



Gymbo is the blue clown, red clown, yellow clown, Gymbo is the a clown who never let you down He’s got smile on his face He rocks this place Giving you kisses all over your face We want, we want Gymbo… Gymbo!!!

Gymbo is the blue clown, red clown, yellow clown,
Gymbo is the a clown who never let you down
He’s got smile on his face
He rocks this place
Giving you kisses all over your face
We want, we want Gymbo… Gymbo!!!

Everybody loves Gymbo!

Everybody loves Gymbo!  Even my niece who’s afraid of mascots hugged the cutest clown of all! 

After the fun party, the guests headed to the reception hall that’s just adjacent to the Gymboree playfloor.  Wanna see how it looks like?  Here!


Venue & Event Styling

Just like Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Party last year, the event styling is DIYed by yours truly and the talented Gymboree Sta. Rosa teachers again.

IMG 5231

Teachers Joanna and Clarice finished this before they had their Christmas vacation.  Ito ang dinatnan ko when I arrived at the venue on December 26 at 9 a.m.  Yes, 9 a.m. na because the cake and sugar cookies I ordered in Los Banos were delayed!  Gaaaaahhh eh andami pang gagawin!!!  As soon as we arrived, I became a drill sergeant ordering people around, telling them to, “Double time!!!!”  But mind you, I wasn’t just ordering people around.  Barefoot and hungry, I was also working my tushy off.

And then we transformed the room into an eclectic cacophony of anything and everything related to superheroes:

Superheroes Birthday Party

Marvel Justice League Superheroes Theme Birthday Party Event Styling DIY Setup

Superheroes Name

The R-A-V-I-V letter designs were lovingly made by Teacher Joanna.  Teacher Clarice helped Teacher Joanna make my Superhero City “stage backdrop” vision come true.  Same goes with the Superhero-themed paintings on the windows.

IMG 1086

IMG 0732

Event Styling Superhero Party Balloons

Superheroes Birthday Party Setup

Superhero party mylar balloons

Yep, these were all DIYed.  Labor of love.  I bought lots of mylar balloons because they’re always a hit with the children.  The action figures and toys are all Raviv’s, so I didn’t have to buy them.  The vintage comics, on the other hand, were from our library.  They were given to us by Randy’s mom, and we’re saving it for when Raviv would actually read them.

IMG 0735

IMG 0736

It was a “Waaaaaaah!!!”day.  Every single minute was precious to me to make sure I don’t disappoint my amorcito, whether in event styling or hosting.  I spent any “free time” either checking the other details or remembering the lyrics of the songs and their corresponding actions.  Ganern.  It was so crazy—made even crazier because in the middle of the day I learned I already got my period thus my headaches.  And partida, I hadn’t even eaten a morsel until after the party!  It’s a miracle I survived it all.  Although on our way back home, my “adrenaline” waned.  My headache went fullblast and on the road, I threw up.  Ugh.  The last time it happened to me was when Randy and I were on the road after our wedding. Well, that was definitely more stressful, but my hunger strike plus my Day 1 Period spiked my stress level so there.  Hehe.

Pero sulit naman, especially when I see this picture…

IMG 0185

…then I become Superwoman. 😉

PS: Thank you so much Luther Abcede for the wonderful photos!

You too, Kuya CJ!  Thank you!

(Up next is Part 2, featuring the food, the outfit-eys and the giveaways. :))

Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Birthday Party Part 3: Wardrobe Diaries

Continued from Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Birthday Party Part 2: The Most Fun Party, Ever!

and Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Birthday Party Part 1: The DIY Decor & Aesthetics

I had a difficult time looking for Raviv’s outfit. I looked for it online and in children’s clothing boutiques. Nada. I thought it was easy to look for clothes with dinosaur prints because they were everywhere when Raviv was still a baby. But for some reason, dinosaur prints were no longer as popular for toddlers! I didn’t want Raviv to wear a full-on dinosaur hunter costume because he has worn something like that on his jungle safari first birthday party.

Good thing I dropped by SM Department Store a few days before Raviv’s birthday, because I was eager to use the P3,000 worth of gift checks that SM Kids Fashion gave me…

…because wouldn’t you know it, I found the perfect ensemble there! Look:

I got an inner shirt with the body of a dragon (but looks like a dinosaur when the wings are covered), plus matching paleontologist-isque khaki polo and shorts. Still looks like Raviv’s jungle safari costume #2, but the inner shirt makes it perfect for a dinosaur party!

Look at mi amorcito on his special day:

[Read more…]

Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Birthday Party Part 2: The Most Fun Party, Ever!

Continued from Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Birthday Party Part 1: The DIY Decor & Aesthetics

Halloooo! I know you’re all eager with my blow-by-blow account of our Grand Launching last Saturday. I am, too! However, I have promised you a part deux of Raviv’s Dinosaur Dig Birthday Party. Moreover, you will know through this blog post how I had the “gutz” to celebrate Zion’s party at Gymboree—that’s because I knew it would be fantastic, just as Raviv’s Gymboree birthday party was. Now, here are more details!

Party Venue: Gymboree Sta. Rosa Playfloor

You remember how stressed I was with the delivery of our equipment? I’m happy to say that in fairness, the additional crow’s feet and wrinkles I may have added to my face because of all the worry were all worth it. Look at our playfloor that was completed just in time for Raviv’s party:

Gymboree Sta. Rosa has the new and improved play equipment that kids 0-6 years old can enjoy!

Ang ganda, ‘di ba? It’s really different from the usual playplaces with just slides and balls and whatever toys the owners can get their hands on. Occupational therapists and developmental pediatricians who visit us would always gush at how stimulating and developmentally helpful our playfloor is! As they say, “Nothing in Gymboree is an accident; everything was carefully planned.” So of course, this playfloor was irresistible to all of Raviv’s guests!

As soon as the guests arrived, they were all smiles right away and they rumbled and tumbled on the Gymboree playfloor! So I didn’t have to worry about any other activity for the kids. Yes, no need to buy crayons, coloring books and no need to prepare any other activity for the kids! The Gymboree playfloor more than makes up for everything else.

It’s Party Time: It’s a Gymboree Party!

Prior to this, I haven’t attended a Gymboree birthday party. And I’ll be honest with you: I was skeptical. I can’t imagine how a birthday party without magicians and puppeteers and the usual she-bang could be fun. In fact when we were discussing Gymboree birthday parties during training, I was asking our trainor what parent in his right mind would prefer a teacher-led party on the Gymboree playfloor over the traditional magician. Our trainor explained that aside from the one-hour, teacher-led celebration on the playfloor, the payment would also cover another hour on the playfloor. But still I wasn’t convinced.

And then I saw Teacher Eli Santiago host my Ravivo’s birthday party. I just knew then that a Gymboree party was the best birthday party a toddler could ever have! Look at Raviv during the party on the playfloor:

Second night without them. 🙁 I miss my man and my boy. See you tomorrow my loves! #FatherAndSon

A photo posted by Dewmaine Sales-Ladaga (@momsterteacher) on

Now look at Raviv’s friends’ and classmates’s faces:

And finally, look at the joy plastered on the faces of parents and even of adults who didn’t come with kids during the party:

It was just so, so, so fun! If you haven’t been to a Gymboree birthday party, it pretty much goes like this: the parents select a party theme, and then the activities on the playfloor would revolve around that theme. The kids’ imaginations and creativity are exercised because the Gymboree host leads them to a world of make-believe while continually reminding everyone who’s the special girl or guy of the day. The celebrant truly feels special! And he/she has so much fun because the Gymboree parties are designed for toddlers. And then after the party on the playfloor, kids would eat and then just go back to the playfloor! So really, there’s no need stress about other activities!

I’ve been to several kids’ birthday parties with the usual she-bang I was talking about. In fact, Raviv’s first birthday party had the whole enchilada: magicians, a clown host, dancers, a bubble show and lots of parlor games. But the problem was that Raviv didn’t feel special on that day. We know very well that toddlers can’t grasp magic shows, can’t appreciate the now-popular Vice Ganda brand of humor (often used by clown hosts), and can’t participate in the usual parlor games just yet. Often, the host of kids’ parties resort to Rated PG jokes and comments. They also have to force annoyed and KJ adults to join parlor games. All these are happening (crass humour, magic shows and parlor games for reluctant adults) while the celebrant is running around, not even being involved in his/her own birthday party. I believe these activities must be reserved for when our kids turn 7 or older, but definitely not when they’re still in diapers.

To ensure the best Gymboree birthday party for your kid, here are some tips: [Read more…]

Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Gymboree Birthday Party Part 1: The DIY Decor & Aesthetics

Finally more than two months after, I’m now blogging about mi amocito’s super fun and super DIY birthday party at Gymboree Sta. Rosa! This time around, the theme was dinosaurs!  Raviv’s interest in dinosaurs was recycled.  Perfect, because Gymboree already has a customized dinosaur-themed play & learn birthday party celebration.

Since I knew that I’d be fulfilling one of my passions—event styling—through Gymboree, I decided to make Raviv’s party super DIY.  As in no catering, no chairs supplier, everything will be done by me and “my team”.  That way, we could already practice our artistic prowess (naks!) in case someone who books a Gymboree party in Sta. Rosa also opts to get an upgrade and have customized and special decors.

So without further ado, here are the details:


The Venue

Raviv’s birthday party was held at the room adjacent to the Gymboree playfloor.  The room was really bare and had a low ceiling.

DIY Dinosaur Party Set-up 

Tables and chairs

Since I had no catering, I had to make use of Brain Train’s existing monobloc tables and chairs on top of Gymboree’s colorful kiddie tables and chairs.  Since the monobloc chairs look so plain, I bought some cloth as and had a seamstress create table cloth and table runners out of them.  I would have wanted to cover the chairs as well, but since we were running out of time, I just put a rosette with dinosaur foam shapes on each chair.

DIY dinosaur party chair

It was matrabaho, yes, but it definitely made the place look hundreds of times better.


The Ceiling drops

I used latex and mylar polka-dot balloons to further prettify the place.  But the highlight among the ceiling drops were the diosaur pompoms that Yaya Beth and I painstakingly made.

DIY dinosaur birthday party pompoms

I would like to say that it’s easy to do that, but we actually had several tries before we perfected it.  Once we were able to discover how to properly do it, medyo dumali na rin.


The Invitation

DIY dinosaur birthday party invitation

If you’ve been following my blog since Raviv’s first birthday party, then you’d know how maarte I am when it comes to invitations.  I’m almost allergic to generic, impersonal invitations. #sorrybutnotsorry  Thus, career kung career ang invitation ni Raviv.  I designed the dinosaur cut-out (I just looked for an image of dinasaur online and took it from there).  Then I bought cardboard and cut out the “cracked egg” shapes.  But the most madugo part is the green mosaic you see—that’s real egg shells that I’ve painted, dried, pound, and stuck to the invitation.  Yes, I rounded up our neighbors and asked for their egg shells for 50 handmade invitations.  Sulit din naman because people gushed how cute Raviv’s invitation was!

[Read more…]

God is never late!

Happy Sunday everyone!

I was supposed to blog about the (long overdue!) details of Raviv’s Dinosaur-Themed Birthday Party, but then I was reminded of how much it almost never pushed through, and how much I just had to keep the faith in Him.

(Warning: This may be trivial to some, but I am grateful for little tests of faith like this. Such always, always reminds me that I have a living God whom I can still count on even in situations that others would deem trivial.) 


Here’s the deal: My son’s birthday party would “unlock” Gymboree Sta. Rosa on Dec. 21, 2014.  It was a win-win idea because:

1) Raviv would get to experience the fun of a Gymboree party (it’s only up to 4 years old, and he was turning 4)

2) Having a “deadline” is always good because it pushes people to work doubly hard.

3) We would have a “practice” as to how birthday parties are conducted.

Almost all of our guests were either from Los Banos or Metro Manila, so I know I have to make this party worth their trip.  That said, I know that the Gymboree playfloor will motivate them to come.  Thus, it was a must that the Gymboree playfloor be ready on his party.

Problem solved?

Remember THIS POST?  I would like to tell you that things started to sail smoothly after that.  Unfortunately, things would go from bad to worse.  Like, just when I’d start to heave a sigh of relief, something would come up again that would make my heart feel as though it would jump out of my chest.

So yeah, the first batch of equipment has been delivered weeks before the party.  Because of that, I was no longer nervous.

But into the second week of December, I still had no delivery schedule of the second batch, which contained the flooring!


Then five days before the party and still equipment-less, I started to seriously get worried!





OMG ‘di ba?!?  And on top of that, the Gymboree party host I initially booked got sick and couldn’t go to Raviv’s party!  Total disater!

Fortunately, I was able to convince Teacher Eli Santiago aka “Gymboree’s best teacher” (according to many), to host Raviv’s birthday.  But unfortunately again, Eli’s good friend passed away a few days before the party and she told me that if the funeral coincides with the party, she may not be able to host it.

I was left hanging for two things: my equipment and my host—the very essences of a successful Gymboree birthday party!



The following day, still no luck.  At that point, I knew that I needed nothing short of divine intervention.  While I’ve been praying the whole time, I also sought the help of my churchmates.



I had some good news:

I was overjoyed beyond the moon!  But I couldn’t help but still be wary.


When Mama Gi (my leader in our Victory group) said that “God is never late”, it gave me some sense of comfort.  All the more when Motherhood said the same thing to me when I told her my concerns.  Motherhood, who’s usually all about punctuality and preparedness, took my worries lightly and confidently told me to trust that God will deliver.  She just knew it, she said.

Moreover, Eli said that she would be able to host Raviv’s party, too.  Yahoo!!!


I was told that the truck will leave the port at 11 p.m. because it first had to be inspected by the customs, and then it had to wait until the truck ban was lifted.  That meant that the truck will arrive at our center around past midnight.  So technically, it would be there on the 20th—only a day before Raviv’s birthday!  But the utility staff of the Gymboree corporate office assured me that they will work double time to make it well before Sunday.


I woke up early on this day and eagerly called our staff in Sta. Rosa, asking whether they’ve managed to finish our playfloor.  But my oh my!!!  I was told that only one truck has arrived, and worse, this truck did not contain our flooring!!!

Que horror!!!  The truck that arrived at dawn contained some wood equipment and Gymboree toys only!  No flooring!!!  The flooring was the most important thing as it takes a long time to install!  Moreover, the equipment can’t be set-up until after the flooring is finished!  We surmised the flooring was in the other truck that was held by the Customs!  I wanted to bawl, but I also had to get moving because we had review classes that day (In retrospect, I remember that Dec. 20 was date I initially wanted Raviv to celebrate his birthday.  However, Randy vetoed it because we had scheduled classes on that day.  Buti na lang!  Nagalit pa nga ako kay Randy!)

In between my classes, I would call everyone: from Sandra (Gymboree Corporate Office personnel communicating with the Customs) to Cathy (Gymboree Corporate Office personnel doing the inventory of materials at our site) to Kuya Eric (Gymboree Corporate Office personnel who installed our playfloor set-up) and to Yuske (our staff in Sta. Rosa).  All of them could not answer my question as to whether the truck would arrive in time for the flooring to be set-up.  The broker in-charge also could not say what time the truck would be allowed to get off the pier.

We thought of sending our L300 FB van over to Gymboree Manila Polo Club branch to gather and borrow the foam flooring.  However, I realized that our L300 FB van was in Los Banos and Dodong was too busy with our classes to drive it over.  It may take several trips, too.  So I said we had no choice but to wait.  Again.  But I also felt that was God’s way of telling me to trust Him and resist my urge to meddle.

But at 10 a.m., Cathy called it.

What she was saying is that she thought it was useless to wait for the second truck, because we’ve been waiting forever.  She was thinking that the second truck might also arrive at dawn the following day and we will no longer have any time to install the flooring or assemble the equipment.  I felt the stirrings to gaining control again, but a small voice was telling me over and over again that I had to be patient because “God is never late”.  So I ignored Cathy’s text message and told God that I trusted Him.  I told Him that I did all that I could–I never slacked off–and that this time, the ball was in His hands.   [Read more…]

Madame EKS (aka Motherhood)’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party Part 3: Photo Story

Continued from Madame EKS (aka Motherhood)’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party Part 2: The Great Revelation

Here are more up close and personal photos during Motherhood’s 60th Masquerade Themed Surprise Birthday Party, plus comments on my suppliers.

Venue: UP Seniors’ Social Garden

cfc (10)

cfc (819)

Honestly, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’ll host a party here.  I pass this almost everyday, and when “undressed”, it looks plain.  Wala man lang flowers to make it a beautiful “garden”.  But since the other options were so ridiculously expensive and my stylist/caterer assured me that UP Seniors’ Social Garden is a great “canvass”, I agreed.  Indeed, it was prettified.  The only caveat is that there is no airconditioning.


Event Styling & Catering: Berris Cuisine

I chose Berris Cuisine when I learned they also do event styling.  Surprisingly, only a few caterers also do customized event styling.  I chose not to get a separate event stylist because I feel that a caterer-cum-stylist would be cheaper.  I mean, caterers already provide table centerpieces, right?  Thus magiging redundant lang.

cfc (12)Table centerpiece for a masquerade-themed 60th birthday party

Venue set-up for a masquerade-themed 60th birthday party

cfc (311)Celebrant’s chair/stage  for a masquerade-themed 60th birthday party

I was satisfied with the overall setup, however, my major complaint about the company is that the point person is quite difficult to contact.  I had to initially text and then forward my original message almost 10 times in span of 48 hours before a curt reply.  Ditto when calling her—antagal mag-pick up!  I also specifically requested to use an orange-y red and not a maroon-y red, but still I ended up with the latter.  Good thing she’s friendly when you actually talk to her.

cfc (154)
Dessert table for a masquerade-themed 60th birthday party


cfc (168)Chocolate liquers given by my sister-in-law Ruth were added to the dessert table

As for the food, IMHO, it was OK—something you expect from a regular caterer.  But no dish served got any raves, unlike when we got Center Table Catering (for Raviv’s baptism/dedication) and Passion Cooks (Randy’s birthday party last year).  But note that Center Table and Passion Cooks’ (especially!) rates were more expensive than Berris’.


Cake and cupcakes: Bakeville by Nek Manaig-Penalba

I always order themed fondant cakes from Rainbow Confections, but since I opted to order a traditional cake and matching cupcakes this time, I tried something new.  The cake and cupcakes with “boiled icing” (‘yun pala tawag dun!) were from Bakeville.

cfc (50)
Cake for a masquerade-themed birthday party

I find the cake and cupcakes reasonably-priced.  Aaaand, I loved the taste and texture of the cake.  The icing was not too sweet but not bland.  It’s really delicious and soft to the point that I kept the cake in our personal fridge in our bedroom (meaning, not for sharing) and allowed it to pile more and more calories in my body.  But Randy—who rarely eats cakes—shared with me.  Bonus:  Nek, the cake artist and baker, is also very nice.  Even though we were only communicating via Facebook, she would always reply promptly and very respectfully.  I love suppliers like this!

Cheesums (Extra Dessert) by Patricia Hilao of Pattycakes

[Read more…]

Madame EKS (aka Motherhood)’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party Part 2: The Great Revelation

On the day of the party, Tita Len was also at our house because I also “invited her to my launching because of Sharon Cuneta”.  Everything seemed to go well, until I got a phone call just before noon.  It was Tita Romilyn.  She was with one of the guests, Tita Ayet, who came all the way from Pangasinan just to grace Motherhood’s birthday.

Ang mahihiwagang bangus at rosas

But Tita Ayet’s thoughtfulness did not end there:  she also brought with her 7 bangus fish!  Since they had no ref or anything, Tita Romilyn asked me to get them.  Patay na, because I was also preparing for my afternoon class!  So I asked Tita Len to get the bangus for me.  Tita Len also bought roses from the market because, “Gagawin ko raw bouquet para ibigay kay Sharon.”  Hahaha!

Hours before the partey

I was not able to primp early because I had classes from 1-3pm. Alangan namang nakatodo make-up at 4-inch stilettos ako sa klase ko dabah? My students might just belt out a mocking “King & Queen of Hearts” upon my entrance.  That is, if they are familiar with the song.  So I was only able to start doing my hair (Parusa!  I’m so clueless when it comes to hairstyling!) and make-up at around 3:30 pm.  I was able to leave at 4:30 pm, na medyo disater pa rin ang hairdo ko.

The Plan

Since Randy’s class was to end at 5:30, the plan was that he would drive Motherhood and Tita Len to “Gymboree Sta. Rosa”.  Our good friend Regina Martinez also played a big role:  she was to do Tita Len and Motherhood’s make-ups, and help delay their leaving in case it’s necessary.  I couldn’t leave the task to Randy because Randy has no acting skills whatsoever.

At the event venue

When we (Dodong, Raviv, Raviv’s Yaya Beth and Dad) arrived at the event venue (UP Seniors’ Social Garden), Motherhood’s immediate relatives from Tiaong and Tita Romilyn and Tita Ayet with hubby were already there.  The place has also already been set-up, and my photographer friend with his photobooth were already there as well.

60th Masquerade Theme Surprise Birthday Party setup

60th Masquerade Theme Surprise Birthday Party setup2Venue set-up

However, Tita Romilyn and her co-dancers were still busy practicing their surprise number: they were gonna sing (lipsync) and dance Liza Minelli’s “Cabaret”.

Liza Minelli’s Cabaret

cfc (67)Tita Romilyn and her “Cabaret” back-up performers, Patty-uh and Albert

The UPLB senior who does not know the places in Los Banos

O di ba bonggels?  But at 6 p.m., several other guests haven’t arrived yetincluding the host, LOL! So I was busy communicating with Reg and Randy and Tita Len how to delay their arrival.  Ang giraffe guys!!!  Reg said that Motherhood was already having tantrums—those who know Motherhood know that she is the consummate on-time-dapatlagi person!  She was stressed because I told her that the party will start at 6 p.m., eh bibiyahe pa to Sta. Rosa.  So pa’no na?  Well, I ain’t the mistress of surprise parties for nothing.  A great idea hit me: Fatherhood’s older sister, Auntie Cely, was in town visiting her grandchild studying in UPLB.  Motherhood and I invited her to the “Sharon Cuneta” affair (but I told Auntie Cely the truth days before the event).  So I told Randy to tell Motherhood that Aunty Cely was on her way to our home to ride with them to Sta. Rosa.  And voilà, that shut Motherhood up from hurrying to leave.  However, Reg called me to inform me that Motherhood was calling Auntie Cely!!!!  Patay na patay na!!!

cfc (146)

cfc (199)60th Masquerade Theme Surprise Birthday Party preparation
Caught on cam: Stressed because 1) I was panicking; and 2) I was using a bar phone at ang sakit na ng daliri ko!

I called Aunty Cely right away and her phone was busy.  Shet na malagket!  When I finally got ahold of Auntie Cely, I heaved a sigh of relief when she told me she didn’t answer Motherhood’s call.  Then I told her that I used her in my plan.  Later on I learned that this conversation happened:

Motherhood:  O Ate Cely asan na kayo?

Auntie:  Ay hindi ko alam.

Motherhood: Pakausap ako kay Nina (my niece who’s a senior at UPLB) siya tatanungin ko.

At nag-panic daw si Nina!

Motherhood:  Nina malayo pa ba kayo?

Nina:  Dito po sa may paliko….

Motherhood:  Anong paliko?  Diba galing ka lang sa FO e dire-direcho lang naman papunta dito?  Asan na ba talaga kayo?

Nina: Lola Emma…hindi ko po alam asan na kami.

Motherhood, thinking (not out loud):  Ano ba naman itong si Nina, 4 years nang nakatira sa UPLB hindi pa alam ang mga lugar?!?  UP student hindi nag-iisip!


And finally when almost all of the guests have arrived (plus the host), and Tita Romilyn aka Liza Minelli  and her gang have already practiced their special number, I called Randy and gave them the go signal to leave.  The plan was that Reg will be dropped off to the Seniors’ Social Garden where she is to attend a wedding (but while waiting, Mom was thinking again:  Ano ba naman ito si Reg napakalapit lang ng Social Garden magpapahatid pa eh late na nga kami kay Sharon!)

The plan

The host announced that Motherhood was coming.  So we dimmed the lights and all were asked to stand up and put on their masks…

Preparing for Madame EKS’ arrival.  Everyone’s wearing masks for the masquerade party

and Fatherhood was to escort Motherhood into the hall.

60th Masquerade Theme Surprise Birthday Party1

cfc (209)Dodong putting on the mask of the escort for the 60th Masquerade Theme Surprise Birthday Party

The arrival

Then we saw our car driven by Randy with Reg, Tita Len and Motherhood.  Reg alighted from the car, and asked Motherhood to get off as well.  Of course did not want to, kasi bakit naman daw siya mskiki-attend sa weding reception na hindi siya invited.  But then Randy also got off and said, “Uy Mom si Irvin!  Baba tayo Mom, tingnan natin!”  Still she did not get off, at nas-stress na siyaThen even Tita Len got off the car and expressed her interest to attend the wedding reception.  She was already alone in the car so she exasperatedly got off.  And then she saw Dad daw, who pulled her to the party.  Now she was getting confused and angry: Bakit andito ang mga tao eh dapat asa Sta. Rosa?!?  At bakit kami makiki-attend sa party na hindi kami invited?!?

Let’s take a look at the development of Motherhood’s expression, caught by the lens of my friend Charles Caramihan’s camera:

[Read more…]

Madame EKS (aka Motherhood)’s 60th Surprise Birthday Party Part 1: Party Planning

Ako na, ako na talaga!  For the second straight year, I pulled off another surprise milestone birthday party successfully.  Last year it was Randy’s, this year it’s Motherhood’s.


Tita Len’s suggestion

Some time in July, when my Tita Len (Motherhood’s younger sister) visited us she asked me what my plans are for Motherhood’s birthday.  I told her I had no plans, because we will be in Hong Kong at that time.  She said we should throw a simple surprise birthday party for Motherhood’s because she will turn 60 na!  I was surprised because I didn’t expect that Mom would get her dual citizenship this year (You know—Filipino citizen and senior citizen.  Hehehe)  So of course, I agreed.  Except for one thing:  I did not like the word “simple”.  Allergic ako sa simple.  Motherhood deserves a somewhat bongga birthday party.  And knowing her, that’s what she would want.  Hindi naman bonggang-bongga that would cost hundreds of thousands.  But that party should have a program, nice décor, catered food, and guests should look handsome and beautiful.  Yung hindi naman backyard party lang at a-attend kung sino lang ang mahablot, if you know what I mean.

My initial cohorts

I will let you in on a secret:  to successfully throw a surprise party, don’t involve too many people early.  So after my talk with Tita Len, I contacted only two other people who love Motherhood so much: Kuya Mark Nas and Tita Romilyn Haresco.  Kuya Mark is one of Motherhood’s “intellectual” friends—ka-Genetics circle niya and Motherhood is like Kuya Mark’s second mother.  Tita Romilyn on the other hand is Motherhood’s batchmate and longtime college roommate at UP.

We had conversations on Facebook where we discussed the best date, time, motif, theme, etc.  I swore them to secrecy and made it known I’ll hate them forever and ever if they spill.

surprise birthday party

the makings of a surprise birthday party

So after some brainstorming, we decided on the following:

Date: October 4, Saturday (we will have returned from Hong Kong by that time)

Time: 6 pm (pero alam namin na 6:30 ang dating ng mga tao)

Motiff: Red and black (red is Motherhood’s favorite color and black para old Hollywood ang dating)

Theme: Masquerade (para ma-reinforce ang air of mystery kuno)

The problem lang talaga was how to make sure Motherhood attends her own party.  In case you didn’t know, Motherhood and Fatherhood still live in Mindanao (although Motherhood is always attending meetings in Manila and Los Banos so parang taga-Luzon na rin siya. Also, since she’s originally from Tiaong, Quezon and got her BS, MS and PhD from UPLB plus she has lots of projects/collaborations with CHED, PCARRD, IRRI, UPLB, we’re sure hindi lalangawin ang Luzon birthday party celebration niya!).  Baka kami ang ma-surprise kasi no-show ang celebrant!  Kung anu-ano na ang iniisip kong reasons!

I:  Tita Len, ano kaya kung sabihin mong nakabuntis si Ochie (my cousin who’s still in college) tapos magpapakasal na sa Oct. 4?

Tita Len:  Ay juskopo ineng, magwawala iyon at baka atakehin pa!  Hindi n’ya na mae-enjoy ang mga benefits ng pagiging senior!

And after a long time brainstorming it just hit me:  I’ll tell her that I will open my Gymboree Sta. Rosa on Oct. 4.  And she had to be there because it’s so bongga that Sharon Cuneta will do the ribbon cutting.  I told her just that and she said she’ll make sure she and Dad will attend.  Aminin man ni Mom o hindi, alam ko anong naging magic words dun: Sharon Cuneta.  Hukhukhukhuk!

Motherhood used to watch this every Sunday!  May hanash pa si Motherhood dati na galit na raw siya kay Piolo kasi pinaiiyak si KC!

We all heaved a sigh of relief, and then I started booking a caterer (remember when my iPad got lost?  It’s because of this party! So Mom ibili mo ako ng bagong iPad!), a venue, photographer and photo booth, etc.  I also created a Facebook Secret Group where we posted details of the party and invited people.  Of course, each member was also sworn into secrecy.


I’m just so happy because it was apparent that so many people love Motherhoodisang request ko lang na could you do this or that, game agad.  And when I thank them profusely, they’d say it was their pleasure because Motherhood is like this or that to them, and that was the least they could do.  Take note, these are busy professionals and some have to juggle family and work pa, but they go the extra mile for Mom.  I remember when I booked her party venue, the person in charge volunteered to give me a big discount because she knows Motherhood.  Take note, I didn’t ask for the discount—she just volunteered it!

Anyway, before the party, we were all laughing our hearts out because Madame EKS (that’s Motherhood is called at her workplace—EKS=Emma K. Sales) can’t contain her Sharon Cuneta excitement!  Tita Rom posted this on our Facebook group two days before THE DAY:

Emma: Romilyn, sa Sat ay opening ng school ni Dew sa Sta Rosa.  Si Sharon Cuneta ang guest. Me: Wow, a-attend kayo?
Emma: Oo, dapat daw andun kaming 2 ni Edwin [Dad] at dahil bff kita, invited ka.
Me: Anong oras at anong suot?
Emma: 6pm Sat at syempre, maarte ang anak ko, formal daw.
Me: Sige, try ko.  Text kita sa Sat pm

Ang hirap magpanggap!

And then the day before THE DAY:

sharon cuneta excitement

So what happened the following day?!?  Abangan!