“Congratulations to the organizers, I was really surprised for the first time”, ate Ding mentioned in her short speech at the end of her surprise birthday celebration. There were lots of attempts to have a surprise birthday celebration for her in the past years but all failed. Her mental acumen always tells her in advance.
Ate Ding’s 60th birthday celebration was held at the Busuanga room of Legend Hotel Palawan in Puerto Princesa City on March 20, 2014. The participants who were composed of ate Ding’s close friends, family members, church mates and colleagues who are residing in Puerto Princesa gathered at about 7PM. Ate Ding arrived at about 7:30 after making rounds at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP).
Her 60th birthday was full of surprises. Some former colleagues she didn’t expect came and shared few words of greeting, gratitude and appreciation for her influence in their lives. Those who came were Dr. Posas and ate Tess Tejada. Three surprise emails were also read – the first mail came from a friend, Sylvia Kostka a surgeon whom she met in Pune India many years ago; the second was from Debbie McGoldrick, an American who was her pen-pal back in College and until now; and Bing who had a big influence on ate Ding’s spiritual life when she was in College.
Another surprise was the unexpected arrival of ate Ding’s siblings with some of their kids and other relatives from Tacloban and Metro Manila. Two surprise videos were also showed – the first one was a video clip greeting from the U.S. and one from another brother. The last video greeting was from her daughter Jabesse who’s taking up Medicine in UP. Interestingly, when her siblings was about to board the plane bound to Palawan, her brother Butchoy who was a Bgy. Chairman in Tacloban failed to show a boarding pass (he assumed that one of his siblings must’ve acquired for him). He was eventually allowed anyway. One of their nieces (a lovely five-year old girl) also failed to show a birth certificate which must have been lost during the Yolanda devastation, but her smartness let her answer all the queries from the airline staff allowing her to join the travel.
Ate Ding together with Kuya Jun, her husband were our mentors. I may haven’t developed and have my potentials be put to use if not because of how they trained, taught and modeled to us. They were one of the very few people who have seen my skills and appreciated and accepted me for who I am. She is not afraid to involve others in God’s grand plan for her life. She is able to see unique talents in each person and allows them to lead and grow.
TEN INTERESTING THINGS I’ve Known About Ate Ding:
1. Ate Ding was a champion chess player
2. She used to accompany her younger brother who was an activist in posting protest placards at night during the martial law.
3. While in UP Med, Ate Ding shared half from his brother’s allowance who was studying in Philippine Science High School
4. When ate Ding desired to join the CCC staff, she instead pursued medicine in obedience to her parents, while her friend (Bing) who wanted to pursue medicine ended up joining what ate Ding desired. She was grateful though that God blessed them each with a husband.
5. Ate Ding sleeps, as opposed to what most people would say. They may not notice it but Kuya Jun does. Ate Ding gets deep sleeps during travels on plane and buses. She sleeps two – five hours daily on the average.
6. Her favorite song is Don Moen’s “He never sleeps” and “Close to You” by the carpenters.
7. It was ate Ding’s first time to watch that night a short documentary video about her which was created and produced by CCC and uploaded to YouTube two years ago.
8. Her favorite past time is ironing clothes.
9. She was perceived by her younger brother as his terror defender against bullies when they were kids.
10. She has acquired dual citizenship with free movies, 20% discount and priority lane privileges.
The event was made possible through the efforts and resources of her primary 12 and her siblings. The organizers this time were smarter than her – they were able to keep it a secret for days even as they meet and planned.