Happy Birthday, Mommy

So, in yesterday’s article, A Close Friendship, I told you about my friend, Jon.  I left off at the point where Jon and I were talking on the phone – he in the USA and I in the Philippines – and he invited Feyma and I to an event in Davao.  But, I didn’t tell you what the event was, or how we enjoyed it.  That’s what I am going to do today.

When I returned Jon’s phone call a couple of months back, we chatted for a while and caught up on our respective families, and what was going on in our lives.  After we got that out of the way, Jon asked me if Feyma and I were busy on July 1.  Well, this was a couple of months back, so we had no plans for that date yet!  I told Jon that we were free, and asked what was up.  Jon told me that his mother’s birthday party would be that day.  Mommy Cora was turning 80 years old this year!  It was a real milestone, and we would not miss it for the world.

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It so happens that ten years ago, Feyma and I were invited to Mommy Cora’s 70th Birthday Party too, but we were unable to attend, as we were right in the middle of moving from GenSan to Davao on the very weekend of the party, so we had to send our regrets that time.  But, this time, we got plenty of notice, and made sure that our schedule stayed clear.  To be honest, Feyma and I were a bit worried about attending, or maybe I should say apprehensive about attending.  This was a “high class” social event, with some of the real moguls of the City coming for the party.  Feyma and I absolutely love Jon’s family, but we are just “regular folks” who don’t really attend these type of parties, at least not very often.

Article continues below pictures.  Click on the picture to see a larger view.

A few weeks after I talked to Jon on the phone, Jon’s sister-in-law came to the house and delivered our invitation for the party…  there it was, right on the invitation… Attire:  Strictly Formal!  Wow.. what would we wear?

I have a Barong Tagalog, which I wear to weddings and other formal events, but my barong is a short sleeve barong, which is also called a “Polo Barong.”  It is my belief that this is not considered to be too formal.  I kept debating whether I needed to have a new barong made, with long sleeves.  I asked advice from Filipinos who would know, but the advice I got was mixed.  Some said that the short sleeves would be OK, others said that I should definitely get a long sleeve barong made.  Feyma was in the same situation as I was, she had nothing really formal to wear.  As it turned out, I decided to stick with my short sleeve barong, and Feyma went and purchased a cocktail dress for the occasion.

When we arrived at the event, on July 1, there was a big sign on the side of the Grand Ballroom of the Apo View Hotel which read:  Welcome to Cora’s Red Carpet Event!  Wow…  I was still nervous if I would be under dressed or not, though.  When we walked into the ballroom, I saw Jon.  He was wearing a US style suit.  I looked around, we were a bit early so the crowd was small, but I saw people in all types of clothes and I felt comfortable in what I was wearing.  No problems… both Feyma and I fit right in.

I was able to spend some time with Jon, I visited with Mommy Cora, and also talked with most of Jon’s siblings.

During the 3 hours or so that we were there, Jon and his siblings provided entertainment, singing, dancing and various other forms of entertainment.  It was great!  The family really serenaded their mother and I am sure that she felt very special.  Feyma and I were able to meet a lot of the “upper crust” type people of Davao too, which was nice.  They were all so nice to us, and even told us that they hoped we could get together again soon.  While we had been a bit apprehensive about attending, it turned out that we had the time of our lives!

The dinner that was served was a five course meal, and it was quite good!  I felt a bit intimidated when I sat down and saw an array of silverware staring me in the face, not sure which one to use on which course, but I figured it out, and had fun in doing so.

As we sat there at the party, as it was starting to wind down, I got to looking around and realized that most of the attendees were long time friends of Mommy Cora.  There were a lot of people there in their 70’s and 80’s, perhaps at least half of the crowd, from what I could see.  Others in attendance were mostly family members.  As I thought about it, I could not really see any friends of Jon, or other such people.  It seemed to me that Feyma and I were really the only such people to be invited.  It humbled me and made me feel special at the same time.  The fact that we would be invited to such an event was a real honor.

Feyma and I headed home feeling so happy and blessed to have been included.  I would like to take this one last chance to wish a very happy 80th Birthday to Mommy Cora.  You are a special lady, and I think you for the kindness and hospitality that you have shown to me and my family!

Post Author: MindanaoBob (1345 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

Live in the Philippines Consulting


  1. Neal in RI says

    Wow from the looks of things that was a swanky party, and very nice pictures of Feyma and You at the party. Don’t you just hate it when you cant figure what silverware to use, I am guessing eating with your fingers was out!
    I try my best to stay away from any events that I cannot attend in a pair of shorts, flip flops and my best tropical shirt.

    • says

      Ha ha.. I hear you Neal. I wear long pants if I go out in public, as that is more accepted here, but I am not accustomed to going to this kind of event. In truth, I enjoyed it, though. I don’t know why, but I almost always enjoyed getting dressed up in my barong, but only from time to time. I guess the fact that it is so infrequent makes it special.

      One of the funny things was that I (the American) was dressed in formal Filipino attire. My friend Jon (the Filipino) was dressed in American attire! I got a laugh out of that. 😉

      • Neal in RI says

        Been there, I attended a Filipino Wedding here and I thought I was going to be the cats a– and I wore a very fancy pineapple fiber embroidered Barong Tagalog.
        Won’t you just know it I was the only doofiss there dressed up like that.
        I did leave with a bit of dignity/humor because when they had that pin the dollar on dance with the Bride I dug into my wallet secret stash of Piso and pinned that on.

        • says

          Ha ha.. I don’t think that wearing a barong to a Filipino event makes you a doofiss, Neal! I think it means that you were celebrating the culture! I don’t think I’ll ever wear a suit or tie again, it’s barong all the way for me!

  2. Robert says

    Hi Bob,
    I had to check back today to see what was going on after your lead-in the other day, kind of like a cliffhanger! It looks like it was quite an event. I’m like you in not often attending formal occasions, very seldom wearing a tie. My wife always diverts attention away from me in the dress up category anyway and it looks like Feyma does the same for you. It’s nice to have friends think so much of you to be invited to something like this.

    • says

      Hi Robert – Indeed, I felt very honored to have been invited, especially after I saw the people who had been invited and attended, it was a real special event. I was happy to have wore my barong, it was just right for the occasion!

  3. Axel says

    Just a little comment about Silverware and when to use:

    Always start from outside and in when changing meal. if it is arragened correctly it should end with a dessert spoon or fork nearest plate.

    That’s it :-)

  4. PapaDuck says

    I’m glad to see you enjoyed yourself at the event. It sounds like Mommy Cora is a very special woman. I don’t own a suit, tie or even a dress shirt. The most i dress up is with slacks and polo shirt. In the past when i had to wear a tie, it was always a clip on one. I’m like when i live there the only this i will dress up in is the Barong Tagalog. I’m just a casual type person no matter what the event. Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  5. Jim Hannah says

    It’s great to be invited to a nice event occasionally. Being in the building/construction industry, I often find myself looking forward to an occasion where I can dress nicely. After 20 odd years in retail management previously, always wearing a suit and tie, I kinda miss that sometimes.

    Looks like a terrific event you were invited to there; glad you enjoyed it. Here’s hoping you will make it to the 90th party too!

  6. Bob New York says

    Looks like it was a very nice affair Bob. On my last visit I bought a custom made suit including a matching shirt and tie. I seldom wear a suit but the cost of having it made in The Philippines was too much to resist. To me it seemed like a real bargain.

    • says

      Hi Bob – I have heard of getting suits made in Thailand, but never heard of getting it done in the Philippines. Interesting! anyway, yes, we did really enjoy the affair!

      • David LaBarr says

        Hi Bob,

        What a wonderful honor for you and Feyma to be invited to such a high class and also such a personal family birthday celebration. This is the way I am always treated in the Philippines and is part of what I love about the people.

        I have never had any suits made in the Philippines, but my wife has had several beautiful dresses made. She brings over pictures of movie stars wearing expensive dresses that she likes and buys beautiful material at a very reasonable price. A couple Davao seamstresses stop at the house, measure her up, take the picture and material, and return in a few days with finished dresses. No pattern; no nothing! Usually one in three has to have a minor alteration in order to fit perfectly. The cost amounts to only a few US dollars.

        Looking forward to seeing you in January 2013.

        God Bless,

        Dave LaBarr

        • says

          Hi Dave – Thanks for the comment, it’s nice to hear from you, as always. Yes, it was really a beautiful event, and we enjoyed it a lot.

          We have also had many similar experiences as you recount with getting the dress made. I have had other clothes made here (including my barong!), but never a suit.

  7. DanielY says

    The fact that you wore a Polo Barong and Jon wore a Western Suit, for an event in The Philippines, is just right. They are both Formal Wear, and it shows respect for each other’s culture, and the acceptance/integration of the western wearn into Philippine Culture.

    As for clling Jon’s Mom as “Mommy”, you are no longer considered a friend, but FAMILY !

  8. Jon B says

    It was my honor and pleasure to have both you and Feyma grace the occasion.

    Back in Connecticut now missing Davao.


  9. Philip says

    High Bob and Feyma I hope you and your family are all well it is raining
    here and a cold winters day arrives again we are very used to sunshine here but the rain is great just not for long periods. I have to thank you both for helping me purchase one of your items at your store and delivering it to my friend over there I was wondering if you could help me in I am trying to find out if this a legal business over there by the name of sulit jewlers Philippines it appears to be okay but I would rather put my trust in you first as you have helped me so much since I have found your website.
    Kind Regards

    • says

      Hi Philip – It is always our pleasure to assist in whatever way we can for a customer, so you are very welcome. We thank you for your patronage of our business!

      I am sorry, I am not familiar with “Sulit Jewlers,” I never heard of them. There is a popular website here in the Philippines called “Sulit.com” which is a sort of Philippine version of Craigs List or eBay, but I am not sure if that is what you are referring to. If it is Sulit.com that you are thinking of, well, every seller is a different entity, so it would be hard to say that the site itself is safe, as each individual seller would be different.

      Good luck to you Philip! I wish you the best.

      • Philip says

        Hi Bob I think it is called sulit.com.ph and the lady in question it states joannedesilva which is a jewlers in the philippines also a lot of other businesses as you stated but it appears to be okay, but you living there I thought you would have a better idea if it was okay on the net. Bob one day I hope to meet you and your family when I get over there. Bob the dress code you are talking about my mother who is an ardent Catholic informed me the other day that when she attended mass on Sunday there was a large number of Filapinos celebrating there day and they were dressed in similar clothing that is the Barong. Perhaps when I get married over there I should wear similar clothing but I am not sure what shoes you would wear? Hear the most comfortable shoes are thongs or flip flops but I don’t think it would be nice to get married in thongs perhaps but the beach or garden could be the place of marriage so have to work it out, take care

        • says

          Hi Philip – You are right, my mistake I left off the PH at the end of the URL. Getting old, I guess! 😉

          The thing is, I don’t know how I could be more helpful. Think about if you went to a swap meet or flea market that had 10,000 sellers. There is no way to know if one of them is honest or not, unless you have dealt with them, and I have never dealt with this particular jewelry dealer that you mention. Sulit is a site that has tens of thousands of vendors that are independent from the site. I would love to help you more, but I just have no knowledge about this particular vendor. Sorry about that.

          Haha.. you don’t wear tennis shoes, sandals or flip flops with a barong! A barong is as formal as a tuxedo, it is the national formal wear of the Philippines. Putting on flip flops with a barong would be very disrespectful. The proper thing to wear with a barong is a pair of dress shoes. Preferably black pants and black shoes.

          • Philip says

            Hi Bob thank you very much for helping me with my questions, yes I was unsure what you would wear with the Barong but you answered the code of dress for me which is much appreciated. I would hate to turn up to a wedding in my Nikes my asawa to be might spank me, thanks again for your wonderful time and help take care.

  10. Marj says

    Hi i just wanna ask if you did something like 18 roses, 18 candles? Like what is usually done in an 18th birthday party? :) cos we’re thinking to do it to my grandmom’s 70th bday this december but of course we want a different one. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks

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