Happy Birthday in Heaven!


Dear Mommy,

Last year, Samantha wrote you a birthday card wishing you a happy first birthday in heaven. Well today would then be your second one there. Actually I’m not sure how they celebrate it over there, if at all, but all I really wish for is that you are truly happy now and that you are always gloriously in the presence of our Lord. I’m sorry though if I still bug you from time to time with my trivial little problems. You know more than anyone that I could never get any rest unless I had shared them with you. (I also miss those reassuring hugs so much.)

I posted too this candid photo of you when Sam was barely a week old because it speaks to me about how much you had loved her– then and now.  I promise to do my best to face life bravely for her sake and shall always strive to take care of her the way you have always wanted. She is growing up so fast and I see more and more of you in her with each passing day. Please try to guide her also whenever you can because there are just some things I was never really good at, like perhaps explaining about “the birds and the bees” thingy.

Mama offered Holy Mass for you today as I make my usual trip to Heritage. We will also have a simple dinner to remember you tonight with Mama, Alma, Baguie and kids. I do hope you can join us then. And always, always remember that we love you so very much, now and forever.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Mommy!

With all my love,


“Happy Birthday Daddy”

Mommy and Me

Mariel would have kissed me as I woke up today and said “Happy Birthday Daddy”. Of course she would have already wrapped a “surprise” gift, usually a nice shirt (as she knew I have poor taste in clothes) and would have also written me some heart- warming notes like “as an additional gift, I promise not to be ‘sungit’ for one week.” Mariel had the better sense of humor. She used to make me laugh. Now I can only cry at best. And I had a pretty good cry before finally getting out of bed this morning. For I missed her so badly.

By the way, she talked to my mom a few months ago about giving me something “special” this year, this being my 50th. I would have wanted to tell her however that just being with her was more than enough to make my birthdays special and memorable. Her being with me today like going window-shopping at ShangriLa mall would have been already a treat. We usually went there on Sundays to hear Mass and eat lunch. Then. its off to my sister’s place in Lexington Garden Village where we would have a small “party”. Parties simply meant having “merienda” with family and friends, while Sam got to play with the other kids. This year, its something similar except that Mariel’s no longer there to make it “fun”. Feelings of joy these days it seems, come far between moments of longing and emptiness.

The only thing that brought some joy today was reading again Mariel’s birthday card to me of a few years back, which said (I know see wouldn’t mind) — “I celebrate today, the day you came into the world, for if you hadn’t I’m sure I never would have known the kind of happiness you brought into my life. I love you, Happy Birthday”.

I love you very much too, Mommy. Take care and good night.

Happy Birthday Mariel !

Mariel Bello

It’s a little past 12 am of November 6. Around this time every year I’d wake up Mariel to whisper “Happy Birthday Mommy, I love you”. After a big hug, it was usually back to sleep for her. It’s not that Mariel did not appreciate my greetings on her special day, she just knew that she had to get up early to prepare Sam for school the coming day. As I’ve said many, many times before in the blog, for Mariel, Sam is THE priority. That’s why I love Mariel even more looking back. She seldom called attention to her own needs. She was happiest when she was sharing with others. Her birthdays were normally spent having a simple dinner at home.  Many times over Max’s Fried Chicken and Pancit Canton.

That’s why later tonight, it will be her favorite noodles and chicken for us. Plus, we’ve written her short letters as little gifts to her today. I had promised Sam not to publish her message on this blog. Sam believes her thoughts are simply between her and her Mommy. All I can reveal is that it’s filled with lots of infinity symbols.

If I can,  I will also probably read some really nice words of encouragement we’ve received through this blog– Mariel’s Garden. Thoughtful comments from Linda Riley (mysteryoriley blog), Grace V, cousin Annie, “Writing Grandma”, Mariel our niece, Joy L, Direk Vincent, Hedy T, Susie B, Claire Espina and her siblings, will surely warm our hearts when we most need it most now. We also plan to offer Holy Mass and prayers later, and maybe, if we are still up to it, we can also look at old photographs and remember our happiest times with Mariel. There were truly many happy times we’ve shared. They can however never be really enough, because she had so much to give from her endless wellspring of love and caring.

I really wish many more people would have gotten to know her more. But my Mariel came across as very private, to many of you. Actually, she just never wanted to impose on anyone. She was never comfortable being the object of attention. She would rather give instead. She was happiest when she made others happy. And she can afford to give so much because her cup was so full. She is already complete, and wanted nothing for herself.

Well, on the other hand not completely nothing. If there was anything she was a bit selfish of, it was about her daughter Sam (and maybe to some extent, of me) She wanted almost nothing, but to just spend moments with the three of us, cuddling in bed. Maybe she saw it coming. I will never really know. All I know right now is that I will be spending all my days in this world trying to make people, and specially our daughter Sam, understand what a truly exceptional person Mariel was. A loving, gentle and very generous person. A person who “found her happiness in the happiness of another”.

Happy Birthday Mommy. We will always love you. You will always be in our hearts. Love you to Alpha Centauri and back.