07 October 2012


When I was a child, we had this tradition in our neighbourhood that involved people secretly gathering on someone’s birthday (normally at the request of the celebrant’s family) and surprising him or her with an early morning serenade. Normally, people gather between 4-5am and starts to sing the serenade in front of the celebrant’s house – the first song is supposed to be sweet sounding and it is meant to gently wake the celebrant up. We normally use the song Silayan. And then the mesmerized celebrant lets us in and we continue the merrymaking indoors, singing different songs that celebrate life and gratitude to God. The singing normally ends with people dancing to an upbeat song, e.g. Mingaw mingaw ang tiyempo, sa pag-uros sa hangin... And then... eating time ‘till break of dawn!

We call this whole affair the mañanita.

Singing songs

Mama saying her heartfelt thanks. She cried. Awww... 

With the food in the foreground. :-) Normally it should be a surprise, but Mama somehow heard about the mañanita so she prepared Spaghetti just in case.

Praying for Mama and for the food.
The purpose of my vacation here in Davao is to be with my family as we celebrate Mama’s birthday. I never expected though that I’ll be able to experience mañanita once again. Although I recall the mañanitas we had when I was younger was more jolly and jubilant, I am still thankful that our new neighbours exerted an effort to set up a mañanita. Yes, we moved to a new neighbourhood few years ago. Long story. And Mama easily became the village head here, as she was in our previous place.

Nanay (Mama's mom) singing for mama


Mama cooked this for me

I cooked for her in return... jokes. I was merely posing. :-)

Anyway, I was thankful with the new neighbours’ gesture. To me it was a sign that they welcome our family in the neighbourhood and they recognize Mama as their new village head. While we were singing songs I felt proud for Mama. I can see that our new neighbours are showing her respect. This has confirmed Mama’s character – she is a leader, a revered individual, a dependable person, a responsible and loving mother and wife, and most of all, a selfless woman.

I love you, Ma. Happy happy birthday!


By the way, one of my favorite songs in the mañanita is Today. I didn’t know it was a famous song, and was actually at some point covered by John Denver. Here’s a link to the song:

Here is also another favorite mañanita song, Silayan:

Oops... no lyrics there. Check this one. It is actually a kundiman. Nice.


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