June 18, 2017: I was all ready to start a blog post on our trip to Canada, when I stumbled upon a batch of photos from Charlene’s seventh birthday party in June.
Charlene is part of Nukaat’s other family. Together with her older brother, Kuya Mathew, her little sister Nina, and her parents, Richard and Mylene, Nukaat is always in good hands whenever we fly off to Canada for a few months or skip over to Hong Kong for a weekend. Charlene’s birthday celebration fell on the day after we arrived back in Subic from our dive holiday at Tubbataha Reefs, so I was able to join in the festivities and pick up Nukaat.
Not every birthday is such a big deal in the Philippines, but turning one, seven, 18 (for girls) and 21 (for boys) sure are.
There doesn’t seem just one reason behind the seventh birthday tradition. The first birthday is pretty obvious; it’s celebrating the gift of life. It could be that seven is a lucky number, or that seven is seen as the age when a baby is no longer a baby and passes into childhood, in the same way a girl becomes a woman on her 18th birthday and a boy becomes a man on his 21st. It could be that the traditional larger, poorer families couldn’t afford to celebrate every milestone, or it could have something to do with the biblical significance of the number seven, or possibly a combination of all of the above.
Charlene’s seventh had all the elements of a debut. She made a grand entrance in her pink princess gown. She sat regally on the stage for the opening prayer and introductions. Then came the seven roses dance with her father, brother, uncles and cousin. Young male friends presented her with seven balloons. Female friends presented seven candles, seven gifts and seven wishes. Of course, the event wouldn’t be complete without food, treats and games for both the kids and the adults.
It was an honour to be invited to celebrate Charlene’s seventh, experience this elaborate Filipino tradition and present her with one of her seven gifts. Charlene was a very special princess for a day.
With additional photos from Mylene and Criselda.