A/N: Good day, EB readers! Thank you for your kind words for Letters (11): FROM RICKY WITH LOVE.
I’ve been stressed since last Monday, August 12, with the “tampuhan” between Richard and Maya, kaya here’s my attempt at spreading some birthday cheer. Here goes…
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, COWBOY CHIEF!
Maya has been pacing back and forth in the living room of Eman’s condo for almost an hour now. She misses Richard. Thanks to Kute, she somehow realized she has done him wrong. All he’s ever done is defend her from his Dad.
Kute is right. “Mali man na nakipag-argue siya sa Papa niya, mali din yung ginawa ko na awayin siya. Hindi ko man lang pinakinggan yung paliwanag niya o inalam yung nararamdaman niya. Naku, Maya, tama na muna ang pride at tampo. Birthday pa naman niya. Unang birthday niya bilang boyfriend ko, tapos ganito pa kami? Ayoko ng ganito. Magpapakatotoo na ko. Miss ko na talaga siya at mahal na mahal ko siya. Kelangan magkaayos na kami para happy naman ang birthday ng Ser Chief ko. 5 years na rin kaya siyang malungkot tuwing birthday niya. Kelangan ngayong birthday niya, happy siya!”
Maya’s musings were suddenly interrupted by an unexpected call from Nikki.
Nikki: Hi, Ate Maya!
Maya: O, hi, Nikki! Kamusta?
Nikki: I’m okay lang, Ate Maya. Truth is I’m so G-R-R-R with Kuya and Nicolo, pero I’ll tell you about it na lang next time. I called about something else kasi.
Maya: Ano yun?
Nikki: Ate Maya, Kuya and I are just worried about Dad. Parang he looks so sad kasi. And since yesterday, so init ng ulo niya. He’s not even smiling. It’s his birthday pa naman tomorrow. Do you know ba why he’s like that?
Maya: Naku, Nikki pagod lang yun sa work. Wag mo masyado isipin yun.
Nikki: Pero Ate Maya he hasn’t been like that in so long kaya. Kuya and I are really worried na. It’s his birthday na tomorrow. I really hope we can cheer him up sana.
Maya: Ganun ba? Pano nga kaya…? Teka, may naisip ako, Nikki. What if i-surprise natin siya tonight? Mag-birthday salubong kaya tayo?
Nikki: Huh? What’s birthday salubong, Ate Maya? Diba we’re celebrating his birthday na at the orphanage tomorrow?
Maya: Iba yung birthday salubong, Nikki. Diba pag December 31, gising tayo lahat at inaabangan natin mag 12 AM para i-welcome yung New Year? Parang ganun yun Nikki. Pagdating ng 12 AM mamaya , i-surprise natin ang Daddy mo. Kakatok tayo lahat sa room niya with a birthday cake–
Nikki: …And when he opens his door he will all find us singing a happy birthday song for him! Tapos dapat may balloons and cake from all of us. Oh, that’s a brilliant idea, Ate Maya! Daddy will love that.
Maya: Tapos ako naman bibigyan ko siya ng flowers!
Nikki: Really, Ate Maya? Flowers? You’re so sweet. Daddy will love that.
Maya: Sa tingin mo magugustuhan niya yun?
Nikki: Of course, Ate Maya! That’s a unique gift for a guy from a girl kaya. Tapos Kuya and I will buy the birthday cake and balloons na lang after school.
Maya: Sige. Ako magdadala na lang ako ng spaghetti mamayang gabi. For long life yun. Magluluto ako.
Nikki: I’m so excited na, Ate Maya. Can you bring an overnight bag na din and your cowgirl costume? Para you don’t have to go home na after the birthday salubong. Just sleep with me in my room na lang. We can all go together to the orphanage tomorrow. I’m sure Daddy will like that.
Maya: Pwede. Sige tingnan natin, Nikki.
Nikki: Ate Maya, I’m excited na! Kaya lang Daddy has to be home early para matuloy yung plan. We have to make sure that he sleeps early tonight.
Maya: Okay, Nikki. Punta na lang ako diyan mamaya mga 11 PM. Sana nga tulog na siya. Papahatid na lang ako kay Eman.
Nikki: Thankie, Ate Maya! You’re the best talaga! See you tonight.
After dinner with his kids, Richard went to bed early. He does not want Luke, Nikki or Abby to see him in his current state: lonely and miserable. He misses Maya. Brod Ryan is right. All Maya has ever done is insist that he avoid any arguments with his Dad for his own sake. He went to her condo last night with high hopes of patching things up with her. But his pride still got the better of him. Before he even found the courage to text her or get out of his car and see her, he sped off. “You’re a coward, Richard. Your pride got in the way again,” he thought.
Ryan has a point. “Maya loves me kaya she doesn’t want Papa and me to have a problem. I may not be able to fix my problem with Papa now, but I know Maya and I should fix ours. Manang Fe and Ryan are correct. Maya and I should talk. I don’t want my birthday to just pass without us patching things up… I love her… I know what I’ll do! I’ll wake up early tomorrow, buy breakfast, go to her condo, apologize, and then share a hearty meal with her. Then we’ll talk…” He dozes off to dreamland not soon after.
It’s been a long, tiring day for Richard, after all. He was in 3 different meetings today. Thoughts of Maya were with him all day. Then by early afternoon he receives a call from Manang saying his Papa is trying to locate his Mama. When he is finally able to contact his Mama, she wouldn’t even tell him where she is or whom she’s with. He even received an ultimatum from his mom. She won’t show up until he and his Papa patch things up. Long day , indeed.
It’s almost midnight in the Lim mansion. The house is quiet. Only the Lim kids and Maya are wide awake. Luke and Abby are busy decorating the 2nd floor family area with balloons, while Maya and Nikki are getting the coffee table ready with the birthday cake for their Dad, her Ate Maya’s homemade spaghetti, and the apple juice she and Abby prepared before their Ate Maya arrived. Plates, utensils, glasses and napkins were on one side of the table.
When the clock struck 12, Luke stealthily opened his Dad’s bedroom door as he, Nikki and Abby, each holding a balloon, entered his room. They all smiled as they saw Richard peacefully sleeping on his bed. Then they start singing,
“Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday to you! Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday! Happy Birthday, Daddy!”
Before they could even finish the song, their Dad woke up and sat on his bed, happily smiling at them.
Luke, Nikki and Abby: Happy Birthday, Daddy! We love you!
Richard: Thank you, kids! You just don’t know how happy you made me with this surprise. You are all very sweet.
Nikki: (hugs and kisses Richard) Awww! We love you, Daddy!
Luke: Yes, Dad. We love you! (hugs Richard)
Abby: Daddy, I love you! (hugs and kisses Richard, too)
Richard: Thank you, baby!
Abby: Pero, Daddy this is not our only surprise for you.
Richard: It’s not?
Nikki: Close your eyes muna, Dad.
Richard: Do I really have to?
Luke: Yes, Dad!
Richard: Okay. (Nikki then covers her Dad’s eyes with her hands!)
Luke leaves the room.
Nikki: You’ll love this surprise, Daddy!
Richard: I will?
Abby: Yes, Daddy.
Luke enters the room with his Ate Maya carrying a bouquet of flowers. Then he has Maya sit beside his Dad.
Luke: Dad, wait one minute before you open your eyes.
Richard: Okay… This better be good.
Nikki: You’ll super love this surprise, Dad! Don’t open your eyes yet. Wait one minute!
The Lim kids leave the room. A minute passes. Richard opens his eyes and sees his Maya seated beside him, smiling and on the verge of tears.
Maya: (teary-eyed) Happy Birthday, Ser Chief! I love you. Sorry na.
Richard: (hugs her real tight for a full minute) Thank you, Maya! I love you. Sorry din. I miss you so much!
Maya: Ako din, Ser Chief. Miss na miss na kita…
Luke, Nikki and Abby: (suddenly enter the room) You like our surprise, Dad? This whole thing was Ate Maya’s idea.
Richard: I just don’t like it. I love it. Thank you, Luke, Nikki, Abby… (smiles) Thank you, Maya!
Maya: (smiles back and hands him flowers) Happy Birthday, Ser Chief!
Maya: Ayaw mo?
Richard: Siyempre gusto. This is the first time a woman ever gave me flowers. Thank you, Maya! I love you!
Luke: Hala si Dad, o! Nagpapaka-sweet!
Nikki and Abby: KISS!!!
To Maya’s astonishment, Richard kisses her full on the lips with the three Lim kids watching. All Maya could do was cover her face after the deed is done.
Abby: Ate Maya, you’re turning red!
Nikki: Hala, Dad! You’re blushing, too! Hahaha!
Luke: Dad, your birthday cake is waiting outside.
Nikki: And Ate Maya cooked spaghetti for you.
Richard: Really? (looks at Maya and whispers) Are you sure you cooked spaghetti? Anong lasa kaya? Pancit?
Maya: Ser Chief ha… (pouts and then smiles)
Abby: Let’s go na, Daddy! It’s time to blow the candles…
Richard nods. He and Maya stand up, hold hands and leave his bedroom. They gather in the family area. Maya and his kids sing him a happy birthday again. He blows the candles on his birthday cake. Then eating and more singing took place. Luke, Nikki and Abby all fell asleep on the couch soon after. Richard carries Abby to her room, while Maya wakes up both Luke and Nikki so they can go to sleep in their respective bedrooms.
With the kids finally asleep in their rooms, Richard and Maya are now alone in the 2nd floor family area, holding hands, smiling and staring intently at each other. Maya breaks the silence, “Ser Chief, kape?”
Richard: I thought you’d never ask.
Maya: Bakit di ka agad nagsabi na gusto mo? Wait lang…
Richard: Maya… (grabs her waist and has her sit down beside him)
Richard: Dito ka muna. Mamaya na yung kape. I missed you… (he rests his left hand on Maya’s shoulders)
Maya: (looks at him and smiles…) Totoo ba yan? Eh bakit di ka man lang nag-text? Miss na miss na din kaya kita.
Richard: You know, I can actually ask you the same question.
Maya: Ser Chief! Naliwanagan na ko. Kinausap ako ni Kute. Pinaintindi niya sa kin lahat nang ginagawa mo para sa relasyon natin. Sorry kung hindi man lang kita binigyan ng chance na magpaliwanag ha. Pinaalala sa kin ni Kute na dapat pag-usapan natin ang problema natin at di dapat tayo mag-iwasan. Alam ko mas nakadagdag pa ko sa mga iniisip mo at sa mga pinoproblema mo sa pag-away ko sa yo. Sorry talaga. Nagawa ko lang naman yun kasi mahal na mahal kita pati na rin ang pamilya mo.
Richard: Maya, both of us had shortcomings. I also failed to understand what your point was. In my talk with Ryan yesterday, he made me realize that you only did what you did because you love me and because you want things to be okay with me and Papa. I love you so much, Maya! I won’t ever allow anyone to mistreat you or question your character. You’re the most amazing woman I know. Just like Kute, Ryan reminded me to let go of my pride and just talk to you… text you…
Maya: So, bakit di mo man lang ako tinext?
Richard: I wanted to, very badly. Fact is, I even went to the condo last night with the intention to fix things between us. Pero you know how I can be so full of pride, Maya… I’m sorry.
Maya: Okay na tayo, ha? Hindi na kita pipilitin tungkol sa Papa mo. Alam mo na naman yung stand ko diyan, diba? Pero sabi nga ni Tita Esmeralda sa kin kanina, we can never tell you what to do. Hindi daw kayo makikinig.
Richard: Wait! You know where Mama is?
Maya: Oo pero hindi ko pwedeng sabihin.
Richard: I know. Magpapakita lang daw siya pag okay na kami ni Papa. Papa and I were actually together this afternoon. For once, nagkasundo kami kahit sandali. Pareho kami nagwo-worry for Mama. Is she okay?
Maya: Oo. Nagtatampo lang talaga siya.
Richard: I know. But this thing between Papa and me… it can’t be fixed overnight, Maya. I just realized madami pa akong ibang tampo sa kanya. Growing up, he hardly spent time with me kasi he was always busy with his numerous businesses. Ngayon ko lang na-realize that I resented all those times he took me and Mama forgranted. The pain is still here. (he points to his heart)
Maya: Ah. Sorry ha. Mas maganda pa rin na magkausap kayo sana at masabi mo nararamdaman mo, Ser Chief!
Richard: We’ve both agreed that we will try and talk and listen to each other the day after my birthday. This is not easy, Maya… I hope Mama goes to the orphanage tomorrow for my birthday. Papa says he’s coming, too.
Maya: Ikaw pa, hindi ka matitiis noon. Ramdam na ramdam ko kung gano ka kamahal ng Mama mo. At Ser Chief, promise ko sa yo, hindi na kita kukulitin makipag-ayos sa Papa mo…
Richard: Just for the record, I tried to stop them from leaving the house, Maya. Matigas lang din talaga si Papa. He’s so stubborn. Si Mama naman, she thinks it’s for the best they leave daw muna. Stop blaming yourself for what happened. I tried to reach out to Papa din that same day they left. May naiwan siyang book dito sa bahay. I used that as an excuse to see him sa hotel. We even had lunch together. I tried, Maya.
Maya: Ser Chief, bakit di mo agad sinabi?
Richard: Diba nga, you just raised your voice at once and assumed the worst of me?
Maya: Sorry na, Ser Chief ko. Happy Birthday! I love you.
Richard: I love you, Maya. Don’t ever forget that. Don’t ever doubt that for one second, too. I love you! This is turning out to be my happiest birthday ever.
He leans in, cups her chin with his right hand and kisses her on the lips. The kiss they share is unlike all the other kisses they’ve shared in the past. This one is filled with passion, hunger and longing. Maya is suddenly left breathless after that amazing kiss.
He then held Maya’s hand and had her rest her head on his shoulder. He hums the refrain of the song they had not too long ago sang as a duet in a videoke match they lost to Rafi and Charlie, the same song they both hummed during their “friendly date” on Valentine’s Day…
They finally fall asleep in each others’ arms.
Morning came not soon after. It’s 9 am. Neither Richard nor the kids have gone down to eat breakfast, so Manang Fe and Doris, go up to the second floor to wake everyone up so they could all get ready for their day at the orphanage.
Doris suddenly gasps, clearly shocked by what she sees— Richard and Maya in each others’ arms, fast asleep on the couch…
Doris: Manang Fe, o, mukhang nag-celebrate na ng birthday ni Sir Richard si Maya at ang mga bata. Ang ganda-ganda nilang tingnan. Ang sweet-sweet!
Manang Fe: (smiles) O siya, sige na, puntahan mo na si Abby para magising mo na at makapaghanda na sa party sa orphanage.
Doris: Oo na po, Manang. Ang KJ niyo talaga! (Then whispers to herself as she enters Abby’s room) Naku, talo kita hairnet! Di mo man lang nakita ang nakakakilig na eksenang ito! Hahaha!
Manang Fe then looks lovingly at her ward and the woman who has captured his heart. “Salamat naman sa Diyos at nakapag-usap na kayo at naayos niyo na ang lahat.”
Then, Luke gets out of his room, and sees his Dad and his Ate Maya fast asleep in each others’ arms. All he could do was smile. He then goes to Nikki’s room to wake her up and show her what he has just seen.
Nikki: Awww! So kakakilig! Kuya, please get my iPad. I want to take pictures! They are so bagay talaga. Look at Dad, o. He’s smiling even in his sleep. He looks so happy! They both look so happy!
Still giddy with excitement, Nikki takes pictures of Richard and Maya, as she continuously shrieks to her heart’s content.
Richard and Maya are finally awakened by Nikki’s shrieks. All they could do was smile and greet Luke, Nikki and Manang Fe a happy morning.
Still in the family area…
Maya: Ser Chief, mahal mo ko diba?
Richard: Yes, of course.
Maya: May special request ako sa yo sana.
Richard: What’s that?
Maya: (hands Richard a paper bag…) Wear this to your party.
Richard unpacks the contents of the paper bag and gasps…
Richard: Cowboy costume?!? I WON’T WEAR THAT!
Maya: Para sa ‘kin, Ser Chief?
Richard: Ask me to do something else, Maya. But I won’t wear that! Do you know that Mama already did this on my 12th birthday? She thought of a cowboy themed birthday party! I hated it, Maya! Wait…! Is this Mama’s doing again?
Maya: (smiles mischievously) Oo, pero nag agree din ako at lahat kami ng mga bata. Kasi ang exciting kaya. Sige na, Ser Chief. Isuot mo na. Lahat naman kami magco-costume, eh, pati mga bisita mo. And nag-promise sa kin ang Mama mo na basta mag-costume ka daw, pupunta siya sa birthday mo kahit hindi pa kayo okay ni Tito Roberto.
Richard: (pouts) Kayo talaga ni Mama, you like embarrassing me all the time.
Maya: Hindi kaya. Gusto lang namin maging memorable yung birthday mo. Gusto ko makita kang sobrang saya.
Richard: I’m happy, Maya… And, okay. For you and Mama, I’ll wear this.
Maya: Happy Birthday, Cowboy Chief! I love you!
Richard: Thank you, Attorney Cowgirl! I love you more!
Maya: Thank you for coming into my life. Mahal na mahal na mahal kita, Richard!
Richard: (smiles after hearing her say his name) No, Maya. I should be the one to thank you for coming into my life. For loving me. For loving my kids…and everyone around me, including Mama and Papa… Can you say that again?
Maya: Say what again?
Richard: My name. Richard. I love how you say it. Pwede ba minsan call me Richard naman?
Maya smiles and says, “Okay, Richard! You’re the boss!”
They stare intently into each others’ eyes. Then they smile, hug and kiss one more time.
Unknown to Richard and Maya, 3 pairs of eyes were happily watching them from afar, grateful to God above for making their Dad happy once again, and for giving them a chance to have another mom who loves them dearly and whom they will love for the rest of their lives.
Abby whispers, “Sana Dad asks Tita Maya to be our Mama soon.”
Nikki almost shrieked, “Baby ang bilis mo naman. Pero I like that. And you’re right. We should start calling her Tita Maya. And like ko yung wish mo, baby. I hope Dad proposes soon. I can help them plan the perfect wedding. I’ll even help Tita Maya choose the perfect wedding gown! I’m so excited na!
All Luke could do was smile. Like his two sisters, he is beaming with immense joy and happiness, as well. He finally whispers, “Welcome to the family, Tita Maya!”
Luke, Nikki and Abby look lovingly at each other and share a warm hug. Their family is once again complete. Happiness, at last! They each say the exact same silent prayer from their hearts, “Thank you, Mom. We know you did this. Thank you for allowing Dad to meet and fall in love with Tita Maya! We love you, Mom!”
Happy Birthday, Cowboy Chief! Enjoy your special day at the orphanage! Can’t wait to see you wear your cowboy costume! Hee-yah!
(written: early morning, August 14, 2013)