By Imelda Argel
Our year of bonding with relatives and friends started with a foursome dinner on New Year’s Day 2016 hosted by my sister, Rochie and her husband Ed Thurston at their residence in Epping.
In mid- January, Manny and I stayed at Terrigal Crown Plaza Hotel for a couple of days, on the occasion of Manny’s Parramatta Marist Brother’s High School reunion. We took the occasion to visit Susan (Lazo) Lindaya in her house in the Central Coast.
We then had a visit from my former officemate at Eisenberg Philippines, Julie Lava, her daughter Janice, Angelo, and Patrick. Janice was my godchild at her baptism and at her wedding with Angelo.
On 30th of January, my cousin Stella (Colet) Lahoz and her husband, Tom, from Minnesota spent the day and stayed overnight with us in Collaroy.
In mid-February, we had lunch with Debbie Madulid (my interior designer for my Surry Hills office) and son, Jerome at home and spent time catching up with them in our pool.
In mid April, friends, Ces Elinon, Alice Azucena and Arlene Pineda from the University of the Philippines and St Theresa’s College Alumni visited and they stayed the night. I practised my driving and parking skills at nearby Collaroy Beach, Long Reef reserve, Long Reef Golf Club as we toured the area. We finished by having dinner at the Flame restaurant at Dee Why RSL.
In March my niece, Golda Argel spent the night with us together with her sisters Raiza and Czarina who are residents of Sydney. Golda had passed the Philippine Bar and is an employed lawyer at the private law practice of the Philippine Executive Secretary Leo Medaldia of current Philippine President Duterte. My law classmate, Tony Pastelero, his wife and daughter Lisa joined us for lunch the following day.
Another law classmate, Marvi Abraham Singson, her husband, Tony, their daughters Saidee and Ruth (Saree) Fahkry with her husband, Pierre and their 3 sons came for lunch a few weeks later. This was followed by the visit of my nieces, Lani de los Santos, and Marijean Argel Alcausin whose kids enjoyed swimming in our pool all day.
My cousin Bessie Lahoz Arne (sister of Colet) and her daughter, Nicole, from Minnesota, bonded with us on the 29th and the next day before attended the the 70th birthday celebration of my brother in law, Ed Thurston at the Quest Hotel in North Ryde. After the party, we took home my cousin Wilfreda Yap and daughter, Eleanor of Melbourne to stay the night and spent the next day with us.
In May, we spent a week in Norfolk Island catching up with Manny’s nephew, Matt Zarb, (Joe’s son). Matt sings and plays the guitar, in his own restaurant, Jolly Roger. It is the only venue which provides live entertainment at night in the entire Island.
In mid-June, we hosted the dinner for 8 from St Joseph’s Parish Narrabeen.
In July, my niece, Nonna Anne (Ningning) Vaquilar Udani, from California with her husband and 2 kids and Nora, (Nonna’s sister) had lunch with us.
In late July, we visited Manny’s brother, Joe in Crowdy Head with Manny’s eldest sister Mary. We took the train and rented a car in Taree.
In mid-August, we flew to Europe for our third European tour together. We had a great time in Athens, Malta, Crete, and joined Uniworld’s River Princess cruise from Bucharest to Budapest. Uniworld provided first class service, almost flawless!
Our tour ended in Rome, highlighted by our visit to the Sistine Chapel. We joined the thousands of pilgrims for the Angelus graced by Pope Francis before boarding Qatar airlines, stopping overnight at Doha before returning to Sydney. The Qatar Business class seat/bed was worth every cent!
We returned home on the 13th September at about 8 pm. Manny’s only brother passed away at 2 am on the 14th. Manny left for Taree next day but missed Joe alive. We drove to Taree to attend Joe’s funeral again taking Mary with us. Manny delivered the eulogy at the funeral on the 21th September. There must have been at least 200 friends and relatives at the reception after the funeral. The Zarb family and close friends had dinner together, that
Manny’s sister, Tess Lennon organised lunch for Joe’s widow, Kathy Cullen in Sydney for early November. It was attended by Manny’s sister, Connie, Peter, her husband, Tessie, Manny and I. Unfortunately, Mary was on a cruise and Kathy could not come to Sydney from Crowdy Head at that time.
My 70th birthday on the 26th November was next on schedule. A week earlier, my cousin and my former accountant who lives in Melbourne, Wilfreda Yap and her daughter Eleanor flew to Sydney to give me an advanced birthday treat in Manly, then coffee at Shelley Beach.
On the 22th November, Raffy Faustino Fajardo (my friend for 50 years and classmate), and Beda Fajardo (her husband, my law partner in Manila and former officemate) flew from Manila week earlier to bond with us and grace the celebration. My birthday party was attended by 70 friends and relatives. It had a Spanish theme, with paella booked on site. Singing and dancing followed my introduction of all the guests. The four entertainers: celebrity tenor, Brian Lorenz, talent show winner and daughter of my client, Fasika Ayallew, Manny’s nephew, Anthony Zarb and my singing psychologist consultant, Fe Limjap kept the party alive from 6-11 pm. The birthday wish after the blowing of the candles on the 2 feet long “70” cake from my architect, Jess and his wife, Emma Bonifacio was another highlight of the event.
Sue Fennel of our Thursday night social dance group won the best female Spanish costume award while Ken Skirka, Manny’s high school classmate, now our neighbour in Collaroy won the best male Spanish costume award in his Zorro outfit.
We celebrated our Christmas with Victor on the 16th, Friday night, with the neighbours on the 17th (Saturday), with Allison and Karen, Manny’s children and grandchildren on Sunday, the 18th.
We will be leaving for Forster tomorrow (22nd). We plan to spend Christmas day with Rebecca and family in their new home in Taree. Hopefully, we will also catch up with Joe’s widow, Cathy while we are in the area during the Christmas holidays.
Have a happy Christmas and an even happier year 2017.