NOVEMBER 19. I was up to my usual way of “escaping” to some destination and celebrate (if you can call it that) on my own (weird it may sound).

Celebrating away from home, family and friends meant cocooning in the comforts of my room, waking up late, rolling in the sheets and refusing to get up, shower and even take a step away from the room. It’s one of those “me” times and my birthday was the most special of all.

This year was spent with a shower of special surprises. Let me count my blessings and say thank you to everyone concerned.

Hong Kong was the appointed destination. Not having seen the place since 2009 made it an ideal place to visit, not to mention I snagged a jaw-dropping deal during PAL’s seat sale early in the year.

The coach seat turned special with the blessing of the airline’s president and COO after requesting for an upgrade. It was that “baka sakali lang” appeal coursed through PAL’s Leana Sanga in Davao and Cecile Robes in Manila. Short notice may be, PAL still gave their approval and flew me in comfort aboard the Business Class section of the flights to and from Hong Kong plus the lounge access (thanks to Ricky Ambrosio and Pinky Pineda for the arraignment in Davao). Call it revisiting the city in style.

The accommodations in this city were no less special.

The Marco Polo Hong Kong Hotel nodded to an extra night over the two nights availed with a gift certificate handed a year ago. That’s three nights in an upgraded room with the view of the iconic Victoria Harbour to wake up and say good night to.

Samantha Poon threw in more treats in the birthday basket—access to the exclusive Continental Club, where I had my breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails; a handwritten welcome note with a bottle of red wine and nibbles to match it; a birthday cake as an evening surprise; and a hosted lunch at Cucina, the hotel’s posh Italian restaurant.

I broke my tradition of staying in the room on the appointed day. My la dolce vita just had to have a dash of Italian, and turning down an invite to lunch at Cucina was insanity.

Yes, the food and the view were exceptional. I truly enjoyed Chef Andrea Oreste Delzano’s signature dishes—the baked Mediterranean seabass, linguini with Sicilian red prawns, and the slow-cooked Wagyu beef cheek. (Yes, I broke my no-meat diet oath on this day).

The meal ended with a bomb—a chocolate bomb! Sweet!

Shangri-La Kowloon was my next home for two nights. Thank you Sonny Ang, Patsy Chan and their team for the welcome to your luxurious residence with the handwritten welcome notes and greeting cards, and a decadent cake.

Everything about Shangri-La on this side of the city is grand—the lobby, the oriental appointments, the room sizes and the view it affords, the amenities.

Of course, I was “gifted” with a view of the harbor seen through the floor to ceiling picture window. The “moving” scene greeted me in the morning and lulled me to sleep at night, the same scene I enjoyed during breakfast and evening cocktails at the exclusive Horizon Club lounge on the top floor.

The treat continued at the two-starred Michelin restaurant, the Shang Palace, where Chef Mok Kit Keung whipped up innovative Cantonese specialties that were truly divine.

The steamed jade egg white and sliced spotted garoupa fillet with spring onion was a play on texture and flavor and the stir-fried vermicelli with Spanish red prawn and preserved vegetables was rich in flavor.

Good company and enjoying fabulous cuisine, I didn’t even notice we had a three-hour lunch.

Five days flew by, and I haven’t even toured the city as extensive as I would have when visiting another city. I saw a few site though, thanks to college friend OgieUy for making time to show me around the city he calls home.

Of course, there is the unconditional love I am showered with by my family and friends selfish I may be. Salamat.

I am spoiled and I know it. Thank you, Universe, for sharing your abundance.


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