Isabel at 18

In my diary

BIRTHDAYS are celebrations of life. They are gestures of blessings and friendships.

The debut party of Isabel Neri, daughter of Jed Neri and the late Ana Escalante; and granddaughter of Julius and Nelia, was touching from "start to finish" because of the love and cooperation of everyone in the family. Venue was The Glass House of Montebello Villa Hotel which Pinky Chang's Pink Flora transformed into a fairyland.

Young and pretty Isabel beamed with grace in a beautiful gown by Jul Oliva, who fashioned a hand-woven top in beige with pink flower appliques to match the bouffant pink skirt in sheer material. She was a picture of happiness with her Dad Jed, and the entire Neri and Garcia family, friends from school and other guests.

The evening started off with a piano number from the debutante who took on a Chopin piece. Highlights of the evening included the short talk of proud Dad Jed and doting Grandma Nelia; the ceremony of the 18 candles where cousins and friends spoke about Isabel; the gift-giving of Uncle Jovi Neri who presented a labor of love—a beautiful painting of Isabel he painstakingly worked on; the turning over of her Mom's collection of books to her by Vince Gaton (who was entrusted with the books); and musical numbers from family and friends.

I was witness to how my friend Nelia faithfully reared Isabel, always finding precious moments to attend to her at home and in school. She would skip some media commitments "because I have to fetch Isabel and be with her for some school activities." I had glimpses of Isabel's art and music lessons and school projects. For 12 years, Nelia was the perfect grandma and mother rolled into one. Unknown to her, I admired her ardor and wished I had the same chance to rear a child to become a gracious young lady.

Nelia shuns going "on centerstage" but during Isabel's debut, she stood tall and spoke from her heart. She clearly articulated her feelings and advice to a beloved "apo" who has grown to be a pretty lady. And grandpa Julius was beaming with joy. Oh, the delight of parenting!

Happy birthday, Isabel! Your journey to adulthood begins.


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