Last month, National Capital Region Police Office chief Debold Sinas received heavy criticism after his office posted photos of his birthday party on social media. Yes, such "party" happened, with what looked like 50 guests in attendance despite the quarantine then strictly enforced and he himself acting firm about it earlier. His celebration was called out as a big no-no, a case shrugged off by the authorities— including President Rodrigo Duterte who then wrote it off as just a mañanita.
Mañanita? Some of us unfamiliar asked ourselves.
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The word apparently comes from the more commonly used root word mañana, the Spanish word for “tomorrow” or “morning.” In contrast to birthday parties, a mañanita is an intimate celebration of giving an early welcome to a celebrant’s birthday (which we now know as the “salubong”). Simply put, a mañanita is a serenade sung at dawn to wake up a celebrant. This practice has eventually evolved with the times and now include a birthday cake and presents as well. Some provinces in the country still practice this way of greeting people on their natal day.
With all the safety precautions we now have to take because of the pandemic, public safety is of utmost priority. The need for mass gatherings like parties now finds itself on the other end of the spectrum. Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t mark milestones at home with our dearest. With the eased up General Community Quarantine, it seems we can hold our very own mañanita without worrying too much!
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Keep it clean
Designate a specific area or room where the mañanita can be held to also isolate the number of places outside guests may come in contact with. Also put up an alcohol station near the door where the invitees can disinfect upon entering and exiting the room.
Virtual handshakes and no beso-beso’s!
With physical contact now discouraged except among those living together, the challenge of social distancing can be augmented when met with warm smiles and a friendly atmosphere. Put some lively music to set the tone for the get-together. It also goes without saying that wearing face masks covering the cheeks and lips (if not shields) should also be the unspoken requested attire.
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Just order good food
Don’t have a quarantine pass? You don’t need to worry about preparing delicious but laborous to make food as there are many fine dining restaurants easily delivering within the city. Make it an all day celebration by having good food all day. Manila Marriott, for example, has its food establishments one call away: Marriott Café, Marriott Café Bakery, CRU Steakhouse, and Gourmet Express.
Practice the Las Mañanitas song!
It wouldn’t be a genuine mañanita without the song that started the whole tradition. Sung in Spanish, it can be easily translated in English—effort always speaks volumes! Here are some tutorial videos on performing this classic three-minute song!
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Party all day at home!
The good thing about having to stay at home is that not needing to get up at 4 AM just to do a mañanita anymore. But the element of surprise can still be included when everything is planned without the celebrant having any clue of what will happen. Try brainstorming with family members first for a theme—say, the celebrant’s favorite color or even workwear for the laughs! Imagine all the fun looking back!
All said, what’s most important is being able to commemorate and honor the birth day of someone special even just at home. So, no matter how simple or elaborate it goes, what will count is the thought and effort put into letting someone know how much they are loved.
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Banner image by Sergei Solo via Unsplash