"Party around the world"
Sun.Star Davao, May 16, 2009
A mysterious red envelope is delivered to our home with this intriguing note pasted on its flap, “An important document from Trent Republic”.
Curious, I immediately open it and was surprised to find a blue-colored ‘passport’ issued by Trent Republic. It read, “The Secretary of State of Trent Republic hereby requests all whom it may concern to permit the citizen/national of Trent Republic named herein to pass without delay or hindrance and in case of need to give lawful aid and protection”.
“Discover a world of fun as Trent turns one!”, the succeeding page indicated. Why, it’s our family friends Ron Jeriel (RJ) and Stephanie (Fanfan) Seng-Ong’s first birthday party for their eldest child Ryce Trenton!
I excitedly showed the artistic invitation to my kids. Images of adorable dolls from different nations graced the third page, “Come in your favorite costumes and take a journey around the world!”
Party around the world
When Fanfan was still pregnant and found out that she was having a boy, the very organized hands-on mom began conceptualizing themes for her son’s first birthday.
“While discussing it with my husband, we came up with three required elements – that it be unique, educational and have a hint of the Bible as we are both Christians and wanted to share even just a modest portion of God’s Word with our friends and family”, Fanfan reveals.
The couple decided on a fusion of “Around the World in 80 Days” and “It’s a Small World” based on the whimsical artwork of the awe-inspiring illustrator, Mary Blair, who designed the Small World attraction in Disneyland.
“It gave us the chance to deviate from the modern, mainstream themes and allow us to look back fondly on our childhood”, the 26-year old Fanfan explains.
In order to transform her brilliant ideas into reality, Fanfan knew that she could only rely on no one but her trusted party planner, Annie Lim, for help.
“It is not difficult working with such a pro like Annie. Her imagination, creativity and ideas are endless”, Fanfan attests.
Fanfan specified some trademark items that must be present during the party such as hot air balloons, windmills, the Small World backdrop as well as the color palette she desired.
“After that, I left Annie to do her magic which she did, in her signature tasteful fashion. She came up with gigantic jets, running trains, suspended hot air balloons and a multitude of cuddly animals to fill up the Marco Polo Ballroom”, Fanfan illustrates.
The talented Chef Booboo Maramba also came up with a gorgeous 3-layered cake with a hot air balloon as a topper and the façade of “It’s a Small World” on the front.
“Booboo has an uncanny way of reading my mind. She produces meticulously detailed cakes that suit my aesthetic tastes”, Fanfan gushes.
Upon arrival at the “Immigration Area” of Trent Republic, the passports were stamped and guests were given tickets to the various destinations.
The Italy booth served scrumptious Pepperoni and Hawaiian Pizzas by Basti’s Brew and ice cream-cum gelato from Allegro while assorted nachos, chips and All That Juice fruit shakes can be ordered from the festive Mexico booth.
A tres chic Paris booth likewise offered delectable cookies with French landmarks as decorations. Then, there was oriental Japan with the challenging “Toss the Ring” game.
RJ, who is an ardent basketball fan, conceptualized the U.S.A. booth. It featured a basketball with two hoops and an American staple, french fries from Potato Corner.
The most popular attraction though was the vibrant and exotic Africa booth with its array of inflatable animals up for grabs if one was lucky enough to hit the target with a bow and arrow.
“We made sure the game booth prizes were an assortment of interactive, biblical, educational toys and books that would nourish both the soul and mind of each child”, Fanfan describes.
In line with RJ and Fanfan’s desire to share God’s Word, they infused a short skit about The Story of Creation performed by the Seng cousins and some friends complete with attractive costumes, backdrops, lights and sounds.
“I’m thankful to my Ko-ko Len, Annie, her team and Ellen Garcia (the narrator and party host) who pulled the skit together so seamlessly after a few harried practice sessions. We were inspired by The Story of Creation because God created and loves everyone regardless of size and color”, shares Fanfan.
After the delightful skit, the kids sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children” while exchanging bracelets representing different countries to encourage camaraderie, friendship and love.
The audio-visual presentation also brought a few tears to Fanfan’s eyes as she recalled her journey bringing Trent into the world and the many milestones of his life before turning one all to the sound of Celine Dion’s “Beautiful Boy”.
“The moment Trent stepped into the ballroom, he was instantly fascinated by the display of colors and decorations that adorned the area. He has always been a keen observer often taking a quiet moment to take in his surroundings before reacting”, Fanfan smiles.
“Obviously, he had no idea this was all for him but the rapt expression he had all throughout the party and the cheeky grin I would catch sometimes was enough to make our hearts melt and bring a smile to our faces”, Fanfan fondly remembers.
Trent had two amazing costumes for the special occasion. He first came out as a Canadian Mountie representing Fanfan’s love for Canada, having lived there for a few years as a young girl.
His next costume was of an American Indian ornamented with colorful beads, fringes, patches and an intricate feathery headpiece fit for a tribal chief.
“We decided to have the children come in costumes so that they could recycle previous costumes used for school events and other activities”, discloses the practical mom.
Towards the end of the program, several kids were given recognition and prizes for their outstanding national attires.
For give-aways, Trent’s kiddie friends received cool travelling bags stuffed with goodies, toys and a Bible Story. Attached to the yellow and blue bags were personalized luggage tags with “I’m a Little Trentsetter” imprinted on them.
Fanfan admits that planning for Trent’s 1st birthday party during her first trimester (Fanfan is expecting another baby soon—a girl!) was a bit overwhelming yet fulfilling.
RJ and Fanfan agree that Trent’s 1st birthday is something they will forever treasure and will always be a reminder of how God has blessed them tremendously.
They cherished the presence of doting grandparents Rudy and Janice, Tennyson and Susan as well as the great grandparents from the Seng and Uy side who constantly shower their “Little Shaolin” with their generosity, thoughtfulness and love.
“Beyond the festivities, gifts and cheer, Trent, we hope that you will grow up to be a child of God – wise, compassionate and humble. We hope you will keep this verse close to your heart, 1 Timothy 4:12 (NIV): “Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. We love you!”, the pretty mom ends with this touching message.