It was getting dark when I reach the Marriott Hotel in Fremont. I got out of the car and immediately felt the chill. I hurriedly made my way through the main doors, grateful for the warmth as I reached the lobby.

I walk toward the hall to my left leading to the ballrooms. As I approach Salon V, I see three nicely dressed ladies behind a long table ready to welcome guests. I smile as I get a better look at them. They were Filipinas. I'm right at home.

I ask them if this was for Eden's 70th birthday party in taglish(Tagalog mixed with English). They tell me yes and I introduce myself.

I was a few minutes early but decided to start early. Guests were just starting to arrive, ZeroGraph was setting up their lights as the DJ and string quartet were checking their equipment and instruments. A good time for pre-event candids and shots of little details.

A few minutes later, my videographer for the night, Thomas, arrives and gets to work. More than a few guests have signed in and are starting to form a line for the portraits that were going to be framed and given away as souvenirs later on in the evening.

I hear somebody call the name Rita and I turn to see my contact, the celebrant's daughter. I approach her and before I could introduce myself, she warmly smiles and greets me by my name. Maybe it's the two cameras hanging on my shoulders.

Rita, along with her sisters, have organized this night for Eden, their mom, who turns 70. They were constantly walking throughout the evening taking care of every little detail, making sure the guests were having a good time and the program followed as scheduled.

Rita points to her mom who was wearing a light green beaded gown. I approach her with a hug and greet her happy birthday then introduced myself and Thomas. She didn't look seventy. That's always been an advantage of Filipinos, or Asians in general. We rarely look our age.

She graciously said thank you and immediately invited us to go get some hors d'oeuvres, like a typical motherly Filipina. My eyes did land on the lechon and lumpia as I assured her I would later on.

The program started and I was so reminded of home. Daughters, friends, grandchildren, sons-in-law performed, gave speeches and danced with Eden. She seemed to be a bit shy at first but grew comfortable as the hours passed with me taking her photos as she visited each table to thank her guests. It was a lot of tables. The party covered Salons V through VIII. It was pretty huge.

She appeared to be enjoying herself (as she should!) as she jumped from one group to another, chatting and laughing with her guests. All throughout the evening, she would ask me if I've eaten and kept making sure I was taken care of.

To Eden, Rita, Florian and family, thank you for your warm welcome and pinoy hospitality. The way you received your guests with pleasure extended to all the artists and vendors who were there including me. I appreciate it.

Maraming salamat!

Love,

Marge

Their storybook photo slideshow may be viewed here and the complete photo set here.

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