Aki Con Achis Aquí

Aki has been aquí (here) in Manila for a year and eight months. Sometime last year, she happened to read in the Shinbun (Japanese newspaper) the story of my shop which my designer, Joi Cutter arranged after her husband (John) met Japanese journalist, Kantaro Suzuki, at the Death March celebration in Bataan.

When Aki and her husband Michi came to the shop, we just said hello and began to chat. She is a Le Cordon Bleu Japan-trained pastry chef. We realized we have a lot in common and we soon became friends, trying food in different places and going to events.  My lovely loving friends also became her friends! And now sister in Christ!

img_2618Joi found out through Facebook that Aki’s birthday was coming up. So we cooked up a plan.

Aki and I were supposed to meet up for lunch. She didn’t know that I was in cahoots with our other lovely friends to give her a surprise birthday party.  We were going to show up in any Japanese-themed attire. I texted Aki if I could borrow a Japanese dress (so that she could wear it upon arrival) but she said she didn’t bring any with her to the Philippines.

Logistics and the ASEAN Holiday closures led to the venue, The Gardens Social House, Rockwell The Grove, Ugong (On C5 corner Ortigas Avenue):

Beauty Queen Welcome Kit ready:

img_2459The Early Birds:

How to Tie an Obi Tutorial while waiting for the birthday celebrant: (Please turn your gadget volume low if you are reading this when your husband is sleeping):

Video Credit: Dr. Lillian Tabrani

Almost all set for the party except Gigi’s driver hadn’t arrived and the celebrant got lost a little bit.

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L-R: Ann (modern Japanese lady); Lillian (with blue Yukata top); Joi (with maroon yukata top); Malu (with red Mikado caftan); me (with pink Yukata and death-defying Geta)

Finally, Miss Japan-Philippines Celebrant arrives:

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Photo Credit: Malu Ortiz

Laughter is always on the menu!

Our Food:

Concorde Birthday Cake (Candle can be bought next door at The Marketplace):

img_2604Gifts:

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Birthday Verse for Aki

Appreciation and Blessing for Aki:

We are the bigger gifts, wrapped in Japanese-themed clothes. Heehee 🙂 . But the biggest gift of all is our Lord who unites us.

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L-R: Malu, Ann, Lillian, Aki, Joi, Gigi, me

Aki’s Message:

Today, I want to say thank you very much for all of you. I’m very lucky to be here. I’m very, very lucky to meet all of you in the Philippines. I didn’t plan to go to Karen’s Kitchen but one article that I found in Manila newspaper… it made my Philippine life totally changed I think because if I hadn’t [read] that article, maybe I did not know Karen’s Kitchen and then I didn’t meet all of you because her place is a bit far from my place… I still don’t know well about the Lord yet but maybe He planned something. I’m so excited to see what will happen to me and what will happen to us in the future. Today is the happiest birthday party that I have ever had.

Happy Birthday Aki!! Thank You, Lord for the gift of friendship and sisterhood in Christ. Thank you, Sisters for your presence and participation in this love circle!

Aki’s message is a gift of encouragement for me in my business; while I can’t control the closure of Shaw Blvd and one-way direction of San Rafael Street in which the shop stands, God has made a way for a life to be impacted just by the shop’s existence. What has been affected in profit, He compensates for in purpose. His.

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