297 – On The Manam Experience And A Birthday Post (Part 1)

Today is ironically my birthday, but I don’t want to celebrate it. I chose not to celebrate it mainly because I still live with a family that infantilizes me.

Look, I’m already 31 and these people still think of me as a kid – a seven to 10-year-old kid who can’t decide for himself. It pisses me off, seriously.  Much as I want to just let it slide, no. My day has been ruined enough and I know ranting about it doesn’t do much since it’s already happened, but at least it allows me an outlet.

First day of my 31st year of existence here on planet Earth, and it’s ruined. Times like this, I prefer going back to my job and working my ass off because people don’t know how I feel, people don’t listen, and that’s what pisses me off. People don’t know how to listen. It’s always their way or the highway, and when you try to insist on your way, you know what happens? You get the short end of the stick, and that pisses me off.

I know it’s bad form to rant on my birthday, but I just can’t let things slide because people ruined my day. Can’t I live life on my own instead of answering to other people all the time? I’ve always lived under the shadow of other people and when I try to assert myself, I get called different names and branded as an ingrate.

This is the problem with living in a conservative Filipino family: You don’t have a say. That’s one big factor as to why I’m having doubts whether to have a family of my own. If anything, I don’t want to pass the bullshit that’s happening to me right now to my future children. Just thinking about everything that I’ve gone through, I don’t want my child to go through that.

If you’re 31 and people still throw a children’s party for you, with the balloons and party hats, you’re going to have your day ruined.

(Edited transcript of a now-deleted video, 3 November 2021)

A rather bad start for my 31st birthday. Good thing I never celebrated it on the day itself; this is the first time in years that I stopped celebrating it. Why limit yourself to one day when you have an entire month to celebrate and be thankful?

I found an opportunity to celebrate my birthday twelve days after the actual date. It mainly consisted of me eating out and shopping for new things – which I haven’t done for some time now. Being fully vaccinated also helped, as I was able to dine in. The fact that it was the 15th of the month, which meant my salary was in, also contributed to making this belated celebration possible.

For this belated birthday meal, I opted to have lunch at Manam Comfort Filipino at SM Fairview. This restaurant made its name through its unique takes on Filipino cuisine – and fortunately, I no longer needed to venture far. Manam is one of the restaurants under homegrown restaurant operator The Moment Group. It counts 8 Cuts Burgers, Ooma and Din Tai Fung – in partnership with the restaurant’s Taiwanese parent.

This is not exactly my first foray at Manam, having visited it in two previous instances during my short tour of duty at the Ortigas central business district. Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, I managed to visit Manam Cafe at the Podium Mall for two reasons: It opened early, and it was right across my office that time. I even had breakfast there on two instances.

Little did I know that it would take me almost two years before I could return there. Manam used to have two locations near me, but the other one at Fairview Terraces closed. The SM Fairview branch, which was the last branch standing up north, was where I dined.

Here’s for the first part of this entry. Keep your frequencies on The Monching’s Guide for the second part of this entry – where I talk about the food I tried out!

(EDIT: And as promised, the second part is now up and running. Click on the image below to read more about it!)


30 thoughts on “297 – On The Manam Experience And A Birthday Post (Part 1)

  1. Happy belated birthday! I hope you still had a good one despite of everything. If I can offer some unsolicited advice, I can totally understand how it is. My mom once told me it would have been great if I could ‘stay five years old’ lol – it was very telling of how she viewed me, even though I was already in my late 20s at the time. I’ve accepted that it will be very difficult for her to change at this age, but I do see her trying sometimes, so that’s a step in the right direction. Personally, I think it stems from insecurities; they feel that their children no longer ‘need’ them. It can be difficult to reassure them that “Hey, you’re still my parent, I still love you, but I need my own space and I can make my own decisions,” because they feel as if these concepts are mutually exclusive.

    As a ‘good’ kid, I always felt guilty whenever I made a decision or did something that my parents didn’t agree with (they would guilt trip me for it). But at the end of the day, it’s our lives, and they won’t be around forever to see the consequences of what they ‘think’ was the best decision for us. When I frame it that way, I find that I prioritise my own happiness over their judgement of what they think is right or wrong. For better or for worse, it was MY decision.

    On your end, if the other party isn’t willing to change and you’ve done everything on your part to compromise, then I think the onus isn’t on you to change how they think or feel. If it’s financially possible, perhaps you could try moving out ? I haven’t tried this because of my current financial situation, but many of my friends who have had similar issues with their parents (I think this is common among Asian parents) find that their relationship actually improved after they moved out. I guess coz they don’t see each other so much, they become more ‘tolerant’ (?) when their kids actually come home? If that’s not possible.. I guess its either just to endure it, or put your foot down (what I did – it can be painful, but sometimes you have to draw boundaries. Because a lot of Asian parents can’t seem to understand the ‘lets sit down and talk nicely’ thing)

    Sorry for the longggg comment! I hope things work out for you.

    • Thank you, Eris! No problem at all with the long comment! 😀

      Actually, I did consider moving out — but there are a lot of circumstances that have prevented me from doing so. First is the fear of contracting COVID-19 (which a number of people also express concern about). Second, my current job has seen the benefits of remote work and has declared that we’ll be on WFH for the time being. Third, my mother’s passing sort of derailed any future plans as I need to stay to keep things together. My younger brother isn’t exactly free all the time due to law school, so there’s got to be someone to keep things at home in order. It also doesn’t help that I’m handling a huge amount of finances (mainly financial aid from my mom’s death, via an account under my name).

      You know, I’m starting to see this endgame — that of me becoming the sage Laolaizi from “The 24 Filial Exemplars.” The sage “was known for being very filial to his parents. Even in middle age, he still dressed up in bright colored clothes, played with toys, and behaved childishly to amuse his parents and keep them happy.” Here’s the full story: https://cn.hujiang.com/new/p540050. This is what they anticipate me to be — but yeah, I’m trying my best not to fall down that path.

      I just hope things do improve in the future. It’s disappointing and depressing to see myself turn 40 and still be treated like 10 years old.

  2. Belated happy birthday Monch!

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience. It must’ve been such a headache to deal with too conservative families. I hope and pray that things will get better for you soon.

    Oh, and you’re the 2nd person I’ve seen write about Manam. So I’ll check this out when I get home hopefully next year.^^

    • Thank you and very much appreciated! 🙂

      No worries, Part 2 is out this Wednesday — at least this post is a spoiler of what to expect when you return home. 😀 Manam has a lot of branches here in the metro, so you won’t miss out!

  3. Pingback: 298 – On The Manam Experience And A Birthday Post (Part 2) | The Monching's Guide

  4. Belated happy birthday! 🥳 Great choice, btw. I love Manam! It’s one of my go-to places whenever I miss home (when I was still in Manila).

    On another note, I share your sentiments on having a conservative Filipino family. Communication with my parents has gotten better these past few months, but on certain occasions they still fail to treat me like a full-pledged adult. And since I am the “youngest” in the household, I have no final say in some matters. Like this coming Saturday, I specifically requested to not celebrate my birthday this year, but they still invited some of our relatives to have a “small merienda” 😅🙃

    • Thank you! 😊 Do check Part 2, as I’ve written my takes on some of the things I ordered!

      Oh my, I’m sorry to hear of that. The problem with Filipino families (and Asian ones in general) is that personal space is an alien concept to them. While it does piss me off at times, I just think of it as another reason not to have children of my own.

  5. Happy belated birthday. I’m sorry that some of your family members still treat you like a child. That is extremely frustrating. When will they see you’ve grown up?
    I have the same issues with my two immature siblings. Even after turning 32, working full time, owning my own car and getting married they still refuse to see beyond the 10 yr old they knew long ago.
    I feel your pain.

    Thanks for sharing. I’d love to visit the Philippines one day.

    • Thank you; very much appreciate the greeting!

      Likewise, I’m sorry to hear your experience. I guess that’s the downside of being with family for an extended period — they often get stuck in a certain period, not knowing that time flows forward. While you’ve grown up and matured, they don’t see you as such. I’ve had the same experience as you, especially when in the company of relatives on my dad’s side.

      You’re welcome and looking forward to that, but with the omicron variant — that trip might have to wait for another day.

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