where good deeds are rewarded with apples & the bad with lemons

Mama Mia, the celebration

“SHE loves the film and adores the songs of Mama Mia. This was why we chose that theme for her birthday bash,” said Pauline, Lena Benedicto’s daughter.

But it wasn’t an ordinary celebration. It could have been the biggest surprise Lena ever had.
The celebrant with ehr family, Pauline with fiance Paul Mallilin, Tisha, Miggy & her grandkids Noelle, Mitchell & Erin

Taking a break from her busy schedule, Lena and Rommel took off to Europe for her birthday treat. It was tapas barhopping in Barcelona for these two before hopping on a cruise ship to the Caribbean with a stop in one of Lena’s dream destination—Santorini, the setting of a favorite film, Mama Mia.

Little did Lena know her children were planning a big celebration for her 60th birthday party.

“It was a long flight coming back home. I haven’t caught up with sleep, which I had planned to do the moment I arrived in Davao,” Lena said.

But there would be no rest for this tired soul yet as her kids wanted her to be at Rekado the moment I touched down in the city. “It was a quick freshening up for me. I knew there was a dinner party with the family and few freinds, but what I didn’t know was it was going to be something grand.”

But Lena’s “family” is a huge one. More than the blood relations, the extended family was present, a family that included the celebrant’s dearest friends, of people who matters most.

Maripet Gutierrez, Rommel, Boy Guino-o, Lena, Digna Ryan & Neneng dela Paz
Happy friends celebrating Lena’s 60th. Betbet Pichon, Thelma Reyes, Baby Montemayor & Alexis Jamora
Lena with Dada Lozano. Lilian Abella, Maritel Celi & Janette Latayan

“We were downplaying the event and said there were only a few guests invited including 20 of her closest friends. She really thought her party was in the function room on the upper level of Rekado with food from the regular restaurant menu,” said Pauline.
For the first time, Rekado, the restaurant built in her honor, was closed to accommodate a big number of guests, the venue was decorated with a Mama Mia theme, and Pauline, who wears the chef hat in the Rekado kitchen, diverted from the house menu and whipped up something special.

Needless to say, Lena was in disbelief. Even more so with her precious ones’ performance to the Abba tunes of Mama Mia and Dancing Queen.

A surprise performance for Lena. The kids dancing to Mama Mia & Dancing Queen tunes
Noelle’s present for grandma

“Turning 60 is already a joyous event in itself, but getting this wonderful surprise made it more memorable,” she said.

Time to make a wish & blow her birthday candle as husband Rommel presents the cake

I asked her, “Now that you’re entitled to 20% discount (read: senior citizen card), will you will be able to avail it at Rekado? She replied, “I haven’t thought of that, but I will check.”

Happy birthday Lena!

(All photos from Lena Benedicto’s Facebook account)


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[For more lifestyle & travel stories, visit http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/ andhttp://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/]

Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on August 9, 2015.

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