This pandemic shouldn’t stop us from showing how much we care for our family—even if we’re apart

How does one cheer up senior citizens, especially on their birthday, who are stuck at home? National Bookstore’s Nanay Coring turned 97 years old on Sept. 23, and with most of the country still on lockdown, the family had to figure out a way to celebrate this milestone. 

Two days before her birthday, her great granddaughter Maxine Alindogan thought of a brilliant idea on how to celebrate their “Lola Lola’s” birthday. “I came up with the idea of a drive-by, inspired by some of the online stories I’ve seen throughout the lockdown. I felt that despite the current situation of the world and the pandemic that is among us, it is important to continue to celebrate our loved ones. While it is often easy to stay within our quarantine bubbles, we thought we’d unite and show Lola Lola how much she means to us through a birthday drive-by. Socially distanced and all-geared up, it was a short & sweet celebration to remember,” the 22-year-old great granddaughter shares with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle.

- Nanay Coring’s drive-by birthday celebration

One of the first things they did was the balloons and decor, which they set up in Nanay Coring’s garage. “We got our decor from Hallmark Party!Party! and Celebration balloons. We made sure that there were red and gold tones because, as a family, we’ve always believed that they bring good luck for the years ahead. They are also colors that remind us of her,” says Maxine who also reveals that the preparation took longer than the actual drive-by. 

Nanay Coring motorcade birthday 97 768x1024 - Nanay Coring’s drive-by birthday celebration

They also met everyone on a different street, assembling the balloons and installing the tarpaulins with Nanay Coring’s photo and Happy Birthday signages on each of the cars. Maxine revealed that it took them about an hour to prepare, “while the actual drive-by took about 10 minutes” comprising 10 cars.  

Nanay Coring birthday 1 577x1024 - Nanay Coring’s drive-by birthday celebration

Everything was done in secret, and the surprise was obviously a success. “She looked very happy to see all of us. It was great to see her smiling and happy. We hadn’t seen that smile in seven months since March. She was entertained with the cars driving by, music playing, balloons and party poppers,” recalls Maxine who added that their Lola Lola sat in her garage overlooking the street as they waved and greeted her from a distance. The great granddaughter also added that this was the only celebration they had, “It was short and sweet. Many of our relatives are senior citizens, so we were very mindful of them going out of their homes. Everyone’s safety was our top priority.”

Maxine also shared some tips on party planning in the time of Covid, “We need to make sure our senior relatives and friends have the least exposure possible and that they not only remain safe but feel safe as well. Aside from the drive-by, I would recommend a nice video from family and friends, compiling handwritten letters with photos attached (a bit old-school, hehe) or hosting a zoom party and sharing a meal together (even if it’s in different locations). There are so many great home-dining experiences popping up now. Lastly, if one has the space and feels comfortable, maybe a limited and socially-distanced get together in an outdoor setting would also be doable.”

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