As of last count, tonight’s despedida (farewell/send-off party) with the relatives must already be the seventh I have hosted and/or attended, four of which have been in the office. While three unofficial ones have been cancelled or will not push through at all anymore for lack of time. A despedida here in the Philippines is traditionally given by a person who will be leaving his or her country for good. I insisted that despedidas shouldn’t be celebrated in my case, having told my family and friends that I will be coming back, technically, and there is also the fear of bidding my wallet’s dwindling contents adieu.
But times have changed, and so has the definition of despedida. In addition to the justification that human beings are social beings, a simple relocation from one geographical point to another has been a cause for gathering and celebration as a means of wishing the anxious person who is about to leave well. A mere change in address or resignation from work has become a valid occasion for merry-making and well-wishing (hopefully not for good-riddance), to celebrate one’s resettlement from a literally familiar place to one that is oftentimes unknown and uncertain, yet still with the notion of better things to come ahead. However, its mode of preparation has also evolved. Instead of the celebrant throwing and spending for the party, it’s the friends, family, or colleagues who do the dirty work and even spend for the affair. If I were to draft a guidelines for events planning, I would have it this way out of consideration to the other persons’s finances. Just imagine treating the whole barangay and clan, which is sometimes one and the same, because you’re, uh, leaving them behind.
The better part of the celebration is another modification wherein friends and relatives give a form of souvenir ranging from a sentimantal token or trinket to a practical note, as in cash! In my case, I have a received A Travel Companion, (a prayer pamphlet for travelers), a Moleskine notebook, a short handwritten note of good fortune, a farewell card (with $50 in it- the most valuable so far, 🙂 ), and a winter apparel showcase comprising of a knit sweater, bonnet, and scarf, and a fluffy pair of sleeping socks.
This celebration, afterall, rocks!