A belated Valentines post

February 14 was SSS day.

I finally made the time to fix my SSS ID application. And among the things that I can say I should have listened to Mama about, it is this.

She has been telling me to apply for SSS since I started working but I never made the time thinking I don’t really need it and will probably never need it. Having worked as a talent for GMA since I graduated, I didn’t think much about benefits received by regular employees.

But now that I’m having my own family, these things suddenly became so important. Since I had no medical benefits, I applied for Philhealth. I also don’t have the privilege of a paid maternity leave so I’m getting a maternity allowance from SSS.

If you’re still single, it really wouldn’t hurt to spare time and money for these voluntary benefits. You’ll never know when they can come in handy.

Anyway, it’s a good thing the lines weren’t very long when we arrived. I was the 12th person in line for status verification.

Some things I learned while waiting in line:

  1. It’s always a good thing to bring someone along when you have to go through long lines. While I was waiting for my turn for verification, Mama also lined up at the information counter to verify if I had all the right forms and requirements with me.
    This system really saved us a lot of time and energy. I’ve seen a lot of people wait for hours to get their turn only to find out that they got the wrong form or they didn’t have the proper requirements so they had to go back and line up again.
  2. Just to be sure, bring all possible forms and documents for identification –birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, driver’s license, company ID, media ID and TIN ID. Better to have a lot on hand and always make sure all your IDs are valid and not expired.
  3. Always triple check that you have filled up the form completely and correctly. The man before me had all the right IDs and documents save for one mistake: he wrote a different birth date on his application form. Good thing the man at the counter was nice enough not to let him go back to the end of the line.
I breezed through status verification in just two minutes and I was off to another line for ID capture. I was number 91, the guy at the booth was just number 67.

I erased all the games in my cellphone and I accidentally erased all the songs in my Ipod just a few days ago. There was no book or newspaper in sight. I was in for a long wait.

Suddenly, a girl walked in the door holding a small paper bag. Nothing extraordinary really except for this red heart-shaped balloon sticking out of her bag.

That’s when I remembered it was Valentine’s.

Hearts day used to be a big deal when I was younger.

In gradeschool Art class, our teachers would always have us make our own Valentine’s cards to give to our parents and friends.

It was also that one day when we could freely give flowers and cheesy love letters to our crushes. Girls would wait expectantly for the boys to hand out flowers and chocolates during recess and gush over them during class.

Lessons were usually light during Valentine’s. It’s like an unofficial holiday since our teachers would also join in the fun. They would cut out paper hearts, write names of famous couples and lovers on them, split them in two and distribute them to us.

It was then up to us to find “the other half that would make our hearts whole.” When we find our pair, we get to spend the whole afternoon sitting next to each other.

One time I got lucky, I exchanged hearts with a friend and got to pair up with my crush. Yeah, I’m mushy like that.

Valentine’s just got more overrated as I got older. Somehow, someone introduced this theory that Valentine’s was just one big conspiracy launched by card makers, flower companies and chocolate manufacturers to get the people to spend more.

Most of the time, it just didn’t make sense to celebrate it especially when you happened to be single when that day comes around. Which was most of the time for me.

Somehow Cupid’s magic just got lost on me.

But when Mama and I stepped into SM Manila after finishing up at SSS, it became evident to me that a lot of people were still smitten by this little angel’s charm.

It seemed the whole mall was covered red with balloons, cupids hanging from the ceilings, and roses everywhere.

Men and women crowded the flower kiosks, long lines formed at the bakeshops and brownie stalls and a throng had gathered at the bookstore’s Valentine’s card aisle. Everywhere I could see couples milling around exchanging flowers and gifts.

I guess you could say the mushy air was infectious. I found my self lining up at the brownie stall choosing between the heart shaped brownie cake and the assorted brownies.

I returned to the office with a dozen brownies in tow and delivered it to my hubby topped with a kiss. I guess I might get older but you can never take the mush out of this girl.

We shared the brownies for a few minutes and got back to work. Since Wednesday was mastering day for my Kernie, having a date later in the evening was a very slim possibility
So I got myself another date.

A and I went to our most favorite restaurant at the moment: Napoli’s in Timog Ave. We were lucky to have outdoor seats since the place was packed to the hilt.

Amid bites of cheesy potato crunch and forkfuls of chicken pasta parmigiana, we pondered over our rapidly changing lives: my blissful marriage and upcoming baby, her career and happy singlehood. One thing constant: our friendship that has spanned more than five years. We definitely had a lot to celebrate.

Technically, we were both dateless but we found a suitable substitute: we each had a delectable chocolate soufflé. A little piece of heaven.

I went home and Kernie arrived past midnight dead tired from their overnight episode mastering. Valentine’s was officially over so our date would have to wait another day.

But as we snuggled next to each other and drifted off to sleep, I knew my Valentine would be right next to me always and we can date each other for the rest of our lives.


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