I am a big fan of birthday cakes. No matter what my personal trainer says about avoiding cakes because of the empty calories, I indulge during my birthday. After all, birthday cake calories don’t count. Second, a birthday isn’t completely a birthday if there is no birthday cake in sight. The number of lit candles on the cake doesn’t bother me all – so what if I am older than most of my colleagues?

The cake from Estrel’s (formerly Estrella’s) was the traditional birthday cake bought to celebrate anyone’s birthday in the family. It was sacrilegious to buy anything other than the rectangular caramel chiffon cake topped with butter icing flowers. It still is a favorite for birthdays – and weddings – although I only get to have a slice on non-birthday occasions.

Estrel’s caramel chiffon cake can double up as birthday cake and wedding cake

My birthday this year had me blowing out candles three times, each cake with bearing greetings written in three different languages viz. Indonesian, English, and Filipino. I was prepared to quietly celebrate my birthday with a slice of cake and coffee at Starbucks, but some of my students caught wind of my birthday and surprised me in class with a birthday cake. The first one was given after a class with my grade 10 IGCSE students; I was fixing my stuff when they, like a swarm of bees in flight, came towards me. I thought they were going to ask for an extension of the deadline of the research paper. Experience has taught me that they want to talk about the research paper when they approach me collectively – they’re a firm believer in “strength in numbers”. This time I was mistaken. They came bearing a chocolate birthday cake. 

First birthday cake

The second and third cakes came after my birthday and before the start of class so we all had a bit of cake during the lesson. Cake number two – white chocolate cake – was given by my grade 9 students. Meanwhile, cake number three – fruity white chocolate cake – was from my grade 11 Writing Class students. 

Second birthday cake

Third cake


I might not have had my slice of Estrel’s cake, but the surprise birthday cakes certainly completed my birthday. Who would have thought that the students you had been berating for being indolent and careless be so sweet and endearing?


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