I still wish upon a star

I believe that if there’s still a breath left in me to blow the candles, it must mean there is still a wish (or wishes?) left in my heart


This was first published on Dec. 24, 2021.


Starlight, star bright, first star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have the wish I wish tonight.

How many of you remember reciting this little verse and believing it? I did when I was a little girl, and even when I was all grown up and should have known better. I think that each one of us goes through that magical time of wishing and believing, at least once in our lives.  Some of us stay there.

Did I wish for something wild and wonderful? Well, at the time it may have seemed to be all that. But sometimes I just stood there, staring into the evening sky and wishing for something as inconsequential as a phone call, or a letter, or maybe even for just a song to be played on the radio. We called the station with our requests, and we waited.

Today it may sound insignificant and even silly, but back then, it seemed earth- shattering, even life-changing. Although I knew that wishes seldom came true, I was convinced that if I wished hard enough while looking at the first star of that night, success was guaranteed.

Such innocence is today almost impossible to imagine. Not that I have turned into the typical cynical old woman. In many ways, and in spite of the huge potholes on the road of my life, I have remained pretty much an incurable romantic who at times chooses to believe that living in a fool’s paradise is better than struggling with dark and dismal realities.

Wait. You may wonder what has caused this whimsical mood to overtake me. I know too well how wishbones break, that blowing candles on a cake is, aside from unsanitary, nothing but a cute little break to allow the singing of the birthday song. And we all know that the first star you see does not suddenly appear just for you. It has been there all along.

Maybe it is because the year is getting ready to end. Or perhaps the mood took me over the day I watched my great granddaughter Sofia take forever before blowing  the four little pink candles on her birthday cake.  She stood there, very still, with her eyes shut tight. It looked like she was in deep thought.

What could a four-year-old be so serious about? What was she wishing for?

The same could be asked from an old woman who also recently stood beside a cake with one little candle (there should have been 89) flickering in the breeze. I heard someone call out, “Lola, make a wish.” I was tempted to ask, only one?

What on earth could I be wishing for at my stage and age? Sofia’s wish was to have all the Barbie dolls in the world. What was my mine?

No one is ever too old to make a wish. I believe that if there’s still a breath left in me to blow the candles, it must mean there is still a wish (or wishes?) left in my heart.

Like Sofia I take making a wish very seriously, and never as much as on this one, my 89th.

I closed my eyes. And a roomful of memories came to the party.

I remembered very long ago blowing out nine mismatched candles atop a small cake. That was just two days after Pearl Harbor

I remembered very long ago blowing out nine mismatched candles atop a small cake.

That was just two days after Pearl Harbor, when World War II was declared. I think someone had baked the cake in a hurry. We were in a strange house in New Manila, having escaped from our Sampaloc home, seeking safety.

Papa was away. The war had caught him sailing the MS Fortuna somewhere between Cebu and Palawan.  We had no news about him, except that the Fortuna had not been heard from. With all my heart I wished Papa to return to us safely. We saw him again six months later.

Another birthday, my 11th, was during the Japanese Occupation. Our neighbor had made a cake out of mashed boiled camote and sugar. It was a poor substitute for the delicious Lola Lobregat confections of before the war. But it served its celebratory purpose. I solemnly wished then that the daily air raids would stop.  And they finally did!

But what followed was the massacre of 100,000 Filipinos in the battle for Manila.

Four years later, our situation normalized and we went back to our flimsy wishes and frivolous ways. That is happening even today, don’t you agree? The minute we registered a dip in the tally of COVID victims, we were back to planning cruises and parties and dreaming up SRO concerts.

When I turned “sweet 16,” I remember secretly wishing that my first kiss would be with my crush of the moment, a young La Salle boy who was all of tall, dark, and very handsome. I must have wished really hard.

My wish was granted three months later, on the night of my high school graduation ball.

He was my escort. I wore his pretty corsage of carnations on my wrist. It happened at the front door of our accesoria on Calle Legarda. It was quick. Shy. Chaste. Sweet.

I floated on Cloud 9 for a while. And then life resumed.

We each went our separate ways, met, loved and married other people, and raised our families. We have remained fast and forever friends. I still saw him once in a while before COVID, at restaurants and socials. Now we can only text.  But we keep in touch.

That’s one wish that came true. The rest are best forgotten. You know what they say, be careful what you wish for? Some come back to bite you and they leave scars.

On my recent birthday, there was no first star. But there was a cake and I blew a candle and I made a wish. Actually, I made many.

Let me enumerate.

Good health. So far, I can’t complain
Peace and endless blessings for my children, grand- and great-grandchildren.
For our country, I wished for unity, respect, and dignity, that we may find them once again.
I wished for healing. All wounds.
For a change of heart. All hearts.
No more hatred. No bitter regrets.
For people to speak gently, without spite or rancor.
That when we touch, we may not inflict pain.
That we learn to embrace life even as we confront issues not of our choosing.
That we may have the wisdom to understand that being gentle and kind does not
denote weakness; rather, it reflects an inner strength shaped by goodness, conviction, and integrity.

For our country, I wished for unity, respect, and dignity, that we may find them once again

My fondest wish after these two years of isolation and fear is for friends and family, and for people all over the world, to realize that we are on this planet doing life all together.

We must tear down walls. And re-connect. Hand in hand. Face to face. That gadgets and devices are convenient, but that life can go on beautifully without them.

That unless we look up from our iPhones and iPads, we will never see one another

like the miracles of God that we are, nor discover the splendor of His creation. Nor will we be able to reflect on His infinite goodness and to glorify Him. He alone is worthy.

As we celebrate Christmas this year, let us revisit the words spoken by the prophet Isaiah, long before that one bright star was ever seen in Bethlehem.

May his words fill our hearts with joy and the hope we so desperately need.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given. And the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

Merry Christmas!

Read more:

Almost Christmas

What have we become?

My one year in captivity: Where are we?

About author


She was once a journalist with Manila Chronicle, a book author. She is a mother, a grandmother, a great grandmother whose wisdom and graceful writing style many readers continue to enjoy. She just turned 90 years old.

Sign up for our Newsletter

Sign up for’s Weekly Digest and get the best of, tailored for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *