Bay Area Fil-Am teen surprised by loved ones in virtual ‘Sweet 16’ birthday

SAN FRANCISCO — Much like most of the nation, the streets and roads have been nearly empty with signs reminding people to stay indoors for their safety — the state of California and most of the country enters the third week of the coronavirus shelter-in-place order.

And while social distancing is still enforced, Julien Michael Liwanag still wanted to do something special for his girlfriend Amanda Diaz’ 16th birthday.

“Sweet 16 is a very big deal to girls. And Amanda was feeling down about her plans being canceled. So I felt like it would have been a good idea to go surprise her at her house and brighten up her day. With the help of my family, I baked the cake, brought her flowers, bought her gifts, and drove to her house to surprise her in person.”

Of course, this sweet gesture also meant being six feet apart.

This young Filipino American couple has been together since 2018, after meeting at a church event a year before.

And to make Amanda’s birthday more special — her mother, Cel Diaz, organized a video conference call with family and friends.

“Even though it was just online in brief, it was just nice to focus on everybody and to hear what they had to say about Amanda, and just to see her happy made it all worthwhile. And this just proves that at the end today people will come together for someone who they care about and love.”

And for the birthday celebrant — Amanda was more than grateful for all the love she received for her sweet 16.

“I felt the love of my birthday when my friends and family came together and surprised me with the virtual get together. Especially when Jul who works so hard to brighten up my day by coming from across the bridge with the cake he baked with the help of his family was one of the highlights of my day. Thank you to my parents, especially my mom, who helped plan multiple surprises that day just to make my day perfect.”

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