Barkada is a Filipino word that loosely translates to “circle of friends”. But it’s really more than that. It’s more like a “pack” (as in wolf) of humans, that’s what it is. It signifies a deep bond, a strong sense of identity, and unlike other sets of friends that change with the passage of time, a barkada almost always stays the same.
That’s the case with mine, anyway. We all met in high school, the seven of us. Each and every one of us probably has his or her own version of how we became friends, but I will tell you mine.
It was the first day of high school, and that was the day I met Chris, a boy who would be the greatest friend of my life, and perhaps, would mean a little bit more. He was standing by the window on the second floor, or maybe I was the one standing. It was so long ago I forget. He asked me what time it was, and I answered. It was that simple, but I saw him first on that first day, and he saw me first, and that creates a bond, and somehow we ended up walking home together, and every day thereafter.
There was another boy we walked home with, and his name was Donnel. And that’s how we three got close, walking home together. I would always walk the farthest, and Donnel the shortest.
During class, I sat next to a short girl, Katrina, near the front row, by the window, even though I was a head taller than everybody else. I always had a problem reading the blackboard, because I needed better glasses, so I chose that spot. (I always needed better glasses, every year.) I would often ask her what was written on the board, and often borrowed her notes, and that was how we became friends.
Kat had a friend whose name was Jotie. And they walked home together every day, though not with Chris, Donnel and me, because they had another route. And that’s how I knew him, because of Kat. I never did have much in common with Jotie, but I do remember we shared a love for music, especially Celine Dion. That love for music brought me a lot of grief in the later years, because I could not sing to save my life, but I thought I could, and so did everyone else.
The two other people in my barkada I had already known before high school, Raquel and Brian. And so I suppose it was natural that we would gravitate towards each other once more. Brian, especially, meant a lot to me. We were very close in elementary, but to my bewilderment, he vanished in the fourth grade, only to reappear for a day in the sixth grade, to tell me he had transferred school. (If I knew how to then, I would have said, wtf?) Needless to say I was very happy to see him return to our school the year after.
My friendship with Raquel had always been very tenuous, and perhaps that is the reason we took care not to offend each other. I don’t think we ever even quarreled in high school. (Whereas, with Chris, it was pretty much every week.) But as quarrels go, the two of us had already had our fair share before high school. We had to give it a rest, didn’t we?
Our friendship was founded in four short years, but the seven of us have been friends for fourteen years and counting. We broke paths a long time ago, and built separate lives. But there’s an invisible magic string that binds us close, and we will always find ways to come together again.
Note: The picture above is a collage that Jotie made. It’s from our slumber and pool party in Astoria Regency Hotel last December. Thanks, Jots! Love it like Manolo Blahniks!