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My Friends

Tell me who your friends are

and I will tell you who you are.

I have been blessed to have met good friends along different paths and on different times.

Most of them are friends who at first sight would be so different from me that I wouldn't have imagined being friends with them. They're usually older, more mature and they come from different walks of life. One is my mentor, another a former high school teacher and crush, the other a poet, then a Jesuit, a social worker, and a Nigerian friend who was my classmate.

Such friends are different from my long time high school classmates that I see regularly. I feel that my high school friends are the type of good friends that I would be with as a group and a whole--the ones you go out with on out of town trips and "bisyo holidays." But the friends I mentioned earlier are the type of friends I have deeper individual relationships with, those whom I would go out on a "date" with for dinner and drinks. They're one-on-one friends, and perhaps, it is in these more personal relationships that I am able to reveal myself more and thus they know me better than most.

E. is more than my career mentor; he has been my life mentor. I respect him for his wisdom, excellence in teaching and the "tough love" that he shows to his students. He was one of only two people that really inspired me to my chosen career. I also almost never fail to follow his advice as I found out that they always end up working for the best. He is more like a father to me already. He taught me how to think.

Ma'am E. lit up my eyes in high school. I was unable to explain then what drew me toward her. But after a few years, I was able to find out that we were meant to be such good friends. Introspective, cheerful and caring, we accompanied each other in the various triumphs and difficulties for the past thirteen years of our lives. I am also the godfather of her first son. She taught me how to be strong.

A. has proven to be the kind of friend which will be with you for a lifetime as well. He is a brilliant poet (whose works I cannot even begin to understand or penetrate) who is never to shove his weight around. It will forever be a mystery to me what he is able to see in me as he has touched my life with a gentle and true concern and understanding which only come as the fruits of friendship that has withstood the tests of time. At times, I feel as if he is the only one who believes me when I can no longer see in the dark. He taught me to believe in myself.

I met W. when we became seatmates in class recently. Funny because he didn't know that he was my assistant principal when I was in high school. But that distance was quickly collapsed when we realized that we had so much in common and that we were battling the same ghosts. I turn to him for guidance as someone who has experienced more and has spiritual depth. He is an old soul. He taught me to have faith.

R. used to be the officer in charge of our ROTC program. But after a few rounds of beer, he loosened up and turned out to be one crazy guy. His simplicity and hard-nosed attitude to life made me close to him. We would always exchange our thoughts on life. He also brought me to Sapang Palay where he introduced me to the family we would then help out. He also taught me how to give even when it hurts.

M. first gave me the impression that he was someone who would like to be left alone with his profound thoughts. But after some time, I found out that he was a very gentle man who would always like a good laugh. A physicist, philosopher, and dancer, he is my old pal that I turn to for guidance. He was there as a spiritual adviser to my dying grandmother, making him also very close to my family. He has taught me that learning how to live is more important than our achievements and trials.

Most of the time, I do not see these friends. There is truth to the saying that when old friends meet after a long time, it's just like they saw each other last night. Sometimes I think that they have always been more of a friend to me than I have been to them. But I guess no one counts or weighs these things. But I am sure glad that when there is darkness in the night sky, I need only to remember that I have such friends and I already feel richer than all the stars above.

They remind me of who I truly am. And then I don't feel so bad anymore because I can't be that bad.


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