One of the hardest topics I find to write about is of friends and friendships. Too many assumptions and complications get into the equation like, the kind of friendship you get into or the reason you become friends in the first place. Are you friends because of pleasure, by accident, or because of mutual appreciation, or need for each other?
So finally, after weeks of putting it on hold, I decided to take the plunge and write about the best friends I had the pleasure of knowing over the years. It is with great pride that I introduce the kind of people who remain unquestionably deserving of my love and support; where if someone talks ill about them in their absence, I will be there to take up the cudgels and fight their battles for them. Y ou’re probably aware of the phrase, “hating kapatid”? That’s how serious I am about friendship. You become not just my buddy , but you are almost my sister or my brother .
Oh, there are quite a few who would be friendly for a while and then disappear into thin air. Perhaps they were merely “testing the waters”? The funny thing is, on my Facebook posts I don’t see them clicking “like” but just simply “seen”. Nope, I didn’t mean to be a threat, so grow up.
But there are those who stick with you through hell and back – always supporting, consoling, and loving you even more than your own family. These people are like stars in the sky. You may not always see them, but you know that they will always be there.
Cecile Borbon Manikan and I were both 8 years old when we met. Maybe because at the time she was wearing this red coat, so I thought she was the Little Red Riding Hood in my children’s book. I was an avid reader of fairy tales when I was little and because of that, I usually created and lived in my own world of fairies, goblins, giants, and other magical creatures.
So there we were, Cecile and I, sometimes pretending we were in different places with our awesome imagination fuelling all the wonders that life can offer . Our souls were so attuned that when I became a commencement speaker at the graduation rites of our elementary school, she also ended up as guest speaker at the graduation of our high school. During my early days in radio she was my most ardent supporter while she was teaching in Colegio San Agustin. Based now in Manila and retired from Ballet Philippines, she authored a book on How to Be a Great Teacher, holding seminars with deans and scholars among her audience. Cecile listens to my show every time she’s deep into work and I asked her why so? She said because it was pure bliss to connect with someone she’s close with even if it’s just on the airwaves. She would then reminisce about the years of innocence we shared together. Recently, she sent me some essential oils to protect myself against this pandemic. How’s that for a caring friend?
My high school years were one of the happiest times for me. This was when I met Teresita Villa Bosano. Tita and I became classmates when we were in junior high. At that time, I knew there were other nice girls in the room. But here was someone who stood out and radiated good vibes, making us instant best friends. Our relationship was like the movie, Pretty In Pink, where Tita would sew our prom dresses from scratch, or make identical shirts when there was a party. In our senior year we were each assigned to a different section and that meant we would no longer be classmates. I had to ask our class adviser if it was possible that we remain in the same section again or I would give up being the school representative to any inter-school events. So my request was granted and our friendship continued, way until college and during our dating years and yes, married life. I introduced her to her husband, and when he got sick he made Tita promise to take care of me. Now based in the US, Tita never tires of sending me a balikbayan box filled with things I love. She even sent me some face masks she made by herself as protection during this pandemic.
My best friends list does not end there. I’m proud to say that I have other friends who overwhelm me with love. They take me as I am and vice versa, and even go to the extent of spoiling me – a lot. Nellie Chang is one of those kind and gentle souls. If she can give you the world, she will. But actually, she is like that to everyone she fancies and I’m glad I’m one of them.
And how can I not thank my luckly stars for having known the likes of Bebut Baldoza, Nena Hernandez, Linda Pahilanga, Stella Cua, Agnes Ledesma, Marlou Mills, Baby Rushton, Gay Villafuerte, Evelyn Slinkert, Ope Martir, Annabelle Mosser, Ging Lewis, Muning Cowle and so many others that I doubt the whole magazine will have enough pages for their names. I will just look around my room and it spells a friend’s name because most of the things inside came from one of them. One person who stands out though, and everyone will agree, is my dear, dear friend, Caloi Banas. Quiet and composed, but with an eye of an eagle, Caloi is always there watching and is ready to catch me when I fall, no ifs and buts about it.
Over time, friendships can become impacted by changing life patterns. As in the case of my two best friends, they moved on to distant shores where it was physically impossible to see or meet them for quick drinks or to spend an afternoon at the movies. Sure, I can still text them or call them but the extraordinary camaraderie, as I know it before, will never be the same.
So, as with most things in life, one pushes forward and meets the challenge to find a new best friend. You know you’ll have a tough road ahead because for one, best friendships just don’t develop in a single day. It usually takes years of hard work to cultivate and nurture a close relationship. Thankfully though, there are gems that appear along the way.
My next best friend will always be happy (if not grudgingly) to receive a phone call from me even if it is 3 a.m. She will tell me things I need to know, not what I want to know. She will accept my quirkiness and will not judge me for who or what I am. She will be someone whom I can trust with my deepest and darkest secrets and who will give me a loving hug and ask how I am doing, just because. In return, she gets the same from me. Now, isn’t that how one defines true friendship? — NWI