Filipinos have one word for the group of friends they hang out with: Barkada.
I’ve had a lot of barkadas growing up.
My barkada from Elementary until High School were studious girls and boys who spend after-school hours in a bakery, enjoying freshly baked pan de sal with butter while gossiping and making fun of one another. I didn’t get to go on summer trips with them at that time because I had a strict dad, but whenever I was with them I’d laugh my ass off.
In college, we all came from different parts of the country, seeking a college degree in the premier state university. Some of us knew local dialects, while others don’t. Kids who grew up in big cities and those from the provinces were different in so many ways (no need to enumerate!) The challenges of our major and the joys of Red Horse beer brought us together, and our differences made the barkada perfectly insane.
When I started earning my paycheck, my barkada ranged from the new graduates to veterans-at-what-they-do. We were one another’s motivator and at the same time rival (admit it!). Lunch breaks meant reaching over to get a piece of somebody else’s food (sometimes a lunch break meant work). Team meetings felt like mandatory weekly chitchat with the occasional where-are-we-on-our-projects discussion (kidding!) We were colleagues and friends and pseudo-siblings.
When I moved to NYC to be with the love of my life, I left my family and my different barkadas. I miss my barkadas as much as I miss my family. I don’t know if I’ll ever have the chance to forge my barkada here (it sucks sometimes that I work at home), but my barkadas back home will always have a place in my heart.