Friends and politics
I have a lot of close friends from the North, specifically in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya, where I grew up and went to school. Most of them are Marcos followers because, of course, that’s the North where the Marcos name is still plastered on street posts. In fact, I lived on a street called Don Mariano Marcos Avenue, and my consolation is I have never sent a letter with that address. In a small town, you do not have to write any address for the mailman to find your ancient home. In fact, my best friend told me a few months before the 2016 elections that she was voting for Bongbong Marcos for vice president, and she immediately saw the alarm on my face. I said: Why, oh, why are you still voting for this family? And she just clamped up. End of story.
I am close to some of these high school classmates as they hail from my own neighborhood. They read what I post in my timeline and know my politics. They do not comment when I am around and are just happy that I join them for gatherings. The feeling is mutual, and I like them despite our opposing views on the leaders of the country.
Someone by the name of Baltasar Garcia said this: “Have friends. ‘Tis a second existence.” Yes this second existence is most important especially when you have retired. We celebrated our 50th anniversary with these provincial classmates and it was a ringing success. I also just had a spur-of-the-moment reunion with college batch mates from the University of Santo Tomas, Artlets 71. Social media has not stopped buzzing for us ever since. Our batch is a mixed group of pro- and anti-Duterte, and we exercise maximum tolerance about what we each believe in, rightly or wrongly.
I have a very close friend from New Jersey who is like a sister to me. I met her in the University of the Philippines graduate school and we have become really close since then, as if she were part of the family. Edna and I have the same politics, and I presume Mita, another good friend from Pennsylvania who comes to visit us in New Jersey when we’re there, does not really talk about these things but likes us as much. Edna and I visited a good friend in Tennessee, Emmy, who had stage 4 lung cancer; God was good enough to put her in complete remission during our visit, and we had a wonderful time talking about our lives. There was no talk of politics then as Rodrigo Duterte had not been elected president yet.
Emmy had only some precious months to live, and we had a beautiful way of saying goodbye. She was very positive about her impending death. “I am luckier than most people because I know more or less when I am going and can prepare for it,” she said. And so we went on our merry way talking about the past, eating good food, and praying. She would die a few months later, and I felt happy that I made the decision to visit her.
I wasn’t really close to most of my college friends — only to four of them — so this meeting was a “getting to know you” thing. I was closer to my “promdi” friends — my classmates from the provinces in high school and the graduate school guys I met at the Sanggumay Dorm at UP. They treated me like a younger sister (they were mostly professors in universities and there I was, a greenhorn fresh from college needing to be taken care of).
The mother hen was my friend, Edna. There she was in good times and bad, and one time when I was very sick, she really prayed hard on the telephone for me.
She now lives in New Jersey and we stay with her and her family when we are there. Her family also stays with us when they are around.
I am glad that my relationship with friends is not affected by politics. God may doom us with the worst of leaders and we may in turn love or hate them, but we just want to live our second existence with our friends to the fullest.
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Sylvia Europa-Pinca recently retired as president of Europa Public Relations.
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