Sunday, October 06, 2002


I just realized that I used the term "barkada" in an earlier post, without explaining what it meant to the non-Fiilipino language speakers out there. Well, according to my globetrotting diplomat friend Deric, the word "barkada" is drawn from the past participle of the Spanish verb "abarcar" which means "to include, to comprise." In the Philippines, a close group of friends is called a "barkada". People usually have several circles of intimates, corresponding to the various social circumstances of life. In the case of Deric, he and I are part of a "barkada" that began in high school so many moons ago. We are scattered around the world but manage to keep in touch and once in a while get together for a reunion. We're planning one right now for Manila, but prior to that, we had a small one in Hong Kong.

The "barkada" I see most often is the one I fondly refer to as the coterie of writers and artists I belong to. Apart from the regular things a "barkada" does (like eating together, watching films, going on trips), I find my intellectual and creative needs fulfilled by the artistic projects we do together and by the conversations we have. Without these friends, my mind would have shriveled up into a dry lump of stressed business neurons. They prove to me that there is more to life than just the pursuit of a successful enterprise, that ideas can easily become an image or a story or a poem.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what a "barkada" is.


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