When I got my separation of assets, a prerequisite for the annulment of any marriage, I hadn’t appreciated the fairness of the deal until I realized that very much a part of our major assets were friends, and that they did not have to be divided between us like everything else.
Good friends are living assets. They stand by you without taking sides, and never stop caring. What’s more, they even accept your new partners.
Indeed, our second relationships have outlasted our first, by a decade at least. With Vergel, it’s been more than 30 years, and all this time we have yet been accumulating our own set of friends—some, by serendipity, no strangers to either of us. It’s a small world, after all.
Of course, there can be no closer friends than the old girls I went to school with, who continue to stay in touch by phone, text and e-mail—and regular lunches on occasions—happy or sad. And having gone to four different schools—Maryknoll, St. Theresa’s Quezon City, Colegio Mayor de Padre Poveda in Madrid and St. Theresa’s, Manila—I have quite an impressive assortment of classmates. Most of them with their spouses have since become friends, too, with Vergel.
There’s an undeniably distinct comfort in the company of childhood friends, who share precious memories of our carefree days, of our children growing up together and eventually marrying and making grandparents of us all, and who share the sadness of illnesses and losses as well.
It’s interesting that some of these childhood friends have not always agreed with our politics. But those differences are survived with tolerance and understanding; the friendships remain unshaken, the genuine affection undiminished.
Old friendships, after all, are built stone by stone on a solid foundation of genuine affection and sweet sentimentality for a shared past.
But thank God for proven old friends who to this day share our core values. They are to me the most special, truly irreplaceable. It is with them that my husband and I feel most relaxed and open.
But just as precious are the relatively new friends who share our ideals and moral values. Ours are a friendship of instant recognition. They have been activist couples from our days against Marcos and for Cory, Ramos, Lim, and most recently for Noynoy, Mar and Leni.
We didn’t always win our battles, but we have always stood together.
I thought it noteworthy now especially that families have been split by the last election. I have a friend who forbids her husband to wear plaid shirts. Another wife confesses she is completely disgusted with her husband, that opposite politics has taken a toll on their relationship at the wrong time— when he needs a lot of loving physical care and attention.
Another friend admits that political talk is avoided at the dinner table for domestic peace and good digestion. Brothers and sisters have gone opposite ways, as have fathers and sons.
Our group of activist couples has stayed united somehow, bonds strengthened even if these go back only one or two presidential elections. We have campaigned together, marched together and rejoiced together in victory, as well as consoled each other in defeat and disappointment.
It seems there’s no dampening our spirits. We always find a way to energize each other— watch a play together or have dinner and good wine. We toast life whatever it brings, vowing to meet challenges together for human dignity and justice while we can.
I couldn’t help but smile reading a piece by Gualberto Lumauig, a confessed Marcos supporter, asking, “Where have all the Marcos friends gone?”
Well, none seen lately, but for the consistent Oliver Lozano and his band of thirty, looking pathetically sparse in the rain compared with like-minded friends in the thousands who braved the bad weather to protest any hero’s burial for the plundering, murdering, torturing, dictatorial fraudster he idolizes.
Marcos, as we remember, had legions of fair-weather friends. Gloria Arroyo, in her confinement in the hospital during her arrest, may have also wondered where her many friends had gone.
Jun Lozada, the whistle-blower in the plunder case against the Abaloses, the Neris and the Arroyos, didn’t have to look far for friends himself. At 8 a.m. on Aug. 23 he woke up to realize “the agony of loving one’s country”—but not without true friends with him. They were on hand when the Sandiganbayan pronounced him guilty, incredibly.
Those who couldn’t be there sent messages of support. And, when bail was announced, everyone dug into their pockets; promptly the sum was raised.
Trying times are the best time to take stock and count blessings, and knowing who your true friends are is itself blessing enough.