Friendship month

By: Jason A. Baguia February 10,2017 - 10:02 PM



I log in to my Facebook account, and I see a video. It is friend’s day, website administrators say, so they have produced a music video of a dancing, man-like figure made of photos of my closest Facebook friends.

At the end of the video, I read this note: “Your friends make you, you.”

* * *

I had taken a break from school and walked to the shop nearby where he had taken his scooter for repairs. From there we walked to where we sit, inside the former gift boutique by the road. Here, they used to sell all sorts of presents, from angel figurines to teacups of china.

He was born in Serbia, this traveler who sits across me. We met through a mutual lady friend, her host, a writer and earth lover, though not a globe trotter as much as he.

He was in China before he crossed over to our isles, and in our conversation over big sweet slices of apple pie, he shows me his photos of pandas and Sichuan’s green meadows and hills.

He was here in January, when the locals danced in prayer on the streets. He went up and down the island, under clouds, under sun, in the rain on a secondhand motorbike that had racked up many miles.

I remember apple pie afternoon, and the smell of hot coffee that he helped me pour out of a brewer and into my cup.

On the night of a different day, he, three lady friends and I sat in a pizza parlor. Past introductions and small talk we discussed politics.

He saw light in those who supported the president, felt democracy was not for all peoples on the planet.

I oppose strong-arm tactics, and questioned why the president won in this island on a platform of gunpowdering crime away. The seduction of a violent anticrime crusader only showed that the vigilantism of about a decade ago never really made a dent against criminality, at least not in this locale.

He wrote his lady host’s name on the manila paper place mat in his native Cyrillic. She took a picture of the alien characters.
The night aged.

I found out that he liked poetry and majored in English literature. I pulled a slim volume from Gerard Manley Hopkins out of my backpack and gave it to him. I hope he enjoys it, now that he has gone off to Cambodia.

People come. People go. People meet again.

“And though the last lights off the black West went,” Hopkins wrote, “oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs.”

* * *

Another friend just flew in last week from the president’s city where he and colleagues underwent communication training. He brought a pomelo and a pack of durian-flavored sweets that he wished to give to me.

Come over in the evening, I said, a tad guilty lest he stagnate on the road in the rush hour.

He arrived at the office a little past nine. We asked each other how we are. I stayed at the office on overtime, to prepare slides for lectures of the week and next. He spoke, rather vaguely, about his plans for the future.

We passed by the basketball court. For four years this was a big part of his second home.

We went to the water fountain near the cafeteria. There is a tree with sprays of yellow flowers at the end of the walk that leads to the fountain. It has been flowering this week. This tells me that summer is near.

Opposite this tree is a perfume tree. One afternoon, I take in its scent in the cool breeze.

* * *

A small brown envelope lies on my desk. I lift the flap. I pull out a manila-colored card strewn with dozens of silver stars.

There were more items inside — a medal with the God-bearer’s image, another with the profile of Padre Pio embossed on it.

A colleague had written in plump cursive: “May you always grow towards the light. Be always the light you are to others.”

Elsewhere in the world, a Christmas postcard may be on its way to me. Its photo arrived earlier via Viber. On the note side, my Montenegrin brother wrote words of thanksgiving and likened the receiver to light.

We are all mirrors to the dawn from on high. Our task is to keep ourselves unblemished, clear and bright. We do so with a lot of help from friends.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, China, Christmas, Facebook, friendship, January, month, online
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