We have friends we love more than others. We have relatives we love more than our siblings. These chosen friends and relatives have qualified for a category called barkada. Here in America there are Filipino communities one can join for a common interest. Despite the shared belief and goals not all members will be elevated to the level of barkada.
When I was 10 years old, a very impressionable age, I used to hang out at the corner store with the teens called standbys. One day another teen came by with fresh bruised face. The standbys asked him ‘who did it’? Apparently he was bullied as he passed through another neighborhood. The standbys said “come on, let’s go back there”. I was amazed that the standbys were willing to get hurt in a fight not their own. That’s the barkada mentality. I was hooked for life.
How does one become worthy to be called barkada? If you have any one of these: envy, treachery, back stabbing, meddling, bragging, self-entitlement, seniority, crab mentality, you will be no one’s barkada.
Barkadas are cultivated. Just like a marriage, one works at it to stay compatible. One must know how to respect the other person’s boundaries as you do your own. Just because you are friends don't think you can overstep your bounds.
Verbal, physical or emotional abuse happen between friends too. Emotional abuse is often used to manipulate the other person. Verbal or physical abuse like slapping, pinching or hair pulling could be done in jest. No kind of abuse is acceptable.
The happily married couples I know are those who were barkadas in their youth. No false pretenses, no exaggerated expectations, those couples knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. They have emotional security in the knowledge that they are on the same side in every twist and turn of life. Those who have aged together are assured of having a barkada at home when hanging out is no longer an option.
I was the only girl in my family, with a father abroad and a mother who mostly stayed in her room, I grew up virtually alone. However, I had my cousins and neighbors who were my barkadas. When I got married I raised my children as my barkadas and I expect nothing more than to be treated as one.