I’ve always believed that you can tell how a person is by the company he/she keeps.
If you look at my roster of friends here in Taipei, you’ll probably be scratching your head.
They’re all so different from each other.
For example, half of my friends here in Taiwan are Japanese who can’t even speak much English. We actually use Mandarin to converse with each other. But given that I’ve known them the longest (more than two years and counting), my friendship with them is still one of the strongest.
Still, mixing them with my other friends is difficult. They’re really not that open to people outside their group.
The other half consist of a diverse group of people ranging from a model/soon-to-be-actress, to a driven, 30-something career woman who’s now heading to Paris to start her training as the regional sales director for a French satellite company.
There’s also a sweet high school music teacher who epitomes the phrase, “naughty and nice,” and another Fil-Chi who I count as a sister here in Taipei and one of my closest friends (if only I can get her to stay out later).
Of course, guy friends are a spice of life, and I’ve had a few as well.
There’s this 30-something American university student who’s taking Chinese Studies as a major. Now, let me see you beat that! Plus, I also have a Costa Rican buddy who philosophizes like there’s no tomorrow and can beat Martin Nievera in a singing contest.
There was this 192-cm, Dutch friend with blond hair and blue eyes, but he moved back early February. But I still count him as one of my closer friends, and keep in touch with him via the Internet.
Oh and there used to be another American friend who shaved off his dreadlocks after his Taiwanese girlfriend threatened to break up with him, but I guess, like many friends who have Taiwanese girlfriends, I haven’t seen him for a long time.
That’s how some friends are — they forget you once they find their significant others.
I’m still trying to learn how to live with that.
Nevertheless, no matter how different they are, those in my inner circle share some similarities:
1) They’re basically good people.
They may make mistakes, and there may be some things I disapprove of, but deep down inside, they’ll never hurt a fly.
For example, I have had a friend who did drugs in a regular basis (and I know some people will disapprove of that), but I know they’re good people, so I still kept him as a friend.
2) They’re trustworthy.
I trust my friends a 100%. I can get really tipsy and go wild in a bar, but I’m sure that they’ll find the time to make sure I get home.
For example, the one and only time I got drunk in Taipei, some of my friends escorted me home and tucked me in before they went out for KTV.
Now, that’s true friendship.
3) They’re generally more open-minded.
We may complain a lot, but we try not to judge other people. We may not do what other people do, but other people’s lives are their own business.
For example, live-ins, inter-gender relationships, and others, who cares? It’s all about respect.
If you’re happy with your choice, so are we.
4) They’re sincere.
There’s no malice among my close group of friends.
Some of them may exhibit bouts of selfishness, but really, they try to keep it to the minimum. The face they show you is not an act, it’s no façade.
What you see is what you get.
And I generally prefer it that way. Can’t really stand hypocrites.
5) They care for you as well.
Friendship is a two-way thing. Your friend has to love you as much as you love them. When we’re friends, my friendship for you is truly unconditional. Likewise, I expect the same amount of love and care from my friends.
You know that whatever happens, they have your best interest at heart.
6) We mutually respect each other.
Everyone has its plus and cons. But respect is still very important for us.
Frankly, I don’t even my own barkada. Actually, all of my good friends are so different from each other — so much that I don’t really hang out with them altogether.
Usually, I meet up with my friends in a one-on-one basis.
When I introduce them to each other, sometimes they click, sometimes they don’t.
You can’t really force a connection.
But they’re my friends. They’re the spice of life.
Through thick and thin, I’ll love them to death.