From virtual to real friends

HONG Kong-based friend May Agaran and I do lunch at one of IFC Mall's restaurants.

HONG Kong-based friend May Agaran and I do lunch at one of IFC Mall’s restaurants.

YOU can choose your friends, but not your relatives. Such an age-old saying may now be a cliché, but it has remained true and applicable to people of almost every age and era.

Not a few of us may be unlucky to be born with relatives from hell, including cold, irresponsible parents and siblings. There’s very little we can do about such people but accept them and hope that they would someday change in spite of themselves.

But when it comes to making friends, we have the ability and the right to choose whom to befriend and share our thoughts (and where we get our wardrobe finds) with. And unlike erring relatives whom you can avoid but never totally disown, fake and deceitful friends are easier and quicker to get rid off.

Wealth beyond measure

But once you find a true friend, then consider yourself one of the luckiest persons on earth. A great friendship offers you wealth beyond measure. And because of your shared interests and ideals, that person is bound to be dearer to you than many of your relatives as the years go by.

Sometimes, you don’t even have to share the same likes and dislikes. In fact, you and your friend may be the exact opposites of each other. Friendship, like love, is ruled by an unseen force that draws two or more people together.

Since I launched this blog a little over two years ago, I’ve had the privilege of interacting and strengthening relationships with people I know. The interaction, both on Facebook and in this blog’s comments section, has led me to a deeper understanding of others as well as myself.

The exchanges either debunked or reinforced pre-existing impressions I’ve had of certain people and situations. I’m glad that for the most part, such give and take have led me to hold on to and nurture not a few established as well as budding friendships.

Vocal strangers

This blog has also allowed me to meet and cultivate relationships with a number of virtual friends—strangers who are kind and vocal enough to make their views heard.

While most of them have come and gone, one person has continued to acknowledge and share with me heart-felt and incisive comments on blog entries I post, which she feels strongly about. She is neither stingy with her time nor reluctant to share her feelings with me and invariably with other readers.

Rather than keep quiet, she not only makes her feelings known, but she also expresses her views with panache and candor while sharing her experiences. Based on her feedback, her thoughts are so clear, logical and full of sincerity that if she were to write her own blog, she would probably run circles around me.

In due time, we became Facebook friends. Her interest in what I write both on FB and on my blog hasn’t waned. In fact, her thoughts have become sharper, wittier and full of empathy.

For almost two years, we exchanged ideas and opinions without ever having met. That all ended a little over a month ago when I finally got to meet May Agaran, one of my biggest and most faithful followers, in Hong Kong where she has been working for several years now.

It was like reconnecting with an old friend. In the course of the afternoon, we were able to talk about ourselves, our families and our shared love for politics, human relations and the written word.

Chismis and the Pinoy

Of course, whenever two or more Filipinos are gathered, engaging in chismis isn’t far behind. We also did that, but in moderation.  😀

And you know what? May was everything I imagined her to be: warm, intelligent, articulate and with a quick smile. The four hours or so we spent talking over lunch flew by like mere minutes.

And like all friends, most of the things we discussed aren’t for public consumption. I would rather let May tell you her story.

If you want her to share with you her thoughts, I suggest you ask her to start her own blog as well. Better yet, tell her to write a book about her experiences as a Filipino expat living in Hong Kong. I’m sure it would be a good and satisfying read.

As for me, I consider myself lucky to have her as my friend. If only all readers are like her. Thank you, May, for coming into my life.









2 thoughts on “From virtual to real friends

  1. Finding out that I was a subject of this post came as a very genuine surprise. I’m not used to reading nor writing about myself, which I guess is rather strange since we’re more or less in the same industry. Meeting you was a surreal experience because I have always admired your work in PDI. Discovering that we have some things in common like coming from UST, living in the ‘Projects,’ and about our families, has certainly made you more of a real person to me, rather than just a great and well-known journalist that I admire. I was already surprised when you asked if we could meet while you were here because I was a virtual stranger to you, by all accounts.

    And now comes this post. To see myself through someone’s eyes and to be considered worthy is such a precious, precious gift.

    Maraming, maraming salamat, Alex my friend. 🙂

    • You deserve it, May. Like I said, it’s the least I could do to pay back your kindness. Writers live to be read. And unless we get first-hand feedback, we have no idea if we’re being read and making that all important connection. Thanks to people like you, I feel assured that I’m being read and making a difference.

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