SERENDIPITY IS AMONG MY FAVORITE WORDS! They’re high sounding and pleasing to the ear. I like how your lips touch when you say seren-DIP-ity and put a stress on the -ity. The very word sounds active, alive and expressive! It’s meaning is even better. Dictionary says, it is the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident; an instance of making such a discovery; good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries.
I feel blessed for all my serendipities. My chanced unexpected meetings and discoveries of people and places in my life. In the internet alone, I’ve met some interesting, real nice people. I’ve gained new friends through this blog. Without it (the blog) I wouldn’t have known them! You get a letter, a note, a comment every so often and it just makes your day! Finding yourself in a crowded place and seeing a warm smile across the room then that’s enough to start a conversation. Being in a place totally new to you and discovering how it would turn out to be one of the best places you’ve ever been. Serendipity!
But one of my greatest discoveries is rediscovering my friend from way back–in grade school! She was my classmate from kindergarten to sixth grade. We were close on those amazon years- a time when you didn’t need expensive toys to play. Simple thrills were enough to make your adrenalines pumping. No computer or video games, no gadgets, no funky game boards. She was my playmate in tumba-lata or tumbang preso (hitting a used empty can using one’s flipflops or a flat stone), piko (hop- scotch; step-no kind of game), shatong (a game of 2 sticks where you hit the shorter stick placed on a shallow hole with the longer stick), bagoong-ngay (anybody remember how this is played? for the life of me i can’t remember anymore!), patintero (two teams divided where one team runs and the other team tags), taguan (hide and seek), bulan-bulan (running around inside a big circle until the player outside of that circle tags one on the inside), step-no, chinese garter (a long garter or set of tied rubber bands stretched out and one jumps on it and the level of the garter gets higher each jump), chinese jackstone (one bounces a ball while picking up 10 triangular-thingy one by one, played with a lot of variations and techniques) and whatever other silly names we call our games then. (I wonder if kids today still play and call it that! OR do they even know these games?! I grew up with these games and loved it!). We played at the end of each school day with other classmates.
We did most things together sharing the same interests. We were part of the dance troop. We were both girl scouts. We had snacks and lunches together with other friends. Our last names being close, we always sat in proximity as we were arranged alphabetically in class. We shared assignments and perhaps at some points, shared answers in quizzes and tests! We were on the same group in ‘cleaner’s day’. She went to my birthday parties, I went to hers. We had petty quarrels when we wouldn’t talk to each other for days but then we always find a way and made up.
Despite the closeness, we just lost contact after graduation in sixth grade. She remained in our alma mater to finish high school and college in GenSan while I went to Manila and Davao for my schooling. So our lives went on. All those years counting ’86, we never saw each other. Our grade school friendship buried deep in our memories.
As fate would have it, our paths crossed again in 1999. I met her for the first time in our hometown General Santos (Gensan), after 13 years. The meeting was casual, very odd for two people who considered themselves great buddies in elementary school. After my stint working for a Japanese publication in Tokyo and Manila, I was back in my homestead on a respite. Of all the places to meet, I met her at an internet shop I frequent. As it turned out, she was friends with the owner. AND she lived literally 3 houses away from where the shop was! I was totally clueless! How could have I forgotten the street I used to go to a lot in grade school?!
…She is my alter ego, my partner in crime, my shock absorber, my “twin” sister, my adviser, my alarm clock, my handkerchief when I cry, my ‘resting place’,one of my sinigangs!
The time she walked in the shop, I was so wrapped up in front of the computer that I was just oblivious of my surrounding. She saw me first. She could have tapped my shoulder or called my name- my full name at that or both! Goodness, gracious! That made me jump off my seat, nobody calls me by my full name in public! It has to be someone from my past calling me! And there she stood, eagerly excited and obviously happy to ran into me. And there I was, mumbling some impersonal hi’s and hello’s. Going from glancing to her and glued back in front of the monitor (hey, I was minding my Php75.00/hour internet rate!) She was doing all the talking in her all too perfect tagalog which struck me because everyone else speaks visayan there or tagalog- the visayan way (it is a tagalog spoken dialect with a lot of visayan interjections or vice versa. Gets?) She candidly gave me her contact info and I said thanks. Then she asks for my number and I quipped in the vernacular- “oh, it’s listed in the directory- go find it yourself.” That changed her facial expression from happy to somewhat disgusted! Hey! I told you I was focused on the computer! So she left. I continued on with my surfing like nothing happened.
A week later, my computer broke down and I figured it was time for an upgrade so I can have my own internet connections at home as well. I was going over the telephone directory on where to bring my CPU. Aha! I remembered. She manages a computer shop! Perfect! I contacted her and she was almost giving me a hard time, meeting terms with my unit and all. She was getting even! Which serves me right anyway, after how I treated her at the internet shop. If I was her, I wouldn’t be entertaining me at all as a customer. Nonetheless, she was gonna make a sale so we met half way. That was the start of a renewed friendship.
The continuous security threats in the city at that time forced a lot of establishments to close down. Her shop included. I invited her to work with me on my family’s food business as I decided to stay in General Santos for a little bit longer. She joined the team! We moved on to open our very own business project in 2001. A restobar at the heart of Gensan. The business was flourishing and so was our friendship. We were inseparable since. I found my way into the United States in 2004. She is left back home taking care of our small business. Even at 13,000 miles- we text message, chat, talk over the phone and write emails. Stronger than ever. Our business, with God’s blessings, is as solid as our friendship and celebrating its 6th year!
She is my alter ego, my partner in crime, sometimes playing ‘devil’s advocate’ but most times my angel in disguise. She taught me a lot in life. I have only theories, she teaches me life. She’s my sparring partner, my shock absorber, my psychotherapist, my business partner, my “twin” sister, my adviser, my alarm clock, my handkerchief when I cry, my ‘resting place’, one of my sinigangs! my stress-reliever, my stress-inducer, my textmate, my IM buddy, my comfort shoes… the list goes on. Bottom line is, she epitomizes all my favorites in life. It sounds cliche but it’s hard to imagine my life without her in it.
This is a tribute to Jaz, a friend whom I love so very dearly. Happy birthday old friend. From little ol’ me… ©
note: photos lifted from notre dame of dadiangas for girls yearbook, class of 1980.