The first close friend I remember in my childhood is one of our neighbors in Roxas, Isabela. I knew him as Don-Don. Only later did I find out that his real name is Samuel. Don Don had two brothers – Geoffrey and Bong Bong.
I spent countless hours in their rented home and their yard. Often, I would climb the concrete fence separating their house and the parsonage we were staying at.
We became good friends because of several reasons.
We were neighbors! If you are a young boy in the late 1980s and you become bored during the weekend or summer, the only solution is to go out of the house and play with other kids. I played with Dondon and his brothers and with other neighbor kids.
Proximity over time.
We stayed in Roxas for about 6 years. That made a difference. We grew up together, we went to the same elementary school and we shared so many things together. With families moving frequently, it is difficult to grow together with neighbors and friends. Six years in Roxas is the longest I’ve stayed in a town while growing up.
My father is a pastor and we would move to a church in a different town once every 2-3 years. That made it difficult for me to build friendships with kids in the neighborhood.
Making friends is easy when you’re a kid. Spend time together. Play together. Talk with each other a lot. But as you grow older, you begin to notice a lot of differences between you and other kids. Conversations become more guarded and you end up looking for a connection that may not be there.
The closest friends in my life remain to be the set of friends that I have in college. Although we are far apart and live different lives now, we still get together when I go back to the Philippines once a year. When we do it seems as if we just pick up where we left off the last time we met.
What I realized is that in my thirties is that making friends is an entirely different, often difficult process. Life is busier and friendships tend to start from professional relationships.