One of the greatest titles we can have is old friend. We never appreciate how important old friends are until we are older. The problem is we need to start our old friendships when we are young. We then have to nurture and grow those friendships over our middle age when a busy life and changing geographies can cause us to neglect those friends. Today is the day to invest in those people we hope will call us ‘old friend in the years to come.
Keeping in touch with old friends requires a luxury of time. More often than not, one finds it harder to gather friends from way-back-when in one occasion because everyone else seems to have become busy with work or something else. I guess my Dad and his friends are an exception.
Dad and three of his friends, Tito Alex, Tito Dante, and Tito Onji, met in high school. Would you believe they were not even classmates? Well, I don’t know much about each one of them, but I grew up knowing they are always invited to birthday celebrations or Christmas parties. Among the three, I am most familiar with Tito Alex, who has been one of Dad’s best friends since God-knows-when. According to Dad, before Tito Alex’s mother passed away, she made my father promise to look after her son. The rest, so they say, is history.
I grew up knowing Tito Alex’s family, The Mance’s. His eldest daughter, Aleth, is only three months older than I am, thus we get along very well. His other kids, two boys and another girl, are about the same age as my brothers, too. As I’ve mentioned earlier, The Mance’s are always present in most family affairs. My relatives from both sides of the family are affable with them.
When moved to another place in 1996, Dad was able to reconnect again with Tito Dante. Since The Buenaventura’s live in the same town as ours, they thought of having an annual reunion of some sort will be easier. For more than a decade now, our families get together during the holidays over good food. As part of tradition, our families would take turn in hosting the gathering every year.
A few years ago, by God’s grace, Dad and his friends were able to get in touch with The Tallara Family. Tito Onji and family has been missing in action for so long that everyone became more excited for the succeeding annual Christmas parties we’re going to have. Tito Onji has a lot of kids. By a lot, I mean he has seven children: 4 boys and 3 girls. Our Christmas parties got even more fun with the inclusion of The Tallara’s. Apart from having the usual dinner with food brought by each family, we incorporated parlor games and production numbers from each family. Every celebration is always delightful, reminiscing the old times and catching up with the lost ones.
Incidentally, Tito Onji’s wife, Tita Beth, celebrated her birthday last week at Conti’s in Parañaque. We were not able to have a party last Christmas due to some unfortunate events, thus the last time we had a gathering like this was in December 2010. She missed being with family friends, so she invited everyone to come to her birthday celebration for a reunion. Here are the photos from last Saturday:
I have to say I admire Dad and his friends for being able to hold onto their friendship for years that even each other’s families became amiable acquaintances. I have a few friends from grade school that I still get in touch with through Twitter. My college friends, on the other hand, are only a BBM away, so it’s easier for us to catch up with each other these days. I don’t have a lot, but I know some who are friends for keeps.